We were happy to weigh the anchor outside Preveza at around 13h00 on 11th June and at last we were heading out of the bay into the open sea – free at last! We’ve got the usual Ionian afternoon breeze with a westerly at around 15 knots … great for a close reach sail over to the Lefkada bridge. We hoisted the sails and were reaching 6-7 knots in no time – putting the sail battens in the right way this year seems to have made a difference 🙂
Just two hours later, we were dropping the sails again on the approach to Lefkada – with perfect timing for the bridge opening on the hour at 15h00. It feels like we’re coming home again as Lefkas Town seems to be the place we always come back to – although this time we keeping going down the channel and past the marina intending to find a place to anchor somewhere in the Inland Sea at Kastos or Kalamos, away from the crowds of Nidri and Meganisi. Nothing has changed here – Lefkas Marina is still jammed with charter boats and doesn’t look like there’s a berth to be found, and the rubbish dump just outside the town is still wafting it’s odours across the water when the wind is in the wrong direction! At least the big dredger barges who were here last Autumn seem to have finished their work and are no longer blocking half the already narrow channel.
We carried on down the channel – and fortunately we took the opportunity of being on engine, flat and slow, to make some lunch and have some coffee …. we didn’t know at that time how glad we would be that we’d done that! At the end of the channel, we said hello again to Nikiana and Ligia … only seems like yesterday that we were travelling in the other direction past here in a terrible rain and thunder storm … but today is blue sky and sunshine ….. well …. until you LOOK BEHIND YOU 🙂
We hoisted the sails again at the end of the channel as the wind was slowly turning NW then N so we were now sailing downwind on the foresail. The clouds behind us were building rapidly and before we knew it, we were sailing in 25 knots of wind and 2 metre waves!!! Where did this come from? It wasn’t on ANY of the forecasts we use constantly – and clearly there were a lot of yachts caught out, as there were several flotillas laying on anchor in the north facing bays of Meganisi who now were trying to make an escape. It was shocking to see that several flotilla leaders were trying to lead the inexperienced yachts INTO the wind and waves to seek shelter in Vliho Bay – what happened to the basic principle of turning the boat downwind when you’re in trouble and seeking temporary shelter the other side of the island to wait out the storm? We don’t know which charter company the flotilla was from, but they certainly could do with training their skippers a bit better.
The storm hit us soon after – and once again we were in the Inland Sea with torrential rain, thunder and lightening but this time it was accompanied with high winds as well. Skipper Ed gave the order for lifejackets – certainly wasn’t expecting THAT on our first day sailing even if it was just a precautionary measure. We were quite happy flying along downwind, rolling over the waves and looking for the bright patches ahead of us.
We arrived at Kastos and dropped the sails at around 18h00, hoping to lay on anchor at Porto Leone – a bay on the eastern side of the island but one that is much deeper than the chart says. If you’re lucky and there is nobody around, then it does offer shelter from the western wind and we thought it would be a good place for the night. When we arrived it was full …… no room there for us! We also found the waves were rolling in there – and surprisingly the wind was now blowing NE and E – which it hardly ever does in this area! The anchorages of Kalamos were also out of the question as we’d be facing straight into the wind – so we decided to bite the bullet and find somewhere on the mainland which is an area we have never been to before.
I went below to start investigating possible bays and anchorages on TimeZero and Ed pointed the boat under engine in a straight line for the mainland – it was a bumpy crossing into the waves, crashing and slamming all the way and it took us a couple of hours to make the 6 mile crossing. The bay we had aimed at was not suitable – it’s a shame that TimeZero no longer has the integration with Panoramio where you can see other people’s photos of places all along the coast – we would have been able to make better decisions then as to where we should aim for. We cruised slowly down the coast and investigated a few places but in the end decided to head into the town harbour of Astakos – it was getting late and we were running out of options. We dropped the anchor in the bay outside the harbour at around 21h30, just as it was getting dark – at least we have flat water here!
Astakos is a lively town but not one that has been touched in a major way by foreign tourism – there are a couple of beaches but not occupied by large numbers of people! It is a ferry port though – and the ferry comes in a couple of times a day. We discovered very quickly when the ferry arrived for the first time that we were anchored close to the turning circle …. there was room for the ferry, but it was pretty hairy for us 🙂 We decided to move a bit further along the bay so pulled up the anchor and relocated. The Rocna stuck like glue here with heavy mud on the sea bed.
We intended to leave Astakos reasonably early the following day and get further towards Patras with a route to Mesalonghi. However, on checking the engine we discovered there was a LOT of salt water in the bilge which turned out not to be anything serious – the siphon break had come loose and was therefore spraying water everywhere. However, by the time we had realised this, fixed it, emptied the bilges and cleaned them it was too late to get anywhere so we decided to stay put and do some other chores – clothes washing, filling the water tanks, charging the batteries and catching up with some work email. The bay was almost empty last night with just one other yacht – but this afternoon we got a deluge of other yachts coming in including a few idiot Italians 🙂 – they are always good for an afternoon anchoring cabaret !!!
We are hopefully all ready to go first thing in the morning.