Sailing in Greece

Corfu and the Ionian Sea

What a country. What wonderful people. We’ve been in Greece for two weeks now and we felt right at home from the very first hour.

The people are incredibly friendly, natural and relaxed. Many speak English, some German and occasionally French. And without too much tourism, but its just May. Our modest Greek vocabulary is slowly growing, to the delight (or amusement) of the locals. It’s good to finally see no more puffy (russian) lips and cosmetic “enhancements”. The Greeks don’t need that at all. Natural beauty comes from within.

Nature is an eye-catcher and it smells good. Mountainous landscapes, lots of greenery and clear waters at the anchorages are plentiful. The beaches are mostly stony or pebbly, rarely sandy. The distances are incredible short, we can reach our next destinations in 2-4 hours. We hop from islands to the mainland and back.

Rare sailing weather

There doesn’t seem to be a perfect sailing area. As beautiful as the land and people are, the actual sailing in the Ionian Sea is not the best. There is mostly little wind, usually for a few hours in the afternoon. On the other hand, the nights are often completely calm, which gives us a good night’s sleep. Americans call the Mediterranean “Med” for short – and turn it into the acronym “motoring every day”. Unfortunately, our engines work much harder here than in the Caribbean.

Clearing in Greece

Clearing in into an country is an annoying skipper duty. And particularly confusing in Greece, as there are plenty of contradictions. Fact ist that every vessel has to pay the tepai tax (€880 in our case) and non-EU flagged vessels also have to get a transit log. To complicate matters, nobody is available at the Tepai tax office and the website is “under construction”. Not even the diligent port officer who checked our stuff in Gouvia knows a contact address. There is also no data source to show whether the yachtie has paid his dues.

The rest is the same as in “non-EU countries”. Immigration (for non-EU citizens and EU citizens coming from a non-EU country), Harbor Master/Port Officer and Customs (depending on the case). Corfu Town is the “Port of Entrance” of Corfu/Greece for all those who need immigration its located in the cruise/ferry terminal, departure for Albania. If you don’t need immigration, you can also get your stamps at Gouvia Marina. Our port officer impressed me with the creativity (and friendliness) of a bureaucrat I’ve never seen before to make the process particularly straightforward. Even “Tipex” played a role, something I hadn’t seen for years. However, we were grateful for the friendly support, for which we paid €15 in cash.

As we were from outside the EU, we had to go to the ferry terminal in Corfu Town, 8 km away, to have our passports scanned. Would anyone have cared? A trip to Albania within sight should be avoided with your own boat. The effort is absurd.

Mountain view, Sissis Achilleion, Hermes Holger Achilles 

Behavioral changes urgently needed

With the “new possibilities” of the Mediterranean and Greece, we urgently need to change our shopping behavior. There are provisions everywhere and we no longer have to buy in bulk. If there was coffee as beans somewhere, we bought 10 kg or 30 liters of milk. Here, a packet of Greek mountain tea or one jar of honey will do. It will be interesting to see how long it takes us to realize that we are back in civilization.

Friends on board

Back in Gouvia, our friends Valerie and Markus joined us on board. Our first visit of the season. We made short trips between Corfu and the Greek mainland. Taverna hopping. Without wind, but with quiet nights at anchor. On the way from Gouvia to Corfu town, we passed the villa of the “Durrells on Corfu”. This is a charming series about a British family who settled on Corfu in the 1930s. A story based on the story of Gerald Durrell, shown on TV on Arte. Anyone would want this villa immediately.

Corfu Town, Petritis, Syvota

Our first anchor dropped in the bay of Corfu Town, just below the fortress. You can easily visit the town by dinghy, either mooring on the shore of the bay, in the small marina or through the channel in front of the fortress (recommended). There is room for many boats in the bay and the anchorage is excellent, allowing a carefree visit to the town.


Corfu castle bay – nice spot for a swim, Ka in a taverna, Old castle views

This town is fun, especially when there are no cruise ships. The atmospheric old town is car-free and you can stroll through cobbled streets and alleyways to the next square, which is covered with lush flowers – mostly bougainvillea – and trees. There is always a café on a terrace for a break in pleasant temperatures. We felt reminded of Cagliari and a bit of Palermo, only cleaner. Corfu Town is an absolute tip in May.

Corfu town live, the canal at the castle

The next day we motored 2 hours further to Petritis, a small fishing village in Lefkimins Bay in the south-east. A little further south than the village is the opulent garden of the Panorama taverna, with a fantastic terrace and delicious food. What a pleasant surprise Greek cuisine is. It is unlike anything we have ever eaten as “Greek” in northern Europe.

Panaroma Notos

The next day and a 3-hour trip took us to the mainland, to Syvota. In the bay of Karvouno Beach, you can moor for free on a small jetty if you eat in the restaurant. Good food, but much more expensive than usual. Syvota is a small tourist town with a small harbor, quite ok for a stop.

Karvouno Bay, beach and dock, once typographer always typographer

Back in Corfu, our friends left us. But we couldn’t leave the island right away because we were waiting for a spare part. A strange occurrence. StarLink sent us the message that the tariffs would soon be doubled. Instead of USD 200, our monthly costs would then be USD 400. This was probably too embarrassing for our StarLink router and it died. The replacement with 24-hour DHL delivery service – but not from StarLink – reached us after 8 days.

Back online and with two of us, we continued our journey south. Our anchor is currently lying in the sand of the small island of Paxos. An absolute blast. But more about that next time, for now we have to go to a taverna in Lakka, Paxos /Holger Binz

2 thoughts on “Sailing in Greece”

  1. Griechenland hat Euch ja anscheinend mitten ins Herz getroffen! Freut mich sehr für Euch nach dem weniger erfreulichen Montenegro und macht mir Lust es auch einmal dorthin zu schaffen.
    Handbreit herzlichst, Tom

    1. Hallo Ihr Zwei,
      freut uns sehr, dass es Euch in Griechenland gefällt. Das Besondere sind ja die Gastfreundschaft, das gute Essen und das Blau des Meeres.
      Weiterhin viel Freude beim Entdecken auf den vielen Inseln.
      Liebe Grüsse

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