Northern Ionian

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 4 Oct 2008 07:18

We left Zakinthos town mid morning on Saturday and made our way northwards to Ay Nikolaos, another bay on the island, where we tied up to the quay, having first dropped an anchor to hold us off the concrete quay.

The bay is open on two sides, to the north and to the east. It gets a bit of swell in the bay but with very light winds it is not really a problem. A number of tripper boats are tied up on the west side of the bay and the southern end of the quay is used by larger tripper boats and the ferry. The wash from these larger boats rebounds off the quays if there is any amount of swell and this does make the mooring somewhat uncomfortable, more so for mono-hulls than for us.

The 3 mono-hulls which are moored here have gone alongside rather than stern to the quayside. This does take up substantially more room than the latter course of action but as we are now at the end of September, it probably doesn’t matter too much. There aren’t that many boats about now.

I have to say that we really prefer not to moor alongside now because if there is any swell, unless you have a lot of pretty big fenders in place, the boat is not very well protected from the hard, concrete quayside.

The barometer has risen quite substantially over the last few day, peaking at 1020, and a lot of cloud has resulted from this. The sun occasionally managed to show its face and the 12 mile passage was not at all uncomfortable just wearing shorts and T-shirts.

Ay Nikolaos is hardly even a hamlet, with a small sandy beach, a few tavernas, a mini-market and a fuel station. Despite its humble appearance, we managed to get WiFi here, something which was just not available to us when we were moored on the town quay in Zakinthos town.

It was not possible to do any washing, or make any water, while we were in Zakinthos town so there was a lot of catching up to do and as a reward for our labours, we consumed some freshly baked fruit loaf, smothered in honey. Yum!

What a night! We rolled from side to side all night long, making sleep impossible. We were up before 8am to prepare the boat to leave. The 3 mono-hulls had all left during the night and were anchored just outside the harbour, in the lee of a small island. The swell must have been untenable for them, moored alongside as they were. They would have had to move just to protect their boats.

When we left the harbour the sky was quite overcast and I donned some extra layers of clothes and a balaclava to ensure that I would not feel cold. The temperature had dropped to 21 degrees.

As I pulled in one of the mooring lines, I had to flick off 2 cockroaches which had obviously climbed onto the rope from the shore.

We waved farewell to Zakinthos which, apart from giving us the opportunity for me get my PADI diving certificate, is not an island that we feel that we will miss.

En-route to Cephalonia, the main halyard block malfunctioned and we could not get the mainsail up nor down. After doing a 360 degree turn, we managed to drop the sail. Then the sacrificial strip on the genoa was torn about half a metre during a jybe, because it became caught on the crosstrees. This was despite the fact that we had a guard installed last winter to prevent this happening. As everything seems to happen in threes, that was possibly the 3rd problem. Yesterday the lamp on the horse-shoe life-buoy switched itself on and, being a sealed component, we do not have access to it. Last year the Jon-buoy self-inflated and launched itself into the sea. Both came from the same stables. However, I have to commend the suppliers, they have never quibbled about replacing the faulty items.

Cephalonia is the island where the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ was made and is pretty green for Greece particularly in comparison to the islands in the Aegean.

Although the sun did try to show its face, it wasn’t very successful and it remained cloudy for most of the 35 mile passage to Ay Eufimia, on Cephalonia, where we dropped our anchor and took lines ashore to tie up to the quay.

Despite the cloud, the visibility was good and we could see clearly, islands that were over 20 miles away. 

We tried to find a sailmaker when we reached Cephalonia but without success so Dick set to and using double-sided adhesive tape started the repair although it did need a few stitches to complete the job. Hopefully it will last until the end of the season when we will get the UV protection strip replaced with a blue one. At present, it is the same colour as the rest of the genoa.

We did manage to find some strong white flour for making bread, a commodity we were unable to find in the supermarkets we visited in Zakinthos town.

As we left the harbour, we counted 15 sailing boats, either making their way along the channel between Cephalonia and Ithaca, or making their way along the southern side of Ithaca. We probably counted 30 sailing boats on our journey of only 19 miles. Generally, we see no more than 2 or 3 boats when on passage, if that.

All was soon apparent. This is flotilla country and the majority of the boats we encountered were part of one of the flotillas operating from around here.

Having tied up at on the quay at Vathi, in a protected harbour on Ithaca, I went ashore to find a hair-dresser. I hadn’t had a hair cut since mid July and was desperately in need of one. The salon didn’t open again until 6pm but I was there just minutes after the proprietoress arrived. She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Greek.

There were some magazines on a small table in front of a sofa, against a wall. I sat down and started to flick through the magazines to try to find a picture, to at least give the woman a hint of what I wanted her to do. She rushed over to the sofa and grabbed her handbag. I continued to search the magazines. At last I found a couple of pictures which might work, though neither of them was ideal, one was a style for long hair!

She sat me down in front of the solitary wash-basin and washed my hair. We then moved to the single chair in front of the only mirror and she snipped away, cutting away so much of the blonde hair, I was quite grateful that I still had blonde highlights when she had finished.

The forecast for the next 3 days is rain with electrical storms so we will stay here. It is very green, probably has lots to do with all this rain we seem to have encountered since mid September. There are a great many tall, slim Italian pines along the hillsides, interspersed, and in clusters, amongst the other trees. The scenery is very pretty.   

I have started the mammoth task of washing the dozens of seat covers before we reach Prevasa, where the boat will spend the winter. If I leave it until we arrive and we have rain then, I really will not be inclined to want to do it. At present, I am able to get the covers dry before the next shower.

It has become warmer again thank goodness, and we are experiencing temperatures of 27 and 28 after a period when the thermometer didn’t get above 23. The cloud has gone and the sun is shining brightly. Long may it last or we shall get home sooner than we planned.

Below, Dick planning repair of Genoa and me and my haircut