Thoughts about the Ionian

F2 WeatherIonoian (107K)
Typical Ionian winds
People express mixed views on the Ionian islands and adjacent mainland as a cruising ground. The wind chart, taken from the Poseidon web site, shows a typical summer pattern. A stiff F4/5 breeze blows from the north west offshore, but inshore, in the lee of the islands, the wind is typically one or two forces less. Inshore, in the morning, there is a F1/2 with an easterly component, and in the late afternoon a F4/5 with a westerly component. In between, there is an interval of calm.

Furthermore, during the summer anyway,there do not seem to be the intermittent strong winds - Tramontana, Mistral, Meltemi - that you get elsewhere in the Med. However, the occasional thunderstorm can produce gale-force winds for a short time.

Because of the benign conditions, there are dozens of charter companies running flotillas. In consequence, in high season, the popular harbours fill up by mid-afternoon.

The way to have a miserable time and burn lots of diesel is to have a heavy boat with no light wind or downwind sails, and a schedule that requires you to arrive at a designated popular harbour before a set hour, just as the breeze picks up. On the other hand, on Razzmatazz, in principle, we choose a direction for the day based on the forecast. We sometimes set out after breakfast and sail slowly through the morning, and possibly motor slowly during the typical half-hour of absolute calm in the middle of the day. Or we wait until after lunch, when the wind picks up. We choose our destination at mid-afternoon, when we can reasonably estimate where we can get to before the bar opens. If the destination is a popular port we anchor nearby, and then enter the port next morning when the best spaces come free. This way we have had some great sailing, not much motoring, and enjoyed some popular ports as well as less frequented anchorages. Of course, we sometimes have visitors or friends to meet, find ourselves with a schedule, and end up motoring like everyone else.

There are dozens, possibly hundreds of ports and anchorages within this cruising area extending around 150 miles from north west to south east. The following pages follow our first part season, when we visited a small fraction of these places.