Not only is Sami a great place to moor up in peace - it also provided a top sleep. We slept with hatch wide open and when I awoke in the middle of the night, it was wonderful to just stare up at the stars. This is one of the highlights of sailing and is a truly fabulous experience.
We both got going at 8 and had our coffee, watching the fishermen going about their business. We then took a stroll around the town. Sami was a provisioning paradise, with bakeries and supermarkets in abundance. We stocked up on all the basics, which of course included more Mythos before heading back to Winspit. Along the edge of the water, other cruisers and holidaymakers were enjoying breakfast in the sun, overlooking the sea, sipping on an orange juice. It was simple and idyllic. Despite it being the busiest place we had been to yet, it was still relatively quiet - a real find!
Sean and Ruth departed first. We wished them a happy remainder of their holiday and we swapped numbers. We will definitely keep in touch, not least because they only live 40 minutes from us in England - what are the chances of that eh? After we'd waved them off, we prepared our lines and cast off. As we already knew, we had crossed the lines of the other boat, so Steve came out in the dinghy and helped to free us, at the same time showing me how to free ourselves if this should happen again. Then we were off - out of the cocoon of the sheltered harbour and into the bay and from there into the Ithaca channel. We picked up 10kn of wind and sailed around to the base of Ithaca where the wind died and we ended up motoring again. We had a vague idea of going either to Vathi, Kioni or Frikes this evening and decided to keep our options open and see how the day panned out. By lunch time, we had made it to Pera Pigadi, a small islet off Ithaca with a couple of lovely bays nearby. We had heard stories of the islet being rat-infested and not to moor by the pontoon. We didn't moor there simply because the bays around it were so much prettier. However, we did see yachts moored there, and no rat evidence so not sure if the problem been addressed or not? We'd definitely give it a go next time.
There were mountain goats up the side of the hill in a small bay and we tried to drop anchor there, but despite trying twice, it didn't hold so we aborted that idea and moved around to the next bay where we anchored first time. We jumped into the clear, blue water and had a refreshing swim. Marco got into the dinghy and had a ten minute power-nap then woke up with a cold Mythos. I snorkelled - it was so clear you could see the bottom. We left at around 3pm and started to motor up the side of Ithaca. Having checked the options, we decided to try Kioni and were hopeful of finding another Sail Ionian yacht there again, to perhaps help us with our shaky mooring. However, having spotted the familiar white flag of SI, it was heading towards Vathi so it looked as though we'd be on our own...figuratively speaking. There was not one knot of wind and yet we could see sails ahead so we carried on motoring hopefully. As we rounded a rocky outcrop past the entrance to Vathi, we were suddenly hit by 12 knots from a lowly 2, with gusts of up to 20knots. We put out all our sail and Winspit picked up speed. Off went the engine and the exhileration of sailing took us over once more.
Minutes later we were heeling at what I thought was a rather alarming angle (but then i'm a bit of a girl when it comes to this!!)When you are a novice sailor as we are....heeling is a very alien experience and one that takes some getting used to. All around us were yachts that were also heeling but somehow they seemed to be totally in control. By comparison, I felt uneasy, probably because I know how inexperienced we are at this. Did we have the sail trim correct? Should we reef? Aggghhh!!! The wind was getting fiercer and it got to the stage where every time Marco turned the boat to starboard, she heeled A LOT, and every time he inched her to port, the sails flapped about which was no good either. Eventually we hauled in the genoa and sailed on the main which was an improvement.
Kioni was now in sight but to get there we would be heading straight into the wind. It felt like a bit of a nightmare to be honest. Massive flapping of sails but the sea was getting so rough that I was a bit worried about getting up to bring it down. Oh for in-mast reefing at this point!!! As we approached the bay of Kioni, I took the helm and prayed i'd keep her straight, while Marco got up and pull in the main. Once into Kioni it quickly became apparant that there was a) still 16knots of wind (joy) and b) no space! Yikes! We motored around a couple of times and ended up choosing a spot next to antoher Bavaria (a 34ft). We had to make two attempts as the wind was blowing us everywhere. But on the third attempt a man appeared to take our lines and Marco reversed in perfectly. The man tied us on the windward side and we were tight. After securing all other lines we felt safe. It would have been a struggle though without the man's help and we still had to jump into Junior to get off as there was some very shallow water at our stern.
We walked around the quay of Kioni. A beautiful place. Across the harbour, naturally, Sailing Holidays had bagged all of the better bays. We settled down for a smug Mythos in a large green bottle and admired Winspit across the bay in her spot. Suddenly and without warning all the yachts in our row started bobbing madly about. Before it happened we knew what was coming next - the grating of Winspit's rudder on the shallow rocks beneath her almost made us choke on our beer. The wash from a large ferry, miles away had come into Kioni and was pushing her backwards onto them. As I gulped the last of my beer, and went inside the bar to pay, Marco was already racing back around to Winspit. I followed soon after but by the time I got there, he had already loosened the lines, tightened the anchor chain and was happily chatting to our neighbour, leaving me to paddle across on my own using Junior. Marco gave me a merry wave and carried on chatting, leaving me to catch my foot in my sarong as I left the dinghy and nearly go head first down into the galley! Having regained my composure, I joined Marco and the neighbours and we had a sundowner, while their baby boy played in the water.
After freshening up, we went out for dinner, finding a lovely place right in the centre of the bay. The restaurant gave us free desserts, plus we had a starter each, main course each and half a litre of red wine all for €27 - a bargain! There was a great jazz club that we passed on the way back but we were just too tired to go there.....another place for 'next time'! Back on board, we chatted to our neighbours again for an hour or so then crashed out to sleep at midnight. Another few lessons learned today and lots of excitement too!