Islands of Ionian

You may recall from our last post, we were happily ensconced in Vlikho bay on the island of Lefkada (also known affectionately as Jellyfish bay and Velcro bay).  It becomes quickly evident why it is also known as Velcro bay…..once in, it’s pretty easy to just stay parked….and we were no exception.  Your anchor digs in deep to this thick, sludgy mud, it’s usually well protected from all winds, it’s surrounded by high mountains, and it’s easy access to almost anything you could want. 

The taverna scene in Vlikho bay is great. You dinghy right to your table….
The resort town of Nydri is close by, with all kinds of restaurants and shops
Wonderful views leaving Nydri
Huge jellyfish surrounded the boat…

After the third day, we had to remind ourselves that we did not buy a boat just to sit in once place, so we reluctantly pulled up anchor and headed out into the beauty of the islands.  Our next stop was going to be the island of Kastos, anchorage to be determined upon my review 🤣 Yes, I hold THAT kind of power!  Our journey south would be about 3 1/2 hours with the wind at our back.  As luck would have it, we did manage to sail for some of the cruise there.  Despite it being mid-September, there were still a ridiculous number of boats in this part of the Ionian.  So much for it being low season!  As we cruised up the east side of the island (the perfect protection for the direction of the wind), we spotted a couple of empty anchorages and stored them in the back of our mind in case the one we had in mind was full.  When we arrived at the spot known as Wasp bay (none of these cute little names are official of course….they are the names that sailors before us have given title to), there were only 2 other boats anchored in this lovely bay.  We quickly chose a great spot that was respectfully distant from our two neighbors, and dropped the anchor.  The bay was surrounded by spectacular rock walls and crystal clear water.  This will definitely do!

Our Kostos anchorage was pretty with really interesting snorkeling amongst a lot of rock formations
The waters on this island are super clear!
Wasp bay, without the wasps.

Not long after we were settled, another boat came in and dropped anchor right in front of us.  This was a little unsettling as he was quite close and did not appear to do much more than drop his anchor overboard.  We seriously hoped he wasn’t staying the night since he would be a risk to us if the winds picked up even slightly.  Fortunately, he only stayed for a few hours and went on his way.  Dan had been out snorkeling to check our anchor and had said that their anchor was literally just laying on the sea floor, not dug in at all.  Not long after, a large catamaran came in and anchored behind us.  They caught our eye as they were flying a large California flag.  This was the first Americans we had encountered all season on the water.  They ended up inviting us to their boat for dinner and drinks.  As we motored over in our dinghy, we were greeted by the captain and his friend both decked out in Rasta wigs and Bob Marley playing on the stereo.  Needless to say, we busted up laughing….this was definitely going to be a fun night!  The 10 of us enjoyed a great dinner, lots of wine, some games, and of course laughter and storytelling.  We found ourselves disappointed that we had not crossed paths earlier in their voyage.  Despite meeting for the first time, it was like being with friends we had known for years.  The following day, they continued their journey, and we opted to spend one more evening in this beautiful bay (never mind the fact that we were nursing a wee bit of a hangover).

A catamaran filled with California people ready to party…they anchored next to us and we had a fun night onboard

After 2 nights, it was time to explore our next port of call…the island of Cephalonia, bay of Eufimia.  This passage was 24 miles to the west.  Initially, we had thought we might med moor to the town quay, but I quickly nixed that idea.  Since this would be our fist time to med moor our boat alone (and I had already been warned about the harbormaster who barks orders at you for how he wants it done), I didn’t feel like putting on my big girl panties and dealing with being yelled at. 🤣 We found a spot in that small bay that we liked and dropped the anchor.  Unfortunately the sand bottom was hard packed sand, so it took us 3 tries to get the anchor dug in and holding.  Later in the day, a small catamaran (looked almost homemade) with 4 young Germans dropped anchor somewhat close to us.  Given the amount of room in the bay, I was not super happy that they chose so close by.  Before long, one of the young men had rowed over to our boat to ask if we were okay with where he had anchored.  I told him that as long as he felt he was dug in and secure, I was fine.  He very kindly offered to move, but I told him it was fine and thanked him for asking (you know this random sidebar about our neighbor holds a key piece to this part of our story).  As the evening drew to a close, ominous clouds had begun to build.  None of the weather models had called for any sort of weather, but we have learned from experience that these type of cloud formations usually bring bad times if you are on a boat.

Our family car, our dinghy, at the dock in Ag Euffimia. It’s how we go to shore when we are at anchor

As we laid in bed, I could not shake the uneasiness I was feeling (this is often the case for me in unknown anchorages).  Around 2:00 a.m., I could see lightning flashing in the sky through the hatch over our head.  Not long after, it started to rain.  Dan and I scrambled to close up all the open hatches before heading up on deck to see what was happening.  By 2:30 a.m. all hell had broken loose.  The rain was coming down sideways, thunder and lightning boomed all around us, and then came the wind….the worst wind we have ever seen at anchor.  Within minutes, Dan and I were soaking wet as I ran below deck to grab our foul weather jackets (a little late at that point….we were already drenched from head to toe).  Dan fired up the engines in case we broke free.  When the wind hit 40 and 50 knots Dan powered forward on the anchor to relieve some of the strain.  This went on for about a half hour.  A couple of boats dragged and chose to head out to sea until the worst had passed.  Just then, we saw our German neighbors’ boat go flying by us…..and NO ONE was on deck!  They were headed straight for the jagged rocks of the shore.  I grabbed our air horn and big spot light and started blasting it at them.  It felt like it took forever for someone to finally come up on deck.  Thankfully, they were able to get control of their boat before they hit shore.  Several boats circled around in the chaos until things began to settle, and they could re-anchor.  Within 45 minutes, the storm had come and gone.  As I stood on deck shivering in my soaking wet pajamas, my crazy husband proclaims, “I’ve never felt so alive!”  Sometimes he baffles me beyond belief.  It was a terrifying experience with a lot of running around and yelling information to each other over the howling wind, but our anchor held like a champ.  We had survived our toughest storm yet.  I’ve come a long way in reading the clouds and understanding when things are likely to go sideways.  I also have full faith in my gut now….when it tells me to go sleep up in the salon or on deck….I do.

Drenched after the storm…but our anchor held and all was ok
Our “anchor kit” we keep readily available for nights like this. A spotlight and air horn at the ready

After our soggy, sleepless night (we were on a definite adrenaline high for the next few hours), we decided it was time to move on.  We had asked about the possibility of tying to the quay (yes, I was willing to brave it at this point), but the harbor master said there would be no room as a flotilla was coming in.  Well, that cinched it….time to find a quiet, safe place to anchor.  Where was our anchorage of choice?  Back to Vlikho bay, of course.  We knew we’d hold well and could get a good nights sleep despite being at anchor.  The one thing I have not yet learned is to get a deep, restful sleep at anchor, and we have been at anchor now for 17 straight days.  Thanks to last night’s storm, the seas were rough and confused (going in all directions).  It was cloudy and rainy with 3-5 foot seas.  As we came into the channel to the bay, we crossed paths with our California friends.  They were on their way to turn in their charter boat, so we passed close by waving and shouting our goodbyes to one another.  Once again, we were happily secure in our peaceful bay.  Time for some much needed rest.  

Vlicho bay is notorious for it’s jellyfish

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Nora Espenshade
Nora Espenshade
7 months ago

I don’t have the words to tell you how much I enjoy reading of your experiences. Thank you so much for keeping your blog.