Paxoi - Lakka and Gaios

Sat 16 Jul 2016 09:20

Well at least we were able to air our sails on the forty or so nautical mile passage to Paxoi although the engine stayed on most of the time. Paxoi and Andipaxoi two small islands south of Corfu were to be our next destination, no suitable anchorages on Andipaxoi so we investigated the east coast of Paxoi and had to settle for a bay called Lakka. A big bay with reasonable shelter from the prevailing winds but packed with boats. Prudently we anchored in the mouth of the bay in about six metres with reasonable swinging room but it was a bit rolly during the night and we were glad to get away the following morning and breakfast at sea. Whilst anchored in Lakka we met again a South African chap who we had been chatting to in Meganisi. He has been sailing these waters for some years and recommended that we did not leave the island without visiting Gaios a small town and harbour tucked behind the islands of Nisos Panayia and Nisos Ay Nikolaos. Now when I say small I mean really small, the town quay which is much too shallow for us can take a few boats and further around the narrow channel between the harbour and the islands there are a small number of places where boats our size might berth. The number of berths further reduced by the spaces designated for the day tripper boats coming from Corfu and the mainland. In fact the pilot book states that even small boats are unlikely to find a berth after midday. Gaios only an hour south of us we decided to give it a try and arriving at 10.30 the only spot was on a part of the quay reserved for tripper boats. Nonetheless we dropped the hook and med. moored the crew of another yacht who had done the same thing kindly caught our lines but when I came to tension up the anchor chain the hook had not dug in so up it all came and we went through the procedure again. Success; just settled in when a very nice English guy came along the quay to tell us we would be fined if we stayed there but a boat next to him had just left would we like the slot. We would! So up again with the hook and do it all again but an hour later we were comfortably moored, tender launched, passerelle down, power and water connected and lines set. And what a beautiful spot, the channel here no more than one hundred and fifty metres wide between Paxoi and Ay Nikolaos both islands cloaked with verdant trees and shrubbery, the water gin clear and with a light cooling breeze wafting between the islands gently ruffling the water we were happy cruisers.

A trip later in the day in the tender around the islands and to the town was equally pleasing for many of the original buildings here have escaped the devastation caused by the restless earth and the waterfront retains much of its Venetian style and colouring. So much do we like it here that we have decided to keep our valuable spot for three nights.

Lynn changing to eat out that first evening, gin and tonic in hand I watched a couple of boats look to med. moor and overnight on the day tripper boat dock, first up was (let’s call him) ‘Jean-Claude’ in his chartered 36 foot boat. He pirouetted the yacht several times before giving it full power in reverse, his wife on the bow, windlass remote in hand seemed transfixed or maybe just dizzy. I waited for the rattle of chain but none came!   ‘Jean-Claude’s’ mooring technique was to carry on in reverse until the large fender on the stern of his boat bounced on the stone quay, at which point he yelled to his wife, who appeared to be frozen with fear on the foredeck to deploy the anchor. He seemed surprised when the bow of his vessel started to swing sideways. He repeated this procedure three times in a perplexed Gallic way before finally recognising that more chain and a set anchor might help. Unfortunately his remedy was equally flawed. He launched his tiny dingy, attached the equally diminutive outboard and attempted to drive to the front of his boat. After scribing more circles with his outboard motor swinging through one hundred and eighty degrees he finally grabbed the anchor chain, hauled up the anchor covering himself and the dinghy in mud, managed to drive a further five metres out and dropped it the chain left still hanging limply from the bow roller. Surprisingly he was there with the boat in one piece in the morning. What he really needed of course was a Danish tw&& to show him how they do it in Denmark!

Next into the ring was a super confident tall, crop haired American guy (let’s call him) Bubba who to start with did it all right with his new, shiny forty six footer. Fifty metres out wife dropped the hook and Bubba  gunned the engine in reverse. Back they came at quite some speed until level with bows of the boat next to them, when with a jerk they stopped. Wife yelled “No chain left!” Bubba believing the answer to any such conundrum is more power put the ‘pedal to the metal’ back they went anchor chain bone tight, leaping horizontal from the water spray cascading from it. One metre from the quay a satisfied Bubba threw with a confident smile the mooring lines to friends on the dock who caught them but were then very nearly dragged into the water as the boat as if on a bungee cord bounced back out into the middle of the channel with an astonished Bubba at the helm. Undaunted and with his faith in power undiminished Bubba tried twice more before losing confidence in the technique and settled for  lifting the hook and dropping it a little closer.

The ice in my gin and tonic was melting now but the smile on my face was going to get bigger as the crew of our next door boat returned. Eleven young, noisy Italians in a forty footer but the five young, stunningly shaped, evenly tanned ladies in their itsy bitsy, teeny weeney (in this case) fluorescent orange bikinis kept me entertained until Lynn tutting and shaking her head at me arrived in the cockpit and suggested we leave for the restaurant. Ahh the simple pleasure of this cruising life.