Properly Back At Sea

Sunday 6 – Saturday 12 June

We waited for the wind to fill in on Sunday 6 June, before heading down-channel and finally out into the Mediterranean, a full seven months since we’d left it.  We hoisted the mainsail for the first time this season, Skipper relieved to find he’d rigged all the lines correctly, and turned North to follow the mainland shore towards Parga.  In a perfect Westerly F3-4, we set the staysail and enjoyed a close reach, until the wind veered to 300˚ and dropped to a bare F2.  We fired up Trevver to get us into our chosen anchorage before dark, and settled peacefully in pretty Two Rock Bay after a great sail and another turtle sighting.

Monday was less comfortable as a windless swell rolled in and rolled us around, so on Tuesday we set off again for our next destination, Mourtos, opposite the Southern tip of Corfu.  Once again the wind was a feisty SW F4, and the genoa with the mainsail soon established an uncomfortable angle of heel, so we changed down to the staysail.  After correcting the accidental backing of the main during the change, we gradually climbed back to a very satisfying five knots’ speed, completed a couple of tidy tacks amidst frustrating wind shifts, and finally decided to head for Antipaxos instead.  The first cruise ship we’ve seen in a long time passed a long way behind us as we settled to anchor in clear turquoise water in Karani Bay, looking over to the mainland.

Wednesday started well, with a sighting of a whole pod of dolphins feeding early in the morning.  The day deteriorated, however, and became not among our better ones…but on reflection could have been a whole lot worse.  Other yachts sharing our anchorage all had lines ashore, so we decided to do the same and give a departing boat room to retrieve their anchor.  However, we did not make enough allowance for how far off we’d anchored – our usual 50 metres scope for swing room – and soon found we didn’t have enough line in the dinghy, by about five metres.  We brought the tender back to the yacht, dug out some extra ropes, and finally got ourselves secured to rocks on the shoreline…or so we thought.

We’d intended to go ashore for a walk, but it was now late enough to decide to have lunch first, and it’s just as well we did, as we looked up to find we were about a boat length from said rocky shore.  This is when we remembered how long it takes to retrieve a shore line to make an escape: never a speedy possibility.  We got there in the end, and then spent nearly an hour trying to re-anchor in a spot of sand without rocks or Posidonia sea-grass, the right distance from the edges of the bay.  We ended up exactly where we’d begun the day before.

Postcard from Antipaxos

On Thursday we paddled together onto the pebble beach, pulled l’arrêt well up above the water line in case of waves from swell or wash from trip boats now beginning to appear again, and set off up the steep rocky path to explore the island, all 2×1.5 miles of it.  The sun shone, wildflowers were abundant, birdsong was clear and the fragrances were warm pine and grasses, sweet wild honeysuckle and jasmine.  Buildings were few and far between, set among olive groves and vineyards, and at the end of a sloping track was the most beautiful turquoise bay, and a beach taverna open for lunch.  Eventually we set off back up the hill, enjoying the views across the sparkling sea to Paxos and the Greek mainland.

Approaching Gaios, Paxos
from the South
Sunset on Paxos

Friday was a day of two halves, the morning spent motoring an hour North to anchor just South of the harbour of Gaios on Paxos: a sheltered delight, and blissfully quiet when we realised we’d timed it right and were leaving just as a trip boat was disgorging its day’s load of tourists.  We made a brief tour of the shops before motoring another couple of miles up the East coast to a peaceful, pretty anchorage. We stayed through Saturday to enjoy a refreshing swim to the beach, Mate’s first of the season, to cool down after some strenuous needlework.