European adventure 2022: Sailing the Ionian in Greece

All about our sailing adventure in the Ionian Islands.

After 10 days in France, we flew to Greece.

Some of you may remember our good friends from down south, Adriana and Paul, from previous posts. Earlier this summer, Adri sold S/V Leila in St. Martin and moved onto Paul’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 51 in Vliho, a small village in the Lefkada region of Western Greece. When they invited us to come for a visit, we knew our trip to France was the perfect time to make it happen.

Paul has lived in Greece for over a decade and chartered in the area for many years, so it was really incredible to sail with someone who knows the area so well. Adri was the hostest with the mostest, putting beautifully presented snack plates and meals in front of you at the exact moment you started to think you might want something to nibble on. Don’t let her excellent hospitality skills fool you. She is also an accomplished sailor (and soon-to-be Yachtmaster) who single-handed S/V Leila up and down the Lesser Antilles.

The Ionian Islands are distinct from the rest of Greece, as they were held by the Venetians for many centuries. This heritage has left the islands with a completely different feel, particularly in terms of architecture, culture and food.

Our time cruising the Ionian was an absolutely wonderful week of beautiful scenery, amazing weather, lovely food, but most of all, great company. We really had a hard time leaving and are already plotting our return.

Here is our week in pictures.

We flew into Preveza, a small, seasonal airport that is only open 6 months of the year
The stops on our Ionian cruise
First stop after the airport: Lefkada for a quick happy hour. Pano of the waterfront featuring Adri on the left.

1. Vliho

We spent our first evening at Paul and Adri’s home base, the Vliho Yacht Club, where we had dinner and drinks and met the locals. Vliho has a high UK ex-pat population, so not speaking Greek was not an issue.

In the Ionian, the winds don’t tend to pick up until the afternoon, so we were never rushed in the mornings. Our first morning, we went to the Yacht Club for breakfast and provisioned. That afternoon, we weighed anchor, and went sailing!

2. Kastos

Our first destination was Kastos, a small island just south of Mytikas with only a few hundred inhabitants. We were too late in the day to get a spot on the wall, so we dropped anchor out in the bay. We dinghied ashore for dinner, eating the best lamb souvlaki in recent memory at Taverna Belos.

The next morning we got up early to go for a hike around the bay, followed by coffee at Mylos. Enjoying the day’s slow pace, we decided to stay put for an extra day, instead of racing off to the next island. We moved from the bay to the wall, with Paul doing a perfect Med mooring. This involves dropping an anchor, then backing up to the wall. The boat is then secured at the stern with two long lines to land.

That evening we had an apéritif at Traverso, followed by delicious tuna steaks at Il Porto. Then the true debauchery began.

Drinks at Traverso

We spent the rest of the night, and well into the early hours of the morning, at El.a, a great bar with a great vibe owned by Alex and Elena. Elena is a fabulous hostess and Alex is an incredibly personable guy who you can spend the whole night chatting with you about liquor, rock and roll, and the state of the world. What happens in Kastos stays in Kastos, but after that evening, the island became affectionately known to us as “Smashtos”.

The David in Smashtos (and Sally the dog)

3. Vathy, Ithaca

The island of Ithaca is famed for being the birthplace of Odysseus. For a sailor, it’s a great place to have a nice meal, get some laundry done, provision, and drink beer. Also, it’s frickin’ beautiful.

4. Mytikas

We spent most of the day hanging out in Vathy, but by mid-afternoon we decided to weigh anchor and carry on. We sailed between the islands of Kastos and Kalamos, hoping to find a spot near Porto Leone. Many of the bays we passed weren’t ideal given the building wind conditions, so Captain Paul decided to drop the hook in front of Mytikas, on the mainland, where he knew the holding would be good for a potentially howly night. It was later in September and the nights were perceptibly cooler, especially with the high wind, so we had a quiet night aboard that evening.

5. Paleros

The next day we sailed around the corner from Mytikas and dropped the hook in picturesque Paleros.

6. Varko Bay

We spent our last night in Varko, a quiet bay off the mainland with nothing ashore. Our last night was quite chilly, so we put on our wooly socks, played a hand of Yahtzee, and had a delicious dinner aboard.

Conclusion: The Ionian is so chock-full of islands and bays that we barely scratched the surface. Our advice is to go for at least 10 days, with people who know the area. Many thanks and big hugs to Paul and Adri for such an amazing week!

3 thoughts on “European adventure 2022: Sailing the Ionian in Greece

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