Its a Wrap

Now that we are reduced to watching sailing videos on Youtube, Delos pointed out that there are 50 people who called Delos home; and that got me thinking about how many people stayed on board La Mischief during her time on the high seas.

So I started to count them up….

  • 2013 (Sables D’Olonne to Marmaris, Turkey)

Countries/Islands Visited: France; Spain; Gibraltar; Balearic Islands, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 16

  • 2014 (Marmaris to Leros)

Countries Visited: Greece, Turkey

Total On Board: 14 (New 11)

  • 2015 (Leros to Cyprus)

Countries Visited: Greece Turkey Cyprus (South and north)

Total Persons on Board : 11 (New 9)

  • 2016 (Cyprus to Barbados)

Countries/Islands Visited:Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, Balearics, Spanish Morocco, Gibraltar, Canaries, Cape Verdes, Atlantic Crossing, Barbados

Total People on Board: 16 (new 9)

  • 2017 Barbados to Florida

Countries/Islands Visited: Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Monserrat, Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin, St Barts, St Eustatius, St Martin, Saba, St Barts, Anguilla, BVIs, Bermuda, USA (Newport, RI to Maine to Florida)

Total People on Board: 16 (New 9)

  • 2018 (Florida to Colombia)

Countries/Islands Visited: USA, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Culebra, USVI, BVI, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, Bequia, Mustique, Mayreau, Tobago Keys, Union Island, Petit St Vincent, Carriacou, Grenada, Tobago, Guyana, Trinidad, Bonaire, Curracao, Aruba, Columbia.

Total People on Board : 13 (New 6)

  • 2019 (Colombia to Rio Dulce to Mexico)

Countries/Islands Visited: Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama, Panama Canal, San Andres, Providencia, Guanaja, Roatan, Rio Dulce, Belize, Mexico

Total Persons On Board: 7 (New 2)

  • 2020 (Mexico to Florida)

Persons on Board : 3

Grand total 73

  • 34 Aussies
  • 22 US
  • 1 Slovenian
  • 3 Germans
  • 4 Canadians
  • 1 Polish
  • 1 Curacao
  • 1 Cypriot
  • 4 Poms
  • 1 Vietnamese
  • 1 Uruguayan
  • 1 kiwi

Prince Phil Waz Here

It took us a couple of hours to do the 15nm across from the top of Paxos to the small fishing harbour of Petriti on the east coast of Corfu. We decided to split our time between Petriti and Corfu town to make sure we saw as much of Corfu as we could. Petriki is the last of the real fishing harbours in Corfu and most of the restaurants come down here to buy their fish.

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There’s not a lot of free spots on the wall but we managed to arrive just as a couple of yachts were departing so we dropped our anchor and backed up to the wall.

We found a number for a rental car and organized a car for 2 days. We concentrated on the southern half for the first day, visiting a few resort towns on the southern tip, before heading up to Achilleion, an imposing Neoclassical villa built for Empress Elizabeth of Austria. No expense was spared on either the inside or the outside gardens with its impressive statues. Something different from the usual Greek Island sightseeing.


We then headed off to Pelekas, which is a mountain village with great views from a high. Our last stop of the day was Corfu Town, where we checked out the berthing options. Both the Noak Yacht Club and Mandraki had plenty of paid berths available. We stop and chatted with some Australian yachties in Mandraki. One of which turned out to be Andrea (along with hubbie Ian), my PE Teacher from Bunbury High School, way back in the seventies. It’s a small world. Anyway one drink turned into five as we picked Merv and Judy’s brains about Albania, where they had just spent a couple of months. Drove home very carefully that night.


Day 2 of our Tour de Corfu saw us head north on a stunning mountainous coastal drive. Well it would have been stunning if we could have seen anything through the rain and low cloud. The drive is noted for its great views of Albania – it was out there somewhere.

The weather started to clear (a bit) as we wove our way down to Agios Georgios, a spectacular little beachside town with a monastery on a prominent headland that splits the town into two large bays with lots of nice swimming spots scattered around. Dee was here years ago and managed to find some nice beaches when her and her niece found some nice local boys with a boat.

Next day we did the short hop up to Corfu Town. We pulled up the anchor to find a steel cable on the end of it. No way could we shake that off so out came the grappling hook. We hooked the grappling hook on the cable and got the anchor free only to see that I’d managed to wrap the loose end of the rope I’d tied to the grappling hook around the anchor winch mangled in with the anchor chain. It was going to be that sort of Frank Spencer morning – it was in fact May 13th. So now we had La Mischief attached to a steel chain by a flimsy grappling hook that we couldn’t dislodge until we got the rope free from the anchor winch. We managed to loosen the anchor winch and unwind the chain enough to get the rope free. That still didn’t help get the grappling hook off the steel cable – we needed a trip line on the grappling hook. Reminder for next time. However the good news was it was only a couple of metres deep so it was a simple matter to throw Dee over the side and get her to dive down and free the hook. Nothing like an early morning swim.


In our travels to Corfu Town, we’d spotted 15 or so yachts in the beginnings of a new marina being built just south of the old port. We talked to a couple of yachts and they said it was free so that’s where we headed.

We tied up and hit the old town. Corfu has two forts, a new fort and old fort. The new fort was just behind where we parked the boat. It was free and we spent half an hour clambering around it. From there we wandered into the old town, with its myriad of walking streets. It was nice to wander through. We finished up at the Esplanade that runs along the front of the Old Town. Along the way we past a cricket pitch, the legacy of being a British outpost.

The old fort is the highlight of Corfu. Its separated from the Esplanade by a canal, sitting on a rocky promenade that juts out into the sea. It dates back to the middle ages, with lots of Venetian and British add ons around the extensive outcrop.

Ancient fortress done, we set off on foot to Kanoni, 4kms out of town. Along the way we came across a plaque saying Prince Phillip was born here in 1923. Mum will be pleased given she delighted in telling me all about the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.

Kanoni had good views across to Mouse Island, the 17th century monastery of Vlaherna, and the Airport. We climbed down to the beach and checked out one of the big hotels before hopping on a local bus back to Corfu Town.

Back at the boat, we decided to cook dinner before heading off to enjoy our last bit of Greece with a nighttime walk through the old town. This was not to be as the Port Police had decided Friday night at 6pm was a good time to come around and kick everyone out of the half complete marina. Bummer.

We ended going around to the new port where customs were. We found a berth out of the way from all the ferries and completed our check out from Greece.

Our impressions of Corfu were that it was a little bit over hyped – nice island but must be getting picky given all the other Greek islands we’ve been to.

Then it was off to Albania at 5am the next morning.

Paxos – Off the Beaten Track

With pump bits sorted, we made a late start out of Lefkas. We had to wait in the channel for the swing bridge to open on the hour and then it was off to Paxos. Our original plan was to anchor off AntiPaxos on the way there but time and wind was against us so we had to do with just Paxos.


Paxos is one of those little gems in the Greek Islands that often gets bypassed for the bigger sexier islands – in this case Corfu. Paxos is only 5 miles long and 2 miles wide. Its claim to fame is that Harrods only buys its olive oil from there. We were pretty well stocked with olive oil so we passed but did stock up with more wine from a great little wine shop. Can never have too much wine!

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Our first stop was Port Gaios which looks fascinating on the chart and in the photos. The small harbour sits behind a large-ish island with a small channel running between. There’s a south entry but we choose the north one as this looked much more interesting. We weaved our way through the narrow channel past lots of fishing and day tripper boats to the town wall. We found a perfect spot, one of the few remaining and went stern to in clear water. We could literally step out into the restaurant strip perfect.

13247930_10205753886559306_9198993853963956762_oIt’s quite funny cooking on the BBQ on the back of the boat metres away from lovely restaurants but when you are cruising full-time you can’t afford to eat out every night so we limit our restauranting when we can.


Next morning we moved a short distance up the coast to the top of the island where we found the beautiful almost land locked bay at Lakka.


13226786_10205754074524005_2734774155119360647_n This is what Paxos is really known for – beautiful clear bays with sandy bottoms. We parked up in 2m of water and jumped in for a bit of bottom cleaning. The water is still a little cold but hey its only May.
13239209_10205754079204122_4836132110870848968_nLater on we dingied into the small town of Lakka and had a look-see and a walk around to one of the swimming beaches.

  13220532_10205754036043043_4827918071730853901_o We spent the night here before upping anchor early next morning for our 3 hour sail across to Corfu.

Monks on a High

Lefkas is a Greek Island that never used to be an island. Way back in 800 BC, the Corinthians managed to dig a canal through some marshlands to create the island. Later on the more modern-day Greeks had installed a swing bridge so you can drive from Lefkas to the mainland.


And that’s what we did at 6am, heading for the Meteoras. Ever since I got to Greece with Dee, she’s been raving on about the Meteoras. So now it was time to see what all the fuss was about.


The drive up there was pretty cool. It took us 3 hours to wind our way up through the mountains with numerous tunnels and viaducts, all built with lots of EU money. At one stage we hit fog as we drove through the clouds. The drive itself was worth the price of admission.


We arrived at the town of Kalambaka, just after 9am and found the tourist office who gave us a really good map. Then we were off. There’s six monasteries you can visit and we did them all. Theres quite a few others dotted around that airen’t open to the public and those that are open are closed on different days so we jagged it arriving on a Sunday when all 6 were open.


The monasteries sit perched on top of rock columns and in the olden days the only way the monks could get in and out was by a series of ladders and rope baskets. Begs the questions as to how exactly did they manage to build the impressive building perched on top of sheer rock cliffs in the first place.


Nowadays they have carved steps into the rock face and put in a modern road that goes round the back of each of the six monasteries. There are also flying foxes that winch across supplies.

DSC_0843Each of the monasteries are a bit different, all retaining their air of myth and mystery. For starters, one is a nunnery – evoking images of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The most famous is the one that was in James Bond’s “For Your Eyes Only”. Must watch that movie again. This is the most photogenic but the least interesting inside. Megalo Meteoro is the most extensive, housing several museums, including the blacksmith’s shop and the extensive kitchen. As you wander around, you catch a glimpse of monks and nuns going about the stuff that monks and nuns do.



We managed to knock off all the 6 monasteries by 1pm and we then headed off to find a nice restaurant in the cute little village of Kastraki for lunch. Kastraki sits spectacularly right at the foot of the Meteoras and it was filled with rock climbers, one of which only had one arm. Now there’s guts. The adrenalin junkies are well catered for here as there is also an annual mountain bike race down through the Meteoras.


We still had some time up our sleeve so we headed for Parga, which is a charming little resort town on the neck of a promontory flanking two bays, with an impressive Venetian Fortress perched high on an adjacent headland guarding the whole town. We spend a couple of hours there checking out the old town, the nice beach and the views from the fortress.

Then it was off back to Lefkas.

Spending Some Boat Dollars

Whilst in Ithaca I’d rung up the marina in Lefkas and ordered my replacement water pump from the Chandlery recommended by the Marina. I hadn’t been to Lefkas before so I thought this was my best course of action.

Going Up the Lefkas Canal

The guy from the Chanderly told me it would be there Friday definitely –  Thursday maybe. The Greeks only go back to work on Wednesday after their Easter break so the chances of Thursday were pretty bleak; but we thought we would go in Thursday anyway so we would be there to pick it up Friday morning.

Lefkas is a big boating centre in Greece with lots of charter boats based there, and has lots of chandlerys, sailmakers etc. So we took the opportunity to run down our boat shopping/ chores list.

We had the choice of booking into the Lefkas Marina at 57 euro a night; or going stern to on the town wall for free. I always have trouble knocking back “free”. The water depth next to the wall is a bit shallow in places so we had to pick our spot, but otherwise it was great.

Contract Yacht Services (CYS) was the nearest  chandlery, right opposite where we pulled up, so we started our shopping expedition there. It’s run by a couple of British expats, who are great to deal with – highly recommended if you are in that neck of the woods and like me wondering who to contact.


Unfortunately the guy I bought my pump off was a nice guy, but disorganised in a typically Greek sort of way. The pump didn’t arrive on Friday but he assured me it would arrive on Saturday. Come Saturday, no pump. He (supposedly) chased it up and told me it would definitely be there Monday. Bugger. We were planning to leave ASAP. So a quick rearrange of our plans and  we hired a car to drive around Lefkas Island on Saturday afternoon before heading to the Meteoras on Sunday. But the Meteoras are a whole blog entry in itself so you will just have to wait for that part.

Returning from the Meteoras on Monday, I got the phonecall to say that my pump model number is not available in Greece. The Greeks never fail to surprise me. It’s a 40psi Jabsco and the advice he got back was that you need to buy the 25psi pump and then buy a 50 euro pressure switch that converts it to 40psi. So we rushed back to CYS and got the same story – this time in 10 minutes rather than 5 days. Another marine store that had lots of Jabsco pumps said the same thing. Onto Google for a bit more research and then back to my original guy to do a deal given he’d screwed us around. Needless to say I got my new 40psi pressure switch for 14 euros more. 13071972_10205728819772652_2908687019931347638_o

But enough of my boring pump story, as we ended up having a really great time in Lefkas. The town itself is quite lively, with good bars and restaurants. These got a bit of a flogging as we kept running into yachties that we didn’t know, but soon got to know over a wine or five.


The first of these was Barry, who was a Kiwi who owns Sailing Holidays in Greece (and Croatia) and has run flotillas for the last 40 years around these here parts. One of those larger than life characters who had stories to tell and knowledge to impart. At the other end of the sailing experience scale was Johnny and Julia, who had just bought a boat and were embarking on their first great sailing adventure. Barry and I helped them perform their very first Med moor and we had a great night with them. Johnny is Johnny Morant, a young successful painter whose paintings are in a couple of London Galleries (check him out at Johnny describes himself as a “Youtube sailor”, but has good common sense and wiliness to get out there and learn so they will be right.


After a hard nights drinking we were looking forward to an AFD, but that was never going to happen when 3 Perth sailors rolled up at the back of La Mischief.

Stunning Beaches on the West Coast

Lefkas has some great beaches and it was good to get a car and go off exploring. Once again, we were stuck by just how green and lush the islands of the Ionian are. Maybe it’s the time of the year we are here. All the really good beaches of the Ionians seem to be on the Western Coasts and this was the case in Lefkas. We called into a few before we drove down to the south coast to Vasiliki, famous as a windsurfing destination. Then up along the East coast to Nidri, which looks across Vilko Bay, which is a large lagoon with boats anchored everywhere. In the corner of this large bay is another bay called Tranquil Bay. This place is super protected, with some yachts having wintered afloat here.


An afternoon of driving over, it was time to head back to La Mischief and prepare for an early morning start to the Meteoras.

Early morning start to the drive to the Meteoras

Passing the Rorschach Test

We left Frikes in the morning and enjoyed a beam reach across to the straits that separates Lefkas and Meganisi, before the wind completely died. As Rod said, the channel is one of the loveliest straits in the Ionians and it was great motoring through it a second time.


It’s quite amazing to pop through the other side into this wonderful protected bay with yachts everywhere. There was some sort of race going on as well as all the cruising boats. We headed for the private Skorpio Island, which was owned by Aristotle Onassis for a sticky beak.


You can’t land on the island, it’s still privately owned but it was still interesting circumnavigating it.   Then it was on to Inkblot Island…Meganisi.


On the charts it looked fascinating with bays and inlets littered along its northern coast. We picked out Port Atheni from Rod and headed there. It wasn’t a port in any sense of the word…just a nice indented bay.   I must admit that I was a little disappointed in Meganisi. It looked really cool on the 2 dimensional chart, but I like Ithaca a lot better.


Mind you, the water was lovely and clear and the little bays interesting. It’s just that I was expecting a bit more.   We anchored in the head of the bay amongst 4 other boats in about 7m of water. Still too cold for a swim. So we dingied in and had a half litre of wine at the one and only open restaurant. Then back to the boat for a movie and a morning get away.

Where’s My Mandolin? – Off to Cephalonia

The sail up from Shipwreck Bay to Cephalonia was actually a sail at times, as the wind was on the beam for a change. Still had to motor at times as the wind varied from 30kts down to zero.
DSC_0702 We were aiming for Sami but changed our minds halfway across and decided to go into Agios Eufimia as it looked prettier and was closer to the underground cave, according to Rod.

Boat trip on Lake Melissani

It was a good choice as the harbour had just received a facelift with a nice new wall and power and water facilities – plus a welcome sailors life-ring. Nice touch. We were happy about the water as our water pump had developed a leak; still useable but you needed to turn it off and on at the panel every time we wanted to use water. At the dock, we could simply plug in the shore water and use its pressure to supply the boat, completely bypassing our faulty water pump.


It was Easter Sunday and Roast Lamb is the traditional meal for the Greeks. We decided the restaurant straight over the road was as good as any, with the added advantage we could pinch their Wifi password for our Badboy wifi extender on board. And it was raining so no need to get wet walking far in the rain.


We’d spied an Australian Flag on a Canadian cat up the wall so we said hello and decided we could all rent a car the next day to see the island. Just as well as Rental Cars were expensive on Cephalonia – 71 euros it cost us. So off we went, next morning, Rita, Sten, Chris, Dee and I, heading for Lake Melissani. Using Google Maps, we sort of found where the underground lake should be – that was if the one and only road that goes to it hadn’t had a great trench dug through it. We got out and found we were in the mist of a bit of a neighborhood tiff. The police arrived and told us there was a hole in the road – really. Anyway we pressed on on foot, clambering down and up the hole and made it to the grotto, which remarkably was open in all this kerfuffle. You get to the Lake through a tunnel that someone has carved out and then a boatman picks you up and takes you on a short tour underground. The lake is quite beautiful and the interesting thing about it is that it’s fed by the sea that gets forced through some fissures across the mountains on the other side of the island, travelling the whole width of the island, through the cave and into the sea on the other side. Quite remarkable. Never heard of anything like it.


Next stop was the Cave of Drogarati, which was worth a stop, before we headed inland to the wine growing district, for a bit of wine tasting and stocking up. Then it was onto Argostoli for lunch and then a drive along the Western coast to check out some nice beaches there. We end up at Assos (jokes aside), which is on this amazing headland with a really cool Venetian Fort at the top. And when I say top, I’m talking “26 switch backs walking up to it” up. Having got our quotient of exercise for the day, we headed down the 26 switchbacks and then drove back to La Mischief, where a few glasses of wine were consumed over a few charts as we explained some of our highlights and where we had been.

Assos in the distance

Next morning, we headed off for Fiskardho, a cutesy little harbour, that somehow managed to escape being flattened by the 1953 earthquake that completely flattened the rest of the island. Unfortunately it was a really cutesy little harbour that everyone else had heard about, and with the flotilla season just starting, it had its Sorry We Are Full” sign out.

Assos looking down from the Venetian Fort

The good thing about the Greek Islands is that there is ALWAYS somewhere else good to go. In this case it was on Ithaca, the neighboring island. I’d stopped in their briefly on my way across to the Corinth Canal in 2013 so now I’d effectively completed my circumnavigation of Greek. Back in familiar waters. This time, we headed for Frikes, a cute little port with 5 other boats. It was a tiny town with beautiful, beautiful water and a free dock.

Inland Cephalonia

It had been stormy and overcast as we came across but the skies cleared leaving a beautiful day. We took a walk up the hill to a town called Stavros and called into a Homer’s Ulysses museum, Ithaca is supposedly the island of Ulysses from 800BC, but it’s evidently still open to debate.

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We just stayed a night and in the morning we headed off to Meganisi – the Rorschach Inkblot Island.

Off to Zakinthos – Eventually!!!

I can’t remember how many times I have looked at a Greek weather forecast and then been unpleasantly surprised. But then again, these days I’m not really that surprised – more like p@ssed off than surprised.

So there we were, bashing away into 35kts of norwesterly, with Zakinthos looking hours away. We tried tacking out to sea a bit hoping for a wind angle change, but instead the wind kept building along with the swell. So I tacked back into the bay and this seemed to work better as the swell dropped and the wind angle improved – a bit. But there was no way we would make it to Zakinthos in daylight. So back to the Peloponnisos we went. Consulting Rod, we picked out Katakolon as the likely suspect and got in at 6pm with still a couple of hours of sunlight left.

It wasn’t all bad as Katakolon is the main cruise ship port for passengers visiting Olympia; Dee having called in there on a much larger version of La Mischief with her Mom and Niece in earlier times. Unfortunately, it was Greek Easter Friday so all the car rental places along with just about everything else was shut (barring the restaurants of course). We eventually got hold of Georgio’s mobile and organized a car for 30 euros. Georgio also helped us organize diesel to be delivered by truck for the next morning – we’d used a bit motoring up against headwinds a lot of the way.

In the meantime we took up the offer of yet another George to come to his house and buy some wine, olive oil, olives and eggs from his family farm. We followed him up a steep set of stairs to his house perched overlooking the harbour. Here we met his mother and father; his father having travelled the world as a Greek seaman. We sampled the wine and chatted in broken English for a while. Their second son was in Athens, an IT guy (I think) and was returning home for Easter.

Returning back down the hill, we found the car park was filling fast; and Georgio explained later, when he dropped off the car at 9pm, that a lot of Greeks were returning to the village for Easter as this is when they gathered their families together in their home villages. We could see something brewing at the church from our boat, so  we wandered over and saw a lot of well dressed people gathering around – from Athens I guess. Then the procession started, lead by a whole heap of boys with staffs, followed by the local priest and then 6 pall bearers holding an effigy. There must have been 1000 people in the procession as we joined in, taking photos as it went by.



Next morning the fuel truck duly came at 8.30am and we got what we think is enough diesel to get us to the duty-free fuel at Montenegro. Then it was off to Olympia, 38kms away. Olympia has a very pretty setting, amongst olive tree groves with a stream flowing through. I couldn’t resist a dash on the athletics track – but I’m pretty sure Usain Bolt is fairly safe. The ruins are pretty ruined, but its pleasant walking through them. What is really, really good however is the museum, one of the best for Greek antiquities we’ve been through. Some of the marble statues in particular were exquisite. Whole frescos of statues – stunning. Our last stop at Olympia was the “other” museum – the museum of the ancient Olympics, which was interesting but a bit of a come down from the main museum.




Olympia done, it was off cross country to Tornese Castle built by the Franks in 1220 and improved upon by the Venetians. The restoration work is going well and it looks great, with commanding views across to Zakinthos and Cephalonia Islands. Well worth a visit.

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Greek ruins and Castles ticked off, it was back to the boat and straight off to Zakinthos. We had originally intended to get to the top of the island as the weather forecast had said the winds were dying off in the afternoon; but the only thing dying off was the Poseidon Weather Forecaster – just as soon as I find him.

Hence we bashed our way to the somewhat closer Zakinthos Town, the Island’s capital.  We pulled up on the wall with the help of George. I’m beginning to think every harbour guy in Greece is called George. George (the forty third) suggested we visit the supermarket ASAP as it was closing for Easter in a few minutes and we took him up on the suggestion. Then we had a wander around the town, thinking it may be a good place to see a bit of Easter action, being Easter Saturday –  but it was dissappointly quiet.

Next morning, Easter Sunday (believe it or not), we left in very little wind to head around to Shipwreck Bay, the famously iconic beach that inevitably appears on all those Greek Travel Brochures. The weather was overcast but otherwise perfect for visiting the West Coast – no nasty Nor Westerlies.


As we neared the bay the water turned a wonderfully beautiful blue. It’s a spectacular setting, the white beach set amongst towering chalk coloured cliffs, with a wreck plonked neatly up the beach. We dropped anchor in 10m of water but couldn’t see the bottom. The cloudy chalk in the water was what made it so blue. We dropped the dingy and took 10 million photos of La Mischief in front of the beach, before setting foot on the iconic beach itself. There was a steady stream of day boats coming and going but it wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately it was a bit cold (for us) to go swimming so no pictures of me (or Dee) in our bikinis – so sorry!



We returned to the boat and just got our anchor up before 10 flotilla boats appeared from around the corner for a bit of anchoring mayhem in the bay.

Then it was off to Captain Corelli Country – Cephalonia.

How Do You Spell Peloponnisos?

The weather gods were behaving themselves as we pulled away from the wall at Kissamos and headed North past Kithera Island. We ducked in close to have a look see at the wreck just outside the main harbour, the result of Rum induced navigation.


The weather window however didn’t quite last until we got to Elafonisos Island, just off the Peloponnisos mainland coast. We were aiming to anchor off one of the best beaches in Greece – according to our reliable guide, Aran, who had sailed his boat in these waters before. Nice thought except the wind was reaching 40kts and the swell was building through the narrow passage between Kithera Island and Elafonisos. So not exactly beach weather…or anchoring off a beach weather. Aran was not too perturbed though as he knew the island also had a quaint little fishing village with some good restaurants.




We got there about 6pm after doing nearly 70nm and pulled into the town pier. It was quite a big harbour but with little usable wall, so we congratulated ourselves on finding the last spot on the wall. We then had a wander around the town and out to the cute church poking out on a spit off the other side of the harbour. The restaurant lived up to Aran’s (and our) expectations and we were all fuelled up for an early morning 5am start.

13100800_10205676163016266_3475948392331933951_nUp at the allotted hour, we were surprised to find a small cat had tucked himself in right in front of us. None of us had heard him come in. The weather was looking good so our plan was to press on as far as we could as it was Aran’s last day with us and we needed to get him somewhere close to a bus so he could get to Athens. We rounded Cape Grosso with its impressive old lighthouse and admired the interesting coast as it went by.

We ended up getting some great sailing in with the wind off our starboard stern quarter. Time to put the geneker up and chew up some miles!


We passed close by the scenic old Venetian port of Methoni with its very impressive castle right on the water


and kept going to Pilos in the Bay of Navarinou, where the last great battle involving sailing ships took place. It effectively ended the Greek War of Independence when the British Admiral Codrington sailed into the bay and defeated the Ottoman Fleet that were stationed there.   As we sailed in we spotted the very impressive memorial on top of a small island that marked the entrance of the bay.



We parked on the town quay opposite a Finnish Coastguard vessel and next to a 48 foot Benneteau with a couple of Americans on board together with Rory, their Irish sailing coach. We were soon on their boat drinking wine and letting the Americans natter away. The six of us ended up going out to dinner to celebrate Aran’s last night with us.

Next morning Dee and I said our goodbyes to Aran and then set off to Zakinthos. Or so we thought!

El Greco Beckons

The last time I was in Crete was when I was in my late twenties and I was looking forward to getting back.

13062276_10205628089454457_7664300077535047838_nI chose Spinalonga as our first stop – Rod described it as “fascinating to sail into the enclosed lagoon watching the sea bottom slip past a few metres under the keel.”.

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Equally fascinating was the large Venetian fortress that guarded the entrance. Below the castle was Greece’s last leper colony. What a picturesque spot.


You can anchor just about anywhere in the lagoon and we choose to anchor off the main town of Elounda, but found the town a little boring. In hindsight we should have anchored nearer the fortress of the cute town of Plaka (where the water was clearer for swimming) – but never mind, we had a great dingy tour of the bay and ended up at a great lunch spot in Plaka (after the obligatory girls shopping expedition!), overlooking the Venetian fortress. This was after we’d dingied over to the fortress and had a fascinating wander around the whole island. The leper colony was interesting as were the Ottoman houses that immediately predated the colony. And the fortress walls went right around the island, and up to its top, making for some great photos.

13103489_10205628134455582_7813711860978785498_n Next day it was off to Iraklion, Crete’s capital. Again, the wind was on our nose (but light) – the prevailing winds are from West to East and we were travelling West against them – them’s the breaks. We got to Iraklion at lunchtime and passed a cruise ship on the way out of the harbour. We continued to the end near the Venetian fort, where the rather full marina was and tried to raise someone, anyone to point us in the right direction. In the end we gave up and found a spot outside the marina in front of the Port Police. Very convenient, except for the ferry wash, which one high-speed ferry in particular caused havoc with our fenders and hull as we got black everywhere from the large tires that we parked up against. We put on a couple of our spring lines and   that seemed to help a little.

13083225_10205628159256202_6171627207019613728_n13062483_10205628127495408_3390841307935804850_nIraklion has a bit of a reputation as being unattractive but we actually quite liked its old city with its lively bar and restaurant scene. We even got to see a live band there that weren’t bad.



But before we hit the bars and restaurants we caught a taxi out to Knossos, the ancient Minoan Palace. I remember being blown away by it in my twenties, but this time I was quite annoyed by the reconstruction effort that Sir Arthur Evans took using copious amounts of concrete and a few other liberties. Basically it lacked authenticity and you never could work out what was real and what was reconstructed. Still it gives you a good idea of what a magnificent palace it must have been and is still worth a look.

13082755_10205628166816391_6811584102746076209_nBack in a taxi, we headed to the museum, which was very impressive. Lots of good stuff from Knossos and other Minoan archeological digs. Lots of pots and urns. It was good to see some of those iconic pieces of art and sculpture from ancient Minoan times, as well as becoming re-acquainted with the myths from those times.

The museum is right outside the old city, so we made our way slowly back to the boat, via a lot of detours into the various shops that lined the marble cobblestones.


Next day, Joe and Barbara hopped onto a high speed ferry to Santorini, 50nm away. Too close to miss. They had a great time, visiting the Island’s hotspots.

13096267_10205628135655612_4864219924975394520_nThe following day, it was our last sail (motor) with Joe and Barbara up to Rethymno, with its attractive old town and cute Venetian harbour. We headed for the “marina”, a glorified harbour with a few pontoons. It was reasonably expensive by Greek standards, but most of the cost was in electricity and water, so once we declined these it wasn’t too bad.


Once safely moored, we headed into town, about a 15 minute walk around the harbour and headed for the venetian fortress. We paid our entry fee and had a nice wander around. The extensive walls were the highlight, overlooking the clear waters of the Med. There were a few interesting building inside including a wonderful domed mosque.

Then it was back into the old city in time for 5.30pm opening. Joe and I lasted for a while before retiring to one of the great sea-side bars to sample some Greek beer. The girls eventually found us and we all wandered back to the boat before going out on the town for a great last meal with Joe and Barbara before they left.


For their last day, we had decided to rent a car and head off on a tour de Crete, before their evening flight to Athens. Crete is a wonderful island to drive around. We first headed for ruins of Phaistos, Crete’s second most important Minoan palace city after Knossos. Its built on a hilltop, providing brilliant views over the plains below. It was worth a wander around, seeing Minoan ruins from the first European civilization left largely as they found them.

13083300_10205628203377305_7141850048658629056_nThen it was time to head to the beach for lunch. Matala is a cool beach side town with lots of caves on a cliff face that were frequented by hippies in the good old days. The beach looked pretty good but unfortunately the weather had turned bad so no swimming today.

Lunch over, Dee decided that we should see Agios Nikolaos. Something we should have done via a short taxi ride when we were in Spinalonga. So off we went on a wonderful drive across the middle of Crete to the North East coast. Crete is very lush and green and lots of things grow there. Quite different to the other islands.

13076813_10205628204257327_2864935565671605964_n We parked by the marina and had a sticky beak at what looks like a great place to winter at. Then we walked into town and checked out the lake that is joined to the fishing harbour by a narrow channel. Very cutesy. There were some good little walking streets that attracted the girls like honey, but not quite enough time for us boys to do what we do best when shopping is mentioned – retreat to one of the great bars around the harbour and lake. Oh well.

Then it was time to head to the airport. But first, some street food at Souvlaki-opoli – what a great name. We’d been to a lot of great restaurants with Barbara and Joe but somehow we hadn’t indulged them in a souvlaki or a gyro.

Mission completed, it was time to drop them off for their flight out to Athens from Iraklion. We thoroughly abmolished them for not spending enough time on La Mischief – 2 weeks was clearly not enough. And then they were off – back to the USA.

We got back to Rethymno to find a storm had ripped through the place. Next day the security guy from the “marina” came to complain that La Mischief was too heavy for the finger jetty we were tied up to. We’d tied up there after being told it was the visitors jetty and nobody had said anything for two days. Anyway the wind started blowing in the other direction (just as hard) and everyone seemed happy.

13094236_10205628256658637_6992111714090012869_n   It was clear we weren’t going anywhere for a day or so we spent the next day doing boat chores and looking for bits and pieces in town. Once we worked out we could go anywhere the next day as well, we set about organizing a trip to Samaria Gorge. George, our hire car guy talked us into hiring a car (of course) and taking the boat trip both ways, then walking in and out of the bottom part of the gorge. The alternative was to take a bus to the top of the gorge and walk down 16kms to the bottom and catch the same boat out. Anyway by the time we’d to’d and fro’d it was too late to book the organised tour so we were stuck with hire car option.13015431_10205628349500958_5716045748926314119_n

13043741_10205628281859267_1836372841578544404_nThis turned out to be an interesting option. We needed to drive over to the south coast and catch the 10.30am ferry from Sfakia to Agios Roumeli (which is inaccessible by road). George had said that the ferry would take 30 minutes, we didn’t really get there until 12 noon. Then we walked 5 kms in 2 hours up from the bottom into the gorge, turned around and walked back. The plus side of this is that we spent all our time in the most beautiful part of the gorge (evidently), but the down side was that we had to rush and spent too much time on a boat and a car and not enough of our time walking the gorge. If we had our others, we would do it with a tour that drops us at the top of the gorge so we could have a leisurely 16km walk down. Anyway the gorge was absolutely spectacular and a must do for Crete. The boat trip back to the car was good also calling in at places such as the pretty little town of Loutro, which you can only get to by boat.



With Samaria Gorge down it was time to hit the water again and head around to Hania. The wind and swell had died by now and it was a pleasant little motor sail (against the wind of course) to Hania. Hania turned out to be the pick of the harbours in Crete, a beautiful Venetian city, with cobbled walking streets and Venetian houses and fortifications, along with Ottoman mosques and minarets.

13095965_10205628270818991_2150627818527963617_nWe pulled in stern to and picked up a laid line, right in the restaurant strip. Brilliant spot. Then it was off to explore the old town before Aran arrived later that evening. Aran was a friend of ours we met last year in Kasterlorizo on his boat and we’d caught up with him again in Eliat, Israel where he lives, when we did our road trip through Israel. He was sailing with us to the Ionians.

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Next morning it was up early and off to the Ionian Island of Kithera, 65nms away. Or so we thought!  As we made our way out of the bay, the winds gradually increased until they started to touch 45kts. Time to bail.

So we simply went out one bay and into the next, heading for Kissamos at the bottom of this bay. The harbour was three-quarters empty, a few ferries and day boats that went around to Gramvousa (an original destination until the Westerlies made it a no no), along with one other yacht.

And there we stayed for 3 nights waiting for the weather to clear up. One morning we got 61knots of wind, when we turned the instruments on. Reckon it may have been more during the night. Luckily the wind was pushing onto the wall so all was good.


Given we couldn’t go anywhere, we hired another car and drove to Palaiokhora, one really nice town on the South coast with an old castle on the point overlooking a decent harbour. Interestingly, the town had beaches on either side, being built on a headland. So we had the choice of beaches for lunch.


It’s a bit of a drive from North to South, an interesting drive, but not for Adan and I as we’d consumed a pizza each and slept it off whilst Dee drove onto Hania, as we felt we hadn’t given it justice in the day we were there. It was good to sit and people watch over a beer.


Next day, we had planned to hire mountain bikes and ride to Gramvousa on the West end of the island, but it was still blowing its mammary glands off, so we opted to keep the rental car and drive there instead. Such a beautiful bay, would have been great if the weather gods had smiled nicely at us and we’d got to sail there. It was a bit of an interesting drive there over a rather rocky road, followed by a 20 minute walk down to the beach in the wind.

Our next challenge was to find a relatively non-windy place for lunch, which we managed to do by going across to the next bay from Kissamos, where it was guarded by a bluff. And they had stuffed calamari and swordfish! The rest of the afternoon, we spent checking out the nice little bays and villages between Kissamos and Hania.

Miraculously, the wind had calmed right down the next morning as we pulled away from the dock. I say miraculously because the weather forecast was actually right.

And then it was really off to the Ionians.