For the past 10 years we have visited the Ionian but we have never experienced such extreme weather.
After writing about the idyllic harbour of Fiskardo last week, there was a dramatic change in the weather, a rare hurricane was due to hit the area with the eye of the storm to go over Cephalonia.
Storm ‘Ianos’ is described as a “Medicane” (Mediterranean hurricane), a term that was first used in Greece in 1995. Medicanes closely resemble tropical cyclones and are likely to become more frequent due to the increasing temperatures of the seas.
Winds were forecast to be in excess of 100 knots with torrential rain around Cephalonia, Ithaca and Zakinthos. It was predicted that the storm would then continue southeast towards Crete. The northerly islands in the Ionian would be more sheltered from the severity of it.
We headed north to find a safe marina to wait out the storm, along with a whole procession of boats all doing the same thing.
One of the great things about sailing in this area is that there are many places where you can anchor onto town quays, small harbours or beautiful bays, generally at no cost, there is therefore not so much demand for big, expensive marinas. However with a such a big storm approaching many people want the security of fixed mooring lines and the protection of a marina, rather than relying on an anchor which could drag in such strong winds. Sought after safe marina spaces were rapidly filling up!
We contacted two marinas and were told there was no space so headed towards Preveza which has a new marina only opened last year. As we approached we called them on the VHF radio and we’re told to wait outside the entrance and they would call us. Along with several other boats all trying to get in we waited….and waited, at this point we didn’t even know if they had space for us! We could hear everyone calling or chasing up for a response and they were all being told to ‘WAIT!’, after about 30 mins we got a call asking for details of our boat, then told again to wait, this was good news as at least they hadn’t forgotten about us!
Boats waiting to be called in.
Eventually about an hour later they called us in and thankfully found us a mooring.
Shiny new Marina
Everyone squeezing in.
All spaces taken.
As ‘Ianos’ passed through it caused tremendous damage and destruction, as predicted it hit Cephalonia, Ithaca and Zakinthos the hardest, battering the normally idyllic beaches, harbours and towns. Reports are that many boats have sunk or been severely damaged, streets and homes flooded, landslides and power cables were brought down.
In Preveza we experienced heavy rain which was constant for 24 hours followed by winds up to 35 knots, so nothing like the extreme conditions that others endured.
The swell outside the marina is building up.
We are so thankful that we were able to secure ZigZag in the marina where we stayed for 4 days until the storm passed and the wind and sea calmed down.
All calm, time to leave the Marina.
There are many reports and videos on social media and the internet showing the destruction that this storm has caused. We cannot imagine how heartbreaking it must be for those who lost their boats or homes. There is now a big cleanup taking place to help people repair damage to boats, property and businesses.
This storm was classified as a Category 1 hurricane and we certainly do not want to experience that again any time soon!