I had this charter in mind since the Day Skipper course I took in 2011, so there was plenty of anticipation as we planned the week long holiday with myself, my daughter (5), two friends with no sailing experience between them and their son (6).
Flying into Corfu we were greeted by a demonstration against austerity measures outside the airport. We talked with some and wishing them well managed to all squeeze into one taxi.
The boat (a Bavaria 40) I had chartered through Bareboat Sailing Holidays, was lying in Gouvia marina, an easy transfer by taxi. We had of course to wait for it to be turned around from the previous week’s crew which gave us the perfect opportunity to find the supermarket, swimming pool, bars & restaurants.
Once we’d gone through the check lists and had a handover of the boat the 5.50am flight and 2 hour time difference confirmed it was beer o’clock and we should set off in the morning.
A nice map of the area can be found on wikipedia. Over the course of the week we sailed (and motored) around the North of Corfu
Kalami (White House restaurant)
Our first anchorage, and my first opportunity to introduce the others to the swimming ladder off the stern. After a swim, and improvising buoyancy aids with fenders for the kids, we realised we had stumbled upon the house of Gerald Durrell, now the White House restaurant. The food and service were great (Greek salad anyone?), and for added entertainment were able to watch fellow diners being given a run for their money as the wake from a large ferry making the passage between Corfu and Albania hit the rocks where extra tables and chairs were hurriedly moved out the way!
Kassiopi From the flotilla guide I had (which substituted for an almanac this trip) I knew the harbour was only deep enough for us on the northern side behind the “town mole”. It looked busy but we managed to pull in on the last spot at the end of the wall. No lazy lines in this harbour so, copying the Italians that had got in just before us, I dropped a bit of anchor before reversing up to the wall. Plenty going on in Kassiopi harbour, another port of call for the tourist boats ferrying mostly Italians from the hotels for day trips around the beaches. We only stayed for lunch and a spot of shopping and were able to find some inflatables for the kids.
Saint Stephenos Just South of Kassiopi, another bay offering anchorage, restaurants and a more reasonably priced supermarket (relative to the shop at Gouvia marina at least!). Unfortunately we only discovered this on the way back, again plenty going on here and a choice of restaurants on the beach once you’re done swimming around the boats.
Ereikoussa Island On approaching Ereikoussa we were greeted by our first sighting of dolphins. The rough guide entry wasn’t too flattering
“…invariably hyped as a “desert island” trip, although this a desert island with a medium-sized hotel, rooms, tavernas, a year-round village community of around one hundred, a paved road and an ugly aggregates plant overlooking the small harbour.”
but nothing further than the truth.. sandy beach, relaxed taverna .. when going at your own pace this is worth a visit.
Mathraki Island The chart showed an anchorage on the NE side of Mathraki though on approach a harbour was visible with only one motor cruiser tied up on the wall. I was dubious as to how deep this was going to be and, as the boat neared the harbour wall, so it would seem was the depth sounder with the alarm going off at 3m (I was told we we’re drawing 2m with keel).. to be sure I dived under with snorkel and found an extra metre of clearance at “low tide” I slept easier that night.
“Mosquito Bay” One of the tourist boats “Homer” visited this beach, we could tell as it was written across the table and bench we used for our BBQ in permanent marker. Adults smiled as children made the reference with the Simpson’s more than the ancient Greek author and poet, or maybe they were just thinking about the Simpson’s.
I will learn from our night spent at our own private beach though (map). Note the position on the map with a) proximity with the routes where large ferries would pass throughout the night, and b) what looks like a swamp behind the beach! If the wake from the bow waves didn’t keep you awake our little mossy friends would help out.
But it wasn’t all bad 🙂