Tag Archives: Sivota

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.

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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

Two Weeks on Board

6 Jul

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Just beetling about, really

This is Day 14 of our summer shake down cruise and it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the first fortnight. It hasn’t all been plain sailing. In fact, after the first couple of days I think we were wondering if we had done the right thing. In retrospect I think we’d expected everything to be just right with the boat and, of course, it wasn’t. It’s a boat. The inverter didn’t work, there was fresh water in the engine compartment, we couldn’t figure out how to run the water maker and the cockpit needed far more shade and cushions. And naturally the weather wasn’t co-operating.

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There’s no doubt that our first sleepless night at anchor made all of these issues seem far worse than they were in reality. The hopelessness of finding an engineer or electrician in Nidri was a blow while rusty skills and unfamiliarity with the boat did the rest. In fact we’ve managed perfectly well with the inverter from the old boat, the water hasn’t recurred and had probably got into the hold from a previous event, shifting as we heeled over while sailing. We’ve made do with what cushions we could find to use in the cockpit for the time being plus strategically placed towels for shade. It’s not ideal but hopefully something we can sort out before next season.

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The water maker is something the vast majority of boats out here do without and we’ve not had a problem filling Desi’s tank as needed. But seeing as how there’s one fitted it makes sense to get it going again. With that in mind we’re back in Sivota where Neil had managed to book a slot with the engineer here. The boost pump had failed and a new one has had to be ordered so a return visit will be needed. That’s no hardship, though.

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To counter all of this we’ve had some wonderful days. Tied to the rocks in Port Atheni and in Fiscardo have probably been our favourite times so far. Kioni is as beautiful as ever although the usual mooring bun fight remains off putting. Added to this both the food and the wine seems to have improved since we were last out here. The old Greek taverna staples remain everywhere but some have realised that being more creative will get them the rave reviews on TripAdvisor and more customers. It’s easy to see the ones that have adjusted here in Sivota. They’re the ones packed out every evening. Most of the small supermarkets seem better stocked, too. They even have spray deodorant now!

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All in all, I think we’re settling back into the lifestyle again. Now if I could just get a slow cooker out here…

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