This report on the club’s annual “hot sail” is a compilation of reports from the scribes of the three yachts.

Robert organised this year’s club “hot sail” to the North Ionian. The temperature when we arrived at the marina was 35°C. Yes, it was hot! The clue is in the name. The yachts were chartered through Cosmos Yachting from Nomicos out of Gouvia marina that is located just north of Corfu town.

Originally, there were two Bavaria 40 yachts, but with additional people wishing to sail a third Bavaria 40 was obtained. The yachts ranged from “quite new” to “should have retired”. Robert skippered Adagio with a crew of just Neil and Janice after Diana and then Sefton were unable to come along. Robert John skippered Madrugada with a crew comprising his wife Judi, the Saffers and Stanley’s sister Sue. The charter of the third yacht, Alegria, was made possible by twisting Steve’s arm to skipper it with a crew of Susie, Karen, and the Saffers’ friend Philip Winburn. They had told Steve that that they couldn’t sail; little fibbers! Karen, who had no experience at all, quickly became adept on the wheel; her confidence grew over the days. Phil had some dinghy experience and was at ease immediately, he also became our anchor man, a very important role in the Ionian. Susie really did underestimate her abilities because she was actually pretty experienced. After the first day they barely needed Steve, and over the next week he hardly touched the helm. The crews of Adagio and Madrugada were not novices.

We all ate together in the Olympia Mare restaurant in the marina on Saturday night.

Although there was a warning of thunder storms, the weather brightened up from a few spits and spots that appeared late on Saturday afternoon and continued overnight into the early morning on Sunday. We all set off just before lunch time for our first destination of Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland. Robert’s original route would have taken us to Mourtos, but the change shortened the first day’s sail by a few miles.

At first there was insufficient wind to sail, but later in the afternoon we had a good sail, reaching a quite respectable 6kts. Madrugada arrived at 15h45 and had difficulty in getting the anchor to hold. Adagio arrived at about 18h00. Distance sailed was around 26 miles.

Igoumenitsa is a large town with frequent ferries, and at anchor in the bay in about 4m of water the wash from the ferries did not affect us. Holding was variable, and Adagio needed 3 attempts to get good grip. We all ate individually on our boats and the complement of Madrugada then used their dinghy to go over to Alegria for drinks afterwards. At this stage, the complement of Adagio had run out of steam.

On Monday morning Steve rang to say he had a water pump problem and, after contacting Nomicos, was on his way to Petriti on Corfu Island for a mechanic to investigate. There was no room on the dock in Petriti so Alegria anchored and took the dinghy to pick him up. After 2 hours, during which time he changed the pump, he announced that there was no water in the tanks despite the fact that both meters indicated to the contrary. (MORAL: when picking up a charter boat, fill the water tanks yourself even if you are told that they have been filled). Soon after the mechanic left we moved to a newly vacated slot on the wall. We borrowed a couple of 5 litre bottles and, having located a stand pipe over 250 metres away, transferred about 100 litres to our tanks: 20 container-fulls at 250m return = 5 kilometres! We decided it was cocktail hour. In the evening Phil & Karen very kindly treated Susie and Steve to supper as their birthday treats, both on 4 September.

Adagio and Madrugada set off for Gaios that us located about halfway down the east coast of Paxos. Paxos is the island immediately south of Corfu Island. Madrugada took a path down the mainland towards Mourtos, and after a stop for lunch cut across to Gaios. Adagio misunderstood the message from Madrugada on the location to drop anchor for lunch, and set a course for the southern tip of Corfu. Not to worry, Adagio dropped anchor just outside south of Kavos. After lunch, and at 2kts under sail, progress was slow and Adagio sought to iron power. Within less than five minutes, and now out of the lee of Corfu Island, the full force of the NW wind came to bear and Adagio was running at speeds of up to 8kts under two reefs before the wind, with swell from the NW to match. Exhilarating stuff. Some of those on Madrugada succumbed to a bit of sea-sickness. The northern entry into Gaios was difficult to find, but made easier thanks to the chart plotter. The lights at the entry are just that, lights on a “Meccano-style” frames that were difficult to discern against the rocks because they were a similar colour. Madrugada arrived before Adagio and was anchored stern-to against the rocks on the immediately adjacent small island of Nisida Agios Nikolaos that protects Gaios from the sea and that boasts the ruins of a Venetian fort. Why were they there and not against the quay? Because they arrived at 16h45 before the parking restrictions ended at 17h00. Adagio had arrived by chance at 17h00 and got a quayside berth before they all went by 17h15! The meter-maid came to collect parking fees that were about a tenth of what we paid in Naples last year, admittedly with a 49-footer then rather than a 40-footer now. By this time the equipment failures on the boats started to add up. One of Madrugada’s heads packed up.

However, there was no electric because all the points had already been taken. Electricity and water are accessed by key, available from local cafés that one returns after use to recover a deposit. Alegria was still in Petriti. Gaios has lively night life along the quay adjacent to the town square, but quieter towards the northern entrance where we were berthed. The crews of the two boats ate at Pan and Theos just south of the “town square” on the quay-front before returning to their respective boats for the night. The distance sailed was about 25 miles. So, two days gone, and we had been able to sail on both.

On Tuesday, Adagio left at 10h15 before the meter maid came to enforce the parking restrictions that had already come into force at 10h00 on that part of the quay. Madrugada, not being on the quay, left later, at 10h45. The sail over to Parga was gentler than the day before, but still with sufficient wind to get to 8 kts boat speed. The entry to Parga was easier to identify than was Gaios. Parga is a small town with a castle on a headland that separates Parga harbour from a bay at Valtou. One cannot moor or anchor in Parga, but Valtou has a small harbour behind a breakwater that was full, so we anchored in the bay. Ahead of anchoring, the local water taxi driver gave us his card so we could phone him to use his services to go to Parga. Ace idea. No need to get the dinghy off the deck and lift the outboard onto the dinghy. Madrugada arrived next, had lunch and then mplement took off in the dinghy to a delightful beach – hot sunshine but chilly breeze out of the water. They savoured the delights of Ice cream on the beach and watched the Greek holiday world go by – lovely. Alegria arrived late in the afternoon from Petriti. The distance sailed from Gaios was just over 11 miles – a short day, and still with brilliant sunshine.

In the afternoon, thrill seekers on inflatables being towed by a power boat sped in and out of the moored yachts. We thought this was highly dangerous and that prevented us from swimming further than the immediate vicinity of the boat.

Just before the water taxi arrived to take us to Parga the almost-full moon peaked over the hills to the east. Epic photo opportunity. We all ate at To Souli on the quayside in Parga and got the penultimate ferry at 23h30 back to the yachts. Well worth the return taxi fare of €5 per person! That night, the swell made for a rocky swaying noisy night, causing lots of creaking. Those on Madrugada did not get a good night’s sleep.

On Wednesday the chart plotter log on Adagio showed an interesting pattern. Fortunately, nobody hit anybody else! Alegria headed off to get water. From Steve’s knowledge of the area gained while sailing his own yacht, he headed for Gaios. Adagio went into the harbour in Valtou to seek water, shown on the chart as being at the land end of the breakwater, but there was no space to get moored, so left for Lakka as did Madrugada. Lakka is situated at the north end of Paxos, but open to northerly / north-westerly winds. The Pilot says it is “A cocktail of colour and chaos”. The wind was initially SSE, so behind us, but soon swung round so we had to make a couple of tacks in increasing swell to make Lakka. The entry to Lakka was quite challenging because of the swell, it was narrow, and the charts showed rocks to stand off from. Including tacks to get up the north end of Paxos, the distance sailed was about 22 miles.

The colour of the water changes from deep blue outside the entrance to a clear turquoise inside. Here again, there were no quayside berths because the half dozen or so had all been taken. Madrugada anchored in the middle of the lagoon while Adagio moored stern-to against the rocks tied to a rock. This meant getting the dinghy down from deck, so Adagio anchored in the middle of the lagoon to do this. The anchor dragged (again) and we drifted towards the town quay, fortunately without hitting anybody else or running aground. We used the dinghies to get to the quay and ate at a taverna just behind the quay, got some provisions, and then set off again for the boats. Madrugada also tried to get a line to the rocks, but the unhelpful attitude of a gin palace, and losing the safety key for the outboard over the side, meant they chose to anchor in the middle of the bay.

In the evening we went off to Lakka for dinner. Despite a jury-rig safety key suggested by Robert who had done the same on one of Victor’s charts to Falmouth, Madrugada’s dinghy stopped working partway to the quay and they managed to get a tow in; Adagio towed them back. Both boats had a restful night, in comparison to those moored there the night we were in Gaios. Apparently, their night was “quite lively”.

On Thursday morning Alegria came up from Gaios and moored alongside Adagio in Lakka at about 09h00 for about an hour by which time Madrugada had already departed They had moored on the town quay in Gaios and, using Karen’s interweb phony thing to find the best restaurant in town where they had a fab meal. They were also able to fill up with water. By this time Adagio had also run out of water, so Alegria gave them some in used mineral water bottles sufficient to finish washing up and a cat’s lick and a promise. Steve had a swim and then took off for Plataria. The yacht next to us was leaving at the same time as us and the kindly Irish complement untied our stern line at the same time as untying theirs, so we did not have to go over to the rock and untie it ourselves. Adagio motored towards the quay in search of water, but, with no free parking spaces getting too close alongside them was a non-starter because of lack of depth.

We all sailed / motor-sailed over to Plataria on the mainland that is located at the top of an inlet between Mourtos and Igoumenitsa. It is a quiet place with a marina and no large ferries going there. Madrugada was first in at 12h45, followed by Alegria and Adagio. We sailed about 17 miles. Whilst the parking fees were higher than at Gaios, they were reasonable. The meter maid took the details of the boats from the ship’s papers to calculate the charges that were slightly different because the different models of Bavaria 40 were slightly different lengths.

The quayside was barely above water level and the purpose of the large stones on the quayside became clear when the tide came in – well, the water level rose to cover parts of the quayside. Obviously, the stones were there so one could rest the passerelles on them. Whilst the girls went to the beach, which apparently was quite a disappointment, the rest of us relaxed and refilled the water tanks. The scribe on Madrugada reports “Sadly the town’s façade turned out to be just that, a distant façade where close up showing faded tatty charmless slightly ghost towny? End of season.
Clearly this is a place that will be improved when money appears, setting is excellent and judging by the number of yachts settling in give it time and it will be attractive. Seaweedy beach and fine shingles, lots of dogs, and not pleasant underfoot walking into the water.”

Here again there was no electricity, this time because the plug-points did not work! The complement of Alegria ate out whilst those on Madrugada and Adagio remained on-board to finish off provisions. Plataria faces west and the sunset views towards Corfu Island were quite spectacular. Whilst Robert took photos, Karen got her pastels out. The fishermen came out with their rods as the sun was going down, and early the following morning one of those from the previous evening was either still there or there again.

On Friday morning, and provisioned with fresh bakery from the patisserie, we all sailed back for Gouvia. Steve and Philip took Alegria out at 8 in the morning whilst the girls were still asleep so they had time to visit Corfu town, mooring up in the Old Port. Steve remembered this little harbour in the centre of town that is not in the Pilots, and moored alongside even though the signs all around saying “No Mooring” which everybody ignores. After lunch on the quay, they visited the synagogue that hosts about four services a year with help from visitors from, amongst other places, Israel.

Madrugada slipped at 09h45 and anchored for a lunch break in about 20m just north of the Old Fort (think of all that anchor chain to run out and back) whilst Adagio anchored in about 4m of water in Garitsa Bay just to the south of the Old Fort.

After lunch breaks, we all got back into Gouvia after about 27 miles run ahead of the charter company’s deadline of 17h00.

Rather than eat in a restaurant in the marina, we all ate out in the evening in the restaurant around the pool of the Telesilla Hotel just outside the marina. The waiter who served us had spent time in Cardiff, so had a good command of English and an equally good sense of humour!

Throughout the holiday, we had sufficient wind to get the sails up every day, a first for a hot sail, I think. The sun shone most of the time except late on the first Saturday evening and early on the Sunday and on the Friday afternoon when the skies clouded over a bit. However, the weather did break whilst we were safely tucked up back in Gouvia marina on the Friday night when the heavens opened with quite a thunder storm and two of the three boats leaked water into the lockers, soaking any clothing there. Not good.

The content of the reports from each yacht reflects what was important to them. Adagio accepted what life threw at it. Quite clearly, gourmet food was of utmost importance on Madrugada because the menus were meticulous! They didn’t starve. Steve’s report highlights the ability of a novice crew and, quite rightly, the deficiencies of a boat that should never have been put out to charter.

Another great flotilla, with thanks to Stanley in getting friends and family to participate, to the skippers, namely, the two Roberts and Steve. A great charter despite, or maybe because of, the problems? Look on the bright side, we didn’t hit anything, we didn’t sink, and Nomicos can use the boats again.

For those of you adding miles to your RYA logbooks, the distances covered was about 128 NM, non-tidal, 0 night hours, 7 nights aboard.

Where next year?

Robert, Stanley and Steve

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