From Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy to Othoni, Greece

Bootlegger of Mann
Frank Newton
Sun 1 Sep 2013 10:36

39:50.376N 19:24.68E

Passage from Santa Maria Leuca on southern tip of the heel to Othonoi, Ionian Islands Greece ( DTG: 50nm )

Weather: Fine and sunny with good visibility. Wind NW 5  Batteries: 100%

Water tank: Full ( 900 Litres ) Fuel:: 390 Litres – Range 100nm @1800rpm

Crew: Frank and Jackie

06:30 39:47.631N 18:21.331E Depart Santa Maria Leuca anchorage for Othonoi, Greece ( DTG: 50nm) after some difficulty experienced lifting anchor; thought to have been caught in rocks. Fine, clear morning with a fresh NW5 wind and the promise of a sunny fair day ahead for the 50nm passage ahead.

The forecast indicates that the wind will progressively drop off during the passage. We pull out all sail and set a course eastwards of 84 degrees for Othanoi. Bootlegger is quickly in the groove maintaining a steady 6.5kts

08:30  Wind is now down to around 7 kts with a boat speed correspondingly down to 4.2kts. I put the two gybe preventers on to stop the whacking caused by the large waves from the NW hitting our beam; put the donkey on at 1800rpm and motor sail. Our speed quickly rises to 7.6kts.

09:30 39:48.255N 18:45.254E Sight warship some 8nm to the south of us. We check the AIS and subsequently Google to establish she is the Japanese Defence Vessel (JDS) Kashima, flagship of the Japanese Defence Force’s training fleet. Her claim to fame was "being kissed" by RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York harbour putting a scrape mark down the side of the latter and denting her own bow.. We called her up on 16 for a radar check which, after obtaining our name, MMSI number and course on channel 06, she finally gave as strong before passing some 1.5nm ahead of us heading north. Did ask her where she was headed but question was not answered.

10.30 39:49.06  Wind NW 6kts; DTG 20nm SOG: 7,2kts ETA: 13:30. Hear brief radio traffic burst between HMS Foremost ? and HMS Bulwark

11:30 The large fully laden UN RoRo ‘UN Karadeniz’ passes a mile in front of us heading north to Trieste, according to the AIS. Hear another ship calling HMS Bulwark on 16 requesting they go Ch. 70 – a barred channel for civilian traffic.

Noon position: 39:49.77N 19:11E Italian radio forecast gives thunderstorms and bad visibility for Sicily to here.  Wind NW 8kts DTG: 6.5nm SOG 7.4kts ETA 13:23 hrs

13:20  39:49.47N 19:23.78E Arrive off Othonoi island’s main bay and harbour. Decide, in view of Pilot’s poor review for anchoring in its bay and both poor and limited berths on harbour quay coupled with latest forecasted thunderstorms for area, to push on over to Corfu’s east coast some 35nm further on from here which offers better shelter and a marina assuming we can get in. On basis that we are able to maintain this speed the earliest we can make it will be around 19:00 hrs this evening.

14:00 39:50.376N 19:24.68E Othonoi fishing harbour. Having spotted on passing that the old fishing harbour to the east side of the town quay, which the pilot says is too shallow and small to enter, had clearly been enlarged with a new extension to the breakwater. There was also a clearly new buoyed channel which had been laid to its entrance between the many reefs and rocks situated in the various approaches to the harbour and J read on Sea-Seek that 10 berths for yachts had recently been provided in this small harbour with electrical and water pillars. Seeing two yacht masts within we decide to ignore the warnings of the pilot and approach with great caution to see if it is possible to get Bootlegger in and thus secure her for the night in readiness for the expected  thunder storm.

As we rounded the corner of this little harbour in 4.5 m of water and slowly entered it we sight two yachts tied up against what is clearly a new concrete quayside. The quay is able to accommodate three boats on each of its two sea walls. In addition there has been provided an adjacent wooden pontoon running the length of the sea wall able to accommodate several more vessels.

We went in astern with a litte difficulty, the freshening wind blowing us off the quay. An elderly grey bearded gentleman clad only in shorts appeared to help J secure our lines. Turned out he is the owner of the larger of the two boats astern of us. Eugenio, an architect from Otranto who has been here since June, turns out to be very chatty and helpful, advising of where everything is in this tiny little port of this tiny little port that boasts the title ‘Most westerly part of Greece’ !  

Eugenio also tells us that the electric and water pillars don’t operate yet but suggests we don’t complain as the berths are free !! A promising start to our Greek adventure.

Later we are visited by a Norwegian, Jon Eruc Ulstad, former MD of the Osten Posten newspaper in Oslo, who tells us he and his wife left Badalona in their Beneteau in April and like us are headed east. They have three possible places to winter and are investigating each. One is the marina we had been headed for earlier in Corfu. 

Like us, the Ulstad’s thought from reading the pilot that the fishing harbour was inaccessible for yachts and had not attempted to enter, managing instead to get a berth alongside the village quay.

Against the advice of Eugenio we had dinner this evening in the ‘New Yorker’ tavern which we noted was well patronised - unlike the other eating places in the village which were empty. We found the food good, very reasonable and the staff friendly.

We still expect the thunderstorms that have yet to come. It is a beautiful still night. We are both glad that the likelihood of a storm drove us into here for shelter rather going on to the marina in Corfu. A nice quiet spot we may stay another day and attend to various chores whilst here.