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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Harrogate
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    9,750

    Default Cruising CORFU (long)

    Idling away your day?............... Well you might be interested in my end of season charter in and around Corfu. If you have other things to do and places to be - it’s also OK to give it a miss.

    I sailed in Corfu some years ago and liked it. It’s obviously a major British holiday destination but it’s really easy to get away from the crowds and see some stunning scenery.
    We chartered out of Gouvia - a bus ride from the airport and from Corfu Town. As large marinas go it’s OK but the afternoon we picked up the yacht, (Terpsithea – Bavaria 33), it was bloody hot and we were desperate to get away. The large crew of a 50ft on the opposite pontoon arrived equipped with pints of beer in their hands so I guessed that even though it was early evening it was not the place to stay the night.



    red lines indicate places visited


    So quickly out of the marina into a cooling breeze and North to a bay called Agni where we found a deserted corner - anchored and put a line ashore as is typical.








    There’s an island to the North West of Corfu that I have always fancied visiting – Erikousa. Albania is only a short crossing away and the course northwards then westwards once clear the main island gives you a good view of Sarandė (Albania), a place I would like to know more about. We heard conflicting stories of visiting Albania whist we were there but unfortunately our boat papers were not in order to enable us to visit.





    Just before you are able to turn to port there’s an obstruction that comes out well into the sea from the coast. It’s quite difficult to see until you are right on it.



    You can just see the gantry marking the end of the reef - shallow water right to the shoreline, (look to the right of the image through the rigging). The local fishing boats cross the reef without bother and so give the impression from a distance that all is well – our yacht drew 2m and it was not for us. The map shows land but I have never seen any above the water.




    Erikousa was virtually uninhabited but with EU help the Greeks recently put in a new marina – it’s large and well…. brand new – too much new concrete for my liking but I guess it will tone down with the passing of the years. Watch out for a laissez faire attitude to lazy lines - the one you are given is unlikely to be the one that has the mooring block in front of your bow – made life interesting – especially for SWMBO who had the job of hauling a rope aboard that went off in a acute diagonal and was far too short.








    The island itself is enchanting if short on facilities – couple of restaurants a hotel and surprisingly an excellent bakery. We took some walks around the place - well worth taking walking boots.

    We needed to be in Kalami bay on the mainland in two days to meet some friends and left Erikousa after a couple of days for stopover in Kassiopi.






    I had visited Kassiopi some years back later in the season and we had only just managed to find a berth, (really crammed in). This time we found ourselves to be on our own. We were told that normally during the season 1.2 million air passenger seats are allocated to Corfu but this year only 800,00 had been listed -must have had an effect.
    A nice place, quite quiet and full of character – this time we walked to the next bay and up to the castle that dominates the headland.



    And so to Kalami – famous for where the Durrells lived and you can still see the white house which dominates the left hand side of the bay. Now a restaurant.






    We picked a corner of the bay and anchored in 5m - a little farther out than I would have liked but Heinkell says that further in the holdings poor so it was for the night and better safe than sorry. We dinghied ashore for dinner - a delightful place.

    Our next destination was Paxos – the island to the south of Corfu – it has a sister Antipaxos but I have never been there.

    To get there we decided to half the journey by crossing to the mainland and calling in at Plataria, (below Igoumenitsa where all the ferries call). Plataria offers a large, virtually empty marina and is now being used by Sailing Holidays as a base. I got told that they had had to move out of the Ionian because the authorities had banned chartering without a RYA Day Skipper qualification – I never even knew that you could do that in the first place, (?).









    Paxos’s main port of entry is Gaios. Paxos in itself is really beautiful, mountainous in a petite way but Gaios is the jewel in the crown – if a little busy. There are two sayings about Gaios: “Gaios is chaos” and also: “arrive early and be entertained – arrive late be the entertainment”. It lived up to both!









    Essentially its a port with an island lying very close offshore – this creates a long dog leg channel and two main areas for mooring – the town quay to the south and what might be seen as a more commercial berthing area to the north. We debated whilst approaching late afternoon where we should enter and thank God choose the North. Incredibly we found a berth where we had waiting for us - a couple that we had met in Erikoussa. We dropped anchor and they took our lines – securely berthed in no time – dead lucky.

    The channel is incredibly busy and it’s narrow as you can see – during the day tripper boats arrive all the time, (they take no prisoners). Early afternoon the yachts and catamarans start to arrive looking for a berth for the night.

    Decisions have to be made quickly or you will have a large vessel on your bow in no time, you need to pick a spot to drop and go for it. Its needs confidence and calm nerves to get in without embarrassment. Large vessels tend to bully their way through.

    Crossed anchors are the name of the game here. In the two days that we were there it seemed that nobody got out of the place without incident.

    The next day we wandered down to the town quay and it was a magnitude worse – boats we actually bumping into each other as chains were disastrously picked up – much bow thruster use and engines revving full astern from time to time. People placing limbs in very unsafe places fending off and also getting in the water with heavy anchors and chains being held aloft by person you have never met before with remote button in their hands!. I dint see anyone get hurt but it must happen.


    Even the day tripper boats pick up chains.
















    Amazingly after two days we got out with dragging anyone else with us but our poor friends in the Moody “Pisces” were not so lucky – three chains in one go – it took him forever to free himself, we stood by but he managed on his own.. None of this was his doing its just inexperienced people dropping anchors in places they should not. Also others forcing themselves into narrow berths making the neighboring yachts to shuffle to the side ruining the planned anchor line running straight off your bow concept.


    It’s a fascinating place but to frenetic for too long a stay. Our new friends said they we going to make for Lakka in the north of the island and we needed to start to move north so we followed them.

    Into a brisk north wind. Which increased as we progressed into a bay open to the North? Not one of my best of ideas! – The sea state built but the sun was out as we pressed on and we got there albeit at steadily reducing speed. I didn’t have time to look but our friends told us that it was a force 6 and building.


    We were met by a bay full of yachts sheltering from the weather and we had to find a place to anchor where we would be protected to some extent. In the north east corner I found a place that looked OK and we dropped our anchor and let as much chain out as we dare – I held the yacht astern for a period and felt sure we were dug in. For an hour or so we looked great but gradually I became aware that the Grand Banks astern of us was getting nearer as we swung. Oh dear.

    My last attempt was a compromise and I sat there thinking: is this Grand Banks really getting closer – after a few minutes it was.

    Soon as I detected this a guy swam past in mask and flippers and shouted: “G’day, do you want me to check your anchor?” (in Aussie!). Yes I said but I added that my worry was that I was dragging into this Grand Banks - he offered – “well yes mate……….. that’s my boat”.









    I said that what I really wanted to do was put a line ashore, as he had and he offered to help. We anchored across the wind this time and let a lot of chain out, then our new friend, the Grand Banks owner swam my line ashore and secured it. We took up the slack and we were secure. Happy days.

    A yacht and catamaran dragged in the late evening and where forced to wander the anchorage looking in the dark for a better place – my heart went to them. In morning they were still in the bay and safe so all was well.

    The wind had disappeared by the next sunrise and we took to time to reacquaint ourselves with Lakka – a beautiful little place. Lots of nice restaurants and some good walks over the headland.





    And so the inevitable home leg. Back to Gouvia would have been about 34NM so we decided to split it and overnight at Petriti, 18NM north, on the main Corfu island. A non descript fishing port backed by low lying land at the end of a shallow bay.

    Anchoring and then going astern against a jetty is a skill that is easy to acquire but essential in this area. Some times you have to have two stern lines ready to throw to someone on land or the port will provide a lazy line (“slime line”) – a pilot line that when worked along the side of the boat provides for a thicker mooring rope to be hauled on to the bow and cleated off.





    The way we play it to reverse with the anchor paying out until within about 4m of the dock and then the person on the anchor controls the last part of the approach as instructed by the skipper – edging it back with the anchor control (the engine in reverse at tick over). At the right time I throw the two stern lines and insist that they are immediately thrown back to me as slips. Cleated off, the engine is now put in forward and the boat is immediately secure on the now taught stern ropes. Works for slime lines as well in fact its better as it takes all the pressure off mucking around with the slime line whilst the bow is secured


    Greek are great people, I like them a lot - friendly and very positive – I suppose every nation has one or two national deviants, (the Harbor Master at Petriti being one but that's another post if you are interested )


    Our voyage uneventful after this and I leave you with a few images of the area around Corfu Town.


    Incidentally I love these old hydrofoils, they always keep their distance.





    Liner parking:










    Finally Gouvia Marina is a curious place in a way, in the compound there is an English Croquet Club and a Cricket Club! - I didn’t get a photo of the cricket but one day they were all out in their whites.






    I love Corfu as a cruising ground – it’s not busy generally, (maybe I guess at the top of the season) the scenery is stunning and the people are friendly. There is always something new to explore and the sailing is out of a dream.


    The last thing I want is more English people out there but I guess I could cope with a couple or so. If you are tired of getting wet and cold in UK water why not give it a try ? In October its shorts and no shirt weather.


    I always try to pick small companies for charter – I honestly believe that you get better service and I like to experience of knowing the owner.

    I can highly recommend LENCO Corfu [ https://www.lenco-corfu-yachts.com] ask for Dimitris – got about six yachts I think. I don’t believe you will be disappointed, (no connection by the way).
    Last edited by Danny_Labrador; 11-10-19 at 16:31.
    You really only know - when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    UK, Greece and Spain
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    24,950

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Great post, you ticked off many of the places we enjoy in the area

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    South Wales and Bristol Channel, UK
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    2,539

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    I enjoyed reading your post and thanks for the compliment about "Greek are great people":

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    427

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Two years ago, that was me dragging and re-anchoring in Lakka in the middle of the night. Some of the holding there is dire when the Greek wind shows its usual capricious disregard for the forecast.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Harrogate
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    9,750

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by newtothis View Post
    Two years ago, that was me dragging and re-anchoring in Lakka in the middle of the night. Some of the holding there is dire when the Greek wind shows its usual capricious disregard for the forecast.
    I have a theory that there is a hard shoulder of sea bed (maybe lightly covered rock) that runs along the coast on the north east corner about 50m off shore. When we were there it was vacant - that why I was attracted to it but I couldn't get it to hold.
    You really only know - when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
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    Harrogate
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    9,750

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by CAPTAIN FANTASTIC View Post
    I enjoyed reading your post and thanks for the compliment about "Greek are great people":
    I have only found one exception to that in many years and that's the harbor master at Petriti but as I say, that's another story.
    You really only know - when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    UK, Greece and Spain
    Posts
    24,950

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Having had many years of anchoring in Lakka (and other places) the problem I see it is that people often arrive in lovely weather with little wind and because it is fairly shallow, put the minimum amount of chain out so that they don't hit any other boats in the limited space. That would be okay but they then often fail to check the holding by putting the engine into reverse and giving a good blast of 2000-2500 revs to check the anchor is dug in and will hold (it does not mean it will always hold if the wind gets up but you have a much better chance of it holding)
    Then when occasionally the wind does get up, sometimes in the late evening/early hours you have boats going walk about. We've seen it a few times and in most cases it could have been easily prevented

    Of course in most cases the wind does not get up and people have a very pleasant night at anchor, but that is by chance rather than design
    Last edited by jordanbasset; 11-10-19 at 07:04.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Corfu - mostly
    Posts
    5,388

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Pleased to see myself in your final photo! Not just an 'English' Croquet Club but a mix of British, Dutch and German, where the game is also popular.

    The cricket club is Greek - it has been played on Corfu for many years; now by MCC rules though the traditional game was somewhere between cricket and rounders, and the main cricket pitch was the large lawn in front of Corfu castle known as the 'Spianada'.

    Congrats on a nice account.
    Last edited by AndrewB; 11-10-19 at 07:22.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Harrogate
    Posts
    9,750

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by jordanbasset View Post
    Having had many years of anchoring in Lakka (and other places) the problem I see it is that people often arrive in lovely weather with little wind and because it is fairly shallow, put the minimum amount of chain out so that they don't hit any other boats in the limited space. That would be okay but they then often fail to check the holding by putting the engine into reverse and giving a good blast of 2000-2500 revs to check the anchor is dug in and will hold (it does not mean it will always hold if the wind gets up but you have a much better chance of it holding)
    Then when occasionally the wind does get up, sometimes in the late evening/early hours you have boats going walk about. We've seen it a few times and in most cases it could have been easily prevented

    Of course in most cases the wind does not get up and people have a very pleasant night at anchor, but that is by chance rather than design
    I think you are right. The day after the wind I went searching for my anchor with a mask and flippers. I found the anchor of a yacht recent arrived - I had watched then drop anchor - there it lay on its side with a heap of chain beside it. Good for a lunch time stop I guess in calm weather but when the wind gets up that chain would have extended to the pont where the anchor started to dig in - or not.
    You really only know - when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    in limbo at the mo.
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    7,833

    Default Re: Cruising CORFU (long)

    Good write up and piccies, sailed all the same places, apart from ericousa, even sat at the same tables at Plataria, Corfu town had a brass band playing! thanks!

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