Day 17 to 19 on the Topdeck Mega European Tour continues as we arrive in our next country Greece and the port city of Igoumenitsa after our 16 hour journey on the ferry from the Italian city of Ancona. Today was and exciting part of the tour with the beginning of three days sailing the Greek waters. On arrival we will get to control our very own yachts around the Greek island of Corfu, but before departing we needed to organise supplies to last the three nights ahead of us.
MAY 17, 2012 – Igoumenitsa to Plataria
We arrived into the port town of Igoumenitsa after our long ferry trip from Italy and started our coach journey to the the small village of Plataria where our yachts were docked and waiting for us. Unfortunately there was speculation mounting that we wouldn’t be able to leave the port today as the conditions were a little too rough for us inexperienced sailors.
Once we arrived the first thing that was required for us to do was to pack an overnight bag of sorts to last us the three days of sailing. As there is limited space on each of the sailing yachts our luggage stayed locked under the coach for the entire time. Before departing for this trip we were advised by Topdeck that we would require a sleeping bag for this leg of the trip, so this was also the time to get those out for use. What I did was before leaving Australia was that I bought a cheap $15 sleeping bag from Big W with the intention of throwing it out after the sailing was over so I would’t have to carry it for the remainder of the trip. To save room I also purchased one of those vacuum sealable bags that suck out all the air so it wouldn’t take up any room in my luggage, this worked really well for me.
Our crew was made up of six people on each boat, one person was appointed captain and another the first mate of the yacht which were required to go off and have about 30 minutes of basic training on how everything works while everyone else was free to gather any extra supplies. One of our members who was going to be first mate fell ill and elected to stay behind so our team was down to five and so I then stepped up to become first mate and untimely took the reins of the yacht. Once our personal belongings were sorted we were given food to last us the three days that included food for three breakfasts and two lunches while two of our dinners were provided in restaurants and one night we need to provide for ourselves.
The decision was eventually made that we wouldn’t be leaving today as it was too rough once hitting open ocean, instead we were given the option to be driven to the next town called Praga which most of us decided to do. At the end of the day we all had a great time exploring this small town that Topdeck don’t normally take people to see, a large group of us met up for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the bay next to the Castle ruins that overlook the town.
Everyone living in the town was really friendly and pleased to see some extra people come trough given the trouble Greece is in at the moment financially. After dinner we returned to our yachts where we would be sleeping for the night, checked out one of the local bars which wasn’t very exciting so it ended up being drinks back on the yachts and having a good time there. Later in the evening everyone decided it was time to call it a night and prepare ourselves for what will hopefully be an exciting day sailing our yachts.
MAY 18, 2012 – Plataria to Corfu Island
This morning we were woken up early for a 9am departure, the weather was perfect and we were all set to sail until we realised our yacht had no power as the pervious people using it drained the battery and didn’t turn everything off correctly. It wasn’t a big deal as it just meant we couldn’t use the lights until the engine had recharged the battery, although this came back to bite us on departure.
Everything on the yacht was functioning as it should until we started to head out and needed to bring up out anchor, except there wasn’t enough power to bring it up. Our tour leader for the yachts jumped on board and pulled the anchor up himself, he then jumped off and it was then my task to feed the anchor into its compartment manually. Four days later I still have mud stuck under my nails from spending a good 20 minutes fixing it, then the fear then was how are we going to get the anchor down when we needed it, something to worry about later.
Most of the time we used the on board motor to drive the boat as it wasn’t quite windy enough yet but then as we sailed towards more open waters it then became time to do a bit of sailing. Never having been on a yacht meant trying to figure out what the hell to do as the instructions and lessons (or lack of) before were not very clear at all, and for me I hadn’t been involved in the instructions needed to try and understand how everything worked. Eventually we worked it all out and had the two main sails out and were sailing without the assistance of a motor.
We did this for about 30 minutes going around in circles basically just to have a go at sailing the yacht on our own before having to bring the sails back in, fire up the motor and head into our port for the night. To be honest it would have been nice to try and navigate our way to our destination on wind power rather than just going around in circles, but you can probable imagine how annoying that would be trying to organise 5 or so yachts.
Bringing the yacht into port was quite a challenge, since no one was too confident taking control I then jumped in to drive in and park for the night, it took a couple of attempts to get it right, especially when you run out of rope on the anchor and need to pull it up again for another attempt.
The town we stayed at was nothing special, a small fishing village on the island of Corfu, quite a depressing place to be perfectly honest. The small beach there looked more like mud rather than sand covered in rubbish, but we made the most of what we had and chilled out before having dinner at a local restaurant.
Tonight the dinner at the local restaurant was pretty nice but after we were taught some Greek dancing, I may have chickened out and decided I would sneak off after the first dance as I knew it usually meant getting up infant of everyone and participating more, not something I enjoy too much. That night after the dancing was over at the restaurant everyone returned to the boats for some rowdy drinks and laughter and then it was time for some sleep and up early for the final day of sailing.
MAY 19 – Corfu Island to Plataria
This morning it was another early wake up call for a 9am departure, after a quick breakfast it was time to leave and make our way back to where it all started. This time the yachts were parked head first so we needed to pull our back anchor up ourselves which brought the yacht out of its mooring, we turned the motor on and left the island.
Today we motored back to where we started, but before we arrived back we had the opportunity to sail the yachts again and have a swim in the ocean. When we arrived back we needed to scrub the inside and outside of the yachts and after which we had a free afternoon. There isn’t much to do in a small place like this, basically we sat around until dinner time in a local restaurant.
After dinner everyone went off and done their own thing and prepared for another early departure, this time off to the capital city of Greece, Athens. Overall it was an experience I was really looking forward to and enjoyed immensely, it was just a pity we didn’t get to depart the first day to see Corfu Town and spend more time our sailing.