Tag Archives: Lefkada

A Tale of Three Harbours 

21 Jun

Vasiliki quay has space – at the moment

It is undoubtedly true that the Ionian is becoming more crowded. I understand that a lot of foreign boats have left Turkish waters due to the uncertainty of the political situation there, some some 1,000 I’ve been told heading for Greece many to the Ionian. There are far more charter and flotilla companies than a few years ago, all with bigger boats – many catamarans – and each individual flotilla seems bigger than I remember it.

Add to this the increase in independent land-based tourism, particularly to some areas that had previously not caught the eye of the big companies and it is not surprising the whole experience is changing. These once small fishing harbours that only developed to cater for their boating visitors have had a rethink.

Fiskardo on Kefalonia now seems to give boats a very low priority. A pontoon that was damaged in a storm has not been repaired or replaced and the quay is crowded and full very quickly. Even taking long lines to the rocky shore, once a favourite of ours, will find you as close to neighbouring boats as on the quay as Fiskardo’s reputation means every charter and​ flotilla crew wants to go there. That’s not to say that you won’t receive a welcome from the shop keepers and taverna owners who will still happily take your lines when your stern is nosing its way amongst their tables. Business is obviously booming.

Until very recently it was rare to see a land based tourist in Sivota on Lefkas but apartments and villas are rapidly being built in the hills around the harbour. Additionally, a flotilla company has made it their base and the quay has changed accordingly. There are several pontoons attached to restaurants who let you moor free of charge if you eat in their taverna. Some of these have been there for a while but the difference now is that there are more than enough boats wanting to take up the offer so the owners only want those with large crews staying one night.

With the lazy lines of the pontoons preventing access to a significant amount of the quay ever more deep water berths are being swallowed up by small motor boats. These either belong to regular land based visitors or are the little self drive boats hired out for a few hours at a time. The owners of these lay bouys and lazy lines blocking off the spaces for when the boats are out.
The remaining spaces seem to be taken by liveaboards who, having got a place, are reluctant to move. On our last recent visit we managed to nab a space between the latest pontoon and the rapidly spreading rental boats. For the first time ever in Sivota there was no one to take our lines. Neil had to call over a passing tourist who was willing enough to help but had obviously no idea what to do.

Neighbouring Vasiliki has taken a different course. Renowned for its strong winds, the resort has long been popular with younger visitors wanting all the water sports the guaranteed breezy conditions​ allow. The hotels, apartments, bars and cafes are well established. Now, though, a new breakwater is being built with a privately owned marina due to open in three months time and the old inner harbour, that was alarmingly shallow, has been dredged to a more comfortable 2.5ish meters.

The new breakwater in Vasaliki

This is all no doubt welcome to the struggling Greek economy and the port authorities are, rather belatedly catching on. Sivota, with no Port Police presence (we did see police cars patrolling for the first time, though) continues to remain free to tie up to the quay. Fiskardo will take a hefty mooring fee from private boats, certainly enough to make you think twice, while offering a reduced fee to charters.

Vasiliki seems to have taken a middle way. Earlier in the season we heard reports that the quay was taken up by non-moving boats but, with settled winds forecast, we still decided to check it out. We arrived to find an almost empty quay that gradually filled up around us. That evening the port authorities visited each boat, checking paperwork and charging a modest nightly fee, not enough to put most short term visitors off whilst dissuading those that have taken root.

I do wonder how long it will last, though. Today a flotilla​ from one of the smaller companies came in – for the first time according to the lead crew. The skipper had to bring each boat in himself as the afternoon wind is strong enough to be a worry. But when the new breakwater is complete maybe that won’t be such an issue. It remains to be seen.


View From the Bridge (OK, Cockpit)

11 Jun

I thought I’d share a few photos just to show the variety of places we go to. All have their charms. 

First, a recent favourite: Bungalow Bay. That’s not the name on the map, of course. It doesn’t tend to be high on the list for those who only come out here for a week or so and I wouldn’t like to be one to advertise it! 

Not every stop has quite such a pretty view. This is what we looked out on when we tied to the quay in “Little” Vathy on Meganissi. 

Don’t let this put you off, though; the view from Ian and Bobbie Streten’s “Sundowner” deck was very different – thanks for letting me use the picture, Ian. 

Sometimes you are the subject of boundless fascination or even the main source of entertainment. This was on the beautiful Assos, Kefalonia​, which is more of a land-based tourist destination as it is only suitable for boats in very settled weather so most people aren’t used to being around boats. 

Finally, early morning at anchor in Vlicho, a spot well known to the live-aboard community but rarely visited by those holidaying in nearby Nidre. 

What Desi Did Next 

27 May

With some blowy weather forecast we headed for our ‘go to’ place in the the Southern Ionian, Sivota on Lefkas. As it turned out, the worst of the weather didn’t materialise, although there was obviously more wind outside the harbour, but we never mind spending time in there.

Eventually, though, the pretty little resort of Fiscardo called to us. We usually choose to tie to the rocks and dinghy ashore, preferring what tends to be a quieter spot with easy swimming access to the noise of the quay. This time, however, with the weather still decidedly changeable and the sea definitely failing my big toe test, the quay seemed a better option. The pontoon which only a couple of years ago provided extra space has now disappeared and the better spots were already taken up so we had no choice but to tie outside a taverna, the passarelle touching down amongst the tables.

Despite this and the incessant Zorba music, Fiscardo didn’t disappoint. It is probably my favourite stop in the Ionian, rather gentrified and with prices to match, but still worth the harbour dues. It even has a better class of tourist tat. This is the place to buy your chic summer dresses and thick Turkish towels if you don’t mind forking out the readies. I’m always tempted but compromised with a rather pretty fridge magnet. Now all we need is a fridge to put it on. Oh, and a kitchen, of course.

Next stop was Kalamos and the bay of the deserted Port Leone. Abandoned after an earthquake wrought havoc, it is now given over to boats and fishermen who have a habit of laying nets and almost blocking access, a real propeller hazard for the unwary or those arriving in the dark. Again it was a bit on the chilly side and the katabatic wind not particularly pleasant so one night was enough. The following morning we tootled the couple of miles to Port Kalamos itself.
There was a fair bit of wind as well as rain forecast for the Ionian with just a small patch of blue (indicating light winds) over Kalamos and neighbouring Kastos. This probably played its part in the frenzy that developed that evening. We’ve been here several times, often in peak season, and have never seen it so busy. Two flotillas, one of them unexpected, along with numerous charter boats and all arriving relatively late in the day (the owner occupied crews made sure to get in early) created, what turned out to be, very well organised chaos. This is all thanks to an amazing taverna owner who skillfully made sure every boat dropped enough chain and had a place to go to. How he managed it is something to behold. Inevitably there was anchor chain spaghetti the next morning but again George was there to make sure no anchor was uprooted. We’re not in any hurry to move off.

All quiet at the weekend – pretty Kalamos

Day Break on the Levkas Canal

29 Jul

Making our way along the Levkas Canal to catch the first opening of the bridge we also caught the sun rise.


The pre dawn light at the entrance


The fishermen were already out and about


But the dredgers had yet to get started


And the tug boats waited in the early morning light


As did the seagulls, sitting on the wall at the marina entrance.


And the old fortifications continue their long watch

And Relax

26 Jun

It was the chandlers that took us to Nidri next. Along with the adjoining Vlicho Bay, Nidri is popular with live-aboards, and we’ve certainly had some good times there, but it’s not a favourite stop of ours. We managed to get onto a pontoon, one that looked in a lot better condition than the last time we were here and the new owners had installed lazy lines (ropes fixed to the seabed that can be attached to the bow of a boat instead of using your own anchor).
It’s not a quiet spot, though. Attracting land-based holiday makers as well as the boating crowd, it has a lot to offer. Restaurants and bars line the water front, with the parallel back street containing a plentiful assortment of supermarkets, bakeries, souvenir shops and giros takeaways. Nestled among these is still the occasional hardware shop and a decent chandlers, all making it a good place to re-provision. We got a few things we hadn’t found in Levkas town and got a few more jobs done, making the stop worthwhile one and busy again.
People on holiday don’t tend to be at their quietest, though, and coupled with the party boats that like to have music blaring to attract the punters, doesn’t make for the most peaceful of nights. It is, however, usually well protected from most winds but an uncomfortable swell can get in. You’ve guessed it – in it came.
Thankfully, our sea legs had returned quickly, the lazy lines seemed up to the job and we didn’t have to worry about anybody’s anchor dragging. We slept like the proverbial logs.
All the same we were glad to be moving on again. The plan to spend a few nights at anchor in a quiet bay next was scuppered by the weather forecast, though.


Watching the rain approach

Thunderstorms were on the way. With this in mind, we chose instead to head the short distance to Sivota on the same island. This can be just as noisy, it’s true, and a flotilla company has made it it’s base but we have always been fond of the smaller scale resort. Picking the weekend with the flotilla crews change over could have been a mistake but wasn’t a problem as it turned out. At least not yet! We found a place in our “usual” spot and had lunch at a favourite cafe. The changes weren’t at first immediately apparent but then we realised things seem to have been smartened up a bit, gone a bit more up market, perhaps.
The rain and thunder rolled in as predicted but we almost welcomed them as the temperature and humidity dropped and it was all over by a surprisingly chilly night fall. We really must get some bedding sorted out!

Fingers Crossed

17 Dec


We’d been a bit concerned about heading for Greece in December. The hotels were booked so bed and breakfast was sorted but what about other meals? Would anywhere else be open out of season? How would the stringent austerity measures imposed on the country affect day to day life? Our main concern, though, was that we didn’t have any winter clothes! We needn’t have worried. Everywhere was quiet, of course, but life has to go on and Athens was an unseasonable 25° when we landed! It did cool enough to be glad of the extra layers and newly purchased jumper as the day wore on but, even so, we couldn’t believe our luck.
The road between the capital and the coast was much as we remembered it from three years ago – contraflow and traffic cones most of the way as well as dark and winding approaching the Ionian. The work stops and starts periodically depending on the cash flow. Naturally, the pretty port town of Lefkas was almost unrecognisably quieter than we had become familiar with. The marina still looked prosperous but many of its berths were now filled by a popular flotilla company.


We soon spotted a few live-aboards in a nearby taverna, though, and figured that was probably the best place to get our first meal. Large quantities of “sexy chicken” and sufficient local wine and Mythos later we knew we’d made a good choice. As the early morning sun lit up the town, basting the buildings in its golden hue and casting rippling reflections of the many masts across the harbour, the mist in the surrounding hills gradually cleared revealing long legged birds wading in the salt marshes. Fishermen brought in their catch as well fed cats sat waiting expectantly for fish heads, not the slightest bit interested in the strutting pigeons. It was all feeling like a holiday.


But we weren’t here to admire the scenery. We’d come to see a boat and waited impatiently for the broker’s to open. It wasn’t long, though, before we were heading to a nearby yard to take a look around what we hoped would be the main feature of our next adventure. She didn’t disappoint. The very brief conversation between the two of us that followed went something like:
“What do you think?”
“She looks in good condition.”
“Shall we put in an offer?”
“Go for it!”
And we did.