Lefkas Castle

11 Oct

Blog Lefkas Castle

In all the times we’ve been to Lefkas we’ve never been into the castle. Despite several attempts the gates were always well and truly locked. This is probably because we haven’t been here this late into the season before and so had likely turned up too early in the day – I certainly wouldn’t have fancied traipsing around it during the heat of summer. 

 

But today it was perfect. The sun shone along with a very pleasant breeze as we crossed the floating bridge to the mainland to check it out. Aladdin must have been ​around because, lo and behold, the gates stood open. So, a few pictures: 

Blog Lefkas Castle Neil View

Views in every direction

Blog Lefkas Castle Marina View

Towards the port and marina

Blog Lefkas Castle Sunken Boat

Old wooden boat left to the sea

Blog Lefkas Castle Old Bridge Entrance

Intriguing openings

Blog Lefkas Castle Old Bridge

The remnants of the old bridge to the castle

You can read more about the castle if you’re interested here

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Lefkada Living

11 Oct
Blog Lefkas Bridge Open

The floating bridge swings open for the canal traffic. It’s the essentially temporary nature of the bridge that allows Lefkas to keep island status rather than being part of the mainland.

Having taken refuge in Lefkas Marina to sit out the recent Medicane, we’re reluctant to leave for the remaining days of the season. We initially postponed our departure because of the a wet few days following the storm then stayed on to enjoy the town during the sunshine. Now the days are racing by and with the threat of more rain in the days preceding our flight it seems like a good idea to get all the jobs necessary to put the boat “to bed” done while the sun shines. Mind you, we’re not exactly rushing and there are certain jobs such as putting the dinghy away that can’t be done until the last day (it lives in the main cabin over winter).

Blog Lefkas Cat and Dog

Togetherness in a shady spot

It has to be said, though, we like it here. The town is the main one on the island so is still very much a place where people live as well as catering for the influx of tourists over the summer months. It’s a very sociable marina with both a full time live aboard community and those like us who only want to be on the boat while the weather holds out. So there are lots of evenings out where we’ve met some lovely people and always someone to ask about things like launderettes. I also need a filling so it’s a good time to get that sorted before any pain kicks in!

Blog Lefkas Green Tables

There are plentiful tavernas but this is probably our favourite – THE best house red wine in the Ionian and cheap!

Blog Lefkas Bikes

Bikes are really popular

Blog Lefkas Scooter

And scooters. Not all are classics like this one, though!

Oh, and did I mention there’s shore power?

Medicane Zorbas

29 Sep

gustkph_012-5

And what a roar September is going out with. I’d never even heard of a Medicane (Mediterranean Hurricane) until Zorbas casually swept by. We’d seen the forecast for a Force 5 (nothing out of the ordinary here) which is why we’d come into the marina again in the first place.  What we got was three unrelentingly days, and nights, of up to 45 knots. That’s the upper end of a Force 9 and decidedly not nice on a boat.

The nights were the worst, of course. Neither of us slept much even though, logically, we were as safe as we could be. The urge to just keep checking is almost overwhelming: check the lazy line; check how close to the pontoon we are; check the dinghy; check the fenders and so on and so on. Nerves quickly become frazzled as you feel your body tense each time the intensity of the gust builds up and the boat judders as the lines are put under more tension.

Blog Medicane Lefkas Quay

Lefkas Quay before the worst of the Medicane still looked very uncomfortable to say the least. They had their engine running to keep the stern from hitting the quay.

During the day it was even possible to venture out briefly to see how everybody else was faring. Those on the quay, near to the bridge over the canal, were infinitely worse off. I’m told the mud is very soft here so inevitably anchors weren’t holding and running the engine to keep you from hitting the quay is not what you want to do for 72 hours.

Blog Lefkas North Sunk Boat

North Entrance to Lefkas Port just after the Medicane passed.

Those, mostly liveaboards, alongside at the northern entrance to the port before the swing bridge had the worst location, though. I would describe it as untenable but with a choice of wait it out with almost inevitable damage and heading out into the the much more fierce conditions of the open sea, well, I don’t know what I would do. And the worst happened for one poor soul. The boat was holed and gradually sank. (here) I understand he had time to get most of his possessions​ off but this was his home he being forced to  leave to the unforgiving waves. A reminder for all of us of the changeable nature of our beautiful Med.

Autumn’s Arrival

27 Sep
Blog Lefkas Marina Sunset

Lefkas Marina at sunrise

In complete contrast to June, September has been glorious but autumn arrived while we were in Vassiliki. Yes, I feel I can be that specific. You see, we’d been sweltering up until then, pretty much day and night. But that evening, while waiting for our red snapper to be served at a favourite harbour-side taverna, I had to fetch a fleece. I know, right!

Blog Vassiliki Windsurfer

Vassiliki is popular for all wind driven water sports because of its reliable breeze

To be fair, we go to Vassiliki because it’s breezy even in settled weather making life on a boat so much more pleasant. There’d been a bit of of a breeze in most places recently but this was the first time there was a definite nip to it.

Blog Lefkas Street

Much of the housing in the older streets of Lefkas Town is made of corrugated metal but some timber frames still exist.

We’d had a few days in Lefkas Marina to sort out our new berth and generally get to know the town a bit better. But with the weather set fair, an anchorage called. We watched the Southern Ionion Regatta race go by from our spot in a small bay near Nidri before heading heading for Vasiliki to do our washing.

Blog Bungalow Bay Mares Tails

Mare’s tails sunset in Bungalow Bay

With the cooler wind came the first indication of a more threatening forcast. We took our chance for a last night at anchor in Bungalow Bay before heading back to the marina. Now here we sit with a Force 8 setting my nerves on edge and lots more to come. September is going out with a lion’s roar. 

Ionian Redeemed

19 Sep
Blog Mitikas Silhoutte

Everyone seems to gather as the sun goes down in Mitikas

I seem to have been posting a few, shall we say, less than enthusiastic entries of late. When Terry asked in the comments section if it was worth it (referring to Fiscardo in particular) I was beginning​ to wonder myself. But since then most days have been a demonstration ​of why we got into this little lark in the first place. The variety to the locations we visited seemed to reflect the different sides of our personalities.

Blog Sivota Fisherman Chair

Sivota, Lefkada

We spent a few blustery days in Sivota, getting lucky on our favourite spot again, generally doing all the boaty and domestic jobs, followed by a few more indulgent days that involved over eating at the Family Taverna. Oh, and a football match. And rather a lot to drink.

Blog Port Leone

Port Leone, Kalamos

Something completely different was called for after that. We chose what is probably our favourite island of Kalamos anchoring in Port Leone first then on to Port Kalamos itself. Finally we crossed the short stretch of water to the mainland and the small harbour of Mitikas where we were again lucky enough to get the last place on the inside of the quay.

Blog Mitikas Table

The perfect spot to watch the sunset in Mitikas

I’ve written about all of these places before (Here) so enough said. I’ll just add that the weather was absolutely perfect with warm breezy days and cooler nights. And no one pulled up our anchor or tried to crush us. Like I said – this is what it’s all about.

The “Top End” of Kefalonia

11 Sep

map-of-kefalonia

With settled weather forecast for the next few days, we took the chance to go to the small harbour of Assos. Not many cruising boats go in there, mainly because it is open to the prevailing wind and can easily become untenable. Even with light winds a noticeable swell came in. The other problem is the quay’s rocky galaxy that prevents most sailing boats from mooring close enough in to get ashore without the using their dinghy.

Blog Assos Early Morning

Having said all that, Assos may well be the prettiest location in the Ionian. A ruined castle guards the entrance with a delightful paved and shady walk up to it. From here the narrow bridge-like strip of land that is all that separates the harbour from the open sea is clearly visible and the beautiful little village sparkles in the morning light, glows as the sun goes down. With limited space for tourists to stay, it still attracts those with cars from other resorts on the island so the quality tavernas flourish in season. Long may it stay that way but I have my doubts.
Blog Assos Early Evening

Neil, visiting some 30 years ago once called our next stop, Fiscardo, the prettiest place he’d ever soon. Even a few years ago it used to be a firm favourite of ours despite being generally more expensive than even the touristic prices of other Ionian resorts. Then, we used to prefer to tie long lines to the shore opposite the quay and away from the mania that would develop as the popularity of the harbour soared. That ended when we returned on Desi to experience the late arrivals dropping dragging anchors between narrow spaces and with only enough rope to take one line ashore. The inevitable result was them leaning on us putting pressure on our own anchor before ploughing it up completely if the wind got up.

Blog Fiscardo late arrivals

Still, hearing that the quay tended to be quieter at the weekend, we thought we’d give that a go. Despite a flotilla now having made it it their base and monopolising swaithes of the quay, we were still able to get on in quite a good location. Yes, the massive tripper boats all came racing in at lunchtime, the loudest just one space away from us but they didn’t stay long and the regular ferries weren’t a problem.

No, it was that single space that became a problem along with the one on the other side of us when the flotilla went out the following day. Into these spaces came the Skippered Charters With the exception of catamarans these are among the biggest sailing boats out there, all usually with a single skipper doing everything himself while the passengers largely stand by unable or unwilling to help. These skippers are also among the most arrogant sailors it has been our misfortune to come across. They expect every other boat to make room for them yet are reluctant to budge an inch themselves when another obnoxious ****  comes ramming in.

I admit I lost it. I got so worked up it can’t have been good for my blood pressure as poor little Desi was being squeezed between them as one in particular, attached to the flotilla, refused to wait a minute longer as everyone was trying to move over. I’ve been left with the overwhelming feeling that I never want to go to Fiscardo again. Neil is more forgiving so we’ll see.

East Coast of Kefalonia

27 Aug

We didn’t get the planned meal out that night in Ay Eufemia. With more rain forecast and the outboard’s unproven reliability we just didn’t want to take the risk. Maybe we’ll give it another go later in the season. Maybe.

You see we much preferred our next stop of Sami. The harbour master was friendly and efficient, cycling around the full length of the harbour to make sure he was there to direct crews to where he wanted them to go and to help them in. He’d even advise about where to drop the anchor although some preferred to take no notice – yes, I’m talking about you Mr Skippered Charter!

Blog Poros Quay

And there was none of this business of reserving whole stretches of quay for the flotillas. It was first come first served. Those arriving later were likely to end up on the less than ideal outer section where the wind and swell, not to mention the regular arrival and departure of ferries. Inside, however, made the strong breeze extremely pleasant and the swell was virtually non existent. There’s a charge, of course, but not unreasonable.

Blog Sami Bay

Sami bay in the early morning light.

The town itself also proved to be welcoming with a couple of excellent (for Greece) and decently priced supermarkets as well as a good selection of tavernas and bars. We also found ourselves walking along the quiet roads roads shortly after sunrise to be greeted by views over the bay as well as the scant remains of a castle. There’s also an acropolis signposted but I don’t think we ever found it. I say “think” as there isn’t much left of that either but it was very pleasant searching.

Blog Sami Castle

Not much else left of the castle

The next stop down the coast is Poros and that was where we headed next. We’d attempted to go there in Seren Môr but had made a swift exit when the depth gage showed the non-existent water under her keel. We were more confident with Desi’s shallower draft and the fact that friends had made it without difficulty. We needn’t have worried, though, as the harbour has obviously been dredged and much bigger boats than ours came in. Like last time, though, there was virtually no one around to assist us in. We were very fortunate that a shore-based couple with a bit of sailing experience happened to be passing otherwise it would have been ‘The Leap of Death’ on to the high quayside. Of the harbour master there was no sign. Until he wanted his money that evening, of course.

Blog Poros Promanade

I only got to see the main area of Poros before the sun got too high or after it set .

Poros isn’t a resort that has sprung up around the harbour. The main tourist area is alongside the beach, accessed along a short but fairly steep road (with a noteworthy pavement) followed  by steps down to the promenade. We didn’t get to see it during the day, however as the most memorable thing about our stay for me was the heat that just seemed to hit you as soon as the engine was turned off, radiating up from the concrete expanse outside the cockpit. This is an access road for the ferry traffic which the lorries wanting to board often take at speed, as though they’re going to leap onto the ferry before the ramp is lowered.

All in all, an anchorage seemed like a good idea after that. We’d spotted a bay which had appealed on the way to Poros but ended up in a completely different one. This beach at this one was completely inaccessible by road but still had a small drinks shack. As, again, one by one all the other boats disappeared, the owners boarded their own, leaving us alone. Alone, that is, until the tripper boat turned up. Thankfully, they didn’t stay long. A late arrival that tied onto the rocks a short distance away meant we still didn’t get the bay completely to ourselves but a pretty good result.

Blog Tripper Boat

Heading home