38:26.9N 20:41.5E Kioni, Ithaca
Kioni, Ithaca. Friday, 20th July, 2012.
After spending a couple more days at Sami cleaning Ariel, shopping and taking on water and diesel we motored back to Kioni. Tricia and Clive had arrived there a day or so before us and told us a music festival was going to take place on the Friday evening. On the way past one of the bays a helicopter came low over the mountain and the water before circling and landing on one of the big boats anchored in the bay. An amazing thing to watch as the skill of landing it on a small platform is great to watch.
We were lucky as there was a space clear on the quay and so we duly anchored and reversed into the space. The music festival got going once it was dark around 11 o’clock and we wandered up to watch the Greek dancing. The elderly islanders were all in attendance dressed up for the occasion. Earlier in the day to celebrate Saint Ilias day on the 20th July each year the islanders visit the small chapel built on rocks about 3 kms beyond Kioni and then the festival takes place on the waterfront in the evening. The last Saturday in July there is a wine festival in the village of Perachori, 5th and 6th August Stavros have live music, food and dancing, 14th August Anoghi celebrates in the square, 15th August there is a religious festival for Assumption of the Virgin Mary in the village of Platrithias and on the 8th September there is a pilgrimage at Kathara Monastery which ends the celebrations for the year on Ithaca.
In the 19th century more than 200 stream boats were built in the ship yard at Loutsa. When Aristotle Onassis built his huge fleet of ships he looked to Ithaca to find his crews. Still today the high school in Vathi offers courses in navigation and seamanship to its students.
Ithaca is renowned for being laid back with a slow pace of life and everyone who comes here are drawn into the relaxing ambience of this beautiful island. Beautiful views, olive groves, pebbly coves and sparkling water. Some of the mountain villages are like time has stood still where as the busy waterfronts are popular with yachts and flotillas.
Bird watchers spot eagles, kestrels and kingfishers high above the villages which we think we have seen an eagle and kestrel but so far we have not spotted the kingfishers or seen or heard any owls which are famous on the island.
Early spring the island is a blaze of colour with flowers and many visitors love the quietness of the early summer and the amazing flowers. There are the history and archaeological sites are all over the island to explore. Natural charm makes Ithaca an idyllic Ionian paradise. Ithaca is an island of dramatic scenery, rocky and mountainous yet green fertile valleys due to the amount of water which falls during the winter months.
Lord Byron wrote if Ithaca belonged to me I would bury all my books here and never go away.
Tricia and Clive decided to move on Saturday morning to find new ground to explore and we decided to stay and enjoy the scenery for another day. Unfortunately, the wind got up in the afternoon and blew down the valley and boats coming in had problems getting onto the quay. The boat to the left came in and had let out their entire chain and so Jim went and gave them a hand to get some chain back on the bow roller to settle them. The boat on our right came in with little experience and managed to allow their dinghy to catch our anchor and pull it out which sent us back further towards the wall. We had to make a quick decision to move out to relay our anchor but just as we were in position to do this while the wind was beating us up a day tripper ferry came in and had to use the end piece of the quay as another ferry was already in place. By this time the boats were being blown by the wind and the space was being squeezed so we decided to leave as being the safest option. Once out of the bay we were finding 30 knots plus so we decided to head for Meganisi. Unfortunately, the wind changed direction once we were up near the top of Meganisi and was blowing straight into the bays so we had no option but to find a safe anchorage in Vlikho where the wind was absent and the bay very tranquil. Now is a time to relax for a day or two and order the new anchor.