We managed to peel ourselves away from Preveza, and press on south to go around the Peloponnese peninsula and into the Aegean. Firstly we pass through the Lefkas canal which is actually a car ferry, strategically positioned between two sides of a canal so that it forms a road that cars drive over. On the hour the road closes, the car ferry moves out of the way and lets the boats through. We pass along the narrow canal with beautiful wetlands on one side and a road and marina on the other. A pretty spot and quite a different experience.
Our first stop is at Abeliki bay, which we have heard great things about, however at this time of year it is wall to wall boats and doesn’t really do it for us so we give it one night and move on.
Below: ITIKI transits Lefkas Canal
We skip the over-crowded east coast of Ithaca island and attempt to anchor in Polis Marina on its west coast. This bay looked to be protected but the northerly wind hits the southern shore and funnels in to the bay beam on. No thanks. We cross to Kefalonia east coast and make an overnight stop at Foki Beach on the island of Kefalounia. Much better protected and prettier anchorage, but it seems it was our turn to amuse the other boats in the anchorage. We didnt exactly cover ourselves in glory with our med-mooring efforts. I guess it was our turn to provide the entertainment and I think this goes down on the list of most embarassing moments. We consoled ourselves by filming the efforts of the next boat to come alongside us, who took his lines ashore in a dinghy. Meanwhile here is our little saga:
Lines (and bucket) ashore
If you thought med-mooring in a marina was a challenge, wait until you not only have to do it with your anchor instead of lazy lines, and but to tie your stern to a sturdy looking rock or tree instead of a bollard on a concrete wall! Oh and there is no friendly marinero ashore waiting to help you! “Cul a terre” (as the French call it) or “stern lines ashore” requires special equipment and preparation. In the nick of time we bought the necessary polypropylene float rope in Corfu ahead of our first experience at Paxos, Greece, and swatted up on the process in Heikel’s bible of med sailing. Fortunately Rob and Amy from Alchemy, who we met in Mljet NP, Croatia, were there to help us. Nailed it. But first of all I need to paint the picture of my attire and my role in the process. Reef sandals on my feet, to protect me from sea urchins, coral and sharp rocks as I climb ashore. Swimming costume, including long-sleeved rashie to protect me from the rope I am carrying ashore. Gardening gloves (the ones I use to pick up slime-lines in marinas) to protect hands from sea urchins, coral and sharp rocks. Swim goggles – I can swim faster freestyle if I stick my face in the water. Sooo glamorous! So once we have chosen our mooring spot, Keith positions the boat 3-4 boat-lengths from the shore, stern-to and perpendicular, I am on the foredeck in the above mentioned attire (I need to be ready) dropping the anchor as we gently motor back. When we get close enough Keith takes over on the anchor dropping from the helm and I head to the back of the boat, grab one of the lines, wrap it around my shoulders, leap off the stern and start swimming to shore with it. Once I get to shore I scramble around the rocks, attaching the line to our selected target (rock or tree) and give Keith the thumbs up to tighten it, before heading back to the boat to get the second line for the other side, and repeat the process. We then tighten up on the anchor and we are all set for the night! While we now have 2 patented (well they should be) shore line reels, which ensure the rope runs out smoothly as I swim, initially we just the entire 50m of rope in a large bucket sitting on the stern – what could possibly go wrong?! So picture this – we arrive at Foki Beach and choose our spot next to another boat. Anchor deployed I launch myself off the back of ITIKI, dressed for success, swim like Shane Gould to the shore, scramble 3 meters over boulders, up the shore by a walking path, wrap our line around an unsuspecting tree, turn around to give Keith the thumbs up only to see the bucket and entire 50m of float rope in the water, making its way to the next boat! Keith has only just noticed this but can’t do anything about it as he cant leave the boat. The guy in the next boat jumps in the water to retrieve the bucket, meanwhile I have to get back in the water to retrieve the rope and take it back to Keith as ITIKI drifts sideways towards the other boat! He can’t risk using the engines because his wife, and 50m of float rope, are in the water near the props! Fortunately I get back quickly and he can pull us straight on our stern line. We sure did look like professionals that day! Particularly as our anchor didn't set and we had to repeat the whole process (without the bucket issue fortunately!)
The next day we head on to Zakynthos and tie up alongside the quay at Agios Nikolaos, which is "managed" by a very pleasant and helpful, self appointed HM who helps with your lines and then recommends his family restaurant (nice meal of rabbit, trapped by the rabbit-proof fence no doubt!). The main attractions on Zakynthos island are the blue caves on the northeast corner and Shipwreck beach on the northern shore. We do a pit stop at both: the caves anchorage is a bit dicey to leave ITIKI so we take turns exploring on our SUPs as ITIKI waits outside. This was pretty challenging as there was quite a swell coming in. Keith did most of it standing up, but I ended up kneeling. My excuse being I was also taking photos with the GoPro… Quite a special place and yes the cave was a pretty blue.
By the time we get to Shipwreck beach, on the NW side of the island, the tourist hoards are pouring in, this would be a gorgeous place to wake up in the morning, the water is beautiful and the bay surrounded by dramatic, sheer cliffs with the backdrop of the rusting hulk on the beach. Sadly today's conditions make this a poor anchorage so we satisfy ourselves with a “drive by”, leaving the swarms on the beach behind to head down the west coast of the island. It is really spectacular with fjord-like cliffs, shallow bays and caves stretching for several miles. We squeeze through a narrow channel at the southwest tip and anchor in “turtle bay” (Keri anchorage) – apparently a turtle breeding area – but we see no turtles, breeding or otherwise! A rainstorm passes through quite quickly and then the calm settles in.
Its always nice to find a sheltered anchorage for the night but sometimes looks can be deceiving. Some breeze, even a light one, can hold you in position and usually this is facing into the direction of any incoming swell. That makes for a more comfortable motion at anchor. Sometimes though the breeze drops out completely though and in an open bay the swell coming in from the open sea takes over. As you drift around on your anchor chain you inevitably end up broad-side to that swell. That makes for a pretty uncomfortable night on the boat. The flexing and creaking of windows, cupboards and doors is enough to drive you insane. We have been known to re-anchor in the middle of the night in these situations, but here it is not an option. I opt for a Stilnox and to sleep in the saloon as the creaking kitchen cabinetry is slightly less annoying than the creaking of the window seal above my head! Needless to say after these type of nights, it’s an early start the next day and an afternoon nap on arrival! Now its time to head back to the "mainland" again.
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.