Cruising the Ionian sea (Greece)

There are two main cruising areas of Greece. That is if you do not count the peloponnesus which is actually my favourite area to cruise to cruise by boat.. The reason why, It is spectacularly beautiful and there are very few boats compared to nearly anywhere else in the med. lets get back on subject the two main cruising areas of greece are. The Aegean side which we will discuss on another page. Then you have the more gentle sailing area the Ionian.

The cruising ground of the Ionian starts in the north at Corfu and stretches south all the way down to the Corinth canal which is just to the west of Athens. In between these two points you have a protected cruising ground that escapes the worst of the weather due to the proximatey of the Ionian islands. A lot of the wind and the swell stays out to the west of the islands. Leaving a cruising ground with mainly day breezes and tranquil nights. being such a good cruising ground does mean that in July and August the ionian gets very busy with boats both privately owned and with charter boats. All the main charter companies have a fleet of boats here.  Dont let this put you off though you can still find some lovely tranquil anchorages in the height of the summer. Just find an anchorage where you have to go stern to a rock or a tree. This puts off a lot of the charter boats. Another thing worth remembering is that if you are going in to port for the night. Either try to book in advance or get in by mid afternoon to make sure you get in before the charter fleets arrive late afternoon to early evening.

If you are looking for somewhere to leave your boat for the winter in the Ionian. I cannot recommend Ionian marine at Preveza. It is a safe place to leave your boat, The staff are very knowlegable and are very friendly. This was our favourite place in the med that we left our boat by far. With only yatlift at Bodrum Turkey coming anywhere close. There are two other large yards at Preveza Cleopatra and Aktio. I for one though would stay at Ionian marine every time. There is a great little restaurant just 5 minutes walk from the yard as well. Nick named the greasy spoon  it does great food at a great price, If you do end up staying at Preveza then you have a mini cruising ground right on your door step. Before you head back out to sea spend a little time exploring the inland sea. This is a very sheltered area with some lovely anchorages. When we were there well in to the height of the summer very few boats as well. I highly recommend setting aside a week or so to explore this area.

The predominant wind direction in the Ionian in the summer is a day breeze from the north. Which picks up at around lunchtime and usually dies off as the sun sets. So as just about everywhere else in the med. If you are going north you have to get up and leave early and if you are going down wind have a lazy morning and wait until the breeze picks up. This way you can have a nice down wind sail with the Genoa and keep the engine that you seem to use way to often switched off.

If your end goal is to end up in the Aegean sea (the windy side). Then once you have gorged yourself full of lazy days cruising around the Ionian islands. You just have the mini cruising ground of the Golfe de Corinth and then through the Corinth canal. One of the obvious sounding stops is on the island of Trizonia with its abandoned marina. we stopped here twice and in reality it is full up of boats and folk that seem to be going nowhere in a hurry. The big two master that is pictured in Heikell,s pilot book is still there in the same spot. Only difference is is that it is no longer afloat. So dont expect to find a lot of space here. We ended up anchoring outside both times. If in the Golfe de Corinth though there is a side trip that cannot be missed. This is Delfi, Leave your boat at Itea and take the bus up to the ancient city of Delfi. Delfi is one of the wonders of the med and should not be missed. Just the positioning where the city was built is spectacular. Let alone the ancient ruins of the city itself.

The wind can blow quite hard in the Golfe as it gets funneled either west to east or east to west depending on the wind direction. We experienced this a few times while in the Golfe de Corinth and on the last night before going through the Corinth canal. We were moored in between two islands a little way north of the Corinth canal. The islands are deserted and there was a breakwater of such. Between us and our friends on Shearwater we had ropes going in all directions ashore to keep ourselves put from the howling wind.

So now the Corinth canal. The canal operates on a one way at a time system so you are bound to have a little wait for your turn to go through. There will probably be a little convoy of boats waiting by the time it is time for you to go through. Once in the canal you truly realise what a true feat of engineering it is. The road bridge that goes across the top really does look a long long way up. Make sure you take lots of pictures you cannot have to many. Next stop the Aegean. WAHOO.




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