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Ionian Islands: Reports from Cruisers

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 04, 2015 08:32 PM

Published: 2014-12-10 00:00:00
Countries: Greece

10 December, 2014
Posted by SY DeDanann

Kind Cephalonia:

We left Milazzo, Sicilia, in early October 2014, on passage to the Ionian Islands, Greece. The weather forecast was for good sailing with bad weather coming in the following day after our ETA, well the bad weather came 24 hours early and we ended up doing 30 hours in force 8/9 with big seas to match.

We closed the coast of Cephalonia at 05.00 on Sunday morning 4th October, it was pitch dark and not a light to be seen in these dreadful conditions. I had thought we would get the shelter of the steep rugged land from the wind which was now blowing at 40 plus knots from the east, but the wind was coming off the steep hills that run down to the sea at great force. We entered the large bay off Assos beach where we hoped to drop anchor, the waves now reduced to about two meters, but it was not possible to drop anchor in these conditions, it was too dark to move in any closer to the shore to find shallow water, we were so disappointed, tired, wet and weary from three days at sea, we hove-to in the middle of the bay to await the dawn in another hour or so. Linda put on the kettle whilst we worked out a plan to find a suitable place to go, we have never been to Greece before.

DeDanann (an Amel Super Maramu) will sit to windward very comfortably with the wheel tied off and the mizzen set, as the wind tries to push her off a wave, the mizzen brings her back up. The wind meter was stopped at 50 knots as we sat in the bay waiting for the dawn, the rain came down in buckets, our Bimini was torn off, the dinghy flooded, our BBQ damaged, conditions were worsening, but DeDanann was otherwise in good shape, we had prepared her well lashing anything that could move, halyards tied etc., but we weren't out of trouble yet.

Linda got out Heikell's Ionian pilot book and suggested we go to the little port of Fiskardho, 5 miles to the NW. We called up the Coastguard on ch16 to ask their advice about entering Fiskardho in these conditions. We received no reply, but it turned out they could hear us calling, so Linda telephoned them in Athens. A gentle voice with excellent English answered. We told him we were holed up in a gale and enquired about Fiskardho, he asked our position and call sign and advised he could now see us on AIS. He asked us to hold for a few minutes and soon came back on to advise us that we could make a safe entrance into Fiskardho in these conditions, that he had telephoned the port police to be on standby to assist us tie up, to call them up on ch12 when we were off the port entrance.

We set off for Fiskardho at first light. Rounding the headland we picked up the light at the concealed entrance to the port, this being the first light since leaving Italian waters, and a welcome sight it was too! As we entered the port the sea was quite flat, but the wind was still raging at 40 plus knots. The harbour was packed to capacity with charter yachts, ferries, and local fishing boats. The two port police directed us to the only space in the port having first moved a small speed boat to get us in. The space looked too tight for DeDanann, but we were determined to tie up, so we lined her up into the wind, dropped anchor in the centre of the port, with high revs and great haste we went for it, pushing the yachts both sides of us apart. Linda threw the lines ashore in great style, you would have thought she was sailing all her life, and the two police men now soaking wet in this torrential rain tied us up to great applause from the crews of several yachts; Polish, German, and English, who were on deck tending to their lines in these terrible conditions. They couldn't believe we had sailed from Sicilia.

Our log records that after 70 hours at sea since leaving Sicilia, we tied up in Fiskardho at 07.20 on Sunday 4th of October, 2014. I think the gorgeous little port of Fiskardho, and the kind helpful Greeks that we encountered will be etched in our minds for a very long time.

Ionian Greece Anchorages - Summer 2014
Posted by Mario Borg of SY Maltese Falcon

This last summer we decided do a third visit to Greece, as we wanted to explore the many anchorages of Ionian Greece as the last time we only visited Ithaca and Cephalonia for checking out of Greece. After spending a glorious month in many anchorages around Malta we left on the 8th of June 2014 with a decent weather window thanks to After 3 days we anchored in Katakola, this was our second visit here. Our plan was to head up the Greek coast and island chains leaving early in the morning and trying to arrive at our destination before the Meltemi picked up very strong from the north at around 13:00 and sometimes lasting into the late evening hours. We arrive in Katakola on the 11th of June 2014, in 2 days 22hrs. All coordinates are actual anchorages.

Katakola mainland Greece: N 37 39.031 E 021 19.369

We dropped anchor in 16 ft of water over short weed close to the harbour entrance which makes for a short dingy ride, you can tie up the dingy to the east wall or just under one of the waterfront restaurants. They are all safe, we never had a problem here or anywhere in all of Greece, but we always lock the dingy.

The anchorage is excellent with no gusty winds at all and protection very good from most angles except the south (which rarely blows with strength during this time of year).

Katakola is a cruise ship destination because of its proximity to the ancient site of Olympia, a must see site where the first Olympic games started and where every 4 years the Olympic torch is lit. Port police and Immigration is along the waterfront west of all the restaurants. Supermarket in the village with good supplies and a bakery located one road over from the main road.

Bus service to the main city of Pyrgos, you can get the schedule from the kiosk where the bus stops. It is only a 15 min ride to Pyrgos where all provisions and anything for repairs can be gotten, including alternator repairs bearings motor brushes tubing etc... etc… There is also a train that will take you directly to Olympia and also stops at Pyrgos, but the return times are unreliable from Pyrgos so you will have to return by bus from the bus station located a few meters to the west of the station, ask and you will be directed.

Zakynthos Island, Keri Lake Beach: N 37 41.215 E 020 50.412

This was our second time here. We anchored in 14 ft. over sand and clear water, the holding is excellent with spectacular settings all round, nice beach, you can tie the dingy in the small fishing harbour but ask someone where it would be good to leave it as there are tour boats and fishing boats going in and out. In the afternoon you will get katabatic winds here when the Meltemi starts. We had those most of the day and night here for two days. There is a bus to Zante but you need to be at the beach early - ask around for details and schedules, it is cheap, a taxi ride is €32.00 each way, bus is around €3.50 each way.

In Zante you can med moor to the wall where directed. The town is very pleasant for walking around with many coffee shops and restaurants and anything else one would expect from a capital city.

After Zakynthos we headed back to Katakola to spend some more time there, we found a very nice lady called Denise who runs the Gyro restaurant on the main road. She can help anyone as she speaks very good English.

Skrofa Point mainland Greece: N 38 17.986 E 021 08.788

This was our longest leg, we anchored here in 14 ft. over sand very good holding but open, however there is no swell as you are in the lee of Okseia Island. The surroundings are a little dull but the water is crystal clear. There were six more boats here with us. We tried the north bay of Ormos Oxia, but the bottom is foul with many small moorings, our anchor grabbed a line and would not dig in so we had to cut the 1/4" poly line to release the anchor. Then headed south to here. Considering it is open, the motion with the strong wind from the North was not uncomfortable and we slept very well. There is a bar on the beach, but that is all.

Petalas Island, mainland Greece: N 38 24.219 E 021 06.504

This is an all-round anchorage with protection and excellent holding over mud. One way in and out of here through the south west channel. Very picturesque place, we anchored in 10 ft of water. The water is murky but nice colour just the same. I snorkeled right to the shore and could not see the bottom until the depth reached 2 ft. but it is a very nice cove to spend a few days of relaxation away from anything, the surroundings are picturesque and we anchored right under the cave. There is a house at the top of the bay but never seen anyone around. Very peaceful. Lots of black ugly muck came up with the chain, had to power wash it. The anchor took the longest to remove the mass of muck on it, all is good and are on the way up the coast to Astakos.

Astakos, mainland Greece: N 38 32.008 E 021 05.159

Anchored in 23ft over mud. It is very pretty here and the mountains on the west coast look like they are just going straight up trying to reach the heavens. Also a nice sail from the south close to the west shore. We could smell sewage at the anchorage and it did go away when the wind picked up. The wind from the south got rid of the sewage smell. Tie your dingy in the harbour where convenient at the SW corner, the sewage smell there is even worse.

This place is good for provisioning. There is also a hardware store with some boat essentials but a limited amount of marine parts.  However he can have anything in within 3 days. Many restaurants and coffee bars at the waterfront and also a couple of good bakeries.

This anchorage gets a lot of wind from the W to NW and the waves sometimes ¾ of meter, come at you from the SW, it can get very uncomfortable at times. Would not recommend this place unless you have to. One can also go med moor in the small harbour. There is a ferry dock which you have to stay clear off or you will be asked to move.

Kastos island east coast anchorage: N 38 33.598 E 020 54.449

We anchored in the 3rd bay south of the village of Kastos. Crystal clear water with sand and weed bottom, but large areas of sand make this place perfect. We had a few boats come and spend a few hours, 2 other boats staying the night. If you like sea urchins this is a good place for you, the snorkeling is very nice even though not much fish to see but geologically very pleasing. It is only a short dingy ride to the village of Kastos. You can also med moor but it gets very crowded there with all the charter boats. There is very limited provisions in the village and be prepared to pay a hefty premium. There is a nice coffee-bar on the beach run by a young friendly couple, they have tasty pastries and cakes every morning. Tie the dingy in the inner fishing harbour. Garbage is all collected in the morning so leave it near other garbage and it will be gone by the time you leave. We spent a few days here before heading off to another special surprise.

Kalamos Island NE corner: N 38 38.988 E 020 57.657

We tried the Port Leone, is a very nice setting but unfortunately you have to take a line to shore which did not make it suitable for us, so then we tried the Kalamos Harbour area to the north, but we couldn't make the anchor grab so we carried on up the island and found this spectacular place with sand bottom and very nice beaches tucked in between rock formations extending into the sea. We met up with Giancarlo & Sabrina of Youth for drinks, then the next day on their boat for pasta dinner. This is a lovely spot even though it gets a little busy with tour boats during the weekend, it does get busy with the local boats during the day but everyone clears out by 18:00 hrs. Still worth the stop. The holding is excellent and well protected from the Meltemi, very nice snorkeling, the trees on the shore are a bright green like we have never seen before, just incredible.

Meganisi island, Elia Bay, Spartohori: N 38 39.319 E 020 47.957

This is a very nice, quiet bay with no gusts of wind and very good holding over sand and weed, sea urchins can be picked from the shore line. A short walk to Katomeri where you will find limited supplies and a bakery, and Taverna.  The wasps are here in abundance, but will not touch you unless you get them caught in your clothing or under your armpit, when they fly into the boat just open a hatch for them and they will happily fly back out. We spent a few peaceful days here and we each got tagged once by the wasps, it wasn’t so bad. We will miss this wonderful spot and I am sure we will come again if we are around.

Lefkas island, Desimi Bay: N 38 40.375 E 020 42.849

All good things must also come to an end and today was a sad day for us leaving Elia Bay, but we need to keep moving north towards Korfu and Albania. Very nice anchorage with excellent holding in 30 ft over sand and weeds. The surroundings are beautiful and the holding is very good although deep. There is a few bars on the beach where you can also beach the dingy. It got extremely busy and noisy during the day.

Too bad but we had to leave from here early the next morning, one day was enough, it is too noisy with kids from the camp grounds all day till sunset and not much to do ashore.

Lefkas island, Tranquil Bay: N 38 42.109 E 020 42.644

We anchored in 23 ft over mud and weeds with excellent holding. Tie the dingy on the pontoon close to shore in fornt of Nidri Marine. Very good anchorage with all round protection and close to the town of Nidri.  Nice walk along the waterfront, very good provisioning for anything you may need, two chandleries - Nidri Marine and Georges in town on the main road. Nidri Marine has a used parts area well stocked, maybe you can find what you need in there first. The anchorage is a bit crowded but be patient and you will find a spot. There is a larger bay to the south at Vlycho Bay, with very good holding and all round protection, there is also many marinas if one prefers.

Kefali, Varko Bay, Greek mainland: N 38 45.730 E 020 47.240

Anchored in 14ft over sand, crystal clear water, very peaceful surroundings. Some rocks closer to the beach, but deep enough if we swing toward it.  Gets very busy by the afternoon with power boaters and mega yachts, but amazingly still very peaceful.  There is more anchorage all along the beach plus another bay at the north east of this position. There are no dingy spots, you will have to beach it. There is a few nice walks with great scenery towards Pogonia to the NE. We left here, but we will surely miss this place and the swimming and the scenery - there is places like this everywhere but few and far in between.

Lefkas island, Ligia: N 38 47.395 E 020 43.344

We anchor in 25ft over mud. Went to shore to have a Gyros lunch and ended up with 2 large beers instead of one. Excellent holding over mud and very good protection from the Meltemi. Not much in town with some basic supplies. Only 24 min to the bridge opening of the Lefkas Channel. In town, there is a small mini market some bars and tavernas along the waterfront. Dingy may be left in an empty spot at the SW corner of the fishing harbour.

Preveza mainland Greece: N 38 57.976 E 020 45.444

Started out from Ligia at 0800 hrs to make the 0900 bridge opening, we got there a bit early and had to wait pointing towards the bridge, it was easy as the light breeze did not move us that much as it was behind us. The bridge opened and everyone started going past it, both north bound and south bound at the same time, there is enough width to accommodate everyone. We set a course to the offshore markers marking the buoyed channel into Preveza. Got in and slowly inched our way in shallow water without seeing the bottom north of the harbour, dropped anchor in 8ft of water over sand and mud. Very good holding and protection all round. It is like you are on a small lake, it is an easy ride to the harbour, tie your dingy close to the slipway near the fishing boats and then walk west towards the town. Preveza has a very long waterfront with restaurants and coffee/bars all along and it also accommodates the marina complex. Some boats tie up alongside to the very south part of the wall, there were 3 boats there when we visited. It is also a short dingy ride across the channel if you need fuel or a chandlery.

Provisions are plentiful and the old section has a lot of charm.

Vonista, mainland Greece: N 38 55.434 E 020 54.131

We left early and headed over to the fuel dock at Cleopatra [email protected] €1.51/L took in 296.65L.

Then headed the 9 odd nm towards Vonista for a day or two. Anchored in 16ft over sand and mud, very nice surroundings on the east side of Koukouvista Island. Lillian I dinged over to the small fishing village on the other side of the island and walked over to the village a short distance away. Visited the Venitian Caslte, we came back with anchovies and bread for a very nice lunch. We decided to stay another day here as it is so peaceful and the scenery is very relaxing. There is good provisioning in the village and the usual waterfront restaurants so common in the Greek harbours. You can anchor also in front of the beach close to the main harbour and you can also find space to med moor inside if you prefer. For best protection is the anchorage we chose. The Meltemi do not seem to affect the mainland so much as the islands.

Ullisi Bay (Two Rock Bay) mainland Greece: N 39 12.607 E 020 29.473

Anchored in this very nice bay with a few beaches scattered around on the east side and one sandy beach at the head of the bay. Very good protection from the W to E but open to the south. Good holding over a sand bottom, we anchored in 16 ft. over crystal clear water. The snorkeling to the east is super with nice sea urchins and coral growing everywhere. The bay is made picturesque with the rock formation on the way in from the south.  No services ashore except a small kiosk on the cliff above the sandy beach, keeps a generator running all day till sunset.

Warning: Mosquitoes by the thousands came rushing on us in the evening as the sun set, we had a sleepless night itching. Some bad swell came during the night even though there was no wind outside.

Paxoi Island, Lakka: N 39 14.198 E 020 07.941

This is the prettiest anchorage we have been to this year, we anchored in 9 ft. over white sand and crystal clear water, surprised to find water like this in a closed natural harbor like this. Good protection from most points except the SE to NE. Very nice old village ashore with many tavernas and bars, also some provisioning and a bakery. Tie your dingy to the waterfront wall at the village.

Plataria, mainland Greece: N 39 26.878 E 020 16.387

Anchored in 15 ft. over muck water - looks clean but cannot see the bottom. We came here because of the predicted force 7 blow from the south Monday and Tuesday.  The harbour is full with charter fleets and some boats had to anchor out as space is limited. Tie your dingy in a vacant spot near the NW corner. Bakery and other provisions in the village, many Tavernas and coffee bars along the waterfront all the way from the Marina to the South corner of the beach.

On the way up here we checked out the anchorages around Sivota Island, but we found them very crowded and the bottom with tall weeds and hardly any sand patches to drop the anchor over. We motored over the sand bar it showed 10 ft.

The front passed, we had lots of wind from the south plus lightning and thunder but no waves, some gusting but not too bothersome. This was a very good choice. We really enjoyed this place as it is not crowded with tourists and traffic is minimal, good provisioning and very nice surroundings. Some beach bars along the beach made for real relaxing afternoons without the crowds, not very good for the bar owners though.

Valtos Cove, mainland Greece: N 39 31.280 E 020 10.978

Anchored in 17 ft. over mud and sand, excellent holding and excellent protection from any weather, Very nice and peaceful surroundings. This is part of the Lygaria Peninsula. There is nothing ashore except some fishing huts and some fishing boats moored alongside rickety docks. This is an excellent place if you love nature and to weather out a storm.

Sayiadha, mainland Greece: N 39 37.530 E 020 10.727

Anchored in 8ft over sand/mud NW of the harbour behind the old mole. Very good holding in sand and weed. This anchorage is only good in settled weather and should not be attempted in heavy winds from the SE to NW sector. Not much ashore, it is a sleepy town with some tavernas and a coffee shop at the harbour waterfront. The harbour can accommodate about 10 keel boats - there are no lazy lines. Dingy can be landed near the tavernas. The ferry no longer ties up here as the dock has collapsed into the water. It now goes behind the harbour.

Paganias, mainland Greece: N 39 39.589 E 020 05.869

Anchored in 25 ft. over mud/sand mixture in the same place we were a week before, there was 2 other boats with us in the anchorage but still lots of room for others. We love this place, there are a few fish farms on the way in but once you turn south it is like heaven, with Grey Herons and storks flying and landing with precision on what seems like weak tree limbs. One fishing boat comes in every evening and you can go buy fish from them, the captain speaks English as he lived in the USA for a long time. The swimming is good around the boat, but close to shore you can start seeing the bottom at around 5 foot depths with a lot sea urchins and pen shells.

Corfu island, Corfu Town: N 39 37.062 E 019 55.474

Anchored in 16ft over sand and weed. Surprisingly clear water near a city this big. It was a bit too noisy during the night here close to the marina, noise from the road traffic, but very nice setting with the old fort to the north of us. The protection is very good from the western half but could get rough if strong winds come from anywhere east. Tie the dingy inside the yacht club at the very south west corner. It is a short walk to the fort and the old town which during July and August is overrun with tourists, not a place to be during those months. Other than that it is a very nice city with an old section containing many narrow streets.

There is also an anchorage to the north of the fort at the entrance to the small harbour. There is also a harbour on the north near the commercial harbour where we saw foreign cruising sailboats tied alongside. A few places to provision but better done in Guovia (see below).

Checking in/out:

Note this only applies to non EU registered boats and Non EU Citizens:
Check out is best done at the Corfu Cruise ship terminal. You can walk from the old town Corfu over to the other side or take the #16 bus that drops you right at the office building where you will find both the customs and the immigration police who will stamp your passport. You also need to give them back the Greek cruising log.

Corfu Island, Gouvia: N 39 39.656 E 019 51.256

This morning we moved here as we had had a bad night in Corfu town with all the noise of planes taking off and landing, plus traffic nonstop off the coastal road. This is a much nicer place. We anchored in 25 ft over weed bottom anchor grabbed first time. Went to shore to check out of Greece but it got complicated because we are non EU Boat and are Non EU citizens, I will explain later.

This is a better place to provision with a large supermarket just a short walk from the marina, also sail makers and chandleries, one in the marina and one opposite the supermarket before you get to the main road. Haul out available here with many boat services available. There is a small supermarket within the marina complex which is well stocked but the prices are a little higher. There is also a Lidl supermarket a short bus ride towards Corfu town, the bus to Corfu old town is #6 and it cost €1.50. Many restaurants on the main road. Large marina here if you prefer to winter or just to spend some time here.

Corfu island, Kalami Bay: N 39 44.603 E 019 56.081

We anchored in 35 ft over sand and weeds, the water is clear and the surroundings are very nice with a few tavernas ashore plus some provisioning. The anchorage is not too good and we had a sleepless night with waves coming in from the channel as ships and ferries passed by. Some load music from the shore did not help either.

Corfu island, Kassiopi: N 39 47.378 E 019 55.004

We anchored in 15 ft. over weeds, dove to check the anchor but found it buried under thick weeds. The wind is from the south but still light. Lillian went to do some provisioning while I stayed on the boat making sure we did not drag as I am a little suspect about the holding here.

13:00 hrs. The following wind was not predicted anywhere on any website or grib files: Dark clouds started forming from the north and the wind veered to the NE. It picked up in strength with white caps that could be seen outside of the bay. One boat started to drag and was coming on us - they re-anchored but then another boat started to drag, they picked up anchor and left. We then started to drag as the wind and waves picked up so we hoisted anchor and also left. During our exit the rest of the boats dragged and also departed. So out of four boats anchored here in the small bay in different areas, all dragged and had to leave. This is not a place to be in strong winds, there are no sand patches anywhere.

The wind was only up to 18kts when we dragged.

Corfu island, San Stefanio Bay: N 39 45.968 E 019 57.022

Anchored in 30 ft over unknown bottom but grabbed very well. Very nice surrounding, small bay with minimal space - go closer to shore if space permits. Tie your dingy to a free spot on any of the docks ashore, ask for permission. A few restaurants ashore but not much else.

Mario Borg
SY Maltese Falcon

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Sep 04, 2015 08:32 PM

Posted on behalf of Bruce Hops - SY Twins
Today, Monday 31st. Aug., we arrived in Vathi/Meganisi. The marinero there indicated to us where to tie up. A minute later we were told that it was a private marina and that a lot of boats were expected, hence we should move to the old port at the far end. According to Rod Heikell's guide book we should be welcome there - figure it out ... .
The said "old port" has an easy access and good holding, but the water there is filthy. Practically everything floats around and falling in would be a horror. The electrics are not operative and there is water at one end only.

solcina79 says:
May 11, 2015 10:00 AM

hi everybody! here is my website where I dspeak about my experience at husband and me are sailing in our cata 420 around Greece, now in the ionic

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