Sea of Corfu 26 August - 20 September

With Kate and Jake

We picked up Kate and Jake from the airport just before lunch, and they were swimming off the boat within 30 minutes,

The forecast for the next week was for 5 days of heat and light northerlies, then some possible disturbed weather for a couple of days. The challenge was to arrange a voyage that they would enjoy, which allowed us to be confident of returning to Corfu for their flight home. I decided that a clockwise tour of the Sea of Corfu was our best bet, They voted for an immediate departure, so we set out in F1 heading north-east for O Ftelias, the creek nearest the Albanian border. It took us all afternoon. with periods of calm when the crew jumped over the side. O Ftelias is a creek with just a couple of smallholdings, and rather more rubbish than I appreciated.

IggyCreek2 (39K)
Igonoumitsa Creek
Next morning, again in very light winds, we sailed south towards Sayiadha. However, just as we approached, the breeze got up and we agreed to tack back out west round the mouth of the protruding River Thiamis, and made Ormiskos Valtou - commonly known as Igonoumitsa Creek. This lovely place is very sheltered, has views of the mountains, and was teaming with wildlife, in particular pelicans in the adjacent fishing pond.

Then to End Bay off Mourtos, where we anchored just outside as some cheeky motor boat had taken "our" place. Kate and Jake liked Mourtos very much, and we had an excellent meal in one of the tavernas.

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Lakka town quay Lakka anchorage
Then a beat to Lakka, where we anchored off the west beach. The bad weather was forecast to arrive the following evening, and since I thought we were better sheltered here than anywhere between here and Corfu, we tied up to the quay next morning, and went for a longish walk eastwards along the coast, finally cutting inland and approaching Lakka from above. Excellent taverna meal that evening in a back street. Overnight the promised thunderstorm arrived, and the south wind switched to north so that we had to climb out in the small hours to tighten the line to the kedge to keep us off the quay.

Early next morning, in brilliant sunshine and a F3/4 south-easterly, we crossed the Paxos straight, with Jake steering as we romped along at up to 12 knots. However, off Ak Levkimmis on Corfu, the bad weather returned, and somewhat overcautiously I dropped the main. We arrived at Garitsa bay in a squall at tea-time, and found adequate shelter near the south shore.

That gave Kate and Jake a day to be tourists, visiting the two forts, and having lunch in the old town.

Cultural interlude

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Corfo Old Fort from Nisis Vidho Looking out from Corfu New Fort

After we'd dropped them at the airport next morning, we saw a notice advertising Cosi Fan Tuti in three days' time, with the title in Roman script but, everything else in Greek. A visit to the tourist office established, after a long search, that it was free and in the Ionian Union, an elegant building just behind the yacht club. So, we decided to come back for it, and, in the meantime, visit Sayiadha, the little port we'd skipped the previous week when the wind picked up.

After shopping and waiting for a rain squall to pass, we set out next afternoon for a very slow 12 mile sail to Sayiadha. We found a corner slot just by the entrance which allowed us to tie up alongside. The attraction of Sayidha is meant to be the ludicrously cheap prawns. We sampled them in the first taverna, and thought them ok and reasonably priced, but no giveaway.

There is some less mountainous country around Sayidha, so we got the bikes out next morning and cycled most of the way to Igounemista Creek on tiny side roads. We had lunch in a tiny hill village called Kestrini, where no one in the cafe/restaurant spoke a word of English.

Then back to Corfu, and best clothes (clean shorts and t shirts, anyway) for the opera. In fact the cream of Corfu society had turned up in their finery to listen to what turned out to be a British company - Popup Opera - on tour. They sang in Italian, with Greek and English summary surtitles (5 minute aria - "She fancies him"!). They were really superb, with all the cast equally strong, and an insightful production. Of course, this was the ideal location for the two lovers to disguise themselves as Albanians!

Gently back to Preveza

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In Ay Stefanos

Sailed north in a gentle westerly, then calm, then good F5 north-westerly to Ay Stefanos. At first the bay looked a bit full, but we managed to find swinging room inside everyone else. The tavernas were a bit pricey, but we enjoyed a cocktail, looking out over the anchorage. Next morning we had a great walk north along the coast, with views across reef to Albania only a mile or two away.

IsabelleOffMoutos (46K) Christine (43K)
Isabelle off Mourtos Christine
We wanted to sail westabout round Corfu, but thought we really needed a forecast of 5 days settled weather for that, and that was not on offer. So we decided to sail slowly south, visiting places we hadn't explored properly or at all before. The first stop, when the wind dropped, turned out to be Igounemista Creek again. This time, with just the two of us, we landed the bikes and cycled the 10Km along an excellent and quiet coast road and then a cycle track, to Igounemista. The town is hardly a beauty spot, but does have all the shops you might need, and the promedade is quite attractive.

We got a message from Vic (sailaboutvic) and Christine that they were heading for Mourtos, so we sailed there also, very slowly so I doubt we could have gone much further anyway. This time "our" place in End Bay was free, and we made the boat secure. No sooner had Isabelle, their sloop arrived, and we boarded them, than an almighty thunderstorm arrived causing every boat, including the large tripper craft, to seek anchorage in the same place. Lots of dragging, and boats anchored only a few feet away. But Razzmatazz was tucked up away from them all. Later, we pooled our grub for supper on Razzmatazz, now with its bower anchor buried so deep I wandered if we'd recover it.

Our wifi had gone awol again, and the only solution seemed to be to visit the only Wind shop in the area, in Igounemitsa. This we did next day, after another cycle ride from Igounemitsa Creek, to find that the mifi gadget had gone roaming in Albania, despite my setting it to "no roaming". We paid 5 euros to get it going again, and found the man in the queue behind us had exactly the same problem. Nice little earner here.

Then we headed for Lakka to join Isabelle again, and had a lovely sail dead to windward in a F3/4.

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Paxos west coast Parga village and castle
After a lay day, where we walked up to the abandonned monastery (I think) on the north promentary, we set sail for Parga, going westabout Paxos, to enjoy some splendid views as we gybed in and out of the bays. In Ormos Valtou, the harbour for Parga, we found only one other boat, a French gaffa with some delightful children, on the beach, and moored right by the tap. We took the opportunity to replace all the fastenings for the trampolin, wading in the shallow water under the bows.

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Looking out from the Necromanteion River Styx
We had one more place to explore - the rivers Akheron and Styx. First we spent the night anchored in the bay of O Fanari, wondering at the cold water (ok, 16 degrees, but we were used to 25). Then, first thing in the morning when all was calm, gently pushed our way into the River Akheron against the current. There was no problem with depth, but the river was narrow, and at first we could see nowhere to moor. At the end there, there was a spot on a wooden staging just long enough for Razzmatazz. A nearby fisherman told us that the boat that usually moored there had gone away, and later we met a German yachtsman who said he owned all the staging, and we were welcome to stay.

A few miles up the river, which we chose to travel by bike, lie the ruins of the Necromanteion. This appears to have been a neat bit of fraud in classical times. Pilgrims hoping for a short visit to Hades would come here, get drugged up, then lowered head-first into a crypt which they were lead to believe was the River Styx. Whatever the truth of the matter, the ruins were fascinating. And then we had an enjoyable cycle ride inland following the River Akheron.

Getting away next morning was a bit fraught. The river where we were moored was less than 15m wide, there was a current of around 2 knots, and we were tightly packed between two boats - a fishing boat with metal prodders sticking out downstream and a catamaran upstream. Anyway, we swung round on a line round the outboard stern cleat of the cat, and managed to get clear. Luckily nothing was coming upstream as we departed! And then a nice sail to Preveza in the steadily increasing westerly wind.