Autumn is coming to the Ionian

We had a fantastic week with our friends Trina and Joe. We collected them from the airport on the Sunday evening after a trip to spectacular Assos with its castle and to Mourtos beach (which featured in the film “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”).

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Looking down on Assos from the castle

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Assos castle

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Not the tourist path to the castle

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Entering by the back door

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On Mourtos beach

Monday dawned fair with a good forecast, so we set off up the Ithaka sound to Fiskardo. We managed to sail for a bit and arrived at 3pm but the pontoon and quayside were already full, so tied up with long lines to the north shore, Trina and I swimming with one line each. It helps having two extra people on board for complicated maneouvers. We snorkeled off the point in wavy conditions, but still saw lots including some peacock wrasse. An expensive ice cream and not so expensive dinner in the town completed the day.
It was very windy the next morning and we thought we might struggle to get our lines retrieved, but a small Spanish boat had come in next to us late in the evening and they let us tie on to them while we got our lines back from shore (Andy went to get them in the dinghy). We headed over to Meganissi to inspect the spectacular caves there and were lucky as the wind dropped, allowing us to swim right into the cave. It was an eerie feeling swimming under millions of tons of rock hanging over your head.

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Another yacht getting ready to take people into the cave

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We anchored in Abelike, Meganissi overnight and had a walk across to Vathi, followed by more swimming and showers ashore.

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Small chapel, Vathi, Meganissi

It was a beautiful starry night and we stayed on board for a BBQ tea. It’s a beautiful, sheltered and peaceful place with no loud music from shore.
On Wednesday morning we set off to sail to Kalamos island. The wind was NE/E so we had a good few hours sailing but had to turn the engine on to motor into the headwind along the south shore of Kastos. We arrived at Kalamos harbour about 1430 and George helped tie us up as usual. Just as well we got in early as it just continued to get busier and busier. There are still lots of flotillas around and Kalamos is always on their itinerary.
A walk to the windmill beach, drinks and the most amazing prawns at the beach Taverna, followed by showers and a meal at George’s Taverna sitting at a table on the beach. Another great day.

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Trina and Joe at the windmill, Kalamos island

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View from the beach bar, Kalamos

We were heading across to Kioni on Ithaka the next morning. Conveniently, the wind dropped as we approached Atakos island and we anchored, along with about 10 other yachts. The snorkeling under the tortured cliffs was as good as ever but it was all much busier than when we had been there in May. We did see a large shoal of young swordfish swimming quite close in to shore. It was a bit spooky swimming through the shoal, as they parted and then surrounded you. The small “swords” on the fish were about 8cm long so looked quite intimidating!
When we arrived in Kioni at 1515, the small quay was already full so we took long lines ashore again on the west side. There was plenty of space and Trina swam ashore with both lines. She then also helped another boat with their lines. We got a bottle of wine in return for the help. We were thinking of farming out the line swimming services, but when the next boat came in on our other side, Andy was already in the dinghy so took their lines. Another bottle wine came our way!!

 

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One of the three old windmills at the entrance to Kioni, Ithaka

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View to Atakos island from Point at Kioni

Kioni is a beautiful place. There are three old windmills on the point to the south of the town and we walked out to see them and to keep up the ” step count” for the “Fitbit” enthusiasts. Ithaka has lots of beautiful walks and many lovely holiday houses and apartments , so it’s a popular place. We had dinner at the same restaurant as last year, sitting on a terrace overlooking the harbour and watching the light fade and the town lights come on. One of the local cats took a real shine to Joe, but thankfully it didn’t steal food off the plates. The cats actually look well cared for on this island. Jasmine scented the night air as we walked back through the small streets to Vaila.
Trina and I went ashore the next morning. Not as simple as it sounds, as it involved getting into the dinghy and pulling ourselves along the mooring rope to reach the quayside . We got yogurt and fruit for breakfast and stopped to watch the antics of two cat families with some very boisterous, cheeky and demanding kittens.
Getting away from the anchorage was a bit more complicated than usual, as our anchor had caught the chain of a large catamaran close to us. Luckily our “anchor thief” or “finger of God” as it’s known here, came to the rescue and we unentangled ourselves pronto and got a round of applause from the cat’s crew!!
We motored to Arkhoudion island where we had been snorkeling before. The wind had dropped so we felt safe to anchor so close to shore. We were getting ready to snorkel when a large catamaran with Russians on board came charging into the bay towing two snorkelers at about 4knots and with music blaring. Luckily they got the message when Andy shouted at them, so they anchored instead and then got their spearguns out! There is no accounting for what some folk like to do. Unfortunately Russians seem to be some of the more obnoxious people we come across while sailing!!
The snorkeling was fantastic with shoals of swordfish, colourful reef fish, soft corals, starfish and urchins all in crystal clear water. The wind stayed down until after lunch, so we then set off for Vathi on Ithaka. As usual, the wind gusted about 10-15 knots just as we were coming in to Vathi, and the north quay was full, so we opted to anchor and wait for the wind to drop (hopefully). Luckily at 7pm the wind did decrease, briefly, so we backed on to the town quay. We walked right round the bay in the blustery wind, until we reached a favourite restaurant where we sat by the water’s edge and enjoyed some delicious food and the odd spot of wine!

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We sailed over to Ay Efemia on the Saturday and had some good wind, but by the time we got to the harbour it was blowing 15 knots, so again we anchored hoping the wind would drop. We got onto the quayside about 7pm once it calmed down. Luckily, at this time of year, there are not so many flotillas and there was lots of space. We snatched a snorkel at paradise beach and had a last dinner with Trina and Joe, as they were leaving the next day. We had a fantastic week together and the weather luck of the Gavans held as usual!!


Now we are back in Sami, sitting out some stormy weather and waiting for Paul to arrive, before we head up to Preveza for lift out on the 17th October. It’s definitely end of season here. Everything is much quieter, the restaurants are closing the beach front sections and the showers are only open in the morning. The weather is still warm just now but it’s more stormy and we are expecting rain this week. Ashore the chainsaws are working and wood is being stockpiled for winter. We are still managing a swim most days and were lucky enough to get really close to a cormorant and some kingfishers yesterday while swimming.

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