We left the anchorage in Port Atheni on Meganisi early on Monday morning in order to reach Vathi on the island of Ithaca just after lunch, so avoiding some afternoon adverse winds.
Our 20 mile trip across started in flat calm conditions but by mid morning we had sailable winds from behind us and so I dragged out the Cruising Chute and gave it an airing. But that was all it got, the wind took one look at it and dropped away to nothing! Once the Chute was down the wind picked up from the port bow and we actually sailed under plain sails for the last hour or so until we reached Vathi.
Vathi is the main port on Ithaca and is at the head of a large sheltered bay on the east side of the island. It has a Town Quay but you can also anchor in the bay, which is what we did. Our intention was to spend a day or so here waiting for an opportunity to move south when the wind changed. Unfortunately, when it did change it would have got us down to the bottom of the Peloponnese just in time to meet a blow coming from the east. This would have kept us hiding down there for who knows how long waiting for more favourable winds. So on Wednesday we decided that heading south was not an option and that we would instead use the Corinth Canal again. This is not a cheap option but we wouldn’t be spending money on diesel motoring round the Peloponnese, apparently it is 135 miles shorter! We also wouldn’t have the aggravation of waiting for possible ‘weather windows’. Instead we’ll spend a couple of days exploring the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth.
So we had 3 night anchored off Vathi. As with most towns in the area it suffered badly in the earthquake in 1953 and so is fairly ‘new’. It is quite a big town and is spread around the bay and the brightly painted make it very picturesque. It is pretty busy with yachts and is a regular haunt of charter fleets heading for the apparently free Town Quay. The town is quite lively and there are numerous tavernas along the quaysides and more in the side streets. In amongst these are a lot of boutique type tourist shops, in addition to the odd bakery, fruit and veg shop and even a small chandler. It is a busy place and seems to come alive in the evening. We had dinner ashore on Monday and had a wander around town on Tuesday before a leisurely dinner and drinks. On Wednesday we stocked up on fresh food and I visited the Archaeological Museum. Ithaca was the home of Odysseus and ruins above Port Polis on the west coast are the remains of his palace. The museum though is a small affair displaying pottery and some coins found at various sites around the island but it was free and an interesting way to spend 20 minutes.
Our stay in Vathi was pleasant despite the uncertainty with the weather and our sudden change of plans. However; it does mean that when we arrive in the Cyclades our first island will now be Kithnos. This will put us almost a week ahead of ‘schedule’ but will mean missing Milos, Sifnos and Serifos. On the plus side, we may get to catch up with ‘Scarlett’.