With one week of sailing to go we continued heading north towards Preveza via Kefalonia. Kefalonia is well known as the setting for Louis De Berniere’s best selling novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the location for the film of the same name. The book was so popular, hotel bookings on the island increased by 25 per cent. It is the largest of the Ionian Islands and the sixth largest of all Greek Islands.
The journey from Nikolaos Bay to Argostoli located at the southern end of Kefalonia was easy and we had sufficient wind to hoist both sails which is always a great pleasure. We made the crossing earlier than usual as there were thunderstorms forecast for later in the afternoon.
Argostoli is the largest town on Kefalonia and a very popular port for yachts and cruising vessels. Once again we tied up at the town quay where we had easy access to tavernas and shops. We’re always on the hunt for somewhere to do our washing so were very happy to discover one here as they’ve been few and far between on the Ionian Islands. A fellow from the port authority stopped by to collect our mooring fee and told us he was from Melbourne. He spends ten months of the year on Kefalonia with his extended family and the remaining two winter months back home with his parents for the Australian summer. He was very happy to chat with people from ‘home’ and to tell us what a great time he was having in Greece.
The following morning we walked along the water front to the laundry and spotted a crowd of people near a fishing boat pointing at the water. We wandered over and saw that they were looking at a couple of turtles who’d come to feed off the scraps the fishermen were throwing into the water. The turtles continued to bob up to the surface and swim around, keeping us all entertained for quite some time.
Later that afternoon the thunderstorm arrived as predicted. The winds were so fierce we had to stay on the boat with the motor running and in gear to stop it from crashing into the quay. Once the storm had passed, we walked to the huge town square. It was full of families out enjoying the cooler weather. Children tore around on their bikes and scooters while their parents sat in the tavernas or on the many benches scattered around the square, chatting and laughing with family and friends. I’ve been constantly surprised at how late children are out playing, however it has been an absolute pleasure to see how active and happy they are, and with hardly a smartphone or iPad in sight.
After two nights in Argostoli we headed up the west coast of Kefalonia to Asos, with a short stop at Myrtos Beach which we’d seen described in the guide books as one of the prettiest in the world. Coming from a country which has some pretty amazing beaches, we were all keen to check it out. Myrtos Beach sits in a small bay surrounded by massive stone cliffs providing a stunning view to its visitors. The water is turquoise, cool and crystal clear. Behind the beach is a car park which was packed. There is also a road that zig-zags to the top of the huge cliff behind the beach, which was also lined with parked cars. It was hard to imagine spending a day at the beach and walking back to your car parked near the top of the cliff. The beach itself was packed with people sunbaking and swimming while paragliders soared overhead. We didn’t go ashore, but instead swam from the back of our boat enjoying the view and discussing the amazing beaches we’d been to Australia and how they compared to this one.
Located a half hour north of Myrtos Beach is the town of Asos, which was our next destination. The tiny pier was already full so we anchored and tied up to some rocks across the bay. It was the perfect spot for kayaking and swimming. High above the town are the ruins of an old Venetian castle. We decided to walk up in the evening when it was a little cooler, hoping to get some nice views of the town and bay. It wasn’t an easy walk as it was still quite warm but we were well rewarded for our efforts. The views were spectacular especially in the soft evening light.
Asos is really lovely and we were reluctant to leave but our time was running out so we lifted anchor again and sailed on to Fiskardo, located near to the northernmost point of Kefalonia. Fiskardo is a very popular tourist town and was packed with yachts, luxury motor cruisers, tourist boats and ferries. We were very lucky to secure a berth on the quay right in front of a taverna. We were so close that one of their tables was at the end of our gang plank. Fiskardo is one of the few towns on Kefalonia that escaped major damage in the 1953 earthquake and much of its original Venetian architecture remains intact. That evening we walked around the town admiring the gorgeous buildings and discovered a cemetery, the first we’d seen on this trip.
The next morning we left Kefalonia and sailed across to the island of Lefkada, stopping at Vasiliki and Sivota for the next two nights. Both were very pretty towns and bustling with tourists and locals.
Preveza sits at the entrance of Ambracian Gulf which we’d not yet seen, so decided to check it out on our last day. The Gulf is home to some large fish farms and we’d read that they attract dolphins, so were pretty excited to see quite a few as we sailed around. We eventually pulled into Vonitsa, a largish town with a lovely beach where I spent the afternoon swimming and relaxing with the locals.
The next morning we sailed back to Preveza and for the next 24 hours cleaned, packed up and prepared our boat to be taken out of the water and moved to the dry dock where it will stay for the next ten months.
Sailing is very much like camping on water. Things we take for granted at home are not readily available on our boat. Our water comes from a tank and so you are always conscious of how much you use. Showers are handheld and very short. Toilets needs to be pumped each time you use them. Power comes from the boat batteries unless you are plugged in at a marina, so charging phones, camera batteries, iPads, etc. is sometimes a challenge. Hair dryers and straighteners are a definite no-no. Washing clothes, towels and sheets is mostly done in buckets as laundromats are hard to find. Despite all this we settled happily into life on the water and will miss it very much.
Exploring the Ionian Islands by yacht has been such an unforgettable experience. The islands are stunningly beautiful, the people so very friendly, and the local food tasty and inexpensive. I was also very fortunate to sail with an amazing group of friends who made this experience so much more fun and memorable than it would otherwise have been. A huge thanks to each and every one them, especially Robyn and Roger.
So that’s it from me for another year. A final thanks to you the reader for your interest and comments. I’ll be back in 2020!