From the Ionian to the Aegean

From the Ionian to the Aegean

Libertine of Leith left Santa Maria di Leuca on the heel of Italy on 21 July and picked up her skirts to sail a beam reach across the Ionian in a F4 northerly on a calm sea, dropping her hook in Palaiokastritsa on Corfu just ten hours later in a deserted bay below the monastery (see picture). Her crew of two dined ashore, surprised by how few tourists there were, and enjoyed a quiet night. The following day we motored south to Fiskhardo on Cephalonia with just a dribble of a following wind. We were compensated with a pod of dolphins expressing curiosity. We found the town and the harbour full, so anchored in the harbour mouth with four or five others. Day three found us first becalmed and then fighting up the Bay of Patras into the teeth of a 20 knot north easterly, the opposite of the normally prevailing wind. Patras is a large and unattractive town, but a restaurant near the marina charged just €16 for supper for two, including drinks. After passing under the impressive suspension bridge from Rion to (you guessed it!) Andirrion, we motored down a windless Gulf of Corinth, putting in to the friendly fishing port of Kiato at 11 pm, where we had the harbour wall to ourselves until Hedwig of Heidelberg turned up a few minutes later, bound in the direction from which we came. The town boasts, by my reckoning, at least one fishmonger for every 500 inhabitants. And its cheese and spinach pies are superb! If you need diesel in Kiato, however, forget Google Maps: they show at least two gas stations which no longer exist. On Saturday we squeezed through the impressive Corinth Canal (like Bristol’s Avon Gorge, but with sunshine) and into the Aegean. We sailed to Aigina and spent the night anchored off the port there, which was full to bursting, with at least ten other boats. The Athenians who chill out there do not practice social distancing, and with restaurant tables barely 50 cm apart in the old town it is something of a challenge. The sea was like a millpond all night, but the air was blasted by a discotheque half a mile away on shore, with deep booming pulses reverberating until 5 a.m. We sailed across the Traffic Separation System off Athens the following morning and round the point at Ak Sounion, ending our voyage in Lavrion, an industrial but friendly town with a harbour so vast there is no need to pay the ludicrous charges levied by Olympic Marina nearby. There Libertine awaits her next crew, who will soon help me sail (or more likely, in view of the northerly meltemi wind, help me motor) through the northern Aegean and the Dardanelles and onwards to Istanbul.