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Nature is showing us that spring is not far away and we are increasingly focussing on the coming sailing season. Aglaya is still ashore. Some work in the cockpit has already been done by our friend Pepi. There will still be plenty for us to do, when we go back on board in April. The anticipation of sailing this year is growing. In the last few weeks, we have also increased it by looking back on the past sailing year. This resulted in two short videos. You are welcome to watch them.

Click here for the videos.

Today we said goodbye to Aglaya at Vliho Boatyard on Lefkas. Contrary to our first impression when we arrived, we now know that we have found a good place for our winter break. The people at the boatyard are very friendly and there is help and advice for everything. For two days we also had a visit from a friend, who wants to do some work on the boat in February.

It went well this season. Starting at the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese, we had very unsettled weather in April and May, but we were rewarded with beautiful, warm late summer weather in October and into November.

And where have we been? Sometimes we have to look into the logbook to visualise our exact route. From the Peloponnese to Crete first. It's a good thing, we didn't skip Crete. It's a very special island. Then back to the southern Peloponnese and northwards on the west side to the Ionian Islands. We already knew most of the harbours and anchorages we visited in the Peloponnese from our circumnavigation in 2020. Yes, it's also nice to revisit places you already know.

The fact that we took summer break again in July and August was a good decision. Towards the end of June, all the harbours and bays were already full of charter boats and flotillas. But we still managed to find a place in Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca. We particularly liked Kefalonia. In Messolonghi, the summer berth for the boat, we were able to celebrate reunions with sailor friends and the crew from the marina bar. It was very nice and felt like coming home.   

In September, we first travelled quite quickly to Corfu to take visitors on board. From then on, however, there were always small stages, first along the east side of Corfu, then over to the mainland, then to Paxos to anchor, then back to the mainland, and finally with an dexcursion into the Ambracian Gulf to Preveza. From there, only the two of us were travelling again. We had plenty of time to explore the east side of Lefkas, the north of Meganisi and the island of Kalamos. We also found a new favourite port, Palairos on the mainland coast. Sometimes we stayed in one place for several days to pursue our other favourite pastime: Exploring places and the landscape on foot. 

After the landfall in Vliho, we have the feeling that we still have a lot to discover here in the Ionian. There are so many lovely little harbours and countless great bays. And as already said: We'd love to visit some places again. Will we ever get out of Greece?

Gradually we realize that the end of the season has come. When we moored at the floating jetty of Taverna Delfini in Sivota, in the very south-east of Lefkas, there was a lot of space around us. Several charter companies and flotillas have their bases here. The boats are moored at the jetties, the sails are taken down and packed away, and many people are busy preparing the boats for winter storage. Many boats are then transferred to Aktio near Preveza and put ashore there.

We still have a few days until our boat comes ashore. In the bay of Sivota we are hiking again and see how the landscape here is being destroyed by brisk construction activity on the beautiful mountain slopes. But there are also beautiful paths. With the scent of the many sage plants in our noses, we walk through olive groves and look south towards Ithaca, Kefallonia (we definitely want to go there again) and the mainland.

Pictures from Sivota

A nice light wind then pushes our boat north again, between the islands of Lefkas and Meganisi. Actually, we didn't want to go far, just into a beautiful anchorage again. But then it sails so beautifully and the wind now brings us to Palairos on the mainland coast for the third time. Yes, some places attract us like a magnet. Palairos is one of them. We anchor in front of the harbour and again admire the high mountains with alpenglow. And a baroque evening sky. The next day Christos has a place for us in the harbour. Here we prepare a little for the end of our season. Washing day, tidying up, cleaning. And Walter has an appointment with the hairdresser. The weather is nice and warm, just right for a swim in the sea in the late afternoon. And then a cool beer. Unfortunately no more from the tap. End of season.

Pictures from Palairos

And then comes the last day of sailing, which unfortunately doesn't turn out to be one. First we wait the whole morning for wind. Everything is as smooth as glass. Then the wind comes and we set off. We want to go to Vliho Bay on the island of Lefkas. But we can't even get there by cruising. What a pity! We have to motor. Fortunately only 11 nautical miles.

We reach Vliho Bay for the first time. It is a beautiful, well protected bay. Many boats spend the winter here, many of them in the water. With a little effort we find the small floating jetty of the Vliho Boatyard. Here we are allowed to moor overnight, to be pulled ashore the next morning. The slip is shallow. Our depth gauge shows 0.00 for a short time. But we pull our boat in such a way that we still have the proverbial hand's breadth of water under our keel.

The next morning the somewhat exciting landfall takes place, with tractor and hydraulic trailer. We've never had that before. We had asked beforehand if they could manage to bring our 16-ton lady ashore. "No problem" was the answer. A little uneasily we stand on our boat, which is already half pulled out of the slip. But the tractor alone can't do it. So the men from the boatyard have to add a winch. But then it works.

Pictures from Vliho Boaryard

Now we are standing in the boatyard, which is full of boats. Our boat is fixed, but we still have the rocking in us. A few days of work now await us before we start our journey home.

After staying two days longer on Kalamos so that Gisela could cure a lumbago, we set course for the west. Our destination: the green island of Meganisi with its many bays. We moored in the harbour of Vathi and set off again on foot to explore the island. In the beautiful neighbouring bay of Spartachori, which is overcrowded with boats in the season, it was very quiet. Even the tavernas had already closed. In the village above the harbour, however, we were able to have a drink at the Tropicana bar and talk to the owner. He told us how the island is changing. A few years ago, there were only two hotels on the island apart from the three villages. Now they are building everywhere, mostly luxurious big houses, unfortunately very ugly to look at. Most of them are private houses that are only occupied temporarily. Where does this boom come from? Is it the view of the nearby Onassis Island Skorpios?

Pictures of Meganisi

By boat we also explore the other bays on the north side of Meganisi, Abelaki and Atherinos. In the meantime we are anchored on Lefkas in the Ormos Dhésimou. Again a beautiful bay with clear water and a rock cave. Many fish swim around our boat. So we go into the water, too.

Pictures from the Ormos Dhésimou

We sail through the Ionian Islands - but we also like the mainland with its beautiful fishing villages of Paleiros, Mytika, Sivota........and the wild and rugged barren mountains beyond. And the mainland has it all: not only scenically, but also historically and mythologically. 

It has been inhabited for 22,000 years, as evidenced by archaeological finds from the Palaeolithic Age - says our wonderful sailing almanac, which not only has excellent maps and information on shoals, currents, weather phenomena and good fish tavernas, but also an appendix with historical information. 

There were mountain lions in the wild mountains - the first task Hercules had to do was to kill a lion, that took place here. Achilles' ancestors came from here, as did the wife of Philip II of Macedonia and mother of Alexander the Great. The famous king Pyrrus also ruled here. The inhabitants provided soldiers and ships for the Trojan War, Homer mentions. 

In "classical" Greek antiquity there were large cities and harbours, as far south as Messolonghi, now a large excavation site called Ancient Plevrona - Pleuron. 

In the more northern area is Aktio, today the airport of Preveza. In the year 31 B.C. , the last naval battle between Mark Antony and Cleopatra and the Romans under Octavian took place here - Cleopatra lost. As a sign of victory, the city of Nicopolis was founded, which at times had up to 300000 inhabitants, today also an impressive archaeological site. 

The Byzantines replaced the Romans and were the dominant culture and administration for a long time, until a phase of decay and various invasions by "barbarians" (Goths, Vandals.....) began - Völkerwanderung. 

In the 12th century, the area fell to the "Franks", the Greek collective term for crusaders, whether Germans, English, French, Spanish, Venetians.....

With the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the rule of the Turks began in this part of Greece. The Turks kept alternating with the Venetians; trade routes and the flow of goods were at stake. Churches were used as mosques, then again as churches, Venetian fortresses were finished by the Turks and vice versa. It went back and forth, examples being Nafpaktos (naval battle at Lepanto in 1571, which, however, took place in the Ionian Sea and not in the Gulf of Patras) and Monemvasia in the Peloponnese. 

"Armatoloi" (=armed men) and "Kleftes" ("thieves", the same root as kleptomaniacs), fought as partisans against Turkish rule, with varying success and also great massacres, until 1821 when the Greek struggle for independence began, which ultimately ended by 1912/1913 with the withdrawal of the last Turks from the Greek territories. There are monuments to fallen soldiers with the dates 1912/13, 1940/41 and 1948/49 on a single memorial stone.

So we get to know the impressive landscape from another side. And we get many insights into events that did not feature in our history lessons, or only marginally, but which in many cases still have an impact today and determine life here.