We stayed around the island of Corfu for another week or so after Pam and Nicole left. As we pottered around Corfu town, we noticed a huge build-up of rubbish in the streets. On one of our excursions, we came across a small demonstration outside the town hall. We got talking to the demonstrators (articulate and multilingual) and as suspected the garbage collectors were on strike. They had all been on contracts and now they were being let go so that the government could hire new people on insecure contracts for less money. As it is their wage was only €30 a day. This amount of money will get you a modest meal for two in Greece – hardly a living wage. We wished them well and felt humbled by the working conditions so many Greeks are experiencing.
|Garbage piling up in Corfu|
|Strikers outside city hall|
We were rapidly becoming in danger of being a permanent fixture in Corfu Bay and decided it was finally time to move on and explore some of the little bays and coves on the mainland side of the Ionian. These bays were absolute gems and I was in my happy space spending hours snorkelling with the fish in crystal clear water.
First there was Plataria, a quiet resort town in a delightful anchorage, where we had the best ouzo mezze we have had yet in Greece while watching brilliant sunsets.
|A mermaid looking at Songster|
|The best ouzo mezze...|
|...with a perfect sunset|
We then moved just a few miles down the coast to revisit Mourtos. There were many more boats around the anchorage than on our last visit a month previously. There was not enough room to swing at anchor so we had to take a line ashore. Since Songster, with its long keel does not go backwards easily, this is a technique that we tended to avoid but we now seem to have gotten the hang of it. It involves lowering the dinghy and towing it behind, then we get into position about 100m off shore. We drop the anchor and reverse back letting out the chain until we are about 50m from the shore. Then I go off the back of the boat, swim to the rocky shore dragging a line which is attached to Songster behind me. Then I loop and tie the rope around a rock to secure us. Then I swim back to the boat where Bob throws me another rope and I repeat the process from the other side of the stern of the boat. So the boat is secured in a three point configuration. It is a lot more effort than swinging at anchor but it allows us to go into many more places. The rocky shore provided some great snorkelling and I took the underwater camera for some happy marine snaps.
|An orange centiped-like creature|
|Red Starfish about 15cm in diameter|
Parga was the next stop. This large bay was the full on tourist scene with banana boats zooming around and families on paddle boats and the beaches packed with people on lounge chairs under umbrellas all in neat rows in the typical Mediterranean fashion. But the bay was crystal clear and big enough to accommodate many yachts and holiday makers. The hillside town had narrow winding streets, excellent restaurants and a Venetian castle to explore. A neighbouring yacht was doing some maintenance on their mast and took a fantastic photo of Songster for us.
|The anchorage from Parga castle|
|Parga Castle from the anchorage|
|The beach quiet at dusk|
|Full Moon over Parga|
A few miles down the coast is the isolated bay (no buildings, no 3G) of Ayiou Ioannou. We took a line ashore in a narrow cove and essentially had the place to ourselves. I snorkelled for hours. It was heaven.
|The isolated anchorage of Ioannou|
|Bream and wrasse|
|I found this fantastic shell|
Another short hop south was Two Rock Bay. This beautiful bay is lined with rock shelves making an excellent habitat for the fish – and more hours of snorkelling for me.
|Two Rock Bay (but those are not the eponymous two rocks)|
|Lots of bream under the boat|
|More but different bream|
|Cardinal fish hiding under a ledge|
|Anchorage at Two Rock Bay|
These short hops exploring little bays and coves have been a delightful way to make our way down the coast. The Ionian seems to have a different weather pattern from the Aegean. For our three years in the Aegean the Meltemi winds funnelling down the Aegean from the north were always the worry. Every passage plan needed to ensure there were no Meltemis predicted and the route had to work around the prevailing northerlies so we didn’t have the wind on the nose and could minimise motoring. We were sometimes stuck at anchor in a sheltered bay dealing with 20+ knot winds for days on end.
In the Ionian the prevailing winds tend to be from the west and have not been as fierce as the Meltemis. The mornings are generally calm and by early afternoon a nice 10 knot breeze picks up. So we have gotten in the pattern of leaving an anchorage after lunch and having a gentle sail for around 10- 15 nm to the next anchorage. Since the anchorages are so close and the winds gentle we are quite happy to meander along under sail, tweaking the sails and learning to get the most out of light winds. In the ‘Motorterranian’ to sail for an entire passage is a treat.