South of Corfu lie two true gems of the Ionian, Paxos and her baby sister Andipaxos. After 2 days swinging safely in a mild gale on the northwest corner of Corfu we were “free” to explore these islands we’ve read about. Lakka, Paxos is astounding. We’d not seen water this vibrant since the Caribbean. Sure, it’s bluer than blue everywhere here but with a fairly rare white sand bottom we could watch the fish pick at our anchor chain as if in an aquarium. Of course, the secret is out so after we anchored, and reanchored to give some room to the scowling Dutch neighbor in a Speedo we sat comfortably dug in and swam and watched the show. It’s a regularly scheduled program in the more popular spots here. The morning is peaceful and as the afternoon progresses a steady stream of chartered boats, most with skippers and crew on day 2 of sailing experience, race into the harbor looking for that prime anchoring location not taken by the early risers or the overnighters. We saw a boat drop anchor downwind and motor into the swirling breeze dumbfounded to be swinging wildly as their anchor caught. An American holiday maker yelled in shrill Michigan accent to a French live aboard “whaaatttt? I can’t understand what you are saying!!!” As the French explained the Americans poor judgement ( not an uncommon French approach). A small charter boat swinging and smacking into a large catamaran, her “skipper” stripping down to his boxer shorts to try to swim a line ashore. We felt so badly for them we eventually dinghied in to gift them a bottle of Croatian wine but after 5 anchorage attempts and a series of collisions they had decided it was time to go out to dinner in town so….best of intentions, Kelly has an extra bottle for another day.
The town is small and lively. Just opening for the season after a devastating COVID year of lost income. We tried to help by eating spinach pies and souvlaki until we were uncomfortable. Not philanthropic necessarily but the least we could do.
The next morning (read:morning to beat the same rush) after a quick stop in Gaios, Paxos for provisions, we hauled the anchor, pulled out the spinnaker and had a lovely ride to the little isle of Andipaxos, full time population 30. Here the cut on the Lee side of the island is sheltered from the prevailing north westerlies and the water is equally vivid. We anchored in 30 feet on pure white sand. Again, I could read the word Delta on our anchor from on deck. Stunning. Sea caves, the whole shebang. Quinn has written expertly on this so no need for redundancy.
After a most peaceful night at anchor with no charter boat drama we again headed south. This time to rally with some friends we met 2 years ago in Menorca, Spain who’ve been aboard and off board adventuring the entire time in between. Ralf is German and his lovely wife Nina is Kiwi. Frankly I’m not sure which of them is more beautiful. These guys are living the adventure. Sailing, cycling,experiencing it all while raising 2 oddball cats and now a Greek dog as well. What a treat to see old friends so far from home. We had a wonderful 2 days in Frikes, Ithaca with them. We both tied to the tiny town queue and had the town to ourselves for the first part of the day. As I stood in Madame Geneva’s cockpit to watch the lone other boat med moor to the queue I noticed something I’ve not seen before. They had an excellent approach in reverse to the sea wall, one crew jumped on land with sternlines and tied them well. Except…they had neglected to drop their anchor first. If they invent the boat that will stay put in this situation I want one but to date I think it’s still in development. After some gel coat and a bit of fiberglass was crushed on the queue I ran to assist only I don’t speak Austrian German and most of their English was on par with my Bavarian accent. “3 boats out….drop the anchor….come to me….throw the line….not so much schnell…slow. Nine, nicht…gut, gut!” We got it. They asked my name and what I was drinking. It was morning so I said I’d catch them later. Dinner at a taverna with Frida’s crew (including Lola the dog who jumped off the boat not wanting to be separated from her new best friends and had to be plucked from the water by Kelly dressed for dinner) had us seated next to 8 smiling Austrians. It was a really fun Father’s Day. It’s hard to say who enjoyed it more as many of the last bits are hard to recall.
A long dinghy ride with friends to a secluded beach with swimming, snorkeling and skipping stones followed the next day. It was ideal. We bid our friends goodbye the next morning. I know we’ll cross paths again. Some things you just know.
We steamed down the strait of Ithaca to an ideal hidden bay Kalo Limani, likely translated to Lemon Bay as there was a grove of citrus trees, a small handful of houses, ancient olive grove, swarms of bees and beautiful mountains on all sides. We put our screens up in the cockpit and deployed our “bee removal apparatus”, a cup and a piece of paper to catch and release any persistent invaders. We ran our generator to make fresh water and watched The Godfather as a family. A more peaceful night at anchor I can’t recall (except for all of the “murdery” parts in the movie).
This morning I awoke to the sound of kids playing on the beach. No humans present. Baby goats were hopping rock to rock and singing. Then Kelly and I did something new. She manned the helm while I raised the anchor in a swarm of interested if not attacking bees. We motored offshore and then drifted in the windless glass to put the dinghy on deck and take down the screens. There were that many bees!
Now we find ourselves cruising south down the strait of Ithaca to our next island, Zakinthos (ZACK-in-toss- I think). It sounds lively. It will be quite a contrast to the last week. Of course, most things would be.
Stay tuned. Much love