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  • Writer's pictureCaptain Ian

Ionian Islands, August 2023

We returned to Corfu from Albania to pick up more crew in Sue and John. We would be dropping them off in Athens in a little over 3 weeks, so we needed to get moving South. We dropped into some old favourites in Syvota and Lakka on the Island of Paxos. While in Lakka, we needed to sit out some strong Northerly winds, so we hired a car and explored further south and inland on the beautiful Island of Paxos.



From Lakka we sailed down to Preveza. Preveza is a commercial town that isn’t overly pretty. However there is a lovely little restaurant district that deserved a photo or two.


A short distance south from Preveza is the Island of Lefkada, home to the notorious Lefkada Canal as well as home to one the largest charter fleets in the world. The steep mountains and lush landscape of Lefkada create a stunning backdrop for any sailor, however during high season, the place is teaming with boats. We anchored for the night in the uber popular town of Nydri, in what felt like the last remaining spot free for us to fit into.


The charter industry in Europe does this strange thing where almost all chater’s start on Saturday and end on Friday. This creates a mad rush on Friday for all charters to get back to base and fill up with fuel. This was very prevalent the next day when we set sail for the picture postcard town of Fiskardo on the Island of Kefalonia. We were greeted on the way with an endless procession of charter boats heading North for the charter base in Lefkada. Fiskardo Is a very popular and very tight anchorage, so this evacuation of charter boats was good news for us. Fiskardo did not disappoint, and what a great place to watch others try and fail to anchor when there is no room to anchor.


The next day we visited the neighbouring island of Ithaca and its delightful little town Vathy. After two nights in major tourist attractions, Vathy was a breath of fresh air. It still had its waterfront taverna’s and a healthy population of holiday makers, however Vathy felt genuine and relaxed. Perhaps it was the gumtree lined roads or the quaint little holiday houses, or perhaps it was the lack of tourists, but we loved Vathy.


The following day we had a huge sail in 23+ knots to Argostoli back on the island of Kefalonia. Argostoli isn’t the prettiest town we have seen however it does boast a large population of loggerhead turtles as well as great proximity to an international airport (something we will make use of later in the season). We were also able to make use of the Vodafone shop to renew our phone sim’s.


13 nautical miles (2.5 hour sail) South of Kefalonia is the island of Zakynthos. Zakynthos is most notable for its limestone caves and soaring cliffs that have been eroded away by the winter storms that engulf the Ionian sea. It is a truly spectacular coastline. Zakynthos’s most famous beach is Praia Navagio, also known colloquially as Shipwreck Beach. Unfortunately, access to the beach has been temporarily banned due to the risk of landslides. That clearly doesn’t stop the tourist boats from flocking towards the location. After a quick stopover at shipwreck beach, we continued our sail down the West coast of Zakynthos, around the bottom and into the safe anchorage near the town of Keri. From there we explored the Marathonisi Caves on the small island of Marathonisi


The next day we had a big sail to the Greece mainland, to the coastal town of Katakolo. To be honest, Katakolo has very little to offer other than proximity to the archaeological site of Olympia. Olympia on the other hand was fascinating. It was nothing like what we expected but that was entirely our fault for not doing any research and not understanding Greek mythological history well enough. I guess we expected it to be more about the history of the Olympic games. The site is foremost a shrine to a multitude of mythical gods and goddesses, the most notable being the king of all gods Zeus. There are shrines and temples scattered all over the site. It wasn't until some time later in history (about 800BC) that the Olympic games were held there.


It was time to start making our way into the Gulf of Corinth and ultimately the Corinth

Canal. Our first stopover was a night in the fairly average town of Messolonghi. We had a cracking sail there with wind on our beam for most of the journey. When we arrived, we accessed the main harbour through a very narrow canal that is lined by some lovely looking fishing huts and holiday houses. The beauty ended there unfortunately. The harbour was a little grubby, the muddy bottom smelled and to top it off, we had a loud concert going until 5:45AM. I also ate some less than average fried squid there. We were happy to move on the next day.


The next day was to be a short sail on to Nafpaktos. The sail took us past a spectacular mountain/rock that from all I can tell has no name. As well as under the famous Rion-Antirion Bridge. But the highlight was our destination, Nafpaktos. Nafpaktos is a compact town situated within a 15th century Venetian fortifications, and is overlooked by a Venetian castle perched high on the hill behind. Its most prominent feature though, is the small harbour built within the fortified walls. The town is an ideal tourist destination that has not been spoiled by cruise ships. We loved Nafpaktos and stayed an extra day to climb up to the castle. If the anchorage was a little less exposed to the prevailing winds, we would have happily spent a week there.

The remote town of Galaxidi was going to be our next stop. By the time we got there though, the wind was blowing 30+ knots right into the harbour. We tried to get into the harbour, but it took full engines to spin the boat around and get out of the tight entrance. There were very few safe anchorage options nearby so we made the difficult decision to continue sailing in very trying conditions, all the way to Corinth. We had everything from 4 knots of wind to 43 knot gusts. When we finally arrived in Corinth with only minutes of daylight left, we struggled to find a safe place to anchor. We eventually anchored in 40 knots of wind, in a patch of sand just outside the entrance to the Corinth Canal. It took another 3 hours before the wind died down to something we felt safe in.

The next day was going to be the Corinth Canal then out into the Saronic Gulf and Athens.

6am heading through the Corinth Canal west to east


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Absolutely amazing. loved every image and every description and back story mate, I'm totally envious of this. I can only dare to dream that I get to this some day

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