Posted by Johnny
After Gaios we headed up the East side of Paxos and ended up dropping the anchor for lunch by a beach we discovered a few days before. Armed with my sketchbook, we took the tender ashore to find a bit of shelter from the wind and to have a go at stand up paddle boarding.
Later we returned to Lakka, which is rapidly becoming a favourite anchorage. It was much busier this time and we spent some time phaffing around with lines to shore before realising it was unnecessary and simply dropping the anchor was sufficient to secure us.
The wind was still blowing in our face when we set off then next day for Corfu so we had to motor for 5 hours to reach the town. When we arrived we anchored in the large bay below the old fortress with breathtaking views and some spectacular yachts dotted about. We spotted our friends Steve and Pam close by who probably think we’re following them now!
We took the tender ashore to have a wander about the town. It was not obvious where to leave the tender and we ended up going through the vast man made canal separating the fortress from the town and tied up inside the small marina on the north side. To find the town we had to work our way through the labyrinth of old fortifications and up countless steps.
We had some apprehensions about Corfu town as there is a busy airport there and a couple of huge cruise ships had arrived in the harbour. Our fears were totally unjustified and the old town instantly won us over. The architecture is in a wonderful state of faded glory with paint peeling off elaborate shutters and ironwork. The cobblestone streets are polished from years of foot traffic and reflect the bright lights of the shop fronts at night.
The next day we dropped into Gouvia Marina to top up the fuel tank, then sailed north to the bay of St Stefanou, where we anchored for the night.
The next morning we got up early and set sail for the furthest island north of Corfu. Othoni is a stepping off point for boats heading to Italy and we would be using it for exactly that purpose in the coming weeks. We thought it would be good practice for open water sailing and familiarising ourselves with the first leg of the journey might make the crossing a less daunting prospect. We were lucky to have large waves and winds up to 26 knots to give us a taste of what to expect further out to sea. Confidence was high for the whole 7 hours of the journey and we even reached a record speed of 8 knots while Julia was at the helm.
We arrived in Othoni at about 4pm and tied up in the deserted fishing harbour at Avlaki. We walked through the small sleepy town and hiked up the hill to survey the bay from above. We hoped to meet some Italians fresh from the crossing who could impart some useful wisdom but there was just one other boat in the entire bay and the owners were nowhere to be seen. We found a taverna selling cold beers, then headed back for supper on the boat. We were exhausted after a long sail and Julia crashed out on the sofa around 6pm and slept until the next morning.
From Othoni we sailed to the West side of Corfu and tied up in the touristy town of Palaiokastrita. We went with the flow and visited the monastery on the hill, took the glass bottom boat tour and visited the aquarium. In the evening we discovered an epic bar built into the cliff with cascading terraces and underwater floodlights.
That evening our friend Manraj phoned to say he could get a last minute flight to come and join us in Corfu so we made plans to set off early then next morning to pick him up. Morning came and we set off motoring into a gentle breeze. We were making good time so we dropped by the bay of Kalami for a walk around the bay and past Gerald Durrel’s childhood home.
We arrived a few hours later in Corfu at exactly the same time as Manraj, although the old harbour we pulled into was disgusting, with raw sewage floating on the surface! We wasted no time picking him up and getting out of there, retreating to our familiar anchorage on the other side of the old fortress.
Since then we’ve made it back to Lakka, putting our new crew member to good use on the helm. Having never sailed before (just like us), Manraj was soon confidently bashing into 20 knot of headwind.