Over the years we have spent a lot of time sailing around the many beautiful islands and anchorages in the Ionian, so it all looked very familiar to us when we arrived back this year. We plan to stay here for a few weeks visiting some of our favourite places (and some new ones), before returning to Marina di Ragusa in Sicily where ZigZag has been booked in for the winter months.
Having now arrived in Greece there is a requirement to check in to the country. As the Port Authorities were not open over the weekend, we spent a couple of days relaxing in the anchorage and catching up on some sleep after the long passage. On Monday morning we made our way up to Lefkas town and moored on one of the new pontoons which have been installed for charter boats, but conveniently available for private use during the week.
With all of our paperwork in hand the first visit was to the Port Authorities building.
The officer there unfortunately only spoke a little English and as our Greek is non existent beyond basic pleasantries, it was difficult to understand each other. We managed to work out that he was telling us to go to the customs office first to get a transit log. Unsure of the directions he gave us, by the time we found it, the shutters were down as they close for the day at lunchtime, so we retired to a nearby cafe for lunch!
First thing the next morning we arrived at the customs office only to be turned away and told to come back later as there was no one there at the time who could help us, so we retired to a nearby cafe for breakfast!
Upon return it transpired that our documents were not in order and that we should return to the Port Authorities for an official stamp on our crew list. By this time the Port Authorities had closed for the day, so we retired to the nearby cafe for ice cream!
On the third day of checking in, we got up early and re-visited the Port Authorities, eventually finding someone who spoke much better English than we did Greek, we managed to get our crew list stamped. Now we were ready to return to the customs office where they finally issued us with a transit log, which we then had to return to the Port Authorities to get another stamp. Once this was done we had successfully fulfilled our obligations and were free to roam, so we retired to the bar for a celebratory drink!
During all this we were also going backwards and forwards to the police station as we wanted to get our passports stamped to confirm entry in to Schengen. By our third visit we were on first name terms with a friendly policeman who also sent us back to the Port Authorities for further documents. He was very helpful sending emails and telephoning them on our behalf to ensure that he got everything he needed before eventually stamping our passports.
Having stayed longer than expected in Lefkas town (we thought checking in would only take an hour, not three days!), we decided to head south to one of our favourite bays, Spartahori on the island of Meganisi. This is a small bay with one taverna, a beach, beach bar and clear blue water.
While sitting in this quiet bay we were entertained by a group of 12 locals launching someone’s ‘pride and joy’ the Greek way! The slipway must have been very ‘slippery’ as we watched them all slide down with the boat, half of them ended up in the water as well.
There were some fascinating ‘fried egg’ jellyfish with intricate lacy skirts swimming around the boat.
Being further south now, the weather and sea temperature are much warmer and with the prospect of easy anchorages and familiar harbours, we look forward to a few weeks of relaxed Ionian cruising.