October saw our last sailing of the season and a return to Corfu. It’s always a risk with the weather at this time of year but you can be rewarded by much quieter anchorages and marinas and some great sailing conditions. In our case, the week started off with torrential rain and storms but improved each day.
We covered 65 nautical miles (120 km) and much of this was a struggle because the wind for the entire week was blowing from the South East to the North West which meant that when we were finally able to leave the marina, we were heading into the wind and coming back, we had it directly behind us. These conditions require a lot of tacking there and back to make progress so the choice is to use the sails, tack and have a significantly extended journey, or to lower the sails and use the engines which means sailing into the wind and having a bouncy ride. We ended up combining the two.
Fortunately, as we predicted, marinas and anchorages were quiet and the week overall was fantastic fun even though we got very wet sometimes.
Day 1: Corfu – Before the Storm
We arrived the previous evening and after a good night’s sleep and a morning coffee together, we split up and hit the town to buy provisions and do some sightseeing. We made it to the boat mid-afternoon and since the sky was still clear and we had been warned what was on the way the next day, we managed to leave the marina for an hour to raise the sails and introduce the crew to the boat! Then it was back to the marina to batten down the hatches… Literally!
Well we can’t say we weren’t warned. Last night, all our phones beeped at once with an Emergency Alert sent out by the Greek Civil Protection Authority. The rain started during the night, then the lightning, then the thunder, then the wind! Fortunately, Gouvia marina is very well protected and we were well secured so apart from rattling our bones, it didn’t affect us. Had a very wet outing walking 200m down the quay to the coffee shop where we spent time drying out in time for the very wet walk back to the boat. Not much going on during the day other stocking up on gin and tonic and testing our drinking, cooking and eating skills. The day passed quickly, and the evening merrily thanks to the gin!
Day 3: Corfu to Plataria
Finally the weather broke and we woke up to clearer skies. We could finally leave the Gouvia marina and head South but our passage was going to be made more challenging by the wind coming from the South East which was exactly the direction we were headed. In order to fill the sails, you cannot sail into the wind but instead need to sail at an angle to the wind which means zig zagging (tacking) East and West to progress South towards our destination. The effect was to double the length of the journey but the time passed quickly and it was incredible to be sailing after nearly 2 days stuck in the marina. Our destination was Plataria where we had booked a berth in the marina and intended to stay for Shabbat.
Day 4: Shabbat in Plataria
Plataria was quiet but we had a wonderful Shabbat, walking, eating, drinking, exploring and resting.
Day 5: Plataria to the Blue Lagoon to Lakka (almost!)
Sunday morning it was time to say goodbye to Plataria and head off to Lakka via a stop at the Blue Lagoon which is a deserted cove on a small uninhabited island South West of Plataria. Lakka, our destination, was on the northern tip of Paxos the large island to the south of Corfu.
We arrived at the Blue Lagoon to find it almost deserted and the one other boat that was there scarpered off leaving the entire lagoon for us. We had an amazing time swimming, paddle boarding and exploring the caves in the dinghy.
It was difficult to pull ourselves away from such a beautiful and secluded spot that we had to ourselves but we knew that we had to move on to Lakka and that the wind was forecast to be picking up as the day progressed. We were now going to be heading south west against a south east wind which offered a great opportunity to raise the sails and make quick progress.
Unfortunately though, by the time we rounded the northern point of the island and headed out into the open sea, we found that the waves had picked up and although the wind made for great sailing, the waves were not in our favor. Since progress was very choppy and slow and the crew was clearly starting to enjoy it less, we made the decision to turn round and head to Syvota where there was a sheltered marina for us to tie up at. The journey back to Syvota was much calmer however the heavens opened and we were soaked to the skin on the 1 hour journey to the marina.
Day 6: Day out in Ioannina
We woke up to a mixed weather forecast and after the drenching and bouncing around from the previous day, I suggested a day trip inland to visit Ioannina which was a 90 minute drive away and was historically the capital of the north western region of Greece but also the home to a large Jewish population and thriving community pre-Holocaust. Sadly, most of those who didn’t escape before the war were deported to Italy together with the Jews of Corfu and sent on to the concentration camps. The shul is quite beautiful as is the walled city. Unfortunately due to our last minute visit, there wasn’t enough time to organize someone to open up the synagogue for us (I’ve included a photograph from a previous visit of mine).
We spent the day touring the old city, visiting the fort and then at the end of the day, a visit to the cave of Perama and its impressive collection of stalagmites & stalactites.
Day 7: Syvota to Corfu
A beautiful day with clear skies for our sailing back to Corfu. We made good progress and were even able to make a stop in a cove on an island off Corfu Town where the hardier amongst us went for one last swim and paddle board.