We sailed out of Lefkada on Wednesday morning and made our way to Lakka . Lakka on the north of Paxos, is an intimate bay, absolutley packed with yachts, from 2 meter runabouts to 34 Metre yachts.
Tour boat, Lakka Bay
Graeme and Diane were very excited to be meeting their old friends, Shiona and David on their boat, Capella, in Lakke Bay. Seeing old friends, a fair distance from home, (NZ/ UK) was exciting and emotional. Sailing connections are strong. There are other games involved in their friendship, tennis and throwing a floating ball around while swimming.
Historically, Paxos and Antipaxos were created, when Poseidon struck the island of Corfu with his trident. He was pleased because he could retreat to this island idyll with his mistress Amphitrite.
Later, Ali Pasha chased the Souliotes, an Orthodox Christian Albanian group from Epirus, Greece and they escaped to Lakka. Their own paradise found. And Ali wasn’t a pirate, Ali Pasha was a politician. That night, with David and Shiona , we went We had so much fun eating lamb kletifiko and peeking into the shops, we forgot to take photos.
Back to the boats and goodnight to Shiona and David. A wonderful day and a terrific dinner and all was well with the world.
Everyone was well rested and ready to depart the next day. And Cair Vie made a wrenching noise and would not start. What could be causing such a dreadful noise, tune in to find out.
Our perspective of the Ionian as gentle, quiet and distinctive, last visited by Graeme, Diane, James and I about eight years ago has been challenged by the enormous growth in places like Porto Spilia and Ormos Sivota. Both these ports and Vathi have experienced astounding growth. Sivota in September was busier than Julys in past years. Babbis hard work with Porto Spilia has seen record growth, but luckily he found a spot for us. He was amused to think that just because it was September, we didn’t think to book ahead. Rookie mistake, but we aren’t rookies. The Ionian is busy all summer and into autumn.
Graeme, Babbis and James -Porto Spilia
We sailed over the top of Meganisi, retreating. for a luxurious swim in Ammaglossa Bay. Peaceful and quiet watching small Welsh yawls meet on the beach and retreat to the shade.
The view from Spartachori
During the afternoon, we motored to Porto Sivota. Debbie and Geoff probably thought the four of us were raving, but the number Sivota homes and visiting yachts had grown exponentially. There was a veritable sea of masts. Gobsmacked, we anchored and then saw three more catamarans and four more yachts heading into the churning harbour. We upped anchor with collective sighs and motored out to try our luck somewhere else.
The harbour of Ormos Rouda beckoned and we came well into the deep bay and anchored close to the beach but outside the buoys. We had dinner onboard, our neighbours of less than a dozen yachts were quiet and the water was like silk, the breeze was cool and we all slept effortlessly, especially without the Doof Doof boat. Only the sound of a rooster in the morning.
It is wonderful to be travelling again. There are surprises, Vathi and Porto Spilia are vastly different than the last time we were here. Tourism has added to their economy and we see plenty of new homes, buildings and enterprises. Still the sight of of these island ports makes us smile and memories flood back with the smells of Greek cooking and Babbis sternly telling us he could just fit us in, if we eat early. Where we might have been concerned that some of these Greek Island communities were losing their young people to the lights of Athens, we see that many new homes are being built. Vathi had grown and yet still had it’s charm. Electricity for sale on the Quay for yachts was a welcome addition. We decided to have a swim, before carrying on to Kalamos and went into the very breezy Nisos Atokos.
The most excitement has been Graeme and Diane telling us about Kastos and Kalamos and we left Vathi to see if we could find a berth on the small island of Kastos. We entered the small harbour to see that every available metre on the dock was taken. Undeterred, we continued north to Kalamos and found the view on the approach was exalted, the village arcing it way up a steep hill with the church high above the harbour and berths.
George was waiting for us on the harbour, ready to take our ropes and explaining effusively exactly where to put down the anchor. We were given a warm invitation to have dinner at George’s Taverna. The taverna was on the beach and the food was delicious and bountiful. (Neil, you should have been with us. My souvlakis was enough for three people.)
George’s Taverna, Kalamos
PS Steph and Tom, we are waiting with champagne to celebrate. We are all so excited to welcome a tiny Bub. Every large bird that goes over convinces Deb, it is a sign. The sign of the stork. Personally, I think they are Desmoisselle Cranes, and I hope the stork visits you soon.
On our way from Corfu to Paxos, the six of us: Diane and Graeme from Auckland, Deb and Geoff and James conversed on on how sailing from the time they were nippers, then sailing cherubs, wooden boats, Finns, Javelins and OK Dingys. Ocean racers came next and there was discussion about the differences in sailing from Auckland or sailing in Sydney. The sailing fraternity bonded across Country lines, especially since women like Jean Wilmot, fed a lot of these young sailors, at many regattas. When Aussie sailors went to Auckland they billeted with the Duncalf family. The affection Graeme and Neil had for Jean, meant when James and I met them in the Aeolian Islands, and when they realised we knew Rene, Mandy, Tina, Bobby, Mandy, Dixie and Jean, we all knew we would be friends.
Jean delivering Cherubs to Henley Beach (SA) in 1976. Jean driving and Rene, Bobby and Crew on the trailer.
Diane, Deb and I were talking about the ebullience we felt being in Greece again. We have all sailed in Greece before and we talk about earlier trips and places we loved. Visiting favourite restaurants like Thymani in Paxos and Avre in elegant Kionos.
Avre in Kionos
The weather has been sunny, warm and the water temperature has been about 26 degrees. Seeing the blue water and watching herons in flight while we are playing catch in the sea, is relaxing and enjoyable.
Swimming on the way to Vathi
Debbie and Geoff are waiting for an email from Tom and Steph, she was sure the cranes we saw were storks. Our crew, with a century of friendship travelling in the Ionian,
Last Wednesday, our dear friend Charlene took us to Sydney Airport and almost as quickly as we arrived the gate opened and our adventure began. In Doha, we changed planes and instead of a drawn out layover, waiting for the next plane, we were surprised to see friends Gai and Russell. With plenty of time for a coffee in Harrods Cafe in Doha Airport, we sat and chatted about plans.They were on their way to Bucharest. We couldn’t have planned it better.
Soon, we had to say goodbye and we were off for our flight to Corfu. Our flight in Athens landed right on time, but the pilot said our jet bridge wasn’t free and we waited for close to an hour thinking we would miss our plane- the last plane to Corfu. When we were finally able to deplane, a young airline passenger officer met us and told us to follow her running. We ran past the masses exiting planes and into the terminal. She says ‘keep up’ as we run past baggage claim and into customs. She shouted “go to Gate 14” in Customs and when we are cleared, she is on the other side and races us into the Domestic Terminal. where she shouts to us to go to Security screening and “Run to B19. Hurry!!!” We are running to B19, heart racing, when we hear “Merro!” And we turn and there before us are Debbie and Geoff. We might miss our flight to Corfu, but we will be in Athens with our friends and two of our partners in this adventure. It was better than meditation, blood pressure back to normal. A storm hit Athens earlier in the day and everything was delayed, but our flight to Corfu finally boarded, with all our luggage onboard. Turns out our hearts weren’t racing as much as the Californian couple, who thought they had missed their flight to Corfu, where they were being married the next day. They arrived five minutes before loading. Imagine the champagne flowing after getting to Corfu realising everything was going to be alright.
Our Mediterranean sailing buddies, Diane and Graeme met the four of us at Europa, in the Liston. And we all toasted to the upcoming adventure! Yamas!! PS: Thanks Charlene, that was so appreciated.