May 9th, untie the lines.
It’s about time. Now that the windlass is working perfectly for the first time and finally again, the separation from our friends and our winter quarters is really on the agenda. In order not to exaggerate it right away, our first leg to Preveza will be about 8nm. Unfortunately the wind is a bit too weak, so we motor to the Hospital Bay to drop the anchor again. One we stay a week, we meet Dave again, we know him now for over a year and we meet each other amazingly often on the way. Dave introduces us to Michael, an Australian and so we spend nice days together and exchange stories, help Dave with the Tepai, the new Cruising Tax in Greece, and enjoy the time. This time we wait for a calm day, as the next stage will lead for the first time through a canal, in this case the one of Lefkas.
16 May, Lefkas Canal
it is forecasted to be calm, and indeed, the water surface is as smooth as glass and we are on our way to the canal. Eric has a nervous day today, so I steer us an hour through the waterway until we are welcomed at the other end by unpleasant rough sea and some wind on the nose. We set sail and want to zig-zag to Nidri. But the wind is a little too weak, the waves are pushing us around and shoving us back. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work out. So the whole distance under engine, luckily it is not so far to Nidri. Altogether we cover about 22nm today and anchor in the Tranquil Bay in Nidri.
Again we stay here for some days, among other things we wait until a storm passes by. On these days both bays in Nidri are overcrowded and the boats anchor unpleasantly close to each other. Everyone is looking for shelter from the weather, nobody can be blamed for that, although we have to ask 2 other sailors to choose a bigger distance to us, because we could almost shake hands. One of them could only be convinced by the additional information that we have a steel boat, this would leave a hole in his boat in the unfavourable case of a collision.
22. May, we leave Lefkas
and finally, under sails, we’re off to Mytikas, back on the mainland. Arrived there, we have covered 12nm, anchor for one night and stock up our supplies during the obligatory walk through the small village. Eric wants to go on the next day, I had hoped to spend another night here. We plan to spend the night in an anchorage on Kalamos turns out to be unfeasible. Of course, the wind blows hellish between Kalamos and Kastos, other boats have found shelter in time and the bay is full, opposite, on the north side of Kastos there would also be a bay, which is empty, for good reason. The water seems to be boiling, the mood on board is clearly tense, we need a plan. At the north-eastern end of Kastos is an anchorage, not a bay, but the island should offer us enough cover and shelter from the wind. Arrived there the assumption is confirmed and we drop the anchor once more into the Ionian Sea.
The next day we are rewarded with fantastic weather and we quickly set up our dinghy to explore the island. The scouting took longer than expected and gave me some good blisters on my heels and soles, but it was still worth the trip, the feet will heal again. Kastos, the village with the same name on this island is another pretty spot, a charming fishing village that apart from the museum also has a souvenir shop, some taverns and even a fancy bar. Only the mini market is not there. Probably just closed and not visible from the outside. The locals know where it is, they don’t need any signs.
25 May, Astakos
in Astakos we roam a little through the small village, as always looking for supplies and a few other little things. We find a butcher who sells us not only good meat, but he also adds 2 sausages as a gift. When asked where we can get USB charging plugs, he takes one out of the drawer and refuses to accept money for it. Typical for the dear Greeks, it seems. We wait here for our dear friend Mani and his Happiness (a ferrocement ketch, in lay terms a concrete boat with 2 masts). Together we want to head further south. After a another rough night we split again, off to the south in the late morning. We let the wind decide and make our way to Ithaka, to the famous Vathy Bay.
May 28th, Vathy, Ithaca
a well-protected, sufficiently large bay can be found here. The infrastructure is very good for an island village, we can even choose from 3 laundrettes and wash our laundry in a machine. Not as usual, in a bucket with our feet. Very pleasant.
We do some small work on the boat, there is something to do every day, once we even go out for breakfast, the price unfortunately keeps us from repeating the same thing very convincingly. While we are in the bay, Sea Cloud II joins us, well, almost. A breathtaking 106m long sailboat, which had its launch on my 20th birthday. Observing the weather we stay a few nights sheltered here and do not leave until June 5th. At the south-eastern end of the island we want to take a bathing stop, the water there was too tempting and we became weak. There is no bay here, but we are still protected from wind and waves and decide to end the day here spontaneously. At night we are rewarded with a breathtaking starry sky.