Jinny in the Ionian

June 24, 2011

Jinny aboard "Rampage"

The title of this latest blog is chosen advisedly since my lovely sister-in-law spent a very large proportion of her time here quite literally in the Ionian, as will become evident as you read on:

The entrance to Fiskardo bay, NE Cephalonia

We left you on our way to Fiskardo in Northern Cephalonia where we met up with our friends, Sue and Andy.  We had a cracking sail down from Nidri.  Then as we approached the entrance to Fiskardo bay, a small motor boat came storming up and started to circle us – the sole occupant managing to steer his craft at high speed in tight circles, photographing ourselves and “Rampage” the while and maintaining a non-stop spiel!  Generally fairly hostile to this type of relatively hard-sell sales pitch, especially when they have you cornered, (hmm, can one be cornered whilst at sea?) I refused to wave as he was imploring me to, though despite myself, I found I was grinning at his banter.  After a few minutes he disappeared in search of new prey and the incident was totally driven from our minds by the fun and games that ensued once we got into Fiskardo.

Fiskardo harbour

Fiskardo is a very attractive small village with a well protected harbour and it was largely undamaged in an earthquake in 1953 which affected much of the rest of Cephalonia.  For this reason it is a popular spot for cruisers and the charter flotillas so the quayside becomes very crowded with frequent contretemps when an anchor is dropped across another vessels anchor chain.  Add to this mix day tripper boats plus a largish ferry which comes in sounding its hooter imperiously at anyone foolish enough to be in its way at the time.  In view of all this, we decided to anchor with a long line ashore on the opposite side of the bay.  With a strong wind blowing across our beam and plenty of other vessels doing the same thing, this is a manoeuvre which requires forethought and planning not to mention a certain amount of good luck if one is avoid hitting another boat. 

Taking a line ashore

 It so happened that the was a lady in flowing robes and a large floppy hat sitting on a deckchair ashore just where we decided to tie up; what a show we gave her!  To begin with, all went well.  We put the dinghy into the water, I dropped the anchor and D went ashore in the dinghy with the first line.  As he prepared to clamber across the rocks in search of a suitable place to secure the shore line, he tied the dinghy painter to said line.  Unfortunately in a moment of madness, he tied it was a loop and as soon as he turned and started to climb up the rocks, the dinghy (pushed by the wind) decided to head back alone to mummy!  Since I had a bikini under my shorts and T-shirt, and being a woman of action, I immediately pulled off my T-shirt, causing my bikini top to ride up & giving our spectator a nasty eyeful in the process.  Undaunted, I dived in and brought the dinghy under control.  D, having secured the shore line by this time, climbed aboard and persuaded me to do the same.  He then pulled hard on the shore line to take us both back to “Rampage, and in the process, tipped me back out the other side!  At this point I decided to swim back to the boat.  We were just getting a second line rigged when a small Polish boat with two elderly chaps on board decided to tie up just upwind of us.  Not bothering with their dinghy, one plunged into the water taking his shore line with him.  Unfortunately he couldn’t swim fast enough to get his line ashore and make fast before their boat had borne down onto our upwind line.  The second guy then started hauling their anchor chain in by hand, taking it off our line but then threatening to do serious damage to “Rampage.”  We had fenders out because we’d half expected to berth on the quayside but they had no fenders in sight.  I rushed round getting extra fenders to protect us and holding her off while D did the same.  Now their shore line was not long enough to reach so they let their anchor chain out again.  In the process, their boat came back onto line again, and this time, it severed it!  At this point, D put the outboard onto our dinghy and used it to push their boat far enough upwind to enable them to escape and go somewhere else, after which we dug out our kedge anchor line which is good and beefy and replace our upwind line.  The whole process took a couple of hours and we were both fairly exhausted by the end.  

Poros harbour, SE Cephalonia

However, we had a super meal ashore that evening with Sue and Andy and some friends of theirs and after a day together in Fiskardo, we headed off south to Poros where we were joined by them an hour or so later. Next day we pressed on alone to Zakinthos to meet Jinny who arrived last Friday and almost immediately she and I went for a swim on the far side of the harbour wall – the first of many!

Who says men can't multi task? D has a quiet beer while reading his kindl and looking after the barbeque on the quay in Zakinthos harbour

More fun and games took place in the harbour in Zakinthos, this time between ourselves and a very big day tripper boat.  He was next along the quayside to us but with a reasonable gap between us.  However, while he was out on Friday, another smaller tripper boat came and berthed in the space, leaving him much less room to manoeuvre when he returned.  He managed to drop his anchor over ours and then claimed we hadn’t laid ours straight and that we must re-lay ours while he went to refuel.  This is quite a bore as it meant restoring the wheel, disconnecting the electricity, putting the passarelle away etc.  However, after a certain amount of chunnering we complied.  He then didn’t return until well after midnight, making a huge amount of noise in the process and next day when we came to depart, one of his shore lines was trapping one of ours, on the bollard and required the combined efforts of several burly crewmen to free it.

The island at Poros where Jinny and I went snorkelling

Our first stop with Jinny was Poros as it is really the only place within a convenient distance.  The harbour is not too busy as most of the cruisers and flotillas don’t come that far south, although there is always the usual entertainment of watching other people come in and tie up; it’s a great spectator sport.  Jinny and I found a tiny beach with an island and mini reef just offshore and spent several hours that evening snorkelling in the crystal clear water. 

Jinny on the beach at Poros

Jinny feeding fish off the back of the boat

The little beach near Agios Eufimia, Cephalonia

Agios Eufimia, Cephalonia

On Sunday we continued north to Agios Eufimia.  This time, we put the dingy in the water and headed out of the harbour in search of a beach.  Nearly all the beaches here are stony but the water is really clear with visibility of up to 20 -30 metres in places.    Jinny had been having great fun in the harbours, throwing stale bread to the fish and watching them throng round.  This time she and I carefully swam out on our backs with chunks of bread which we then fed to the fish while we snorkelled.  Jinny had bought herself a giant rubber ring which she spent a lot of time drifting about in, there being no tide or currents worth mentioning, while I found a lovely underwater tunnel through the rocks although I didn’t venture through it without my scuba gear.  That evening we all went for dinner at Captain Corelli’s restaurant where Penelope Cruz seemed to have a summer job waitressing. 

D & I with "Penelope Cruz" at Captain Corelli's restaurant

Monday afternoon saw us back in Fiskardo, having stopped en route up the coast for lunch and a swim.  We had our only decent sail of the week that day with winds gusting up to Force 6 and the sails well reefed.  In the end, though, we abandoned the sails as we were just making such slow progress tacking into the wind and we were worried that there would be no room to tie up in Fiskardo Bay if we got in too late.  Once settled, Jinny and I walked up to the headland to investigate an old, ruined lighthouse before walking round the bay for an ice-cream and a browse in the rather expensive shops.  I then remembered the photographer from the previous week.  Sue and Andy had advised me to check out the photos at least, so we went to find him and I was amazed to find he’d taken over 70 in a space of two or three minutes and some were really very good.  It is not often that we get the opportunity to have a photograph of “Rampage” sailing so we summoned Duncan to come and see them.  After a drink and some debate, we decided to succumb to his sales banter and bought the disc.

The old lighthouse on the headland at Fiskardo

Jinny and I in Fiskardo

Before setting off in the morning for Ithaca, Jinny and I went for a long snorkel up to the point; there were just masses of fish including thousands of small fry but lots of variety and some quite decent size fish.  For me, probably the loveliest place we stopped was Frikes at the northern end of Ithaca.  It is a deepish bay with a small village and harbour at the head of it.  It is very unspoilt with just a few tavernas along the waterfront and the most amazing shop which seemed to stock everything – even lime pickle for Duncan!  Not only that but the lovely proprietoress spoke faultless English and joy of joys, took in laundry so I was able to get our sheets and towels washed without having to resort to buckets. 

Frikes harbour, Ithaca

Once more Jinny and I put the dinghy into the water and pottered off out of the harbour to find a small beach where we could swim and snorkel.  Jinny was taught to snorkel relatively recently by her son, Nick but is now totally at ease with it and spent hours peering down into the depths.  We all went out to supper again that evening and the morning saw us heading south back down the eastern side of Ithaca to Poros on Cephalonia again, stopping again en route, for lunch and a swim where D attacked the hull with a scraper to remove some more of the accumulated plant life, (I’d made a start on it during our first visit to Fiskardo.)  Over the last couple of days the weather has become noticeably hotter; even when we were on the move it was hard to keep cool as we made our way through flat-calm waters and Jinny spent much of her time up on the foredeck as we were unable to sail.

"Our beach" at Frikes

Totally and utterly relaxed!

On arrival back in Poros, we beat a hasty retreat to a small bar perched up above the harbour and sat in the shade watching all the comings and goings below us.  The wind decided to pick up just after we arrived so we had the usual entertainment of watching people tie up; in Poros there is the further complicating factor that much of the harbour is really very shallow and several unfortunate skippers found themselves going aground.

Yesterday we sadly made our last trip, back down to Zakinthos for Jinny to catch her flight home last evening.  I realised however that we were going to get in much earlier than we needed to and since Zakinthos is a medium-sized ferryport and not particularly attractive, I suggested that we should detour to the northeast coast where we could anchor for a while and cool off in the water.  What a lucky decision that was!  We anchored in 4 metres of water and within nanoseconds Jinny and I were both in the water.  As there was only a sandy bottom and not much to look at, I set off round the boat to get some exercise.   I suddenly became aware that Jinny was called me frantically and there below, swimming towards me was a Loggerhead turtle.  It was so exciting.  She, (I presume it was a female since they come to some of the beaches round here to lay their eggs) having looked casually at Jinny for a few moments, took no further interest in us, swimming on her way unperturbed.  It was so exciting and thrilling and a fitting end to Jinny’s visit.  How fortunate that we’d decided to wear our snorkels and masks. 

When we reached here at 4pm yesterday, we went for one more swim Jinny left.  She and her husband, Charlie plus her sister Susie are off to a ball this evening.  She’ll certainly have plenty to tell everyone, ‘though she may well be revelling in more civilised temperatures, as it was 37o C as she climbed into her taxi last night as she headed for the airport.

We’re going to amble back north now, stopping in Poros for a couple of days to do some laundry using the free water and then, who knows……


One comment

  1. It looks like you had the best week ever with Jinny there with you.

    And you were right about not having to put up with 37 degrees!! It was cold, and windy, and tipping it down!! But the ball was fun and we were raising money for Help for Heroes.

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