Skip over navigation
This is the story of Neil and Yvonne Armitage, a couple of New Zealanders in their sixties who, in May and June 2009 broke from their own conventions to experience a six week sailing adventure in Greece. The dream became a reality.
This is the fourth part of the logbook that describes this adventure. Click on the thumbnails to see a larger 800x600 photo in a new window.
It was now the 13th June and we were entering the last week of our adventure. Yesterday the weather forecast had been for a Force 6 from the north for today and possibly tomorrow, if we were to keep to our plan this might make our trip north to Erikoussa and around to the west of the island of Corfu a bit problematical. We had tossed around the idea of turning south from Corfu now and, taking advantage of a following wind, begin to head back towards Lefkas. However, today the forecast downgraded the F6 to a F4 with winds easing over the next 2 days so we confidently pointed “Spyros” out of Gouvia marina and north towards Kassiopi. There was a light breeze from the northwest but nothing of any substance at that time, motored out to the North Corfu Channel and met a strong breeze from ahead with a 1-2 metre sea left over from yesterdays strong winds.
We first moored on the east quay in the small harbour of Kassiopi but found the depths too shallow, moved over to the north quay where there was better depth but only just enough room to moor. There had been 2 other yachts in the harbour when we arrived but by the time we shifted mooring there were 6 yachts on the north quay and others continued to arrive throughout the afternoon. We learned later that Corfu played host on Saturday, yesterday, to a regatta with more than 130 Italian yachts attending. This was the reason why we had been relegated to an outside berth at Gouvia marina (where most yacht charter companies are based) and for the sudden influx of yachts into Kassiopi. A hundred and ten yachts had sailed over from Brindisi on Thursday evening and most were trying to return today but a F6 wind and 3-4 metre sea forced many to turn back; some took refuge in Kassiopi. By nightfall the small harbour hosted 15 yachts, by breakfast the next day most had departed.
|Light on Nisi Periterai in the North Corfu Channel looking over to Albania.|
Kassiopi first appeared as a typical small fishing village but an afternoon walk around to the northern beaches and back over the headland to the town revealed a very busy tourist centre with boarding houses, apartments and hotels tucked away in the bays and on the craggy hillsides of the headland, and a bustling commercial centre with shops, supermarkets and tavernas. Kassiopi was a really pleasant place to stay for the night, in spite of the noisy frivolities at the local café and bar.
|Kassiopia, a small harbour soon to play host to 15 yachts.|
But stay we cannot, our adventure is slowly coming to an end. Thoughts of home and a return to the customary life are starting to disturb the dream. Life aboard “Spyros” had developed its own comfortable routine but thoughts of returning her to Lefkas on a particular day quite soon began to inject a sense of urgency and timeliness back into our lives. It was annoying rather than upsetting.
Our routine soon dispelled unwanted thoughts and we motored “Spyros” out of Kassiopi into a light head wind and a 1-2metre sea. By early afternoon a sailing breeze had arrived and “Spyros” revelled in some good sailing, hard pressed tacking towards Erikoussa. The breeze built to 20 knots, we tacked on the wind shifts but never seemed to get closer to the island so gave up sailing and motored the last 2 miles. Berths at the quay and on the mole were all occupied so we anchored in the bay along with a growing number of yachts that too seemed bound for Italy. By breakfast the next day they were all gone.
|A sheltered anchorage on the most northern island in the Ionian, Erikoussa.|
Our journey southward and homeward began when we left Erikoussa. The sea was like glass as we motored steadily towards the island of Corfu and down the rugged and deeply indented north east coast of the island towards Palaiokastrita.
A 3-hour journey that ended weaving our way into a most picturesque bay and harbour. Since the 10th edition of the pilot the harbour has been developed into a serious water tourism base with 2 pontoons of rental motorboats stretching out into the harbour. There is no longer any room for visiting yachts in the harbour and we had to moor alongside the end of the mole. It is easy to see how tourism could take over such a beautiful place. The town clings to the hillside; hotels and apartments perch on crags overlooking the bays or are nestled at the waters edge commanding a sandy beach. Tour buses negotiate the winding road etched into the hillside and clog the parking areas near the harbour, and it’s only June, not the main yacht charter season.
|Palaiokastrita, a town clinging to the hills overlooking a picturesque bay.|
We couldn’t stay more than one night, after a quick visit to the bakery in the morning we cast off and began a 5-hour motoring stint south towards Lakka at the north end of the island of Paxoi. A light south to southwest breeze filled in during the afternoon that enabled us to cut the motor and sail at 2-3 knots for the last 7 miles. The Greek waters pilot describes the exact location of the bay, Lakka, as difficult to determine from a distance but we had no such difficulty as a stream of yachts and launches disappearing into a hillside quite clearly revealed its position. The bay was crowded; curiously the majority of yachts seemed to want to free anchor in the middle of the bay. As we slowly motored around sorting out a place to moor several yachts were seen repositioning their short anchors; our preference was to join about 5 other yachts and moor stern too the north end of the bay and take a long line ashore. Not too difficult if you have given yourself enough line! See the anchoring course.
|Palaiokastrita, we had to moor alongside the end of the mole.|
In spite of the crowd, the bay was beautiful, the water warm and clear, great for snorkelling. Also it was time for a little housekeeping as we were nearing the end of our charter especially that our dinghy had been towed now for almost 6 weeks and had a good growth of algae on the bottom. Check the yacht charters guide.
|Lakka, crowded with yachts all wanting to free anchor in this beautiful bay.|
June the 17th dawned another cloudless, windless day and we had a long trip ahead. Up anchor at 8:30am and motored “Spyros” out of Lakka on a compass heading towards Preveza. Yvonne and I would each take the helm for an hour and after my watch I’d check our position. After 2 hours motoring this morning a strong south setting current had pushed us about 0.8 of a mile off course. We spent the rest of the day rechecking and correcting our heading, as I was very keen to arrive right on at the buoys marking the narrow channel into Preveza. A good southerly breeze sprang up during the afternoon that enabled us sail the last few miles and to hold our course so that when we spotted the channel markers they were dead ahead. With the sails rolled away we motored down the channel behind a line of yachts that disappeared into one or other of the marinas.
The southerly was blowing quite strongly across the low hill behind the town and harbour of Preveza; the town appeared cold and uninviting so we made a quick decision to keep on going into the Gulf of Amvrakikos and to reach Vonitsa today. A good tail wind helped us run with genoa and motor passed all the fish farms, we squeezed between Nisos Kefalos and Ak Panayia then motored down to the sheltered little harbour of Vonitsa.
|Vonitsa, a wonderful town to end our fantastic adventure.|
Story and photos by Neil & Yvonne Armitage from New Zealand