Tag Archives: Lefkas

Vhliko and Port Atheni

On Saturday we slipped from the town quay heading for Ormos Vhliko and Port Atheni.  Vhliko is 9 miles south of Lefkas and from there north coast of the island of Meganisi, where there are a host of small bays to anchor in, is only 4 or 5 miles away.    Then we planned to head south to Vathi on the island of Ithica, a mere 20 miles away.   This is the sort of cruising we hope to do when we get into the Agean again, short hops between islands only making long passages when absolutely necessary.

Leaving Lefkas Town at 11.30 we headed south through the canal which separates the island from the main land.   In fact it is only this canal across salt flats which makes Lefkas an island.   It was first dug in the 7th century BC by the Corinthians and has been in use in various forms ever since.   On leaving the canal we had a slow motor along the coast towards Ormos Vhliko.   Slow because we needed to make water as 5 days in Lefkas, where there isn’t any, had depleted our supplies.

Taverna Elena

Ormos Vhliko is a land locked bay well protected from almost all winds, not that wind was going to be an issue, there wasn’t any ……   We selected our anchor position off the village of Geni on the east side of the bay very carefully, on the basis of its proximity to a couple of tavernas.   These tavernas have their own jetties and just before the sun went down we took the tender to the nearest one and tied it up next to our table and spent a very pleasant couple of hours over a light dinner and some wine, returning to the boat to continue using their internet!

Taverna Elena with jetty, or vice versa …

On Sunday we set off at 11.30 again for the trip across to the north coast of Meganisi.  The island’s north coast is heavily indented with coves in which you can anchor but need to tie back to the shore because the water is quite deep and there is no room to swing; this is not something we’ve done before.

Captain on Deck!

In Lefkas I had purchased two 50 metre lengths of floating mooring line and had already bought two heavy lifting strops so I decided to use the windless conditions to practice with my new toys.   We headed to a bay in Porto Atheni which I knew would suit as a test site; we’d anchored here for lunch last year with our friends Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett, so it was familiar ground.    Anyway, long story short, we anchored and while Valeria BBQ’d lunch I ran my two new lines ashore in the dingy and we successfully tied back to a couple of large rocks on the shore. You wouldn’t want do this in strong winds but now I’ve had a practice I reckon we should be able to do it for real when the time comes.

Long lines ashore

So our second night of generator supported freedom was spent in silent relaxation in a delightfully tranquil bay with just three other boats for company, and none of them charter boats !!!!!!

Languishing in Lefkas

We hung around in Lakka for an extra weekend so as to arrive in Lefkas on Monday, 7 May, hoping for an engineer’s visit on Tuesday morning to assess our generator problems, until this was fixed we would be pretty much stuck in Lefkas, the last service area for a few hundred miles …… hence Languishing in Lefkas!

We had an uneventful passage from Lakka and arrived off Lefkas at about 2.45pm, as planned giving us 15 minutes to hang around waiting for the swing bridge between Lefkas and the mainland to open at 3pm.

Lefkas sunset, one of the few we saw!!

Once through the bridge our next challenge was finding somewhere to tie up.   There is a long Town Quay but it is ‘infested’ with charter boats and this early in the season there are still a lot without charterers.  Our first attempt was to anchor but the holding was dubious and there was no room to swing. We ended up tying back to what was effectively an overflow town quay on a causeway leading out of town to the swing bridge, in amongst a load of unchartered charter boats.   It transpired that although technically public by Wednesday the ‘Charter Company’ made it quite clear we were not welcome.  Rather than push the point, on Thursday, we moved to a now vacant spot on the Town Quay for the rest of our stay at €10 per night …. mercifully we didn’t need to even think about using Lefkas Marina at €82 per night!!!

The generator problem was a not simple one and we were very grateful for the attentions of the engineer from Contract Yacht Services.   Unlike Engineers from certain service companys in the UK, Panos arrived exactly when he said he would and, although it took three days of elimination, testing and phone calls to Fischer Panda in Athens, he finally identified a temperature sensor as the villain of the piece.   Prior to that he found, and replaced, a leaking exhaust hose (jubilee clip probably never tightened correctly in the first place)  and a burned out electrical connector (badly fitted originally).   Neither of which were easy to find and neither affected the original problem.   He also took the outboard and serviced that.  Not our cheapest week as we also had to fill up with diesel but we now have a generator, our tender and 400 litres of fuel so are set for a summer of anchoring in isolated, hopefully, charter boat free bays.

We did have a few evenings to kill in Lefkas and found a number of very pleasant tavernas to indulge our newly rekindled hunger for Saganaki, grilled cheese, generally accompanied by a half litre of white wine and sometimes a meal.  On two of these evenings we got caught in torrential rain showers, and so had to shelter in tavernas ….

…. see why we had to hide with a half litre of wine ….. It was terrifying ….
Lefkas main shopping street

Lefkas is far from picturesque or even quaint. One of the victims of the ’51 earthquake it is now a mixture of old buildings which survived, rebuilt ones finished in wriggly tin and new concrete ones.  There is definitely a tourist feel to the place but there is life not involving tourists.   Lefkas is a working town, heavily centred on the charter market as evidenced by the very high ‘Chandlers per Square Mile’ figure!   It is lively without being overly busy and, under less traumatic circumstances, would have made a pleasant stop over.

Lefkas Extremes. Earthquake survivor beside wriggly tin reconstruction, bathed in sunlight under a rainbow

But now, fully functional again, we are resuming our passage south. Valeria will go to the market tomorrow as I get the boat ready for sea and we plan to be away before the afternoon wind sets in!

 

Sivota to Paxos

We said our farewells to Graeme and Jane, and Martino on Saturday evening and at 8 am on Sunday morning, Graeme and Jayne helped throw off our lines and waved goodbye from the pontoon, Isabella had gone back to bed.  ( You know who your friends are …..)

The passage to Paxos could be made to the east or west of the island. Going east was theoretically an hour shorter than the western route but required the negotiation of the narrow channel passed Lefkada port and the bridge north of Lefkada; with perfect timing and no other yachts we might have made Paxos quicker going east.    We went west, out of Sivota, hang a right, then right again at the next light house ……. navigating is a bit more difficult than that but with GPS and Sat Nav not that much!!!!

We put the sails up; a triumph of hope over experience and motor sailed north by north west towards Paxos, fishing line trailing; another triumph of hope over experience.

And then …. exitement …. well, a mild over exaggeration.   I saw a small rubber boat 6 miles off the coast where no small rubber boat should be.   As we got close it became apparent that it was empty.  As we got closer we saw it marked up as belonging to SailingHolidays.com.   Now, charter boats drag their tenders, we’ve seen enough to know that, so in all likelyhood some one couldn’t tie their knots and lost it, but what if …

Salvage ….

So I called the Coast Guard and reported it, then took the tender in tow.  That is £800 worth of dingy!  Well it was until I saw it up close later as we dragged it on board.  My visions of claiming salvage dropped from a week in a marina to a case of beer, if I was lucky.

Arriving at Gaios I called the Port Police as instructed by Coast Guard.  They had found the owner of the dingy,  the manager for the chater company based in Gouvia.  On phoning him it transpired he’d spent most of the afternoon being quizzed by the Police about this tender.  Oh dear, what a shame, perhaps ensuring charterers can tie knots and keep an efficient look out might help?  How can you loose a tender and not notice?   Mind you, we have a few ‘Charterboat stories’ that could answer that question.

Unfortunately,  arriving at Paxos on Sunday afternoon we found the cute anchorage of Mongonisi packed, and the port of Gaios similarly full. Having said that I lack the Charter Boat skipper mentality which will see them drive at spaces which really don’t exist and cram in there regardless.  So we anchored off the port and spent a rather un-comfortable, and mostly sleepless night, ‘on the hook’, expecting 24 hours of rain which never materialised.

South entrance to Gaios

On Monday afternoon, as yachts left, we went into Gaios and found ourselves a spot on the Town Quay; then spent the afternoon watching various yacht drivers trying to reverse into gaps and fending off others mooring next to us.

All in all a far from uneventful passage but now we’re in Gaios we’ll stay a couple of days and look around the island before moving on to Corfu.

Sivota and the South Ionian Regatta

Returning to Sivota was a good choice as it turned out. Busy due to the Regatta but well sheltered from the winds which were good for the races but not for passage making north! We are grateful to Martino for squeezing us in. Turns out his sister’s boyfriend is …. you guessed it …. Brazilian!

Isabella On Watch ….

The bay was very, very busy with every available berth taken, and the anchorage full each evening. But with all these crews in town it wasn’t as rowdy as might have been expected and we quite enjoyed our stop over. There were plenty of restaurants and tavernas, shops for essential food and fishing tackle and of course Graeme, Jayne and Isabella.

As the week wore on the Regatta crowd slowly disappeared and normality returned although on Saturday we were entertained watching two departing yachts getting their anchors caught on submerged obstructions. One eventually freed himself through brute force but the second managed to dredge up 3 or 4 old anchor chains, all comprehensively tangled round his anchor. After a while Graeme and I went over and helped him free himself.

On Saturday afternoon the four of us decided we needed some exercise and so took a 4 km walk up to a reputedly good winery in the hills above Sivota on the road to Lefkada. We found a taverna for refreshments half way there with fantastic views into Sivota Bay. Happily the taverna was there for refreshments half way back as well!

Sivota Bay

But when we got to the winery it was closed …… well, mostly. We managed to tag onto the end of an over running coach tour and after a quick tasting bought a couple of bottles! Had to be done after all the hiking to get there!

We also had our last meal out with Graeme and Jayne that evening; the ’12 Gods’ restaurant was the best one we found in Sivota. And then we bid our farewells. It was lovely to see them again and spend time with them and we may not see them again until we return to Greece next year.  We’re pretty sure to meet up again as we’re both heading in the same general direction as each other.

Sunset in Sivota

We are both set to leave Sivota on Sunday although we’ll be off earlier with further to go. Paxos, here we come!

Reunion in Sivota

We set off from Sami early on Saturday morning for a short ‘drive’ up to Sivota on the south coast of the island of Lefkas, where we planned to meet up with our friends Graeme and Jayne, and their Ship’s Cat Isabella,  in Scarlett.

Scarlett

As it happened we both arrived at the same time and ended up on opposite sides of the same pontoon just after lunch.  Our plan loosely was to leave on Tuesday on our way up towards Lefkas town to wait out the next batch of poor weather, so with a couple of days to kill we set about some serious socialising, meals on board and ashore.  Isabella even seemed to remember us and Windependent from Olbia almost 5 months ago and settled right in when Graeme and Jayne came to visit!   It is great to meet up with them again.

Chart of Sivota

Sivota is a sheltered bay about half a mile long.  It has a small town quay and is home to an enormous charter fleet which takes up fully 3/4 of the available space.    Unbeknown to us, we had arrived at the start of a charter fleet sailing regatta and space in Sivota was at a premium.  Luckily,arriving early we got onto a privately run pontoon and as the afternoon wore on all the available berths were taken up and boats were anchoring in the harbour with very little room to swing.  How it will be when it gets busy is anyone’s guess.

The village has grown to service the charter fleet custom and trade from other visiting yachts and there is little  else in Sivota other than restaurants, shops and a couple of mini markets.  That said it is a pleasant enough place to pass a couple of days, quiet but crowded, picturesque and sheltered.