Through Lefkas and Beyond, July 2019

We left Preveza on 25th June and we thought we’d timed it so we would go through the Lefkas Canal at 12.00 noon when the bridge is lifted.  Now I mentioned that from our experience so far there is little wind in the Ioninan, well not today and so we arrived too early and the wind near the entrance seemed to come out of nowhere and was gusting up to 26 knots.  Just what you want when you are having to mill around. 

Our destination was Nidri Bay, AKA Velcro Bay, as people tend to be drawn back, we were too but more on that later.  In the bay were some more of the Licata gang, CopyCat, Ula and We Dun It.  It was nice to meet up with everyone.  We anchored down at the far end of the bay at Vlychos opposite the Yacht Club which we visited and had a very nice meal. The water at this end of the bay wasn’t quite so nice for swimming, although Ian thought it was ok, but he would. There was a pool bar on the other side of the bay which we visited a few times, Stella’s Apartments. 

From Nidri Bay we went to a small bay on the island of Meganissi. They bay was a 20 minute walk up and down hills to Vathi and a 40 minute walk back by moonlight along the flat main road, well it was a main road of sorts.  One night here and then we were meeting the Licata Crew in Syvota, (this is a different Syvota to the one we’d visited twice before) on Lefkas.  We had a reservation on one of the Taverna pontoons’ where we were eating. 

Our next stop was like mooring in a parking bay just off the motorway, it was literally just off the channel between Lefkas and Meganissi.  Lovely spot apart from the 20 million, a bit of an exaggeration, but there were lots of them, pesky WASPS! Someone suggested leaving a bowl of water out for them, but no they were more interested in the tap.  The photo shows three of them with their heads inside the tap and backsides sticking out. 

We were pulled back to Nidri, but only because we were waiting for a delivery, which the Yacht Club at Vlychos were happy to accept for us.  As we expected the package hadn’t arrived when it was supposed to so off we went north to Vathi Vali on the mainland behind a fish farm which we had all to ourselves.  Then back to Nidri to collect our parcel and then off to a small bay just before Atherinos on Meganissi.  A boat was already there anchored in the middle of bay with three stern lines going in different directions and two anchors out. Perhaps the theory was it would keep others boats away, well that’s a challenge, so yes we did anchor there. 

Next we were off to Porto Leone, Kalamos where we met up with Artic Fern and the 20 million pesky wasps had followed us.  In fact I think the pesky wasps had multiplied as they were worse than before so we only stayed the one night and sailed, yes sailed, there was very little wind but we were in no rush, to Astakos on the mainland where we moored up on the harbour wall.  There was a beach a short walk away so late afternoon we went for a swim to cool down.    Our final stop, before making our way to the Corinth Canal was an anchorage behind the Island of Oxeia where we met up with our Mahe Mates, Karen and Ronnie on CopyCat. 

Porto Leone, Kalamos

The next stage of our journey takes us into the Gulf of Corinth and through the Corinth Canal but there was lots to see before we got to the Canal. 

August 2019

Hopping around the Ionian – June 2019

No where in the Ionian is very far away, so each hop is no more than a couple of hours.  There’s not much wind either so there was a lot of motoring which means it is also very hot, I’m really not complaining!

We left Parga and headed back northwards to a small island called Nsis Ag Nikolaos, which is just across from Syvota on the mainland.  We found a lovely sheltered spot where we tied to a rock and we weren’t too far to dinghy ashore.  A guy in a dinghy was going alongside the few boats anchored inviting us to moor the boat on his pontoon, which is quite normal here in Greece, there is no charge just an expectation to eat at the taverna.  Which isn’t a bad deal as they often have electric and water available, but we did decline on this occasion. 

We like to visit places that are off the tourist trail and our next port of call was definitely that.  A place called Sagiada, a small village on the mainland. There were just a handful of tavernas and we’d heard that the fish was very good at one of them, the prawns were delicious and of course a Greek salad.  We had eaten half of it before I thought ought to take a picture.

A few years ago, Ian and I had visited Ag Stefanos on the northeast coast of Corfu, not to be confused with the place of the same name on the northwest coast.  We said that we would come back again but next time by boat and so we did.  Ian initially insisted on anchoring as near to the shore as possible, which is what us catamaran owners do, as we only have a shallow draft.  However, the guy in one of the Taverna’s wasn’t too happy as he wanted it clear in front of his pontoon as he wanted to be able to wave and whistle at people coming in to direct them to his pontoon.  The guy on the next pontoon was doing the same.  So, we did accommodate him and move over.  This bay was in complete contrast to Sagiada and was very busy with boats.  We went ashore for a drink, watching the world go by and reflecting on life and remembering what a very different day this 14th June was to the one 30 years ago when I’d just given birth to my son.  The only similarity was that it was hot then too.

As we came out of the bay, sailing along, well actually motoring, as usual no wind, was Arctic Fern, (Howard, Caroline, Jessica and Olivia who we spent the last two winters with) who had only arrived in Corfu in the last few days.  So we motored alongside and chatted until we got to the bay at Gouvia where we left them as we were headed back to Mandraki Marina where we would leave the boats for four nights as we were returning to the UK to say farewell to our very dear friend Primrose. 

We arrived back on the boat with a stowaway, daughter Jessica.  Plus we had friends Julia and James who were in Corfu on holiday and so they joined us for a couple of days.   We’d liked Nsis Ag Nikolaos so much that we took them there.  We actually had some wind so on our way back to Corfu Old Town we were able to have a sail which pleased Julia no end.  The airport is close to the anchorage so we could see Jessica’s plane take her home.

We’d spent quite a bit of time around Corfu, it’s a very convenient place to fly back to the UK from as there are flights available into Southend airport but it was finally time to move on and wave goodbye to Corfu.  Well not until the following day anyway.  We headed down, motoring again, to Petriti, on the south coast for the night as it would be quieter than Corfu old Town and it would give us a head start as we had quite a long journey the next day compared to the usual hops.

It’s Sunday 23rd June and we were off to Preveza.  Artic Fern were our cruising companions for this trip.  We had said we would leave about 8 o’clock at which time Ian was still in bed, surprise surprise.  So, Ian does his usual jumps out of bed at 8.09, yes he does that from time to time and we’re off.  Much to the surprise of Howard who didn’t think we were up! Well we weren’t!!  We arrived in Preveza and we were both lucky enough to find a space on the Town Quay.  It was an overcast day, which we didn’t mind for a change, so it was a little cooler just 28 degrees in the saloon.  Preveza is a small town which during the day is rather quiet but at night hundreds of people seem to appear out of nowhere.

We spent a couple of nights here and then we would be making our way down and through the Lefkas Canal where we would be going to the busiest part of the Ionian.

August 2019

Arrivederce Italy, Geia sas Greece

Our stay in Sicily had come to an end and it was time to head off to Greece for our third season.  We’d had a great time in Licata, met more people and had a lot of fun, some we would see on our travels around Greece and winter with us in Turkey, our next winter destination and some were going in the opposite direction.

We left Licata early, it was only just light, at 6.00am with the intention of anchoring at the tip of Sicily, the wind was in our favour and so we decided to keep going and headed to Syracuse on the East Coast.  Arriving here with our Mahe Mates on Copy Cat, Karen and Ronnie, we found two other boats who had left Licata earlier in the month than us.  So there was nothing for it other than to invite them all on board for Gin and Tonics!

The forecast was better for us to wait a day before leaving Sicily to start making our way across to the foot of Italy.  So, at a not too terribly early time of 9.20am we left Syracuse.  Sarah and David on Wandering Star were also headed in the same direction but as they are early birds they left before us.  We were going to be on an “overnighter” which is not my preferred option but hey it knocks the miles off.  We saw our first turtle swim by, hopefully we will see more of them once we get to Greece.  So, at 10 o’clock that night Ian asks me if I’d like to go and get my head down, “Really” not easy trying to go to sleep at that time.  Which means I got the 1am to 4am watch, lucky me!

We arrived in Crotone, 165 miles later, and anchored in the small commercial harbour to the sound of fireworks going off, how nice, a warm welcome.  It didn’t last, just got the kettle on, as the first thing Ian says about anything is “put the kettle on let’s have a cup of tea”. The harbour police came along and told us that we could not anchor there.  They watched while we moved out the harbour and found another spot.  It transpired that the day before that there had been an incident and so now no one could anchor in the harbour, which normally wasn’t a problem.

The following morning and we were off, another overnighter, two so close together, at least once we arrived in Greece, it would only be short hops.  Our destination was Kassiopi, Corfu.  The sea was like a mirror.  Six hours later and the wind was better and up went the pink, yes I know pink, spinnaker.  This time I didn’t have to go to bed so early, I was on watch until 11pm, and it was very dark, no moonlight which is horrible when sailing at night.  Back on watch at 2.30 and the moon had appeared, thankfully.  We arrived in Kassiopi at 11.00am and anchored in the adjacent bay to the harbour. 

I flew home for a week and left Ian here and took the weather with me.  He had rain and clouds whilst Sunny Canvey Island was just that, with a mini heatwave.  We moved onto Corfu Old Town and stayed a couple of nights in Mandraki Marine, which has the most fantastic views and sits under the old Fortress.  You can see us and Copycat in the marina in the photo below.  Also in the grounds of the fortress is the Church of St George, which looks like a Greek temple.  It was built by the British in 1840 for the local Anglican Community but is now Orthodox and holds just two services a year and some concerts, which they were setting up for when we visited. 

Old Corfu Town has lots of little narrow streets to wander around and we came across a small parade headed by the priest and people following along singing.

We left Corfu, at least for the time being, as we would be back and headed down to Lakka on the Island of Paxi (Paxos).  Already there was CopyCat and Wandering Star, you can’t go far without bumping into someone.  This was our first time where we tied a rope to the a rock on the shore, when I say we, I mean Ian, that is definitely his job to jump in the water and take the rope ashore!  This was a very busy anchorage. 

From here we crossed over to the mainland to Parga.  Now when Ian said that we would anchor on the beach I didn’t realise he meant literally.  So we went “bow to” (that’s the front of the boat for non yachties) onto the beach and dropped our stern anchor off the back.  Then we dropped our main anchor down into the water which Ian then promptly picked up and dug it into the sand.  The depth of water at the bow was knee deep but half way down the boat it was too deep for me to stand up in.

Where we were, I was going to say anchored but I think it’s more a case of beached, there was a water taxi that would take you round to the town of Parga, so we took this.  It was very hot but along with Karen and Ronnie, Copy Cat, we did walk up to the Castle. 

Obviously after that long walk we had to take in some refreshments and we couldn’t resist the Guest Beer “only two bloody euros me old China”. 

July 2019

Sights of Sicily

There is plenty to see on the Island of Sicily but you really need a car to get about.  The highlight has to to be the Acireale Carnival.

Acireale Carnival

We’d heard one of the big events in Italy is their carnivals.  A group of eight of us decided to go the Acireale Carnival. WOW, I can’t tell you how spectacular this was.  We were expecting some floats with big headed figures on them moving along the road.  Well we did get that but so much more.  They were pulled along by tractors and manoeuvred to a spot and parked.  The float came to life with moving parts and music.    Also during the afternoon there was dancing and some smaller floats.

Some of the small floats

The floats are enormous when they open out.  The building behind is five stories high which gives you an idea of how big they are. Each of the floats puts on a bit of a show with music blaring out.

Masks are also used on the floats and are of a satirical nature and appears as caricatures of famous people.  The float that was created on theme of the Amazon and climate change had a witch doctor emerge and when the mask was removed it revealed “Donald Trump” to the sound track of “Living in America”. 

In addition to the floats in years gone by people used to throw eggs or vegetables at each other as part of the celebrations, thankfully now it’s just confetti and spray foam.

Donnafugata Castle

We visited the Donnafugata Castle, which is in the commune of Ragusa, near to where the other liveaboard sailing community of Sicily is based.

Valley of the Temples, Agrigento

The Valley of Temples are Greek not Roman ruins built between 510BC and 430BC.  There are eight temples.  The Temple of Concordia is one of the best preserved temples. 

We had a visit from the in-laws, John and Irene, so this is when we did the bulk of our sightseeing of Sicily.  


Palermo is in the north of the island and is the capital of Sicily. We visited the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) or Royal Palace of Palermo.  The palace contains the Cappella Palatina which is in the Arab-Norman-Byzantine style that prevailed in 12th century Sicily.   It was stunning. 

Palermo Cathedral.  Here is the tomb of Giuseppe Puglisi, a Roman Catholic priest who openly challenged the Mafia who controlled the Palermo neighbourhood of Brancaccio and was killed by them on 15th September 1993 on his 56th birthday. 

The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele opened its doors to the public on the evening of 16 May 1897, twenty-two years after the laying of the first stone. In the Pompeian Room, aka the “Echo Room” there is a spot where you stand in the middle which sounds like the world can hear you as your voice booms out, when in fact they can’t, it’s only you on the spot that can, a very odd experience.  Many shocked faces from those standing on the spot. 


We took a trip to Syracuse which is on the east coast of Sicily.  Here there is a Roman amphitheatre.  Syracuse is the birth place of Archimedes who was mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer.   We visited a museum that had created his inventions and some of his discoveries.

We took the hop on hop off bus which took us to the island of Ortygia where we thought we would visit Castello Maniace to find that it isn’t open on Monday mornings, it’s normally the other way around they shut in the afternoons.  We’ve been caught out with opening times a few times!


We decided to call into Taormina on the way back from Syracuse.  Parking is a nightmare.  Ian parked up and uttered his usual words “it’ll be alright”.  I obviously begged to differ, but he would say that’s not unusual!  On walking a 100 yards, and with the realisation that the car could possibly be towed away Ian stayed with the car and me and the in-laws went off for a walk around the sights.  Just as well as minutes after we left the Police arrived and moved him on.  Taormina is very hilly but very pretty. The theatre, which is Greek, has wonderful views across to Mount Etna. 

Mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale

The first day of John and Irene’s visit and the weather was awful, raining, windy and cold, so we decided to visit the mosaics thinking as they are under cover it would be warmer.  Wrong!  Under cover they might be but the walls were most definitely very open and by the end of our two hour visit my hands were like lumps of ice, not what you’d expect in Sicily at the end of March.  Anyway, when you visit mosaics they are normally small pieces, with not much definition, well these looked like they had been laid just the week before (and no they weren’t).  The villa and the mosaics date back to early 4th century AD.  The reason for the mosaics being so well preserved is a landslide and flood that covered the remains. 

A passageway that is approximately 60 metres, is one long mosaic and is the “Ambulatory of the great hunt” and is very impressive.  One part shows the animals being loaded into Noah’s ark.

One of the rooms is called the Sala delle Dieci Ragazze translated as “Room of the ten girls”.  The girls look like they are wearing bikins but it is in fact sports wear they are athletes.   One is holding dumbells which were used the lengthen the long jump, by swinging the arm’s backwards and momentum can be increased which makes it possible to jump further.  One is about to throw a discus and two are running. 

Easter Parade

Easter, as you would expect is the time for parades and Licata was no exception, although a renactment of the cruxcifiction, wasn’t quite what we expected.  On Good Friday, Jesus carrying the cross came from one direction and the Virgin Mary was being carried from the opposite direction.  They met at the town square and then they were carried down to the end of the road where Jesus was taken into a church and a different statue was brought out without the cross.  He couldn’t be tied to the cross with a cross on his back. He was then taken and tied to the cross by the priest. 

On Easter Sunday Jesus is paraded again as he has risen from the dead.  He is carried around the town which has been decorated. 

This pretty much covers our tour and time in Sicily and it’s not long before we say “Arrivederci” to Italy.

June 2019

Busy, Busy, Busy in Licata

Having now arrived in Licata we found there was plenty to keep us occupied.  Yoga, Pilates, circuit training, darts, bridge, happy hour and the weekly BBQ, there were also Italian lessons but had to stop these as there just wasn’t enough hours in the day as we did have chores to do as well, it’s not all fun you know.  In addition to this we had a few social evenings which included line dancing, country dancing and quizzes.  That’s without the odd night out for pizza and dinner on our boat or other boats. 

Licata had a great community and to have that you need people to organise things and we were lucky that there were plenty of people willing to do that here.  Sarah put us through our paces at Pilates and Circuit Training.  We even got ourselves on the official film for the Marina whilst doing circuit training and Ian working on the boat! 

Colin and Maggie provided the darts board and the marina very kindly set it up on the wall for us with a large piece of ply surrounding it for those stray darts and there could be plenty of those at times. 

There is a purpose built BBQ area in the marina and we also played a game, which for the life of me I can’t remember the name of, which was 12 blocks of wood numbered one to 12 and you had to throw a block at them.  If you nominated a particular numbered block and you hit that that was the points you scored, if you didn’t nominate you scored the number of blocks that fell down.  As each person took a turn the blocks spread further apart.  The first person to reach a score of 50, and it had to be 50, not 48 or 51, was the winner.  If you hit no blocks three times in a row you were out.  Plus we had some musicians with us and we had the pleasure of some songs, much to the bemusement of the locals who strolled past on their Sunday afternoon walk.

We had a couple of evenings organised by Caroline and Howard, Line Dancing and Colin et al, providing country dancing and the music.  This is a great way to see how co-ordinated people are. 

We arranged a couple of quiz nights too.

Evenings out – regular pizza night and a meal at a restaurant where there is no menu! Not quite sure why Ian and Vicki were pinned up against the wall.

We had a trip to Sulphur mines.  Syd organised a coach, a tour and a meal in a local restaurant.  There was about 30 of us that went along.  90% of all the sulphur in the world came from Sicily.  Children as young as six worked in the mines.  It was very hot and could get above 45 degrees add that to the 100% humidity and working up to twelve hours at a time, conditions were awful. Sulphur gives off suffocating hydrogen sulphide gas which makes it hard to breathe, so the workers tended to be naked.

We also had a 50th birthday celebration, Caroline, where we had more line and country dancing.  The band consisting of Colin, Tony and Phillip. 

June 2019

The Final Leg – Licata, Sicily

Well where did the last seven months go?  The last time I posted we were in Salerno on the Italian mainland.  The sailing season was coming to a close, the days were getting shorter, the weather a little unpredictable and so we were now on a mission to get to Cuffysark’s winter berth in Licata on Sicily. 

We left Salerno on 21st October 2018 and arrived in Licata on 26th October.  We hopped from Salerno to Acciaroli 35 miles up the coast.  The weather wasn’t great so stopped here two nights on the visitors’ pontoon.  The next hop was an “overnighter”, my favourite sailing, NOT!  We were headed to the Messina Straits which you have to go through when the tide is right as the current can be up to four knots against you, which is like taking three steps forward and two back.  So, we had to get our timings right, yes you’ve guessed it we didn’t but that was down to going too fast on the way there and Ian couldn’t possibly slow up, well he did eventually or it would have been dark going through the Straits.  We left Acciaroli at 11.00am with the anticipation that we would arrive at the entrance to the Messina Straits at 8.00am.  We sailed the first 86nm in 11.25 hours and averaged 7.5knots. 

At 3.00am and with just 15 miles to go and not a breath of wind we had to put the engines on but only on tick-over.  We arrived at the entrance at 6.00am as it was just getting light.  The current was running “three knots against us” plus there were lots and lots of small fishing boats. 

We had intended to anchor up at Taormina which is on the NE coast of Sicily but we were going great guns so pushed onto Syracuse which was a further 50nm.  We anchored in the lovely bay there at 18.16, just ahead of darkness.  We had been told that it’s imperative you radio the harbourmaster here as they have to tell you where to anchor in the bay and they did, giving us exact co-ordinates where to drop the anchor.  There was us and one other boat there.  We had travelled 200nm with an average speed of 6.4knots over 31hours.  We were pleased to have arrived!

The next morning, Thursday 26th October, we were off again heading to Ragusa.  Our friends Cath and Ray, who we’d the spent the winter with in Cartagena, were here.  We arranged to meet up with them and would you believe in this very large marina we were given the berth alongside them!  We arrived at 6pm and were provided with a lovely dinner by Cath and Ray.  The following morning at a not too terrible start time of 10 o’clock off we went to our final destination of 2018, Licata.  We were met be quite a welcome committee, so no pressure to berth the boat, whilst being watched.  It had been a busy October we had covered 600nm over the last three weeks from when we had left Olbia in Sardinia to arriving in Licata.  We calculated we had travelled about 2,500 over the last season.  Definitely time for a well-earned rest!!

October 2018

Awesome Amalfi Coast

We left Rome and anchored up in Anzio just 25 miles up the coast.  Ian, unusually, was up with the larks the following morning as there was quite a swell in the bay so, off we went at 7am to Gaeta.  The year was rapidly disappearing and the weather can be more unpredictable plus we wanted to stop for a time in Salerno so we could visit the Amalfi coast and take in Pompeii so we had to get a move on.  As a result it was just an overnight stop at Gaeta, then off to another anchorage on the west side of the Bay of Naples and then finally along the Amalfi coast to Salerno.  The coastline is stunning and photos never do it justice.

There is no marina as such in Salerno, just pontoons that are owned by various people, we initially tied up alongside by the ferry terminal, which gave us time to wander around the pontoons to see if we could negotiate a price with any of them.  We found one that would take us but even though it was mid October and had no showers they still wanted €85 a night and no amount of persuasion was he going to budge on the price.  We promptly left and anchored in the bay, fortunately the weather forecast was good with no wind.  The pontoons on the otherside of Salerno didn’t accept catamarans but they very kindly let us tie our dinghy to their pontoon, even helping us tie up.  It can often be a problem to find somewhere you can leave the dinghy.

Ian’s Dad had raved about the bus ride along the coast road to Amalfi, because of the beautiful coastline.  So, on his recommendation we did just that and it was stunning.  Amalfi is a lovely town set in the mouth of a deep ravine at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 metres, 4,314 feet).  In the 1920s and 1930s, Amalfi was a popular holiday destination for the British upper classes and aristocracy and you can see why.

We visited the cathedral at Amalfi which is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew whose relics are kept here.


We took the train to Pompeii.  I‘d heard a lot about Pompeii but wasn’t expecting to be blown away quite as much as I was.  It is incredible how intact so much of it is considering how old it is.  It was buried under 4 to 6 metres of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24th August AD79.  The city was largely preserved because of lack of air and moisture.  When you looked down the streets you could imagine the Romans going about their daily lives.  The shops still had the counter tops all intact.

The Amphitheatre of Pompeii is the oldest surviving Roman amphitheatre.  Pink Floyd held a concert here in 1972 and Dave Gilmour returned for a solo gig in 2016

Human remains were found during excavation and they noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, they were able to preserve the bodies in the exact position they were in when they died.  They learnt a lot about how the Romans lived from these remains too.


Also on one of the walls in the House of Venus is a fresco of Venus.

Getting knocked Up

Whilst in Salerno “knock knock” one morning on the side of the boat several times, we didn’t get much time to react. When we came up on deck it was a local fisherman who had a fishing net reel on the back minus the net.  We couldn’t work out, owing to the fact our Italian is non existent and his English was as good as our Italian whether he had dropped his net that morning or the day before (in which case it wasn’t marked) but he’d got his net wrapped around and around our anchor.  There was no way the fisherman was cutting the net so after about half an hour we managed to untangle it.  He then proceeded to drop it on the other side of the bay.

October 2018