Rob and Jacky Black
Sun 26 Jul 2009 13:53
38 10.7 N 20 29.4E
Tuesday 21st July Argostoli
We left Rocell Ionica at 0600 with a light breeze, hoisted the full sails and set off towards Greece! The first 2 hours we had a good sail but gradually the wind died and we had to furl the headsail and motor However by midday the wind picked up and we were racing along and over the next 9 hours our average speed was 6.5 knots. However with the seas building it was not a comfortable passage we reefed the main twice during the evening and reduced the headsail size to almost half and we were still doing 7.5 knots off the waves. Eventually we took the main down around 0130 and just used the jib for the rest of the trip. It was difficult to sleep with the boat falling off the waves and rolling quite a bit. Rob set up a bed on the floor of the main saloon and this proved to be very comfortable so much so that we both managed some proper sleep when off watch. We had decided that 3 hours in these conditions was long enough! One thing that was fantastic about the trip was the amazing stars including the 'Milky way'! There was just no light pollution at all (no moon) so it was just spectacular.Dawn broke and still the 4 - 5 metre seas with breaking tops seemed to stretch interminably to the north - obviously the remnant of the gales that had blown over the weekend through the northern Ionian. However when I came back on watch around mid-day the seas were much reduced and we were motoring as the wind had dropped to 6 -8 knots!
We arrived off the small island at the entrance to Argostoli around 1400 took the sails down and generally sorted our selves out ready for our first anchoring/stern-too mooring experience.
We motored up to the bay and were surprised to find a jetty not marked on either of our charts - Rob guessed it was for cruise ships as it was big and very new. (This proved to be correct as the Aurora arrived the next day!)We continued on and then found the custom's quay which had little space as it was occupied by several super yachts and motor boats. in a bit of a quandary as to what to do next we were hailed by a chap on the town quay who advised us to go there. We explained we hadn't cleared customs in Greece but he was adamant this did not matter. We duly reversed into a slot having dropped the bow anchor about 40 metres off. All went well and we were soon being greeted by two lots of English owners who gave us all the low down about regulations etc. It appeared that there was no rush to get signed in so we had a quick wander round an early tea and went to bed.
The following morning we went to the cafe across the road owned by Leo (the unofficial marineros) where we met up with the Oz family from last year Ray, Julie, Sam and their dog Milo! last seen in Chipiona in August '08!! They had arrived before us and have been in Greece for several weeks. It was great to catch up with them and we had drinks and chatted for ages before agreeing to meet up later.
The town of Argostoli is the capital of Cephalonia and is big and bustling but fronts onto a lovely almost enclosed bay with rolling hills all around. The shops are very good with wonderful fruit and vegetable stalls, supermarkets, local produce shops as well as the usual touristy type shops.In the morning the quay has local fishing boats selling their catch and yesterday we saw a large turtle swimming along close to the jetty! The main square is ringed with cafes and bars and is a hive of activity after about 2000. We were lucky enough to be here during a festival and on Wednesday there was a marvelous display of local Greek dancing wearing amazing costumes and accompanied by a band, from 2130 - 2230 culminating in all the dancers (about 60) doing a local dance and many of the audience joining in!
The prices here are much lower than in Italy and we have been able to eat out a couple of times without blowing the daily budget out the window! The mooring is 7 Euros! (Free water but no electricity) Leo's cafe has a toilet and some rather ramshackle showers (2 Euros per shower) but it reminds us of Lazy Jacks in Lagos and Leo's wife Kelly is English so able to give us loads of local tips without any language barriers. It also offers free WIFI which has meant I've been able to consult the internet on various matters and send emails without restrictions - fantastic!
On Friday our friends June and Steve arrived on Piper so we have been able to enjoy their company - June and I heading for the shops while Rob and Steve reconnoiter the fuel and chandlery set up! We had a super meal on Piper last night (Saturday) one of Steve's famous curries and then enjoyed sitting out in the cockpit 'til late consuming red wine - what a way to go?
The wind forecast for today (Sunday 26th) was 30 - 35 knots so everyone is staying put and as it is Steve's birthday tomorrow we are not leaving until Tuesday as we are planning a meal out to celebrate with him!
We have been in touch with some of our Lagos friends from the winter - Grand Slam and Kishorn and both boats are in the area so we hope to all get together for a re-union soon!
Despite the strong wind it is still very warm and we are grateful for the cooling breeze to help lower the soaring temperatures (it was 35 in the saloon last night!) I will be glad to find a good anchorage after our time here as I am missing my swims off the back of the boat!
We hope to head north and see some more of this lovely Island before heading to Ithaki which lies to the east of here later next week.