Tag Archives: Lefkada

Lefkas Marina

21 Jun

The fun and games continued after we checked in to Lefkas Marina for a few days. We’re allowed up to a week at no extra cost as part of a sort of exchange scheme with our home base on Corfu so we thought we’d take advantage and booked a period that covered my birthday – shore power as a special treat. However, unlike Corfu, electric hook up isn’t included in the price. You’d better believe we had it, though!

On previous occasions in Lefkas Town we’ve moored on the harbour wall and it’s always been pretty stifling. This time, placed as we were on the end pontoon (about as far away from the facilities as you can get) we seemed to catch much more of a pleasantly fresh breeze. It would not be the place to be if the wind really did get up, mind. As it was, it lured us into going for an afternoon walk in the town much too early for comfort, the purpose being to pick up a few staples and check out a little restaurant we’d heard of for the following evening.

It never rains on my birthday. And I’m talking about well over 50 years of experience here. So when Neil dared to suggest it might and the neighbouring boat confirmed it I knew better. There had been some rain overnight but sure enough, the day dawned a bit cloudy, maybe, but nothing to change the plan to walk to the nearby big supermarket before it got too hot. I should point out that this is not the chore you might be thinking. The variety of a big supermarket is a real pleasure after being dependent on small individual shops, often with inflated prices. Perhaps not for everyone but I think i can say with the confidence that there are plenty of (probably female) crew members who will agree.

After unpacking all the shopping it was time for a little sit down in the cockpit and a ringside seat to watch the comings and goings on the quay opposite, feeling slightly smug that we were out of the firing line. However, it became apparent that it was also the day one of the charter companies that use the marina as a base let their new crews out for the first time. One of these, obviously eager and feeling macho at the helm of the biggest pointy thing he’d ever got his hands on, came charging out at a ridiculous rate of knots, misjudged the turn and ploughed into the bow sprit of our neighbour, slamming their boat into ours with a hell of a jolt.

The marinaro came tearing up on his dinghy and immediately ordered the offending charter back to his berth. We heard there was a lot of damage to the boat and our neighbour’s bow spit was bent but we’d thought Desi had got off unscathed. It was only when the heavens opened and torrential rain, the like of which seems a Greek thunderstorm speciality, cascaded down the sides of the boat that we became aware of a drip. This was quickly traced to the window frame and further inspection during one of the rare dry spells that day revealed the sealant around the frame had split. Nothing could be done about it then, just tape some kitchen roll around the inside which controlled things.

The lunch I had envisaged sitting in the shade of a nearby taverna was out, though, as was the restaurant we’d booked for that evening which has no tables undercover of any sort. They close if the weather looks wet. However, there was a break in the bad weather, long enough for us to make it to a bar in the town square with sun umbrellas now serving as rain cover. It was the ideal spot for a bit of people watching. You have to feel for those on holiday, still pale and ill equipped for the unexpected weather. Fizz was consumed.

The rain was still frequent enough for us to head to the Italian restaurant near the marina with great views from upstairs window seats. Ok, so pizza wasn’t what I’d had in mind but enjoyable nonetheless. A final tipple watching the second half of the Spain v Portugal game – one of the most exciting and skilled matches I think I’ve seen in a long time. The final goal was pure brilliance even if scored by the most irritating player of all time. So very happy birthday girl.

The window was soon sorted the following day even if rather messily. I chose to keep well out of the way with a bit of window shopping around the small town. Good move.

We’d been debating whether to stay longer in the marina but thought we’d be better off taking advantage of the light wind to start heading north again. More torrential rain was a slight deterrent, it has to be said, but the prospect of going through the swing bridge with the new batch of charterers (something that needs a bit of engine discipline, shall we say) decided it. We were the only boat going through the 8am opening and we didn’t see another boat for about three hours!


Bouncing Along

31 May

Dawn brought the swell. Ligia had been beautifully calm the previous day and, to be fair, there wasn’t much wind that morning but it was out there. The dark clouds also promised rain so definitely not the sort of day I’d normally choose to anchor. And as the thunder rumbled around us on our crossing to Meganisi I seriously considered asking Neil to change our plans.

We had a rendezvous with friends we hadn’t seen for a while, however, and it did look brighter ahead. Low and behold, as we approach the small island it was like a different day. Even so, as we tied up to the quay in “Little” Vathy just to pick up supplies it did seem a shame to give up our spot.

But Abilike Bay was everything we could have hoped for. Tied to the rocks, nobly assisted assistant by Christine swimming out with our line, this was the very best side of Ionian sailing: great company, free flowing wine and the best night’s sleep I’d had in a long time. This is why we keep coming back. OK, so the next couple of evenings were a bit bumpy but even I wasn’tconcerned. Mind you, the plentiful barbecued food and more than enough free flowing wine might have helped.

We didn’t go far after that, just back around the corner to Vathy quay. Now that’s when the swell really came in! The waves had us bouncing quite violently and there was this occasional this. With the depth gage reading some 3 meters when we tied up it took us a few bangs to realise it wasn’t just the water hitting the bathing platform but the rudder hitting something very solid beneath it.

Lengthening the lines to shore and pulling back on the anchor away from the quay did the trick and calm finally returned in the early hours – lulling us into a second night of bouncing. At least we were ready to leave the following morning!

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!