Yacht Charter In The Northern Ionian Sea Yacht Charter In Northern Crete

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.

Crete was home to one of world’s most important civilisations, the Minoans who ruled the eastern Mediterranean from 2800 – 1150 BC. The art that has survived shows a refined and peace loving culture. There is a good collection in the Museum at Iraklion. Through commerce, shipping and trade with other peoples, the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Syrians they built a powerful civilisation. The Achaians and the Dorians followed. The Romans occupied Crete 69 – 330 AD making Gortyn their major town. Crete fell into the Arabic hands in 824 and was not liberated until 961). Then in 1204, the island passed to the Venetians. They fortified the island with several new castles and broke the ground for new cities of Hania and Rethimno. Inside the walls the cities developed with narrow alleys and houses, interspersed with decorative churches, fountains, piazzas and palaces the remains of which can still be seen today. In 1645 the Turks set foot on the island for the first time and in 1669 the whole of Crete fell to them. Not until 1913 was the island reunited with the rest of Greece.

In the summer the prevailing wind is the infamous Meltemi from the NW – WNW. July and August sees the winds at their strongest, force 5 – 6 on the northern coast but more often a more gentle force 3 – 4. The spring and autumn sees winds form the south, force 2 – 4. The southern coast is notorious for strong squalls the blow down from the mountains. There is little in the way of warning and they can be violent close inshore. It gets very hot on the island during the summer months with the average daily temperature reaching 35 deg C in July and August and temperatures as high as 40 deg C are not uncommon.

Kissamoss lies in the NW corner of Crete. Yachts can berth alongside or anchor of in the harbour. There is good shelter from the W and NW but it is open to the E and SE. In a strong northerly getting away can be difficult, as the yacht will have to beat for 14 miles to escape the bay. Water is available and the re is a taverna close by. The nearest provisions are at Kastelli, which is a one mile bus journey away.

Khania is to the E. Entrance can be difficult in a strong northerly as the sea heaps up around the entrance. The marina is in the E basin. You will be directed to a berth where a laid mooring awaits. There is good shelter in all but northerly gales. There is water and electricity on the pontoons. A mini tanker can deliver fuel. All provisions can be obtained and there are good tavernas in the town. This Venetian city was for centuries the capital of Crete and much of the charming architecture remains.

Soudhas is further to the E. It is the Greek navy’s southern base and yachts have been refused entry at times. If allowed in go bow or stern to on the S quay. Shelter is extremely good. There is water on the ferry mole and fuel can be delivered. All provisions can be obtained and there is a good choice of tavernas. The military presence tends to put a bit of a dampener on things and this is not a must visit.

Yioryiopolis is a small harbour at the mouth of the river Almiros. Go alongside the quay or anchor in the bay to the north. There is good shelter except with winds from the N – NE. There is water in the village and most provisions can be obtained and there are several tavernas. The village is both attractive the locals are friendly making a visit well worthwhile.

Rethimon is an old Venetian harbour. Go alongside inside the N jetty or bow or stern to the E jetty. There is good shelter even from the Meltemi tucked under the E jetty. There is water on the quay and fuel can be delivered. All provisions can be obtained and there are some good tavernas including several fish restaurants in the Venetian harbour. This should be one of the highlights of the charter. The Venetian harbour and town are attractive and the buildings with wooden balconies are a reminder of Turkish occupation.

Iraklion is the capital of Crete. Proceed to the Venetian harbour at the W end of the main harbour. Go bow or stern to at the “marina” in the S or on the N quay. There is water on the quay and fuel can be delivered. There is excellent shopping and fresh fish is sold in the harbour. There are good tavernas many of which serve fresh fish. Try those around the market in town. The city itself has little to recommend it but visits to Knossus, an archaeological site, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the tourists. And the museum containing a collection from the Minoan times is worthwhile.

Khersonisos is a small harbour. Go bow to the mole or anchor off. Care is needed because depths vary throughout the harbour and the holding is poor on sand and rock. There is good shelter from the N as the harbour is open only to the SE. Water, fuel and provisions can all be found in the town. The town is a modern tourist development, full of bad architecture and obnoxious holidaymakers.

Spinalonga Lagoon is situated in the N of the larger bay Kolpos Merembellou. Yachts can anchor anywhere in the lagoon. Most provisions can be obtained at Elounda. Take a look at Nisis Spinalongas. The setting for the Venetian fort and deserted settlement are most attractive.

Further to the south is Ay Nikolaos. There is a marina on the S side of the headland. Yachts should bow or stern to where directed and use a laid mooring. There is water and electric on the pontoons. Fuel can be delivered to the yacht. There are numerous tavernas and most provisions can be obtained. This fishing village is now a large tourist development although the marina is sited some way from the noisy area.

Pahia Ammos is situated at the S end of Kolpos Merembellou. There are depths of up to 3m at the extremity of the mole. The harbour is exposed to the Meltemi. Limited provisions can be obtained in the village and there are several tavernas

Further W lies Sitia. Go bow or stern to the inner N mole. The bottom is sand and weed with some rocks. There is good shelter from the Meltemi. There are both fuel and water in the harbour. All provisions can be obtained in the town and there are several good fish restaurants. The inner harbour with its tree lined esplanade is pleasant and watching dusk fall over the harbour while tucking in to a nice sea bass is the perfect end to a day’s charter.

Ak Sidhero is the NE tip of Crete and to the S there are several anchorages in small inlets. There are no facilities but the scenery is imposing with a desolate feel.

Crete’s cuisine is similar to that found throughout the Aegean. Fish plays a large part in the form of tuna, swordfish, sea bass, urchins, octopus, squid and cuttlefish. You will find beef, pork, lamb and goat. A rabbit stew is a speciality. As is cheese pie and fried cheese (staka). For those with a sweet tooth try yogurt and honey tarts (kaltzounia). Cretan wine is fairly good.

.
bay, boating, corfu, crete, good, harbour, island, north, obtained, odysseus, provisions, shelter, south, water