In this web series, we talk about the journeys of our top contributors! While some spent their life on a boat, others discovered this passion later in life. With their contributions, they play a key role in making Navily what it is today : a trustworthy cruising guide, made for and by boaters, with a growing influence in Europe and in the world.
Today, we meet Klazien, who has been sailing in the Ionian Islands for 22 years. She fell in love with this region during numerous family cruises. In this article, she will share with us several anchorages and marinas that she particularly appreciates for their peacefulness, even in the high season…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Klazien. I was born in the Netherlands, where I learned to sail on the Friesian lakes in the north. As a student in biology, I went to Switzerland because I love the mountains. But life can be strange and I met Andreas, because he was looking for a sail mate on a Dart 18 catamaran to sail the Swiss championships. We became a couple, won the Swiss annual championship, got married, became two daughters and kept on sailing.
Many more races on our Dart followed up to European championships and later we bought a Kelt 8 on the lake of Neuchatel. With the children we started to sail in Greece when they were 10 and 12 years old. As they liked it so much it became our annual holiday to sail in Greece, chartering mostly private 38-40 feet yachts. After so many years in Greece we have been on at least 110 islands (also counting those without inhabitants). Some years we abandoned Greece and sailed in Thailand, Seychelles and Cuba.
Approaching the time of retirement, we decided to have our own boat on the Mediterranean sea, and found a Wauquiez Centurion 40, based at Aprilia Marittima in Italy. In 2021 we sailed to Greece to the Ionian islands, in the hope to find back the places where we once started our sea sailing experiences.
Why do you love sailing in the Ionian Islands?
In the year 2000, at the end of September, we started our first sail trip with the children in the Ionian sea in Greece, because it was defined as a pleasant, not so crowded and easy sailing area with moderate winds. In those first 2 weeks around the Ionian islands, we found beautiful cosy harbours and coves, with friendly people and good typical Greek restaurants. The weather was warm, but not hot and the winds were perfect for sailing with children. Some years later in the summer, we sailed again in the Ionian Sea. Again, we were welcomed with good winds and many nice spots to anchor. In 2011 we were once more in the Ionian area to find that the charter activities had increased, making it sometimes harder to find a place in a harbour, but as we already knew the area, we were still able to find secluded coves, not frequently visited by other charter boats.
In July 2021 coming from Italy, we arrived for the first time with our own sail yacht called “Rûzje Wyn” (whooshing wind) in the middle of the sailing peak season. We were surprised by the enormous increase in the number of charter companies located in Corfu and Lefkada. Trying to avoid crowded places and with the help of the navily app, we however were able to find some extraordinary secluded places and again enjoyed the Greek hospitality, great food and sometimes even too strong winds…
What is this anchorage selection and why did you choose them?
The anchorage selection I present here, are chosen because they are not the first destinations typical charter boats are going. In some of them there are no restaurants (which is why charterers do not like them too much), which we personally like the most. In some places one can hike, which we like as a possibility to move our muscles in an alternative way or undertake some other activities (see below). Also some of the spots are on the mainland, they may not look attractive at first sight, because they are not on islands, but we found them very fetching and good alternatives if one wants to avoid crowded places.
The large bay (it’s not really a bay) on the east side of the island Petalas has shallow, somewhat murky but clean waters. Although fall winds can blow from north west, one is secure and the anchor holds well. The place is very silent and spacious. On the island Petalas is a cave, which can be walked-on, there are thousands of bats in the cave, which fly around your head (bring a flashlight!). For those more courageous, go deeper into the cave (you have to walk through the bat excrements…), you’ll find many more bats.
In the bay of Fanari, near the little town Ammoudia, flows the river Acheron into the sea. The anchorage is well protected from North-East-South winds. One can go by dinghy river upward and moor in the little harbour in the river. Then take a tourist boat, which will bring you further upstream on the river Acheron. There are many water turtles, nightingale nests and raptors. The large bay has a sand beach. Although Ammoudia is not very touristic, there are some hotels and restaurants, mostly visited by Greek people.
Atheras, Island Kelafonia
This bay on the west side of the island Kefalonia is well protected against winds from East-South-West, and has a very nice beach where you can spend a relaxing afternoon. A bit higher up, you can taste the local specialities in an excellent fish and seafood restaurant. We highly recommend it!
Messolonghi Marina / Messalongi, Mainland
We really fell in love with this little cosy marina. First one has to go through a long canal in order to get to the marina. One can berth in the marina or anchor outside of the marina. Protection from all wind directions. Directly near the marina is a very nice and good restaurant. For food shopping however, one has to go into the complete non-touristic town, which is about 2 km away from the marina. At the canal entrance is the little village Tourlida, which reminded us of Thailand. It is worth visiting this village by bus or long walk over the dyke in between salt lagoons. It’s a nice place for lunch and some swimming and has a little salt museum.
Ormus Exo Aetou / Ormos Exo Aetou, Island Ithaki
If the harbour of Vathy gets too crowded, one can anchor in the large Exo Aetou bay. With North Western winds there may be some fall winds from the mountains, but the anchor holds well. On land is a little beach restaurant, mostly visited by locals. The food is really good and cheap. A nice typical stopover, far from the summer crowds.
Ormos Valtou, Mainland
This bay east of Corfu is large and one has to keep an eye on the depth while entering. During the day there is a beach restaurant more or less at the entrance of the bay, which however was closed when we hoped to get some food. Further inside the bay one is well protected and lonely and it is possible to walk to Igoumenitsa (7-8km).
If one is willing to sail a bit further, Katakolon on the Peloponnese is a nice place to go. There is a harbour, but one can also anchor outside the harbour. Katakolon is the place to go when one wants to visit Olympia, which is about three quarters of an hour away by car (the train going to Olympia is momentary in renovation and not running). The little village Katakolon suffers a lot from the Corona crises, as hardly any cruise ships are coming and therefore every visitor is welcome.
Ormos Skouliki, Mainland
When the anchorages near Parga are too busy, one can anchor in this bay 4sm east of Parga, well protected from West-Nord-East winds. During the day, a lot of tourists enjoy the beautiful sandy beach and the bar. But in the evening, when the day visitors are gone and the bar has closed its doors, a calm atmosphere returns in this magical setting. Peaceful and quiet, it is a real summer dream.
If, like Klazien, you are looking for peaceful anchorages that are not the usual touristy destinations when sailing in the Ionian Islands, you now know where to go. Thanks to Klazien for all her good advice. We will be back soon for another cruise with a Navily contributor!
If you want to discover more about sailing in Greece, check our other blog posts about this region!
Fair winds Captains,