July - Back to the Ionian where our dream began
We have spent the last month making our way back to
the Ionian and this blog is the halfway mark on our
2013 journey. It is a significant moment as we are in
Fiskardo, Cephalonia where our dream of buying and sailing
a yacht to Greece was conceived.
We left Poros after 2 days socialising with Mike, Yacht Atlas
who had followed Kouros and ourselves up from Ermioni, and
headed for Epidavros, a small port on the mainland in the
NW of the Saronic Gulf. Kouros had left before us and we were
going to meet them there.
We went sterns-to and soon found it to be very noisy as they
were preparing for an agriculture/local produce market and
also music festival and were busy hammering and nailing setting
up the stalls and rehearsing their dancing. So we only had
a one night here and decided we would leave and return at
the weekend when the festivals were under way and we would
also anchor to be away from the noise.
So Kouros and Madison set sail for a tiny (and we mean tiny)
fishing village called
Little Vathi to escape the noise. It was only 10 miles
south east of Epidavros on the Methana peninsula so a quick
hop. It didn't even have a little shop, a bread van came every
morning with fresh supplies. What a stunning little harbour,
it had a tiny entrance and was nearly perfectly square with
boats on 3 sides so we had to be ready to moor up before we
actually entered the harbour and have our fenders and lines
all in place. It was so lovely Diane and I wanted to stay
for a couple of nights. So as a compromise to not moving on
Derrick and Karl took Kouros for a sail in the bay while the
girls stayed behind on Madison, drank G&T, chatted and
played games. A perfect compromise! Mike on Yacht Atlas also
arrived so we all went out for dinner together.
Our return to Epidavros entailed a lovely sail across and
we dropped anchor in the bay. After a siesta and dinner onboard
we all went ashore to explore the local products on show and
tasted a few things on offer including Crepe Suzette - not
very Greek but made with local produce. There was music on
in a little ancient amphitheatre which is still used, just
a few hundred metres from the town which we tried to see but
unfortunately it wasticketed and had already started.
The next day it was time to head for Korfos, our last stop
before heading through the Corinth and saying goodbye to Yacht
Kouros. This was a lovely friendly town. There were hundreds
of kids all jumping off the pontoon having a great time and
making a fuss of Smudge. We practiced our Greek with them
and they practiced their English with us. We enjoyed a lovely
swim in the beautiful water and as always socialising with
Kouros. We both stayed two nights, so again as a compromise,
Karl and Derrick went sailing on Kouros and Diane and I had
another girlie afternoon on Maddie with more G&T and Backgammon.
We finally said farewell
to Yacht Kouros after a lovely 2 months cruising with them
and headed west and they headed back up the Evia Channel.
It is strange not seeing them most days and we miss them.
Now we will have to make an effort to start mixing again with
We got to the Corinth
Canal around lunchtime and were expecting to wait a few
hours to get through but thankfully we just made it in time
to pay in the office for the transit of the canal before being
told to go straight away. Last time we transited the canal
we had it all to ourselves but this time there were 5 yachts
but it was still not too busy and a lovely experience. Upon
exiting the canal we had another few hours of sailing to a
town called Kiato on the south coast of the Gulf of Corinth.
Kiato is a bit sad and neglected so we only stayed for a night.
Karl had a quick cycle to the local Lidl supermarket for a
few more cheap supplies and we headed off for the north coast
of the Gulf of Corinth which we were going to cruise along
as last time we flew through, barely stopping. Our first stop
on the north coast was Itea. We managed a bit of a sail there
but as always the wind was on the nose however this was soon
forgotten when a small pod of dolphins
came and swam at our bow. Smudge wasn't too sure about this
when we took her forward to see them but it could have been
the motion that put her off rather than a dislike of dolphins.
Itea is the best port to stay in for a visit to the ancient
archaeological site of Delphi. We settled in nicely in Itea
and met a Swedish yachting couple, Marie and Pele with their
little poodle, Milu. We had seen them in passing a few times
in the Saronic. They came on board for a drink. We introduced
Smudge and Milu but they were only going to tolerate each
other and not be best of friends. We got up early the next
morning ready to get the bus to Delphi only to discover dogs
aren't allowed on the bus unless they're in a dog carrier.
So turned around and went back to Maddie for a cuppa and ships
meeting. Karl said he wasn't so bothered about Delphi so it
was decided he would stay with Smudge and the next morning
I set off again. It was worth it, Delphi
is fantastic and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time exploring
We noticed that Smudge developed a poorly paw while in Itea.
We think this is due to the hot pavements, although we have
only been letting her out in the shade or cool of the morning
or evening. Her pads have still dried out and one had cracked
and she walking on it quite gingerly. So we had to keep it
bandaged up while she was walking and have spent 2 weeks doing
this and also putting Vaseline on them 2-3 times a day. This
seems to have done the trick and they are looking a lot better
We also met a Scottish family in Itea, The Berry Clan - Robin,
Morven, Douglas (11), Roshan (9), Digby (7) and Nisha (5)
- hail from Dunkeld and picked up their newly acquired yacht,
Leesa Christina from Italy and have sailed it down to Greece
and are having a lovely long summer on her. We only chatted
for a bit in Itea but then met up with them a week or so later.
After 2 nights in Itea, we left for the beautiful port of
This is only 4 miles from Itea so a very quick hop. A bonus
of being here is we can get water and electricity for free.
It is a stunning little village full of 18th and 19th century
with a backdrop of parkland and a great place to wander around.
We found a little taverna on the first night tucked away on
a back street away from the hubbub of the waterfront and enjoyed
a lovely meal there then the next day we treated ourselves
to a pizza on the waterfront. We managed to get all our washing
done here and also gave Maddie a good scrub down too.
We had 2 nights in Galaxidhi then headed for a tiny island
called Trizonia (about 1.5miles). We had been here before
and knew it was peaceful place to visit. It was another 2
night stop and we met Marie and Pele and Milu again and had
drinks with them. We enjoyed a beer on the waterfront watching
the families swimming and just chilling and relaxing (we do
a lot of that).
We had a early departure the next day as we wanted to go
to the medieval harbour of Navpaktos and this only has space
for about 4 or 5 small yachts as it is a tiny circular harbour
in the lovely historical town of Navpaktos. The early start
paid off and we managed to get a space all to ourselves on
a short length of quay. The approach to the medieval harbour
is stunning and there is a castle perched high above town
and the old town is still surrounded by the old city walls.
As we got in so early and as the old town is full of tiny
shaded streets we managed to have a rare excursion out with
Smudge during the day as we didn't need to worry about her
burning her paws. We normally wait until 7.00pm to do this.
That evening we met a British couple with their catamaran,
Ted and Ginny and they came aboard for drinks and a chat and
then we all went ashore for a small bite to eat. We made plans
with Ginny to meet at 7.00am the next morning and take a walk
up to the castle. Ted isn't a walker so it would just be Ginny
joining us. The early climb was worth it, the views were fabulous.
We returned from the walk grabbed some breakfast and as the
wind was blowing strongly in our favour we decided to throw
off the ropes and head under the Rion bridge for Missalonghi
in the north of the Gulf of Corinth. We had a fabulous sail.
The wind was blowing a F5/6 and we sailed nearly the whole
journey under only our jib (only the last 3 miles were under
motor as we navigated the channel up to Missalonghi) including
under the Rion
bridge. We hit 7.7kts at one point - which is very fast for
Madison especially given we didn't have the mainsail up. We
arrived in Missalonghi in good time. Missalonghi was our last
port of call in the Gulf before we arrived in the Ionian for
our second visit. One night in Missalonghi is enough, we find
it a bit sad and neglected, although there are many sailors
who winter here.
On 18th of July we arrived in Poros, Cephalonia - The Ionian.
We are glad to be back in the Ionian as it is a lovely place
to cruise about (like Scottish islands but with better weather).
However it wasn't to be a quiet start to our arrival in the
Ionian as a British yacht came in and managed to catch his
propellor in our neighbouring boat's anchor chain and then
proceeded to pick up our anchor chain behind his bulb keel
and drag it under our neighbouring boat as he tried to motor
backwards. It was a bit of a shambles and took about an hour
to sort him out but things went peaceful again. Karl, along
with a couple of guys off a French yacht, had got into the
water to help the yacht that was causing all the chaos and
they were very grateful when Karl dived down to take our chain
off their keel. We then had to motor out and re-lay our anchor.
All this drama was made better by the fact that there were
no raised voices and everyone worked together to resolve it.
Afterwards the skipper of the British yacht that had caught
all the anchors delivered a dozen cold beers to us as a thanks,
so that helped a lot!
We left Poros for the town of Sami the next day. This was
made famous by the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Sami is
another beautiful place.
The Berry Clan, from Yacht Leesa Christina were here too
so we spent the next couple of days socialising with them.
The kids were regularly found on Madison as we played games
and chatted. They are such lovely kids that it's a pleasure
to have them over. Karl helped Robin with a few jobs on the
his yacht over the next couple of days. We all went out for
gyros, then Morven kindly gave us lunch too. On the 3rd day
we both departed Sami for a beautiful anchorage on the island
of Ithaca for a lunch stop and a swim and then headed to Vathi,
the main town on Ithaca.
Vathi is one of our favourite places in the Ionian. The Berry
Clan went on anchor here but we went sterns-to the quay as
it's easier with Smudge. The kids came over for a wee while
and then we were invited over for a chicken curry dinner and
passed another pleasant evening in their company. However
the wind had increased while we were there and bay was a bit
choppy so it wasn't to be a late night as we had to dinghy
back to Madison and try not to get too wet on the way. The
Berry Clan departed the next day for the island of Meganisi
but we decided to stay around Ithaca and Cephalonia a few
more days but hope to catch up with them later. After a 2nd
night in Vathi we headed north (a whole 6 miles) to a little
fishing village called Kioni. Wow, another lovely place to
stay. It is stunning. It gets really busy for a few hours
in the afternoon with tripper boats but then it's just the
yachts that stay overnight and things quieten down, although
there are an amazing number of yachts that can squeeze into
such a small place. We enjoyed a couple of early morning walks
with Smudge around the village which is built on a hill so
when you get up a bit high there are beautiful views of the
bay and surrounding countryside. Karl also got a haircut from
me and has lost his golden locks but it will be much easier
and cooler for him.
After 3 nights in Kioni it was time to move again. This time
to the village of Frikes, a whole 3 miles away. Frikes was
pleasant enough but not nearly as lovely as it's close neighbour
Kioni. We only spent a night here as we had plans to set off
sharp to Fiskardo the next day. Our memory of Frikes will
not be the best - this is where we had a cheap gyros dinner
served by the most unfriendly staff and where poor Smudge
was chased by an aggressive cat. She didn't know what was
going on - it was certainly role reversal in the world of
Cats and Dogs! We did however have a lovely walk at 7am to
a disused windmill which had lovely views.
So here we are, 12 weeks into our trip and we have made it
Fiskardo is very significant for us as this is where the dream
to buy a yacht and go sailing in Greece was conceived, back
in 2005. It was lovely coming into the harbour by boat rather
than by bus. We treated ourselves to a meal in a lovely restaurant
to mark the occasion. We're having a couple of nights in Fiskardo
before heading back to Sami for a couple days. We will then
head further north into the Ionian towards Lefkas, Paxos and