We returned to Vathi as it’s been one of our favourite places so far and we hoped to see a bit more of Ithaka while we were there. One of the reasons we like it is that there are so many options and plenty of space for mooring; our favourite anchor area only had our friends on Lazy Tern in it when we arrived.
After a good night’s sleep we were off the next morning for a walk to Gidaki, a waymarked route that starts just by the Captain Yiannis hotel, next to where we anchored. The first part is a rollercoaster – up a road, then down a little, then up some more before a long downhill to Skinos beach. A few people were on the pebbly beach, it looked a nice spot for swimming. We continued walking, now on a rough track which ended at the gates of a hotel with a path leading off before them down to the sea. A lovely bay opened up before us, with a yacht anchored out beyond the buoyed off swimming area and a couple of big power boats tied to the far side of the bay.
We walked in the shade of pine and eucalyptus trees across the front of the hotel grounds, through a gate where the track then wound up through the wooded hillside. We ran out of time to do the full walk and headed back the way we had come, marvelling at the variety of boat toys being removed from the garage of one of the big power boats.
The rugby watching afternoon turned into a bit of a session, it was 2am before we waved our friends off and realised there was a loud disco playing at the hotel. But rather than being the awful, repetitive drone of Eurodisco they were playing 80’s and 90’s songs – James, The Cure, Oasis,Pulp and more! I could lay in bed being kept awake by it or I could make the most of an impromptu disco on the back deck with our coloured arch lights set to fade. Funky! Back deck disco dancing won out but by 5am bed was calling and I was glad to hear New York, New York signalling the end of the party.
Sunday was a bit of a blur – oh yes they played them too last night…..
Monday was gloomy with a bit of rain in the afternoon, Tuesday was cloudy too but dry so I decided to attempt the full Gidaki walk again. The last section down a narrow dirt path to the beach was a bit hairy with a steep drop off one side down to the sea, but glad to report I survived. The gloomy weather was a shame as the views out across the islands would have been lovely. On my way back I came across a donkey wandering the hotel grounds and making friends with the guests on the sunloungers. Back on the road section and the long hill up I got a bit of cramp in my calf muscle. I was giving it a massage when a scooter pulled up alongside with a twenty-something Greek guy offering me a lift. Oooh yes please! I hopped on, hoping it was the right thing to do to hold lightly on the sides of his waist (I couldn’t see any hand holds), he said he’d drive slowly and I had a fun journey back to the boat over the roller-coaster roads.
A big storm had been forecast to brew up off the south of Sicily and potentially pass on over us Wednesday night into Thursday. We scoured many weather forecast sites; some of them didn’t even have it showing wheras others predicted F9 gusts. We decided to play it safe and stay put; the winds forecast would be from the south and Vathi has good shelter from that direction. Wednesday afternoon we began to see news reports of big floods along the east coast of Sicily which confirmed something bad was on the way.
All was calm when we went to bed, not a breath of wind. As we lay in bed flashes of lightning dimmly lit up the sky, but having counted lots of elephants and heard no thunder we reckoned it was a long way away. Then suddenly there was a super bright flash followed instantly by an almighty sky shout – the storm had arrived and it was right overhead. The wind howled, Emerald tugged tight on the anchor chain and we bounced around this way and that as the strong gusts buffeted us. As we went outside to check around someone threw bucket after bucket of icy water at us to add to the fun. Emerald was well held but we weren’t so sure about the converted fishing trawler swinging back and forth off our bow, not a lot to be done except hope!
Twenty minutes later and calm returned. It was the only storm that gave us a direct hit so we felt lucky. Thursday was overcast but with southerly winds there was no chop; late afternoon another storm passed to the north of us but left us alone.
The forecasts were predicting more days of strong winds, this time from the west to north sector. Where we were anchored had a fair bit of fetch from that direction plus reflected waves off the quayside so we decided to move over to the west side of the bay, behind the little island, thinking we would get some shelter from the land. Wrong! We didn’t suffer much fetch chop but we were in the firing line of the williwaws as the wind squeezed through the narrow gap at the entrance to Vathi and surged out the other side. We could see the gusts travelling across the water towards us, flattening the wave tops as they went. We are pleased to report the holding was good.
One advantage of being next to the little island was watching the arrival of a bride for her wedding at the tiny chapel there. A trip boat all decked out in flags and bunting plugged its way back and forth through the chop to deliver the guests tootling its horn as it went. The last trip had the bride on the foredeck, they did a circuit of the island and we gave her a wave as they passed us. It reminded me of our wedding day and lots of lovely people waving to us as we drove along the Brighton seafront in a vintage green, double decker bus. The island chapel was so tiny, half the guests had to stand outside. As darkness descended, the now husband and wife emerged to cheers and boarded the boat for a lap of honour around the harbour, with red handheld flares joining the horns.
Sunday the winds eased allowing us to leave for Fiskardo. I really like the town of Vathi; it has the tourist elements of tavernas and gift shops but is also a real Greek town. Fishermen worked on their boats on the tiny beach behind us and one of my favourite sights was three old ladies in a little boat fishing around the island.
The weather scuppered our plans to see more of the island by road but we did have an unexpected turtle sighting!
4th September: Sivota, Lefkada to Vathi, Ithaka: 16nm travelled (5nm sailed): 38 22.2’N 20 43.03’E
Westerly winds built as we neared Ithaka which allowed us a slow sail, even dolphins can to visit to cheer us up after Sivota.
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