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Yacht Charter in the Northern Ionian Sea
No look at the Ionian would be complete withouth mention of Homer and the Odyssey. The Odyssey tells the storey of Odysseus and his travels and adventures throughout the Mediterranean in around 800BC. The Trojan War concluded when the Greeks sucseeded into bringing a wooden horse into the city of Troy. Greek soldiers were hidden inside and opened the city gates to the Greek army who sacked the city. Odysseus and the other Greeks could know return to their kingdoms across the sea. To say Odysseus's journey was eventful is rather understating the matter.
On departing Troy in what is now north west Turkey he sails south through the Aegean Sea. On reaching the southern tip of Greece he is blown off course to the lotus eaters in what is thought to be Libya. The it's on to Sicily where he runs into Cyclops. This one eyed giant eats two of the crew before they escape. More trouble in the Laestrygonians - Corsica or Sardinia. Here the fleet is attacked by giants hurling boulders and more of the crews are devoured. Theh survivors head east to Italy and the enchantress Circe. She entertains the sailors and then with a wave of her wand, turns them into swine. Odysseus is protected by the herb that the god Hermes has given him.
At some point in the journey reference is made to the pillars of Hercules. And this is supposed to be the Rock of Gibraltar and Jebel Musa in Morocco. These two mountains sit either side of the straights that are the enterance to the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. Now he must pass the Sirens whose sweet singing lures sailors to their deaths. Odysseus plugs fills the ears of his crew with wax and then lashes himself to the mast so he cannot steer the ship onto the waiting rocks. Passing through the straits between Sicily and mainland Italy they run into Charybdis, who swallows the sea in a whirlpool, then spits it up again. And Scylla who uses each of her six hands to reach down from her cliff and pluck a sailor from the deck and then promptly, yes you guessed, eats them.
More misfortune as they upset the god Zeus who sends a thunderbolt to destroy the ship. Only Odysseus survives, washed ashore on Malta, the home of the nymph Calypsos who detains him against his will. Zeus, the king of the gods, sends Hermes skimming over the waves on magic sandals with orders for Odysseus's release. But when nearly home again another god, Posiedon, sends a storm to wreck his vessel and he is washed ashore on Corfu several days later. He falls asleep in an olive thicket and is woken to the sound of female laughter. This is the Princess Nausicaa come down to the riverside to wash her wedding dress. Odysseus approaches her and she agrees to help him try and finish his journey home. She introduces him to her father and when he has heard Odysseus's story he orders him sped home to Ithaca.
Once home he finds the island full of suitors for his wife's hand, after such a length of time Odysseus is believed dead. He and an ally fight and win a battle against overwhelming odds with a little help from the gods. And then Athena tells the contending parties to live together in peace down through the years to come.
Weather - The wind is consistent with conditions found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Little wind in the morning but from noon the wind freshens throughout the afternoon reaching perhaps 20 knots. The evening and night sees a return to calm cinditions. During the summer months it blows from the NW and from the SW for the remaining months.
The sailing area from the north
Corfu - . The island receives three times the average amount of rain for the area and as a consequence is a mass of green woodlands, wild pine-covered mountains, lakes and cultivated fields. It also has miles of sandy beaches. The island's capital, Corfu Town is atractivly situated on a promontory on the east coast, dominated by the New Fortress. Visit Sidari to the north to swim in the Canal d'Amour, the legend has it that lovers will stay together for life. 16 km to the south of Corfu Town is the Villa of Achillion, built in Italian Renaissance style and situated at an altitude of 145 m. It has magnificent gardens and attractive panoramic views. Today it is a museum. 3 km further south is the charming fishing village of Benitses and the remains of a Roman villa. Climb to the summit of Mount Pantokrator where you will find an abandoned monastery dating from 1347. The hilltop also provides beautiful views
The main harbour is in Corfu town. Enter the Old Harbour from the eastern end of the breakwater. The entrance into the interior of the harbour is very narrow and a strong northwesterly makes entry difficult. Once inside there is excellent shelter in all weathers. Visitor's berths are behind the windward mole, alongside, two and three deep. Anchoring is not advised, you will almost cetainly get gear tangled. Having berthed you are within walking distance of the town's centre. Adjacent to the harbour you will find chandlers, machine shops, boat engine repair services and others for electrical and electronic gear. Corfu town unquestionably offers the best all-round facilities in the northern Ionian.
3 miles to the NW is Linin Gouvia, a large land locked bay. At it's southern end is Gouvia marina which has become Corfu's centre of yachting. It is home to a Venetian arsenal.The surrounding area has beeen given over to the package holiday and there are more pleasent places to spend time on a yachting holiday.
The north Corfu channel is the stretch of water between Corfu and Albania. Beware the reef just to the north of Agios Stefanos.
Agios Stefanos is a small inlet in the North Corfu Channel. No objection is normally made to anchoring here despite the presence of a nearby military post. Anchor in the middle of the bay in depths of 3 - 6m. The bottom is thick weed and mud which can be difficult to get through. Good shelter from the prevailing NW wind. There is a rough stone mole on the south side of the bay but this is usually taken by local boats. There are numerous tavernas around the shore. Some holiday villas have been built here but the bay retains a calm and a beauty well worth the stop for the night. Limited provisions can be obtained
Agni Bay is immediately south of Kalami in the north east of the island. It is open to the south and and east but offers good shelter from the prevailing NW wind.
There are three taverns, each with it's own private jetty, where you may anchor preferably bow to. If you overnight here it is better to anchor at the northern or southern end of the bay to avoid the large waves created by the ferries that enter and leave during the night.
Paleokastritsa is on the east side of the Island it is an attractive tourist resort dominated by the Monastery of Panayia Theotokos wich perches on a high cliff. A 90 minute hours climb takes you to the ruins of Angelokastro Castle which dates from the 13th century. There are many sea caves in the locality that can be reached by tender or dinghy. It is not easy by day to distinguish the entrance to the bay when approaching from the northwest. However the monastery on the peak of the peninsula is conspicuous. The harbour is situated on the western side of the bay and protected by a quay running north south. Usually full of fishing caiques the only a few available berths are to be found near the head of the quay. Protection is good in all weathers excepting strong southerlies when waves crash over the break water and create a large swell in the harbour. The port has no water. Fuel can be delivered. There are bars, restaurants and a supermarket all within walking distance.
Petriti Village - To the north of the harbour is an old quarry which visible from a distance. There are shallows stretching south of the harbour along the bay and care is needed. Good protection from all weather in the harbour. Head for the new quay towards the land where depths are greater than 2 meters. If you moor hehind the breakwater be aware of the shallows nearby. The taverns ashore usually have fresh fish. There are shops at the village of Argyrades some three km away. Good beaches for swimming nearby
Paxos is 7 miles to the south of Corfu. It is a charming little island, covered with pine trees. It can be explored fully in a few days with a car or motorbike both of which can be rented locally. The architecture of the three main towns, Gaios, Laka, and Logos is typically Ionian with colourful two and three-story homes lining the streets. By contrast the rural landscape is filled with low stone houses surrounded by lush green gardens.
The emblem of Paxos is the trident. It is said that Poseidon, the god of the seas, wanted to create a beautiful, peaceful island apart from the other gods and men and intended to live there with his beloved Amfitriti. So he struck the southern part of Corfu hard and Paxos was formed. However he lost his trident striking the blow which was later found by Paxiots who made it their emblem.
Gaiosis the capital of Paxos. It is a charming port and spreads itself along the waterfront. Enter Gaios from a northerly direction passing two small islands, Panayia and St Nicholas Island. Soak up the atmosphere of this bustling capital in Gaios square. In it's centre is the church of St Apostoli. Gaios harbour and the approaching inlet are very safe overnight moorings with security patrols on both land and water. There are several buildings worth visiting the castle of St Nicholas, the Monastery of Panayia, the Church of Agioi Apostoli and the early Christian church of Agia Marina. Take in the sunset at the Ostries. Ther are fine beaches at loni Gouli, Kamini and Kaki Lagada.
Port Gaios is the principal port of the island. You can moor right in the middle of the busy touristy scenery or choose aquieter berth further down the long quay. If you want a berth in July and August be here early in the afternoon. Excellent shelter in all weathers. Care should be taken when laying your anchor as passing ferries in the narrow channel may foul your chain.
Lakka, in the north of Paxos is set in a gorgeous horseshoe shaped bay and is flanked by high ground covered in cypres trees and olive groves. The bay which nearly landlocked is excellent for swimming and water sports. Holding is good. Some swell may occur dependent on the wind's direction. There are some berths on the quay, limited to around 10 yachts. Fresh water from the local water truck.
Its tiny sister island, just to the south, Anti Paxos is surrounded with crystal clear waters lapping onto some lovely sandy beaches.
About the Author: Ken Jones runs a Sailing Site.
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