Our First Week in Greece from Corfu to Trizonia September 16 - 22, 2019

Greece's flag
Europe » Greece » Ionian Islands » Ithaki
September 22nd 2019
Published: December 3rd 2019
Edit Blog Post

The Corfu Fortress from the WaterThe Corfu Fortress from the WaterThe Corfu Fortress from the Water

shows its size better than from the land
As mentioned in the last blog entry we are now in Greece, but still have the goal of getting to our winter berthing place of Fethiye, Turkey. We have plenty of miles to go and it is now September 16th so we started our journey. We know that there are many wonderful places to explore in Greece, but this season we are “just passing through”. There were only a couple of places that we knew we had to make as intermediate goals on our way. With our having lived for 26 years near Ithaca, NY we decided that we needed to at least make a stop at the island of Itaka in Greece. Another goal would be the westernmost entrance to the Corinth Canal as there is a timing issue you must be concerned with your arrival there. After traversing the canal the next goal would be Kos, Greece as that would be the last stop in Greece to officially check out of the country before crossing over to Datka, Turkey for our official arrival in that country. The last goal of the season on Tsamaya would be to get to our final winter berthing place
A Cruise Ship Arriving in CorfuA Cruise Ship Arriving in CorfuA Cruise Ship Arriving in Corfu

glad it wasn't there when we were in town
in Fethiye, Turkey at the Yacht Classic Marina. Our winter contract starts October 1st, but we have already informed them that we will more than likely arrive later than that. As they are a marina and know that schedules fluctuate with the wind, there isn’t a problem with that!

We had a couple of options. The first is we could do overnight or multiple day trips to accomplish this quickly or we could decide to do shorter day hops and at least enjoy the scenery and hopefully even have time to get in some swimming in the afternoons. We decided the later plan was the one we would use. Now the challenge would be to find places to stop that would be approximately 6 hours apart, have a sandy area for anchoring and of course protection from the correct quadrant on that particular day depending on the winds – we didn’t want too much! This meant that Bob in particular studied the charts daily and our goal for the next day could change depending on the wind direction. In the end, Bob did an excellent job with this and I was confident that he would. After Bob would find a few places that looked look on the chart, we both would then check out other resources that we use – our pilot book and a couple of apps (navily, noforeignland and captainsmate) that we have found very useful as they have comments from other cruisers about the various anchorages. It is always good to have others firsthand knowledge of a location as it can turn out quite different than how it looks on a chart.

Sept 16 - We left the marina at Corfu at 8AM with no wind so it started out as a motoring day, but fortunately it started to fill in enough to put up some sail to help us toward our destination for the day of Parga. We sort of chuckle to ourselves that it seems that the rule is that the wind always picks up the most as we get closer to a destination. Today was no exception as it got up to 22 knots by the time we set anchor at 3:30 in the afternoon. From our anchorage we could see a Venetian fortress on the hill and quite a few resorts along the waterfront. We knew we were only going to stay the night so decided not to launch the dinghy and took the afternoon to relax onboard. The one down side of being in a bay with numerous resorts during the summer months are the speedboats that pull people behind on large inflatable tubes. That doesn’t sound bad, but the drivers of the motorboats seemed to believe that they had to buzz closely in front and at the stern of all of the anchored boats providing quite a wave for us to “enjoy” (not really!) We thought that we would have a nice calm afternoon, but instead with them buzzing around all afternoon we couldn’t wait until nightfall for them to stop! Thankfully the evening was calm so we could get some sleep at anchor as our plan was to continue on the next day to Lefka.

Sept 17 - We were happy to have about 10 knots of wind in the morning so left the anchorage at 7AM to take advantage of it as we knew that we had to go through a bridge opening to get to the marina at Lefka that day. This bridge had specific times for opening so we wanted to get there at a reasonable time so we didn’t have to wait too long. The approach to the channel here was a little unusual as it was quite well hidden as it had quite a curve at the start of it which was quite shallow. I took a photo from Google earth of the entrance to try to help you visualize it. We did have to wait for the bridge opening, but thankfully not too long. The difficulty was that a couple of other boats showed up as well so we had to “do the dance” around in a narrow and shallow area. The other difficulty was that due to the curve before the bridge it wasn’t easy to tell when the bridge was actually opening, but it worked out fine. Whenever there is a scheduled opening that causes quite a back up of boats wanting to go through in both directions which reminded us of when we traveled on the ICW in the US back in 2010 feeling like you are part of a parade! This bridge was very unusual (or at least a type we have never heard of before). The two ends closest to the shore on either side raised upward, but the bridge also pivoted in the middle so it wound up being perpendicular to the side banks. Quite interesting indeed! After going through the bridge you continue down the channel a ways until you get to the marina at Lefka. We had contacted them earlier and made a reservation so they had someone meet us at the entrance to take us to the location where they wanted us to be for the night. The wind was quite strong and fortunately the marina staff were very professional and knowledgeable providing us a perfect spot based on the wind direction.

We did see afterwards that there would have been space in a small bay outside of the marina to anchor for the night but it wasn’t obvious from the charts and resource materials that we had read about Lefka. Oh well, no problem with being in the marina for the night as it gave us a chance to walk around without putting our dinghy in the water.

Sept 18 - Some days are meant for sailing and others are meant for motoring. This was a motoring day, but even with that it turned
Bob Caught Me Adjusting GlassesBob Caught Me Adjusting GlassesBob Caught Me Adjusting Glasses

he really does need to improve his timing of a photo!
out to be a very good day. We left the marina early so we were treated to a wonderful sunrise and spotted a few egrets along the channel we were on. About noon I was looking out while on duty and spotted a couple of dolphin in the distance going away from us. Even so I called Bob up to get a glimpse of them and fortunately for us they turned and came toward us and paid us a nice long visit. There were 6 of them and they swam under and around and in front of the bow for quite some time giving us a chance to watch them gracefully swim and jump. The water was so clear it was easy to see them and they were so close we could hear them breath when they came to the surface. No matter how many times we see them we get a thrill and are always are amazed by their graceful turns and jumps.

Even with the great time with the dolphins that did not end our good fortune for the day. We got to our planned anchorage on the island of Ithaka (yes, those of you that know
The Ship Looks Very Close on the ChartThe Ship Looks Very Close on the ChartThe Ship Looks Very Close on the Chart

but we passed a safe distance from each other
where we lived must have known we couldn’t pass Ithaka without stopping!) and got a great hook in 24 feet of beautifully clear water. We got in a great swim and yes even on September 18th the water temperature was perfect! Unfortunately there wasn’t too much to see in the way of sea life, but there were a few schools of fish that hung around while we were snorkeling. During the day we heard a few goats, but could not see them on the hills, but in the evening we caught 3 of them down by the water’s edge drinking. Didn’t realize that they drank seawater, but guess they needed some salt in their diet. When we arrived there were a few boats already anchored, but by evening most of them left and there were only 6 remaining overnight. Without any lights on the island we could sit in the cockpit and enjoy views of the night sky. It definitely was a great day even though we didn’t have wind today – as we say, you can’t have everything, but we sure had enough positives today to make it a good one.

Sept 19 – Today’s goal was to
This Fishing Buoy Was a Good OneThis Fishing Buoy Was a Good OneThis Fishing Buoy Was a Good One

as could see from a distance - much better than many
get to Messolonghi Marina which is reached by traveling up a mile long channel through a very shallow salt march and lagoon into a well protected basin. This marina had been closed for quite a few years but is being brought back to life again. They still have more to do and it was obvious that they are working on making improvements, but it worked out well for us – it had the basics of showers/toilet block, electricity, water and a restaurant. It even had a small chandlery where we were able to buy oil for the engine which was a bonus. It is located a little bit of a hike from the town, but not bad at all. We have gotten rid of the bikes that we had on the boat, but with it being so flat here they would have been handy to have here – oh well, walking is good too!

Lord Byron came to Greece to join their fight for freedom in 1821. He was caught on horseback in a storm and returned to his home in Messolonghi wet and cold resulting in his getting pneumonia and passing away here. His body is buried in Nottingham, England where he was born, but his lungs are buried here in Messolonghi hence the statute of him located here. The statute in the photos is not the one where his lungs are buried as they have a Garden of Heroes that has numerous statutes of heroes from the Greek Revolution of 1821, but we didn’t make it to it on our walk around. We had read there were a few other sites to see as well, with arriving late in the afternoon and leaving the next day we didn’t have time to take them in as doing the wash was high on our priority here. We are finding that it hasn’t been as easy to find washing machines and driers so we can advantage of them when we can.

Sept 20 – We left the marina in Messolonghi later than our normal starting time, but it couldn’t be helped. We had put money on a card with the marina which is how you pay for electricity, water, showers and the washing machines. We had a large balance so had to wait for the office to open at 8 to get a refund. We left the marina and
Views From Our Anchorage near Parga, GreeceViews From Our Anchorage near Parga, GreeceViews From Our Anchorage near Parga, Greece

definitely a resort town with lovely beaches
the day started out well with some wind blowing from behind us so we were enjoying a nice sail. We had thought the passage today would be 7 1/2 hours, but it turned out to be only about 6 hours as the wind picked up and we were going much faster than we had predicted. Always nice when it works out that way. Today we had to go under a bridge that you must call when 5 miles away to let them know that you are coming. You are then told to call when you are 1 mile away. Each time you tell them the name of the boat, height of boat and which direction you are heading. At this time you are instructed as to which of the 4 piers of the bridge you should go through. That sounds quite straightforward, but as you are going from west to east here you find that there are 3 ferries that ply back and forth just before you get to the bridge which you need to watch out for. Unfortunately they do not have AIS so you need to judge by eye where they are and if they will be crossing
Another Attraction at Parga is this Venetian CastleAnother Attraction at Parga is this Venetian CastleAnother Attraction at Parga is this Venetian Castle

that we could see from the anchorage
in front of you as you come up to the bridge. We made it through that obstacle and then on the other side of the bridge we found that there were plenty of kite surfers taking advantage of the wind. Most stayed in close to shore, but a few of the daredevils in the group decided to cut in front of the boat which isn’t fun as you just hope they don’t fall off in front of you! Fortunately they all seemed quite skilled and we made it through that area as well.

The winds started picking up more and the skies did not look ahead (of course in the direction we were headed). We reduced sail to have a more comfortable passage and even with that we got up to a hull speed of 7 knots for a while. The clouds opened up and Bob insisted that he would stay on the helm and I could stay below and dry – what a great guy! We made it to what we found out to be a lovely island, Trizonia. Fortunately with the wind still blowing some when we arrived we were able to do a side tie to
A Down Side of a Resort Area Are the Thrill-SeekingA Down Side of a Resort Area Are the Thrill-SeekingA Down Side of a Resort Area Are the Thrill-Seeking

tourists being pulled behind boats that come too close!
a pier in what appears to be a somewhat abandoned port. There were a few other boats there already and someone from one of the boats lend a hand in catching our lines. One of the wonderful things we know about fellow cruisers – everyone seems eager to help others and you never know when you will be the one that needs the help – always pay it forward. We found out later that the community here has been working on bringing the port back to life. They have installed a water point at the end of the dock so if you have very long hoses you can get fresh water or you can fill with jerry cans. A person comes by daily to collect the very inexpensive rate of 9 Euros for a 40 foot sailboat – very reasonable indeed. There isn’t a toilet or shower facility here but there is an arrangement with a nearby hotel where you can take a shower for 3 Euros.

The island itself is quite small, but lovely. There is a harbor on the other side where numerous restaurants were located along with the church and post office. There is also a small ferry (passenger only) that you can catch over to the mainland from here as well. We had a lovely meal the first night we were there and that was when we decided that it was so peaceful here we would like to stay a little longer. Yes, we know we have a long way to go, but we also have decided we need a balance. We told ourselves that we should stop when it “feels right” to enjoy the journey and this place seemed to speak to us in that way. On one of our numerous walks around the island we happened upon a beautiful rose. We had to chuckle to ourselves as just that day we had received a message from a friend telling us to not travel through too fast as we need to also take time “to smell the roses” so of course we both did!! The island appears to have numerous places that you can rent in order to enjoy the area longer. Not many of them were busy this time of year as it is getting near the end of the tourist season. In fact a couple of places told us they would be
An Interesting Entrance to the CanalAn Interesting Entrance to the CanalAn Interesting Entrance to the Canal

heading to Lefka (photo from google earth)
closing down for the winter shortly. We are glad we got here in time to soak up the ambiance of the place. We actually found that this place agreed with us so much that we stayed three nights, but then found we needed to push on again as we now want to get to Delphi so will tell you about that in the next blog entry.

Additional photos below
Photos: 64, Displayed: 33


The "Turn" Before the Bridge EnteringThe "Turn" Before the Bridge Entering
The "Turn" Before the Bridge Entering

the Lefka canal where you wait for the opening
An Unusual Bridge Opening As This One Rotates!An Unusual Bridge Opening As This One Rotates!
An Unusual Bridge Opening As This One Rotates!

with specific time of openings it creates a parade!
The Marina in Lefka Was Quite EmptyThe Marina in Lefka Was Quite Empty
The Marina in Lefka Was Quite Empty

but we were put in close to another boat here
Goats Coming For a Stroll Along the ShoreGoats Coming For a Stroll Along the Shore
Goats Coming For a Stroll Along the Shore

on the island of Itaka at Filiatro Bay

Tot: 2.91s; Tpl: 0.128s; cc: 12; qc: 32; dbt: 0.0524s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb