May 04, 2008
Sailing Holidays (www.sailingholidays.com) have 120 yachts operating from three bases in Western Greece. Well they do during the summer season. In the winter they keep them all ashore at Gouvia Marina in Corfu, and Gouvia is not one of those operating bases,
Therefore at the start of the season they have to get all those yachts out on trips that will eventually end at their correct operating bases. (And their prices for these “delivery” trips are set to attract enough crews to do the moving…)
So on the first weekend some 500 clients arrive in Corfu on two specially chartered aircraft and the next day all the various flotillas have to sail, but luckily not all the boats try to leave at the same time…
One year they left it to the clients to call in at the fuelling berth on the way out, and I have never seen a traffic jam like it, 30 boats at a time trying to hold their position in the queue to get in to the two fueling positions, then fill up and head for the open sea.
This year they have fuelled the boats before we arrive so we wont have that problem, so its a welcome party on the Sunday night and then up on Monday morning to find out where our own little fleet of ten 27’ Jaguars are supposed to end up that night,
Our Lead Skipper, Jamie, has a slight problem, he has never actually sailed in these waters before, but armed with his company handbook he is ready to explain to the various skippers where he wants them to go tonight and what hazards they should watch out for on the way.
He tells us that our destination for tonight is the NAOK sailing club just south of Corfu town. OK thats all I need to know, this is my fifth trip out of Corfu and I’ve been into NAOK on four of them, with the most recent being this time last year.
Time to get going before the rush.
May 05, 2008
So Thira is one of the first Jaguars to leave, something that the other crews will get used to before the trip is over. I’m an early riser and, after the amount of trips that I have done out here, all I really need to know is where I have to get to that night…
Out of the marina, past all of the Super Yachts on the outer wall and out to see if we can get to grips with the in-mast furling main.
I’ve sailed Jaguar 27’s on three other trips out here, but this is the upgraded model with in-mast furling (Or sometimes it furls, as we will learn during the trip).
We spend a few hours messing about in the bay north east of Gouvia and then it is time to head south toward Corfu Town and its mobile hazards. Corfu is a major ferry port and Greek ferries don’t tend to allow for upstart little “play vessels”.
Ok so I have never seen one actually run a yacht down but if they do have to alter course to avoid you have your fenders ready, because they don’t alter any more than they really have to. Actually seeing them alter course is good because it means that they may have seen you, and actually may have been keeping a lookout.
A few years ago in the Aegean a major ferry hit a rock on its regular passage, why? Well Greece were playing a soccer international and all the crew off watch were down below watching the TV, and the on-watch crew decide to put it on auto and join them when Greece scored a goal….
As we get down toward the Corfu citadel we start to get RT chatter from the other boats in our flotilla being given instructions from Elpida, our lead boat, as to how to find tonight’s harbour.
“It the little harbour just under the Citadel on the Northern side of the headland…” Pardon? Not if its NAOK it isn’t! Oops Jamie got NAOK and IOK mixed up at the briefing and we are actually going into the IOK, the Corfu Yacht Club harbour and not NAOK.
IOK is actually within the citadel complex, but you can go into town through the citadel gates and the security guard will let you back in when you stagger back after a meal ashore even if you are after the public opening hours for the citadel.
We get to IOK and tie up in time to get some photos of some of our colleagues trying out Mediteranean mooring for the first time.
Aim at the quay, drop the kedge off the stern and aim at stopping the boat before the bows hit the quay, and pass the bowlines ashore. It is actually easier than coming alongside, but newcomers just get worried about it.
Some Mediteranean harbours now provide “Lazy Lines” which are mooring lines attached to fixed moorings on the bottom outin the harbour with a pick-up line taken to the quay. You come in as if doing a normal bows or stern to Mediteranean mooring but without dropping an anchor, pick up the “lazy line” and take it quickly aft (or forward if stern to) and then pull it in as if you were using your anchor. They are easier on the back than dropping and retrieving your kedge but can cause trouble if mooring in a cross wind (unless you can pick a spot with another boat to leeward that you can “lean” on whilst getting the line into position.
Look at the attached photos of the crew of Lia doing their first bows to (in a harbour without “lazy lines”) and spot the two obvious whoopsies…
May 06, 2008
Did you spot Lia’s little problems with mooring last night? Well the kedge anchor was supposed to be dropped over the stern and not still hung on the push-pit, and it does help to take the skeg off of your wind-surfer when coming in alongside another boat…
Anyway today, Tuesday, we head out towards Saiyadah, a small village on the mainland close to the Albanian border.
The harbour here is interesting, from a navigator’s point of view. The bay is very shallow to the south and the harbour was originally built with the entance pointing West. This exposed it to seas coming up the length of the bay and so they dynamited a new entrance in the southern wall and filled in the original one,
When you make your first approach you will wonder if they ran out of dynamite before the finished the job, it looks so narrow. Don’t worry there is plenty of room, but it can still be tricky in a cross wind, and go to far south before turning in as the mud comes up to meet you…
All that shallow mud is great for the local wildlife, it is ideal for the local prawns, and the main taverna sells them by the kilo.
Experience has proved that a full kilo is too much for one person…
Anyway we had a drifting sort of day until we went to put the sails away when suddenly the sea breeze kicked in force with a brisk force 5 instead of its normal 3 and from the west. Now what did I say about tricky in a cross wind…
Well my last approach here was in Bavaria 42 so I know the Jaguar 27 is going to fit through the entrance, but it still looks narrow as you try to line up to come through!
May 07, 2008
Heading North West back towards the northern end of Corfu we reach the Albanian border and see the momentos of the past uncertanties in this area, machine gun pillboxes scattered along the shoreline.
When I first came out here things were not quite so easy, Albanian waters had to be avoided at all costs and the saying was "Don’t hug Albania, the Albanians don’t like hugs!"
May 07, 2008
Round the point and north into the Corfu Channel to Agios Stephanos (St Stephanos) a small village on the North Eastern coast of Corfu.
There is no real harbour here suitable to tie a yacht to, but one of the local tavernas has a jetty that you can bows-to onto. One boat either side (if your yacht is shallow like a Jaguar, which only draws 1 meter) and then others can come alongside those, or piggy-back on the stern of the first trot.
One advantage of Mediterranean mooring is that you always have an anchor out when rafting up in that way.
Larger (or rather deeper) vessels are recomended to only use the last few feet of the jetty, just get her alongside enough to allow you to get on and off, the water is very shallow further in.
I’ve parked a Benetteau 361 here before using that technique.
Of course you can always anchor off and pump up the dinghy if in doubt.
May 08, 2008
Out of St Stephanos and a short trip around the headland to Kassiopi.
Thira is off early again, and we don’t have to go directly to Kassiopi, we can get north of Corfu and go sailing!
May 08, 2008
Into Kassiopi and into a village festival.
May 09, 2008
Today the fleet is going back to Corfu Town, to the NAOK harbour where we were supposed to be going on the first day.
Well some of them are, three boats have decided to stay in Kassiopi for another night , and Thira has elected to have some fun sailing and then go half way between and park up in Agios Stephanos again.
Wind is light but still enough to get her going, and there is something pleasurable about sailing in company with identical yachts especially when you can overtake them…
If sailing in the Corfu Channel watch out for Ifalos Serpa just North of Ayios Stephanos, some old charts still show the mark as being in the middle of the reef but in fact there is now a nice East Cardinal on the end.
There appears to be a possible passage inside the reef, hugging the shore of Corfu, but I’ve never had the courage to explore it, so don’t blame me if I’m wrong!
May 10, 2008
Today Thira was again the first boat out. Well it wasnt difficult as we were the only boat from the fleet that went back into Agios Stephanos.
It was a very early start as I wanted to get down to Corfu in time to find out where the fleet were going that night.
So at 07:30 I untied the bowlines and pulled Thira out on her kedge intending to sail away without waking the crew. A neighbouring yacht meant that this wouldn’t quite happen and we started to swing towards her. Gary woke up when I had to start the engine to motor around them.
A nice early breeze died as we approched Corfu and that was that as far as sailing went until later in the afternoon.
Off NAOK we tried to contact the lead crew on our working channel, only to find that we were in opposition with a cruise liner tied up in Corfu and doing an "Abandon Ship "drill using the same channel to talk to the various parts of the ship.
Well judging from their various reports of crew members not turning up at their muster stations, to say nothing of the number of passengers who obviously didn’t know where to go I hope it was a drill. Of course if it was a Greek cruise liner the missing crew could have been found easily, just look at the lifeboats motoring away from the ship and that where they would probably be…
Anyway we got in touch off NAOK and found that we were only going 2 miles down the coast to Benites. Little did I realise at this stage that it would take us another four hours to sail down there but that afternoon the Corfu channel decided to simulate the doldrums.
Four hours of drifting later and we started to get calls asking us when we were expecting to arrive. 1 mile off the harbour and the GPS giving an eta of 2 hours didn’t seem too good, so it was give up and start the engine again.
To really rub it in just after we secured we heard from another boat who had stayed out that they had a lovely breeze and would be in later..
May 11, 2008
Another move South today to the little fishing village of Petreti about five miles down the coast.
Thira of course didn’t go direct we went nearly to the mainland and back, and were having some great sailing in the afternoon just off the Lefkimmi sands, a long sand spit towards the southern end of Corfu. This is also sometimes refered to as "The Corfu Fly Trap" as it seems to attract boats like a piece of Fly Paper…
It is another one of those local hazards where they marked it with a beacon twenty odd years ago and have since ignored the fact that the sand bar now stretches a mile further out to sea.
A Jaguar with its 1 metre draft can get relatively close to it, many a deeper boat has found it the hard way, and I do remember being told about a fast moving twin screw motor yacht that ended up high and dry having tried to cut its own canal through it.
Either way if near the spit then take extreme care it is just waiting for the the unprepared.
It is one of the Ionian hazards that merits its own proximity alarm on my GPS just in case I venture too close…