25 May, 2015 Erikoussa Island 39:52.696N 19:34.83E
24 May, 2015 - On Passage from Crotone (Italy) to Ereikoussa (Greece)
We have finally left Italy and now arrived in Greece.
As I started to write this we are about 20 miles due south of the ‘heel’ of Italy’s boot. Sadly the wind died about an hour previously and we were motor sailing, but only after a good 6 hour romp with a f4 northerly/nor-westerly wind to speed us on our way.
Our departure from Crotne was marred by Charlie running us aground in the entrance! Having previously remarked that there was not much water in the centre of the channel he had been advised to keep up to the inshore breakwater. We can now verify there is even less water there! Our progress to the open sea was brought to an abrupt halt! It felt like sand so no damage was expected (we run aground so often we can tell the difference!) but now Mr C is sulking as he expected he may have removed some of the antifouling so lovingly (?) applied only a few days ago. (Update – Charlie went swimming this afternoon after arrival and reports there is little paint damage after all).
Crotone (vieux port) is a working (fishing) harbour – the newer commercial port to the north has been largely abandoned following the departure of industry from the area. There is a scrap berth (always a bad sign) at the northern end, but the cement berth is lying idle and neglected and the port appears to be used to lay-up medium to smaller vessels. The quays are in fair condition but with lots of crushed and broken iron-work protruding from the walls; Owners of shiny yachts beware!
The boatyard business located on the quay apron in the new port and is flourishing.
Yesterday (Saturday) we filled our larger fuel tank after cleaning out traces of the ‘bug’ and dosing it with chemicals – so with both tanks now clean we shall hopefully survive this season unscathed.
On the eve of our departure we found the windlass was again unserviceable – a repeat of June, 2014! We have an electric machine with a controller that plugs into a socket in the anchor well. Not very clever really as that end of the boat is always wet. Some last minute repairs were needed before dinner on the eve of departure. Work was not helped by a neighbour to windward – a Mr Richard Head (sic), who decided to hose his decks down as Charlie was rewiring the controller plug! Expletives x3.
We had planned to cross the foot of Italy from Crotone to Santa Maria di Leuca – a distance of 71 miles or about 11-12 hours sailing. However, according to various people’s pilotage notes, this is an uninspiring place with an un-necessarily expensive marina. The anchorage outside the port would have been exposed in the SW winds forecast so, instead of an uncomfortable night at anchor after a long day at sea we chose to make it an even longer day and cross to the Faraway Islands to the North of Corfu in one hop.
We had hoped to be joined by Matt this next week which would have given us a reason to scurry onward, but nothing has been heard from him for weeks now so we guess he is not coming. As we have no internet for the next few days and until we sign up with a new network in Greece if he does fly out he is going to be a lonely boy! - unless that is we can find a friendly taverna in Erikoussa with wifi.
At anchor at Erikoussa - Monday 25 May, 2015.
We arrived this morning at dawn after a 23 hour passage from Crotone. Initially it had been a bit rocky-rolly with a short and uncomfortable beam sea. The wind came and went and then came back again, but intermittently. Sea conditions slowly improved and after we were past Santa Maria di Leuca we enjoyed a pleasant overnight sail. There was a fair amount of commercial traffic as we approached the Greek coast and it was cold – something we had not expected. Not so cold that we needed foul-weather clothing but warm fleeces, scarves and long trousers were the order of the day rather than shorts. The coldest part of the night always seems to be the last two hours before dawn and this morning was no exception. Then the sun came back, the sea turned a turquoise blue and all was well with the world.
We were last here (Erikoussa) with Sailing Holidays on a flotilla holiday sharing a 36ft Beneteau with Annie & Rob about 8 years ago. From the sea the island doesn’t appear to have changed in the meantime. It is of course isolated from the bustle of Corfu and tourists don’t get here much. There is a beautiful sandy beach in front of the village with the same (probably unaltered pink taverna with awnings along the seaward side advertising Café Restaurant, Fresh Fish and Lobster.
The harbour is on the south west corner of the island. Substantial hills fringing a small plain where the village is located provide good shelter from the prevailing North West winds. The harbour is small and shallow. There is a single jetty to serve the small inter-island ferry which calls daily at 09:00and most of the remaining area is taken up with haphazardly laid moorings for local fishing boats. No room for visiting yachts so we are anchored just outside to the east of the ferry landing in a classic horse-shoe bay with a sandy bottom, so good holding, and in a gin clear water such that you can see the fish below the boat. Because there is no tide we can anchor close in – about 50 yards from the shore.
Ashore there has been some considerable investment with new and refurbished tavernas and a new paved road complete with road signs and pedestrian pavements. There are some cars here but I suspect they are few in number and probably less than 30-50 in total and all low-mileage as the island is tiny, smaller even than Sark.
This is a truly lovely and peaceful place with wild birds in abundance. The island is not yet fully open for the season and feverish refurbishment and painting is in evidence on commercial properties everywhere, except the hotel which is closed with furniture shrouded in dust sheets.
The tavernas also serve excellent beer from a micro brewery in Corfu. i like!
Photos to follow when we have wifi.
PS - We hope you all enjoyed your bank holiday weekend as much as we did.