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Day 11 - Sea to sky to sea to sky to sea


Location: Spartia, Kefalonia

Today we had an appointment to meet a Lincolnshire bloke named Peter in Fiscardo. We had arranged to charter his Jeanneua 36′ sail boat for a day of sailing from Kefalonia to Ithaka. The kids were good sports about the alarm going off at 6:50. It may look like a dot on the map but Kefalonia is one of the larger and more mountainous of the Greek islands. Our seaside villa is near the town of Spartia in the extreme Soutwest of the island. Only a few kilometers away is Mount Enos which is 5300 feet above sea level. It is a perfect island if you are a goat. It also seems to me that the roads on Kefalonia follow ancient goat trails because they follow the contours of the land to an absurd level. Fiscardo is in the extreme Northeast part of the island and it was my job to drive us to our 10 o’clock appointment. We left at 8:15. Google maps said it would take an hour an 12 minutes.

Just north of the main town, Argostoli, is where we left the sea and headed to the sky along a shear cliff edge with the most dodgy embankment railings offering scant assurance in case of an accident. The mountain we were ascending was Mt. Agia Dynati ( 3700 feet). None of this potential jeopardy seemed to have any effect on the average Greek driver zooming past me with a cigarette in one hand and a mobile in the other. We clearly had taken the ‘scenic’ route which had us arrive a bit late to the delightful but touristy Fiscardo. (It had taken us two nail-biting hours to get there)

We met Peter at Cafe Greco and then boarded the yacht. After the safety demonstration, we motored out of the bay and made our way across the strait to the west side of Ithaka (home of Odysseus) with the goal of dropping anchor and swimming in one of those secluded Greek bays you see pictures of in travel magazines. Unfortunately, the sea swell was such that we could not drop an anchor so we continued to the east side of the island and there found the picturesque clear water bay for a swim. We anchored in 30′ of water and you could easily see to the bottom. We all had a swim (even brave Kristine) in the very salty, and consequently buoyant, Ionian Sea. Then we lifted anchor for lunch in the nearby charming town of Kioni. Lucky for me the wind arrived after lunch. We lifted the main and motor-sailed until we got past a headland and the Northwest wind was between 15 and 20 knots, with gusts. We stopped the engine, raised the Genoa and beat to windward on a long tack towards the island of Lefkada. As we approached the island we tacked to port and headed to Kefalonia. The sailing was more physical than I expected. On my Laser, I expect physical, but on a cruiser I kind of thought I would be holding the helm with one hand and a beer with the other. The gusts caused a lot of weather helm, and I was working the wheel for the whole time, all the while heeled over at 30 degrees. Awesome!!!

Safely back at Fiscardo, we said our goodbyes to Peter and then drank a frappe coffee to steel ourselves for the hair raising journey home. Fortunately, Peter and his 83 year old Greek co-worker told us of a new road which was more inland, shorter, faster, but not on the maps. Despite getting directions twice from them, I am sure it was only dumb luck that allowed us to find that road. Indeed it was a better road, but no less mountainous and curvy. Fortunately, the embankment railings looked more sturdy. So from sea to sky we went again the the top of the mountain passes where only the goats outnumbered the amount of switchback turns we made. As we made our way back down to the sea and our beautiful villa, Kristine commented that I had sent the entire day turning a steering wheel.