39 50.3 N 19 24.7 E
We had an uneventful motor sail to Othoni, a wonderful sunrise over the mountains of Albania greeted us as we headed west across the north end of Corfu. The sea was calm and we made a fast passage. On arriving off the coast of Othoni we were mindful of the reefs mentioned in the pilot book and approached the harbour with great care. Having read up on the pilot updates posted on the Cruising association web site we knew there were port and starboard hand buoys which led to the harbour, however we were a bit confused as we thought these were a guide for entering the main harbour but it turned out they were for the ‘fishing harbour’ has now been re-developed as a berthing place for visiting yachts. We eventually managed to get alongside the port hand dock which has been built out from the main rocky breakwater. It was tricky trying to find a space that had no rocks (protruding out from the breakwater) and metal rings to tie up to as some of these were missing. Unfortunately the favoured berth on the starboard side (a concrete harbour wall) was full with 3 rather badly ‘parked’ boats. Had they been moored more carefully there would have been room for us there too! 7 other boats arrived later and some ended up dropping their anchors and mooring stern to the end of the concrete harbour. It is obviously a very popular weekend destination for Italian boats particularly motor boats and large ribs which came streaming in later in the afternoon. It would seem the latter’s occupants had accommodation organised in the village. When we walked round to the small village – about 5 minutes from the fishing port we discovered a large bay where there were about 10 boats anchored inside the harbour walls and several more outside the entrance. There were several tavern and a small shop where we purchased some delicious black olives having sampled them in the bar next door served with our drinks the first evening we arrived.
We really liked this little place and enjoyed a few days here waiting for favourable wind to get to Otranto on the Italian mainland. Amanda and Jacky took a trip by car (well it was a Mitsubishi open back truck which had wooden seats on the flat bed on the rear of the vehicle.) So we sat up high and had to duck occasionally when we went under road side trees and bushes! It was great for taking pictures though! The road was very narrow and winding and eventually we reached the highest part of the island accessible by car. From there we walked to a tiny church and got some great pictures across the various small islands that stretch towards Corfu and the Albanian coast.
We were astonished to see several sculling boats on Sunday morning being launched from the sandy beach inside the harbour and discovered they were being crewed by a group of ‘mature’ rowers all belonging to an Italian club. Each year they do a 2 week rowing trip round the small islands off the north coast of Corfu. They bring the boats by trailer from Italy to Corfu leave their cars there and then row between the islands with accommodation pre-booked. They have 2 support ribs with safety equipment and take turns to man these each day. Some of the guys we spoke to were former Olympic rowers, most were now over 60 but still incredibly fit.