As you can see from the title of this post, we did a circular trip for a while there. I’ve fallen so far behind on the blogging I’m worried that I have forgotten some of the funniest stories of our adventure. I’d like to blame slow, or lack of internet, but the truth is that we’ve had great internet connections on the way. I’ve been able to update Facebook and Instagram at times, but the days are just getting away from us.
I don’t even know how that is possible. It’s not like we have pressing things to attend to every day, or like we haven’t been sitting at anchorages for days on end. However, time passes really really fast and before we know it, it’s dinner time, then bed time. We go to bed quite early really, and sleep in a lot. Tough life I know.
So where were we? Showering in front of some fancy Italians with our broken camping shower. The next thing that happened in that particular port was that a boat just as old and crappy as ours decided to pull in between us and the fancy super yacht. This boat was full of young Swedish men. Just picture it. Even Ryan was excited for me.
It actually really was not that great on the eyes. When they took over an hour to set anchor, drifted into the super yacht, couldn’t pull up anchor because the electric winch was broken, and just struggled at everything, I was exhausted for them. There were no six-packs. No tall and blonde and muscly bodies. What a shame. I thought this would at least make up for all the string bikini bums Ryan has managed to find along the way.
After Gaios, we continued our tacking course back to to a place we had been told about on the mainland called Mourtos (or Sivota). Whilst putting the mainsail up, the handle of the winch handle broke sending a million pieces everywhere, and leaving a sharp stump. I didn’t even know there could be that many screws inside the handle.
Mourtos has a number of small islands very close to it, with small shallow channels in between, providing many bays with good protection. We settled on “End Bay” and did not even bother searching out the others. Although it was the furthest from the town, it was right next to a path that went straight over the hill into town.
I was very nervous about this place. Do you remember that time we saw the water tornadoes? Well, they were straight off the mainland where Mourtos is located. Then whilst we were in Gaios, we met some Dutch friends and some Irish friends (separately) who had both been caught in a storm (the same storm as each other) there only a couple of nights earlier. Not just a storm, but the Dutch boat ended up on the rocks. The Irish friends were part of a floatilla, and had been caught up with other boats running into each other, dragging anchors and snagging other anchors. One of the boats had actually lost use of its motor just as they were picking up anchor. This did not give me confidence, considering there had been some Southerly winds in the previous days (which usually brings bad weather), and the horizon had some very heavy clouds in it.
When we arrived, the bay we chose was enclosed by an island and a waist deep sandbar between the island and the mainland. The bottom was sand, and water so translucent, creating a beautiful turquoise paradise. On our arrival, we had to dodge many dinghy sailors and windsurfers taking advantage of the flat water. But by late afternoon, everything was packed up and the place quiet and peaceful. That was until we heard a massive blow up between a French man, and what sounded to be a German. At first we thought it was about two boats drifting into each other, but then realized that all of the boats were sitting peacefully. In the end, we decided it may have been someone trying to steal someone else’s dinghy on the beach where the path led to the town. We will never know the true story.
The storm, although looming, never arrived. I was very relieved. In the morning we braved the walk towards town, not really sure on which roads to take. I assured Ryan that I was right, and of course we ended up in the right place. A delicious ice cream and some internet usage later (not to blog, sorry), it was lunch time and we decided to stay on for a meal. Lunch turned into returning to the boat at 3pm. This was probably our latest start so far.
Our desire to reach Corfu Town that day failed, and the wind took us to Petriti instead. On our way there (and for the remainder of the time), I was forced to use the broken winch handle, as we had no other that would fit the winch on the mast. The sharp stump raked across my stomach, leaving a scar (which 2 weeks later has not faded). We arrived shortly before this beautiful sunset.
The next day we left as soon as we woke up, ready to motor to Gouvia marina, where we would pick up our friend Kara for a week on board.
Gouvia marina was ridiculously expensive compared to others we had been to, but it was good to hook up to some electricity, and have a tap with good water pressure to wash the boat, our sheets and our clothes. We also knew that our friend Kathleen was staying at the marina, waiting for Ron to arrive back from his trip back to Australia. After a few chores, and a MUCH needed shower, we went to find her amongst the 1200 berths. It was fantastic catching up with her, and finding out about their adventures since we left them in Patras. We were disappointed to miss Ron by only a few days.
That night we ventured into Gouvia town in search of food that was not Greek. We had also overloaded on Italian food, so were (I especially) delighted at the sight of a Mexican restaurant. Not only a Mexican restaurant, but one that also served delicious cocktails. What a fantastic date night we had, but we were keen to get to bed, as our arriving guest was going to get us out of bed at 6am! That’s unheard of.
Kara’s arrival was also met with extreme heat and no winds for the entire week. Our first destination with her was Ay Stefanos. We motored the whole way. When I say she brought heat, every day was absolutely scorching. This must have been the summer everyone warned us about. It just arrived late.
Ay Stefanos was a bit disappointing. We had expectations of what it would be, and it wasn’t anything like we imagined. It was not terrible, don’t get me wrong, but we were expecting clear blue water, which it wasn’t. It was mainly disappointing because it was our first stop with our guest, and we wanted to show her all that Greece had to offer.
It was there that I went totally uncoordinated, slipping down the back step of the boat as I tried to get the swim ladder down. Instead of just letting go I grabbed onto the rail and held on, sliding my body down along the boat and then scraping the back of my leg on the sharp rudder. For some reason I kept holding on, until I realized we were at anchor and the boat would not leave me behind. I felt a little bit better when, after her swim, Kara also had a slipping rudder mishap (but not as uncoordinated as mine).
There, we had a beautiful view over Albania, with the moon rising over the mountains.
I was happy that our next destination for Kara was Lakka. We had been there numerous times before. I knew that the colour of the water and the township would impress her. Although we had to motor down to the South end of Corfu Island, we were able to sail the whole way between Corfu and Paxos.
Having been almost two months since the last time we visited Lakka, we could see the toll high season had on the water. Although still beautiful, it had a murkiness to it that had not been there before. That night we decided to try a restaurant in the town square. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of it, but the owner showed us all of the specials that had been prepared and were on show in the kitchen. The meals we absolutely divine.
This was followed up by a full English Breakfast at the “Harbour Lights” café in the morning. That is a must-do breakfast whenever we are in Lakka.
It was at this point that we repeated our destinations from the previous week all over again, even on the same days as a week prior.
We were delighted to be re-visiting Parga. If you remember, I was a bit sad on our last visit because I thought we would not be going back there. Well we did, and on this occasion had more time to explore the town itself, and eat dinner there. We started out by sipping on delicious 5 Euro cocktails at the “Sugar Bar.” That night was particularly boiling, and there were people absolutely everywhere. It is amazing that during the night the humidity level goes up to over 90%, causing everything to be covered with dew.
The next day I woke up feeling a bit worse for ware. Not because of the cocktails, but I think I had some sort of virus. Headache, fever, aches and pains. The lot. The poor guys on board had to listen to my complaining, as we headed towards Gaios.
This time we did not go through the busy and small channel, deciding to anchor outside the Southern entrance to the town. Being sick did not damped my excitement at the water clarity, or stop me from jumping in. Although the nights were still warm, I spent that one shivering under three blankets. By the next day, the worse of it had subsided and left only a lingering headache for me to complain about. I don’t know where it came from, but whatever it was, I was glad it left me as quickly as it had arrived.
Gaios was where we introduced Kara to her first, and definitely not her last, Gyros. We had another convert on board. We also enjoyed fabulous ice creams in the heat of the afternoon, and ate dinner on board because it was too much effort to row the dinghy back into shore. It was worth it, because there were some bareboat charters having a party, dancing away on the trampoline of their catamaran.
After Gaios, you guessed it, we sailed/motored/tried to sail to Mourtos. Even one extra week of high season had caused the water to go a bit murky. By the morning, it was back to its usual clarity. In Mourtos we enjoyed an Italian dinner out, followed by some scrumptious dessert crepes, waddling our full bellies over the hill and back to the boat. Luckily our half working dinghy was still on the little beach where we left it.
This time, we left Mourtos at a decent hour, and motor sailed towards Corfu Town, where we anchored underneath the old fort. This was really Super Yacht territory. I showed you my favourite on Fabulous Photo Friday that week. It was an absolutely gorgeous spot, and we couldn’t understand why there weren’t more boats anchored where we were right under the fort. We watched the amazing view from the top of the cliff, sipping cocktails. Much later that night we realized that the boat club next to where we anchored also had a nightclub on the rooftop. We spent the entire night listening to some funky beats yet again. Our desire to stay at that yacht club on our next visit to Corfu dwindled very quickly.
The next day involved a massive journey all the way to the other side of the fort to our favourite marina, Mandraki Marina. This was Kara’s last stop with us. We could not believe the week had passed so quickly. I made sure to let her experience the Gyros Grill House, and some Haagen Daas ice cream. It was so good, we had a second round of Haagen Daas after dinner that night.
Although that afternoon had been really hot, the evening finally cooled down with some winds coming in. It was a big relief going to bed in cooler temperature. We said our goodbyes to Kara the next day, and set off in barely any wind towards one of the Northern Bays on the East Coast of Corfu. We knew that there were strong winds forecasted for the next day (the Sunday), so planned on staying where ever we ended up until at least the Monday. We also knew those bays had generally bad holding.
We settled on Agni, because Kathleen had told us about how beautiful it was, and how great the world-renowned restaurants were there. The problem was that most of the bay was fairly deep, and the mountains looked like they could potentially funnel the wind down into the bay. The best parts of the bay for us were taken up by mooring buoys for day trip boats.
We eventually found a spot that was shallow enough just on the edge of the buoys, but it took us three goes to set anchor. That was quite unusual for us, and made us nervous knowing the winds were coming. A dive on the anchor confirmed our nerves, showing that it was just laying sideways snagged on some of the deep seaweed. Luck was on our side though. Just to the side of where we had anchored was an old, unused, mooring block. Being freedivers, it was not difficult to tie a rope to that, acting as a second anchor. To the honest, that is what really saved us in the end. We also had long lines attached from the back of the boat to the shore.
Next to us was a Viking looking yacht, built in 1905, housing two Danish families. Ten people in total. It was fun to watch the kids mess around in and out of the water, and the craziness that generally goes on with 6 kids and 4 adults on board. It was also nice looking out at all of the super yachts coming and going from the bay.
The forecast was right for once, and the wind started early during the next day. The Viking ship was gone, and a French boat had replaced it. Some more super yachts had arrived, and an Italian yacht anchored, free swinging in the bay. They dragged at first, and re-anchored.
As the wind picked up, it looked to me like the French boat was dragging, very slowly. The people were on board and appeared to be napping. I kept an eye on it, and nothing too severe looked to be happening. We were nervous about our own situation, and about the stability of the mooring block, as well as the strength of the rope we had attached to it. I checked on the block and could not really tell if it had dragged or rolled.
Firstly, we attached a springer line at the back of the boat to shore. Then I dove on the mooring block and attached a second, thicker line. I also convinced myself that it had not moved, and confirmed the anchor was still in its original, side on position.
The winds were at least 35 knots and gusting down the mountain.
Like I said, I kept an eye on the French boat until someone got up from their nap. They noticed they had moved, but not drastically. At the same time, the Italian boat decided to pick up their anchor. Then it all happened very quickly. The Italians were struggling with their anchor. It appeared to be stuck. All of a sudden the French boat lost its holding and dragged straight back towards the rocks. The Italian boat had picked up its anchor and they were not holding at all. The lady who was on deck was obviously a guest and did not know what to do, waking the Captain in a big hurry.
They did the right thing, detaching the rope attached to shore immediately and then got dragged out by the Italian boat, which was, at that time, drifting towards the super yachts. The crew aboard one of the yachts noticed and appeared quite concerned. It took what appeared forever for the Italians to unhook the anchor, and both boats were well out to sea by the time they untangled. Before that could even happen, the Super Yacht on one side of the bay was up-anchoring towards where the two boats were drifting were drifting, and the Super yacht on the opposite side of the bay decided to take their position. I don’t know what happened with them, but we heard a huge amount of rock shatter as they drove away from their lines still attached to shore. It was chaos everywhere. Ryan and I just stood there gaping at the events.
The French boat then came back in, and looked like it was going to anchor straight over ours. We were quick to guide them away. Having a shallow draft, they tried to go in and anchor on the inside of the mooring buoys. At that stage, they realized that their anchor was jammed and would not drop. That’s when we saw the French man completely lose his baguettes. Overcook his croissants. There was much yelling in frustration. So loud that Ryan and I actually retreated backwards on our boat.
They drifted out to try and get the anchor working, but no amount of weight he placed on it worked. They came back and asked to tie off onto our boat, in order to fix the anchor and retrieve their long line. At this stage the wind was blowing a gale side to our boat. The gusts could be heard coming over the mountain like a freight train, and made me cringe every time, hitting the boat side on to the port side. It felt like the boat would be ripped in half, with one hull floating out to sea. We told them that we would be happy to help, but they could not tie to us as there would be too much pressure with the wind.
I offered to get them their line and dove in for them. They did not want it detached, so I swam it to the bow of their boat, almost being run over by them in the process. After they attached the long line (that was still tied onto the shore) to their anchor, I got the hell out of there. They reversed full speed, yanking the anchor out, but also breaking all of the rollers and who knows what else in the process. The child on board just stood at the bow blowing a whistle, over and over again, which eventually got to his father and ended in a stern instruction to stop. The poor captain looked so defeated. I felt really bad for them. They immediately took off elsewhere, so I’m not sure what happened in the end, and if they were able to anchor elsewhere.
As the afternoon wore on, even the bigger boats up anchored and left. This left us a bunch of nerves, hoping that the mooring block would hold out the night. It blew all night. We did not go out for dinner because we did not feel comfortable leaving the boat.
The forecast said that the wind would return on the Monday afternoon, although not as strongly. We were keen on visiting the Islands North of Corfu, so did not want to get stuck out in that open sea in strong winds. This caused us to stay another night. The wind never came. We went out for dinner and enjoyed the sunset glowing over Albania in the distance, changing from oranges to various shades of pink. It also allowed us a decent nights sleep before heading out to the smaller islands.