Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The End of Greece ..... July 2009

11-15 July 2009
lasting memories of Greece - ***tucked up in tiny fishing harbours***the colours of the med***the one and only beautiful Santorini ***

We said our farewells to the Greek mainland and left Preveza heading back out into the Ioanian Islands with a good forecast of light northerlies. All was going reasonably well, sailing in average winds but again in quite lumpy seas. As we reached the islands of Antipaxos and Paxos (Andipaxoi and Paxoi) conditions quickly deteriorated with strong winds and a wicked sea coming through the gap between them, and of course the wind veered around to right on the nose, yet again. We double reefed the main, rolled in the headsail and made very slow progress motoring towards our destination of Paxos for the night. We didn't rate our chances of going stern to in the inner anchorage as by now we were getting gusts of 35knots between lulls of 10knots, these islands do some very strange things to the weather around here. We headed for the southern anchorage off Gaios and after 4 attempts finally managed to get our anchor set through the thick weed although closer to shore than we normally prefer. We had a horrible night with regular wind gusts and a beam on roll , pay back time for all those free marinas we have been enjoying!

Although Paxos is described as being one of the best in the Ioanian we decided to move on just after dawn the next morning. We had a great sail across to the tip of Corfu then tacked our way up the island in flat water and anchored under the fort at Corfu town. We had a great spot, tucked behind the headland and out of the wash from many passing ferries but a tender from the small marina nearby came out and asked us to move, we were impeding on the megayacht maneuvering area, mmmm. So move we did but then couldn't get the anchor to set through the weed, eventually we got attached again but our new spot was much more rolly when the ferries passed, and there are several ferries. A local tour boat tore by one afternoon so close and with such a wake our decks went under water, a first at anchor! I was sick for a couple of days with a bug but eventually we got to wander ashore around Corfu Old Town, through the imposing forts, past the cricket green and through the lush palace grounds. The Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth's husband was born in Corfu. Its a lovely old town, no lager louts to be seen even though Corfu is still one of the UK's busiest cheap package holiday destinations. It has a little touch of Italy, England and Greece all mixed together and the outcome makes for a very pleasant spot.

The Ioanian Islands for us had been a disappointment, very busy with the charter fleets, but of course we are in the high season. Many of the anchorages were poorly protected from the prevailing winds and some of the holding was the worst we have had, anywhere. The changeable sea state was similar to the Aegean, things just didn't go so well. Given a less busy time of the year it is quite possibly outstanding, with lighter winds to allow tucking into some of the smaller bays. The islands are mainly green, the architecture appealing, it just didn't work out well for us. We had a 2 day weather window before some stronger winds from the north were due so we said our final farewells to Greece and headed on an overnight passage up the Albanian Coast to Montenegro.

Cruising Info for Paxos and Corfu in the Ioanian Sea:
Anchorages -
Gaios, Paxos 39 11.74N 20 11.52E settled in 15m poor holding and rolly. Les rolly further northeast but unable to get anchor to set
Corfu Town, Corfu 39 37.01N 19 55.66E 10m try and find a sandy spot. Outside the marina there are a couple of tiny red buoys, try and stay outside this area. Other yachts anchored where we had been moved from and stayed.
Internet - Very poor signal from boat, a couple of wifi hotspot cafes just ashore behind marina.
Money and Provisions - Everything ashore in the myriad of alleyways.

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