Friends, Foul Weather, and Finale of the Sailing Season

When you joined us last, we were once again happily anchored in Vlikho bay on the island of Lefkada.  At this point, our final set of guests (Dan’s college fraternity brother and his wife) were due to arrive in 3 days, so this seemed as good of a place as any to pick them up.  As luck would have it, another storm was forecasted (yes, this one was actually forecasted) to arrive the same day as our guests.  We came to the conclusion that it just might be better all around to head into the marina.  The boat would be secure, and they could walk on board with all their things rather than having to be shuttled in on the dinghy in rain.  Besides, we didn’t want their first night on board to be another one of our hair-raising experiences (that could come later)!  The day they were due to arrive, we pulled into Lefkada marina and cleaned up the boat.  Remember, we had been at anchor for almost 3 weeks now, so Zoe was in need of a good cleaning.  For the next two days, we explored the area with Jeff and April, our new guests.  Since they had driven down from Athens, we were able to explore further afield in their car. 

A college reunion here in the Med
Guests onboard Zoe, getting ready to get underway

We drove to the River Styx (also known as the Acheron River).  This was the river I mentioned in a previous post that was said to have ferried the souls of the dead to the underworld.  Unfortunately, the boats were not running on this day, so we were unable to go to the underworld 🤣 We did enjoy walking along the river though.  From there, we went to Necromanteion.  This was an ancient Greek temple devoted to Hades.  People would come here to speak to the dead.  We tried to speak to the dead, but our reception was poor.  Our next stop was the amphitheater of Nikopolis.  It was founded in 29 BC to commemorate the Roman Emperor Octavian’s victory over Marc Antony and Cleopatra at a battle nearby.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get close due to the danger of falling stone.  As we made our way back, we stumbled upon a local olive oil producer who kindly opened up his mill and sold us some of his oil….Yum!

The Acheron River, known as the River Styx in ancient times was considered to be the gateway to the underworld
River Styx!
Roiling waters at the entrance
Gates to the Underworld
There was a large temple called a “Necromantieon” that the ancients believed you could speak with the dead from
It can be spooky at times
Ancient ritual hall for speaking to the dead. It’s as creepy as it looks
Ancient pottery, believed to hold ritual items
A friendly local olive oil producer shares some samples from his fresh pressed batch, straight from the vat
We enjoyed the impromptu visit
Out in front of the Olive oil mill
Ancient city of Nikopolis with it’s earthquake ravaged ruins
Ancient ampitheatre of Nikopolis
Nikopolis ruins

After 2 days of land exploration, we were all eager to get underway.  It was time to get out on the water.  We decided to take our friends to the island of Kastos.  This time we found a narrow, little bay with no one in it.  We anchored in the center to give us the greatest amount of swing room which also meant it would be really uncomfortable for anyone else to come in and anchor.  The sun was out and the water was crystal clear and inviting.  The boys went exploring by kayak and played on the SUPs….yep, I say boys for a reason.  The two of them laughed and played all day long.  You know you have a good friend when you can pick up where you left off despite not seeing each other for many years.  Above the anchorage was a cute little windmill that housed a cafe, so as sunset approached, we all headed up there for a drink.  It was a great time.  We all decided this was well worth a two night stay.  

Beautiful waters off of Kastos Island
It’s late in the season but the water is still very warm
Kayaking to the little town
Wandering Kastos town
Old windmill converted into a cafe
Our friends enjoying the greek islands
That’s Zoe all alone in the bay
Everywhere you go there are NY Yankee fans
The four of us posing for a drone shot

As much as we loved this bay, it was time to move on again.  We headed back to Vlikho bay (jellyfish bay) since our friends had not yet been there.  With solid holding, we would be comfortable getting off the boat to do some more land explorations.  Our friends would be leaving us soon, so this was also a good place to be to avoid the expense of the marina.  Our first stop was the waterfalls of Dimosari.  After picking our way up the hill, we were treated to beautiful, lush vegetation and some small pools of water.  The waterfall itself had definitely seen better days.  It was falling down the rock face in a trickle.  From there, we drove to the little town of Vasiliki….another cute little seaside village. This town is known as the windsurfing capital of Europe in August with over 100 windsurfers taking to the water.  By now, the sun was beginning to go down, so we made our way back to the boat.  Sadly, the next day would be the last day of Jeff and April’s visit with us, so we decided on a winery tour followed by a visit to the town of Nydri which is a quaint little seaside resort, and one of our favorite places to explore.  The next day we headed to the small, hillside winery that we had driven by on numerous occasions.  The four of us were treated to a private tour of the wine making facilities as we learned the process their grapes go through to become that delicious nectar of the gods that we all so love.  You gotta love touring sights during off season.  Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve pretty much had the sights all to ourselves.  Anyway, after learning about the wine making process, we returned to the tasting room where we were treated to a variety of their wines.  Needless to say, we all walked out with some of our favorites.  From there, we decided to grab some lunch by the sea in Nydri.  While waiting for the wine tour, I had been thumbing through a tourist guide and found a very highly reviewed restaurant.  Sounded like a winner!  As promised, it did not disappoint.  It was definitely one of my favorite meals in Greece so far.  Our friends dropped us back at our dinghy, and we all reluctantly said good-bye.  All alone….once again.

The town of Nidri on Lefkas Island
Robyn prepares to drop anchor
Jeff paddleboarding surrounded by huge jellyfish
Testing the claim that the big, nasty jellyfish don’t sting. They don’t! Still not swimming…
Zoe at anchor in Vlikho bay
On the way to the waterfalls
Not a whole lot of waterfall flow in the dry season
It was a pretty hike anyways…

Our time on the boat was rapidly slipping away….and with it, the weather was becoming less settled.  It seemed as though we would have a few more days of calm weather, so we decided to head south again…..this time to the island of Ithaca.  The 22 mile voyage brought us into the bay of Limin Vathi where we found a nice spot to anchor behind this tiny little church on it’s own little island.  This islet was once a quarantine station long ago and then turned into a prison during English rule.  It was destroyed in an earthquake in 1953 and never rebuilt.  The “church” which was built in 1668 is the only thing remaining.  The main part of the bay was full of boats at anchor, but our little spot on the outskirts consisted of only one other boat.  Since we were confident that Zoe was secure at anchor, we rented a car to explore the island.  There are a number of sites associated with Homer’s Odyssey that we wanted to check out.  Once again, we found ourselves on very narrow, winding roads as we made our way into the mountains.  We found some of the ruins to be a little bit questionable….meaning it looked to us that perhaps something more modern (in the last 100 or so years) had been built over top of the site and it was THAT which was actually in ruin.  We aren’t archaeologists by any means, so who knows…..On our way back, we stopped in the village of Kioni for lunch.  This was another potential anchoring spot, but after witnessing the utter chaos of the many boats trying to tie up while dodging one another, I decided this spot would never be on my list of anchorages.

Zoe in Vathi Harbor, Ithaca
Exploring the ruins of “School of Homer”
Ithaca is a pretty island to explore by car
These structures were built to mark the local cemetery
View of Vathi Harbor from high in the mountains
Zoe at anchor, right where we left her
Leaving Vathi Harbor

We enjoyed two days on the island of Ithaca and decided it was time to move closer north.  We had been carefully watching a very large storm system that was forecasted to come in, and we had already secured our spot in the marina.  Our only worry now was whether or not it held true to it’s predicted date and did not arrive early.  We contemplated heading back to…..you guessed it….Vlikho bay.  As we drew near the channel entrance, we decided to head across to the mainland and check out the bay of Ormos Varko.  It was close enough that if it didn’t look good, we would still have time to head back to our trusted hidey hole.  When we arrived, there were only 2 other boats at anchor, so we picked a nice spot and dropped the hook.  This turned out to be a phenomenal decision.  We were surrounded by rock outcroppings, sand beaches, and sparkling aqua water.  This might very well be our last few days of swimming this season….and swim we did.  We swam 450 feet to shore and back and just enjoyed basking in the water one last time.  We continued to keep an eye on the approaching storm and agonized over when it would be the best time to duck into the marina.  In the end, we opted to play it safe and left the following afternoon.  We arrived and got tied up a few hours before the winds started to kick up.  In the end, we probably could’ve gotten away with one more night out at anchor, but when the storm took off the next day, we were grateful that we didn’t have to tie up in that craziness.

Robyn is swimming for the last time this season…she is the dot in the distance

As I wrap up this tale, we have been in the marina (along with many other cruisers) for the last 3 nights.  We have had pouring rain, thunder and lightning.  We have also seen 40 knot winds IN the marina and bounced around in the 2 foot waves that came with that wind.  There are still storm clouds all around, the temperature has dropped dramatically, and we are still blowing consistently at 15-20 knots.  Unfortunately, rain is forecasted up until our last few days on the water, so at this point we will probably remain marina bound until it’s time to pull Zoe out of the water.  For now, we will begin the process of packing up and shutting down for the season.  Our plan is to do some more inland exploration, so we will likely have one more post from this part of the world before heading home.  We hope you will join us as we close out one more sailing season.

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Tootsy
Tootsy
11 months ago

Sounds wonderful!

Schultzy
Schultzy
11 months ago

Love your excursions Kiddo. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey one more season.