After a late night in Frikes watching the World Cup Grand Final, we set sail towards Sami. We had been in two minds about whether we would visit Sami at all during our travels, as the reviews had not been great. Our friend Nick, who spent the evening with us in Frikes told us people either hate it or love it. Because it was the place Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed, Lynne showed interest and we decided to give it a go.
We set off with some light winds, putting up the sails. Soon after, we heard an almighty bang. We looked at where the sound came from and the rope that holds the outhaul to the sail track had torn. Not the end of the world, so we quickly tended to that.
Once that was fixed, we decided to lift the motor out of the water, as it slows us down a bit. To do so, there are two clips attaching the chain to a frame that lifts the motor by a rope, using the winch. Ross was on the winch and indicated it felt like there was extra tension. I checked and the locking pin was out. He tried again and there was another almighty bang. Two in one day. What could possibly have happened now? And on our ONLY motor!!
One of the clips had snapped right in half. How? Who knows! A search through the boat resulted in a new clip being installed by MacGyver (aka Ryan). He also centered the chain, as it was crooked, causing more tension on the side that had already broken.
Two things breaking in a very short period of time made me a bit nervous, and keen to arrive at the next port. Of course, the wind died, and then turned head on. And then increased again, allowing to sail, but pointing as high into the wind as possible.
The channel between Cephalonia and Ithica seems to funnel the prevailing Northwesterly wind, so we had to then reef the main sail. Which, on previous occasions, has resulted in us finding a tear in the sail. Luckily not on this occasion!
We were then able to sail the last leg into Sami, where we managed to find a space on the quay. That was lucky, because there were not many other options for us. The King of Spain was also there, anchored on the outside of the harbor. He seems to follow us everywhere!
The town itself is not really that impressive. However, this is where we found a fantastic Italian restaurant named Riviera. We were so happy to have something other than Greek food and ate so much I could barely walk back to the boat.
The next morning Lynne and Ross went for a walk whilst Ryan and I were still in bed. All of a sudden we heard a crack of thunder. Thunder? But it doesn’t rain in the Ionian in summer. Apparently. It did rain. It rained hard. I had to get up super quickly to shut all of the hatches and try to find some shelter from the rain.
It did not last for too long, but the storm clouds hung around, making us unsure as to whether we would go elsewhere that day, or be held hostage by storms.
It turns out Riviera had very cheap breakfasts, so we splurged on that whilst we watched the storm pass. It was also a good time to get some supplies, including some meat for dinner on the boat that evening.
The butcher did not seem to have a lot of choice when it came to meats. He only really had whole chickens, which was a bother when we really just wanted chicken breasts. He told us he could do chicken breast, and within seconds he had cut the chicken breasts out of two chickens. He even tenderized them and flattened them like Schnitzels right in front of us. It was rather impressive, and fantastic service.
By the time we finished stocking up, the storm had passed and the day had cleared up. A light Northerly had set in, so we decided to sail to Poros, which is a few miles South of Sami. You could sense Ryan’s excitement rising, and he was quick to ask me to retrieve the spinnaker from the hull. I did so, and the next thing we knew we were away, sailing with the beautiful colours on our bow.
It was a nice smooth sail for about an hour, until the wind died. We then motored the rest of the way. Poros was a rather unimpressive town when you compare it to other places we have been. The wind significantly picked up in the afternoon, and it looked like a storm was forming from the North, but we were already safely moored. We watched as other yachts raced against the storm to get into the harbor.
Most just dropped anchor anywhere to get themselves safely on the quay. We had some concerns about whether ours was crossed. We also watched an Italian boat come in and not set their anchor properly. They were upwind from all of the other boats, and the boat next to them complained when the anchor dragged and caused their boat to push downwind. They refused to re-set, and just allowed their boat to keep pushing onto the other. This was all happening whilst we enjoyed happy hour cocktails in a bar nearby.
In the morning, one boat tried to leave, but other anchors had been laid on top of his. The people who had come in and raced to get into port told him it was not their problem, despite it being their fault, and just continued to have breakfast. The poor man and his wife were then stuck there unable to lift their anchor until the other boats decided to leave. We picked up and left, luckily unobstructed. We offered our help to the man who was stuck, but he refused it. Both were German boats, so it would be interesting to see how long he was left there to wait, and if they had some words to exchange between each other.
We set off, hoping that the light Northerly would keep up for another Spinnaker sail. Unfortunately, it did not last long as the wind swapped directions and then died entirely.
It was an extremely still day, so we motored the whole way to Zakinthos, forgetting it was Lynne and Ross’s last chance to sail on Sibia.
I’d like to say nice things about Zakinthos, but the town itself is a bit of a hole. There are two strips of shops and restaurants, but other than that it’s not very nice. I guess my view is biased, because our boat was broken into at that quay and our money stash was stolen. Luckily, everything else survived the burglary. We would never have known anyone had even been in the boat if it wasn’t for the fly screen in our cabin hanging down when we got back to the boat. Whoever did it, did not leave anything disturbed, other than the money going missing. It was enough to be frustrating (especially because there were three currencies), but not enough to make a formal complaint and seek compensation on travel insurance. We did let the port police know, so they could keep an eye on things for other boats.
The burglary happened on our last night there, so let me back track to the first evening. During the afternoon we wandered the streets, which were practically empty for siesta. The town literally closes down from 1pm – 5pm.
A grill house was still open, and we introduced Lynne and Ross to the wonderful world of Gyros. They liked it, and Ross claimed he would have another the next day!
The main town had only one scooter and car hire company. We had to catch a taxi to an outside tourist resort to be able to hire quad bikes. Being much cheaper than corfu, we hired them for 24 hours and took them back to the boat that evening.
We had spotted an Italian restaurant near the Gyros spot, so decided we would go there for dinner, after stopping at a bar for happy hour. The restaurant was called Pastaria, and only served pasta. Absolutely amazingly delicious meals.
The owner of the restaurant, Yannis, warmed to us because he had lived in Australia (Geelong) for many years before moving back to Greece when he was 23 years old. He owned the Grill house where we had eaten Gyros that afternoon, Pastaria, another restaurant on the main square and a Greek Taverna further South on the Island. His children run the restaurants in town, and his wife runs the restaurant on the south of the island.
The next morning, Lynne and I went to fill up our fuel tanks, because we could not leave until the boat next door picked up anchor. It looks like they had crossed ours. They did, but luckily did not pick it up when they left. And then we were free to go quad biking around the island.
The plan was originally to tour along the coast, veering inland towards Shipwreck Bay, a site I have been longing to see for many years. With me being chief navigator, it did not take long before we had taken a wrong turn, and were already heading inland. Unfortunately we did not see the coast, but fortunately the inland roads gave us some stunning scenery.
We ended up in a small town named Louha for lunch at an old windmill converted to restaurant. It was lovely and peaceful, with a nice cool breeze blowing in. Our next destination was to be Shipwreck Bay, but we had a bit of a delay when I noticed one of our tires was going flat. We had a nail in it. Another hour was spent waiting for the new, but bigger quad bike to arrive, and off we went.
The closer we got to Shipwreck Bay, the more my excitement rose. I could barely contain myself from sprinting to see the site. Had the temperature been much cooler I would have been off, but instead I waited for the others (kind of) and we walked around the cliff edge to get a good look. Someone, once upon a time, tried to string a barbed wire fence to stop people walking around the cliff, but that has clearly not been enforced for some time.
You cannot access the bay from land, and can only stand on the cliffs above to admire the true beauty. The colour of the water is out of this world, and we only realized after going to the bay by boat a couple of days later, that the water is actually milky rather than clear.
After our nice little cliff edge walk we were dripping in sweat. How lovely it would have been to teleport down to the beach and go for a swim. Instead we just had a quick gyros lunch in town, and ventures to another bay called Limnionas Bay. Never having heard of it before, we didn’t know what to expect, and what we found was spectacular.
A beautiful swimming hole encased by cliffs and caves. A restaurant/taverna towers above one side, allowing access to the rocks for swimming below. The other side remains untouched allowing swimmers to go exploring in the caves. No one stayed on that side for too long, because the fresh water seeping down from the cliffs made the temperature drop significantly.
It was a nice refresher before having to drive the quads back to the hire company. Not before we stopped by the super market to replenish our stocks, avoiding the need to carry them all the way back to the boat.
It was then Ross and Lynne’s’ last evening with us, so we knew we had to find a good happy hour location. Just before entering into town we noticed a bar on the rooftop of a hotel at the waterfront. It was open to the public, and the bar man made some fantastic cocktails. Mojitos and Pina Coladas all around!
It was difficult not to give in to the temptation of going back to Pastaria, but given the number of restaurant choices, we decided that we should try somewhere different. It was nice enough, but we should have gone back to Pastaria.
It was upon returning to the boat after dinner, and after getting ready for bed that I realized that our boat had been broken into. There was nothing we could do about it, and just had to accept the loss of our money. At least nothing else was stolen.
The next morning passed very quickly, bringing Ross and Lynne to the bus station, saying our goodbyes and then having to decide what to do with our day.
There are not too many options for anchorages or harbours on Zakinthos, so we ended up at Ormos Ay Nikolaos, another pretty little town where it just happened to be Greek night on the beach.
There was the option of taking a trip boat to the blue caves and the Shipwreck, but we opted for taking our own boat to Shipwreck Bay, driving straight past the caves. Unfortunately the day was choppy with some swell rolling in. There were so many boats we could not anchor, and so many people that we did not really want to stay. Ryan dropped me off so we could at least capture some photos from the ground. Although impressive, it was not nearly as breathtaking as seeing it from above. The colour of the water was still mesmerizing.
The plan then was to go to Argostoli, a deep bay on the south of Cephalonia and spend a few days there. As we were motoring towards it, the wind picked up and just got stronger and stronger making it impossible for us to continue our mission. Instead, we set sail towards Katelios hoping that the small harbor would have shelter for us overnight. It didn’t have space and it smelled pretty bad, so we motored around the outside and anchored off the beach. Much nicer. Very peaceful. Unbelievably clear water. So we spent our first night since being here, just anchored with no lines attached to any shore.
As we were picking up anchor the next morning two big (for the Med) fish swam past. Ryan started jumping up and down, and running in circles, full of excitement. He was like an excited puppy about to be taken for a walk. “Quick” he told me. “Get your speargun!! Get your speargun!!!!!”
“Quick, I need something to throw them to keep them here. They are tuna!!!!”
In 3 meters of water? In the Med?? I told Ryan to get some cookies to throw in, not that tuna would like that anyway, as I went to get my speargun which had not even been unpacked, as well as my fins and mask.
Ryan ordered me to get in as quickly as possible. So, topless I jumped in, put on my pink fins and swam in the direction the tuna had taken off, loading my speargun. They were nowhere to be found.
How sweet it would have been to shoot a tuna, with no gloves, no knife, no top, nothing but pink fins, pink bikini bottoms and a speargun with pink line attached to the reel.
And so we continued on, not sure where our next destination would be. I packed the spearfishing gear away, as it is unlikely we will use it again. If we do, it will be in an absolute frenzy and the fish will survive the ordeal.
Ay Eufimia is where we ended up. It was a surprisingly beautiful little town, which we fell in love with immediately upon stumbling upon 3 Euro Happy Hour cocktails! The town itself was the cheapest we have found, but they do make you pay to stay on the town quay, which makes up the difference, adding 30% for catamarans.
Not wanting to venture too far after that, we sailed a massive 4 nautical miles to Andisamis, wanting a break from towns. It’s a large bay, so even with other boats around we were able to find a secluded corner all to ourselves, and the millions of wasps. That was until dusk, when the superyacht on the other side of the bay decided that our side was better and had their crew move them right next to us. And so we went to sleep with the hum of their generator in our ears.
This is the spot Ryan saw a turtle. The only turtle we have seen so far, and I missed it. I spent some time trying to find it again, but maybe the sound of our anchor chain dropping scared it away.
In the morning, the wind did exactly what the forecast said it would and was blowing from the South. This was perfect for us. Given the wasps would not allow me to make our fruit salad breakfast in peace, we decided to set sail and eat on the way.
Once the wind direction appeared to stay South, we decided to sail to Porto Kalomos which was 25 nautical miles away. It took us only about 4 hours to get there under perfect sailing conditions. Basically we set the sails, turned on the autopilot, read books, turned off autopilot, brought down the sails and motored into port.
As we approached the port we realized we were back in charter flotilla territory, which we had been quick to forget being further South for a few days. It was lucky our sail had been quick, because during the afternoon the harbor became ridiculously full.
George, the Taverna owner and quasi-harbourmaster tried to have us tie up side-to right outside his taverna. It was a tight corner with a commercial boat tied up to a line that was extending right where we were told to moor. We asked George why we could not go stern to on the quay away from the noise of the restaurants. He told us it would get windy, and it was the best place to be, but it was up to us. He also assured us that no other boats would be rafted up on our side.
We went with our gut instinct, and believed he was keeping the quay free for flotilla boats. We went stern to the quay, and George was not overly happy, but still welcomed us to the harbor. By the time we were in there, it was excruciatingly hot. I had moved the fenders and ropes from side to side as we decided on where to go. Once we were moored, we jumped the wall into the refreshing ocean. That made things better and cooled us down for an afternoon of eating the most chocolaty crepes in the world and watching boat after boat after boat being squeezed into the harbor. You would not believe how many were in there. The spot where George originally told us to go ended up with a catamaran and 3 other boats moored up to the catamaran!
Amazingly enough, there were not many crossed anchor chains the next morning.
The boat next to us was a charter boat, chatered by a newly married couple. They were absolutely lovely and bought us a bottle of wine to congratulate and wish us a lifetime of happiness. They are here for another week (out of three) and we were really hoping that we could find them again to return the gesture. Later events prevented this.
We also met a New Zealand couple that own a half share of a boat based in Lefkas. They have been here for the last seven years, enjoying everything the Ionian has to offer. We had them over for pre-dinner drinks on Sibia, before they went to dinner at George’s (with the rest of the people in the harbor). We rebelled (not feeling like Greek food, and we don’t think George liked us not following his guidance on mooring) and made dinner on board. The New Zealanders then came back and invited us on their boat for a night cap. This time, we were only almost in bed, and not actually in bed, like the time in Vathi when the Aussies invited us for drinks!
I had read that the bakery in town was a steep climb uphill. A steep climb it was, and with no signs indicating the direction of the bakery it felt rather hopeless as I thought I would keep on climbing and never find it. As I searched, I gathered a posse of other people also looking for the bakery. It turns out we should all have turned left where we turned right, but with some broken Greek-English directions we eventually found it.
I looked at the owners in desperation when I asked them if the road going downhill would return to the port, rather than having to go uphill again. They did not understand what I was asking. I tried the words “boats” and “harbor” and “Georges restaurant” but nothing worked. It was not until a man with me was madly flicking through his guidebook looking for a picture of the harbor that I realized the Greek word I needed. PORTO!!!! They smiled an indicated that, yes, I could walk straight downhill. Thank god!
Efharisto! I thanked them and enjoyed the much more pleasant walk downhill, treating myself to an icy cold water bottle from the supermarket at the bottom (we only have water at room temperature here on the boat). I shared it with Ryan, of course, and away we went, unsure of our next destination….