Logbook 1
Sailing Greece

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Part 1  Lefkas - Kefalonia

This is part one of the logbook that describes Lene Poulsen's sailing holiday in Greece - Ionian.

Part one: Lefkas - Kefalonia
Part two: Kefalonia - Ithaca
Part three: Ithaca - Lefkas

Introducing ... skipper Gudmund, and crew: Sten and Lene.
We have sailed in Danish waters for the past ten years, but have always had a dream about sailing in Greek waters – especially since visiting Lefkas island four years ago on a holiday. Early this year we made contact with a reliable chartering agency, and chartered the Alexandros - a 33 Bavaria cruiser built in 2006 - for two weeks at the end of the main charter season. We flew to Lefkas (Preveza airport) Monday evening on the 27th of August. Outside the airport a taxi driver was waiting to take us to the boat in Lefkada marina, where we arrived close to midnight.
The Alexandros at Lefkada harbour Port Spiglia - Spartakhori on Meganisi Beach near Port Spiglia

Tuesday – Day one

In the morning we had a closer look at the boat – everything looked fine. At 09.00 a man from the company – Andreas - arrived and explained about the boat in detail. Having taken care of the final papers, we finally set off at 11.30 and sailed through the canal towards Meganisi, our first stop. Very hot day – no wind at all, so motoring all the way. At 14.15 we went into Spartakhori harbour (port Spiglia) – we had been there previously on a boat trip, and had been quite taken by the relaxed atmosphere. We had an easy start – the pontoons have moorings, and a man from the restaurant near the harbour helped us to get the boat in nice and smug. Port Spiglia has very little to offer – or very much; depending on what you are looking for. If you are looking for relaxation, peace in mind and a quiet time, this is the place to go! The owner of the restaurant in the harbour, Babis, runs a tight ship, and is one of the most welcoming and friendly Greek people we have met (more on that later, as we return to Port Spiglia towards the end of our trip). The food is good and you may use the toilets during your stay in the port. You can also take a shower (the going rate for showers in Greece is about €3). Above the harbour you can climb 150 or so steps to the village, Spartakhori – it's a beautiful spot, and worth the climb. Also there is a very pleasant beach at the bottom of the bay, so naturally we went swimming as well.

Wednesday – Day two

Still no wind, and very hot. We sailed out of Port Spiglia next morning at around 09.30 and headed towards Kalamos island where we arrived at Kalamos harbour 12.30. In the harbour we had our first experience anchoring. Maybe I should explain that in Denmark you either go long side (if there is room), or you secure the boat to four poles, the boat in the middle of these. We had been quite anxious about anchoring (reading about something is not equal to actually doing it), but it worked out fine. Again a friendly Greek man came on the quay and guided us how far away from the quay we should drop our anchor. In less than five minutes we had the boat safely secured with the anchor and lay bow-to at the quay. We took the dingy out and went for a swim outside the harbour.

In Kalamos harbour we also met our first flotilla... We have come to the conclusion that they are the inevitable downside of yacht charters – regardless of your planning, you will run into flotillas in the Ionian Sea. Most often they sail 10-15 boats together and they make an awful lot of noise coming in and out of the harbours. We got quite a bit fed up with the flotilla guides standing on the quay and talking (too loud and too clear) into their walkie-talkies, saying for the 10th time “when you come into the harbour, you will see me standing in a green T-shirt on the west side of the quay...”. They usually anchor bow- or stern-to in a bundle, and if your boat is close to their camp, I'd suggest you keep an eye open, as many of the sailors on the flotilla boats have never sailed before (or have very little sailing experience). We did see quite a few incidents where things could have gone horribly wrong, had it not been for experienced captains of other boats nearby. Enough said about flotillas: You cannot avoid them, it seems, so you just have to be a bit careful if you're close to them. The one good thing about flotillas though is that their guides always have an updated weather forecast.

Thursday – Day Three

Hotter still, and no wind. After untangling our anchor chain from one of the flotilla boats (they had dropped theirs on top of ours), we left Kalamos harbour at about 10.15. We sailed down towards the end of Kalamos and up the east coast of Kastos Island, where we dropped our anchor in Vathi Vali and made a snorkelling-/bathing stop. This bay has crystal clear water – lots of fish and sea urchins. If you like snorkelling the spot is fantastic.
Mill near Kalamos harbour - Ionian Sailing from Kalamos towards Kastos Mill, Kalamos, Ionian
At 14.00 we arrived at Kastos harbour. Kastos Island is a very relaxed place – the owner of one of the restaurants told us that because it had been so dry this year, he had not been able to offer showers to the sailors for the past two months. Nothing really happens here – you have the choice between four restaurants – there are no shops at all, and only the sound of an occasional donkey or fishing boat. In the late afternoon the wind picked up a bit (westerlies), but died down again rather quickly.

Friday – Day four

Same old, same old – hot and no wind whatsoever. We left Kastos harbour at 09.30 and sailed towards the island Atoko, just east of Kefalonia & Ithaca. Reaching the island we made another snorkelling-/bathing stop at One House Bay, which is a most beautiful spot.
Morning at Kastos Welcoming sign at Kastos harbour One House Bay, Nisos Atoko Ionian
There is a small church near the beach, and just one house (apparently owned by a local fisherman). We sailed further south-east, headed for Vathi in Ithaca where we arrived at 14.00. Having spent the first three days in very small places it was quite a change to come to Vathi – it seemed like a big city compared to the other three places. We anchored again, bow-to, near the offices of the Coast Guard. In Vathi you have a number of restaurants and shops to choose from, so it's a good place for eating out and buying provisions. There is also plenty of room in the harbour, as the bay is quite large. You may anchor a long way from the town and its noise, if you wish (i.e. at the north-east corner of the bay).
One House Bay, Atoko Island Greece One house bay Atoko Island
We asked one of the Coast Guard officers about a weather forecast and got this: “4-5, north westerlies”. When we asked how hot it was (we were getting curious as it seemed to grow hotter every day), the reply was “Sorry, no temperature – only wind” (!). A shopkeeper, though, told us that it was 40° C, and would be even hotter next day.
Ionian (Lefkas) sailing holidays and yacht charters.

 Story and photos by Lene Poulsen from Denmark

Part one: Lefkas - Kefalonia
Part two: Kefalonia - Ithaca
Part three: Ithaca - Lefkas

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