Sailing The Ionian
The Making Of A Novice Sailor
While we have sailed across the Mediterranean on our great adventure, it wasn’t until we reached Greece, some six months on, that I truly felt at ease on our boat. And the sailing experience in Greece has been the making of me.
As a very novice sailor, I have learned the art of reefing early before the afternoon winds set in; long-lining the boat from a tree or rocks ashore in order to keep it from swinging – essential when anchoring in tight spaces or deep water – as well as the terrors of ‘Med-Mooring’.
It’s not all been plain sailing and there have been tears and tantrums as my incompetence with lines, mooring buoys and distinct lack of sailing knowledge has stood out like a cardinal marker. But I am gradually improving and that makes the times that I get it right so much more satisfying.
With Med-Mooring you are reliant on someone standing on the quay to take your line, secure it and throw it back to you – or in my case with the first time I did this in Cephalonia, I had to jump off the back of our catamaran and do it myself. This isn’t the first time I wish I’d got longer legs!
Compared to the Med, the sailing in Greece is awesome. To the west of the Greek mainland lies the Ionian. Stretching from Corfu down to Zakinthos, it offers wonderful sailing, a sheltered inland sea and enough anchorages and town quays to tuck yourself up into when the Meltemi winds blow.
What the Ionian misses out on with its beaches, which are mainly pebbly, it makes up for with beautiful scenery and stunning anchorages. Our favourite has to be the small island of Meganisi, with an array of bays and coves and the white-washed sleepy villages of Katomeri and Vathi.
In Meganisi we mastered the art of paddle-boarding – a must for any cruiser, especially as our boards are honey-combed, so when we’re doing long passages they simply collapse like an inflatable dingy. Even Molly, the dog, has taken to this new mode of transport to travel to shore for daily walks. And then there’s paddle-boarding to the beach bar, complete with the dog on the front, which brings a smile to many faces and, not surprisingly, provides a great photo opportunity for onlookers.
Other Ionian highlights include:
For restaurants and a party atmosphere try Fiskardo, a busy harbour on the north east tip of Cephalonia, but get in early as it fills up quickly.
For authentic Greek, Kioni, a small and very pretty harbour on the north east of Ithaca
For a serene and quiet anchorage, Vliho just south of Nidri on Lefkas. Dinghy right up to the restaurants on the north east end, step off the dinghy and sit down at your table – couldn’t be easier!
Charter companies operating in the Ionian are abundant and include the likes of Sailing Holidays, Sail Ionian and Sunsail.
First published: July 2015