All in all, we had a wonderful time with the kids. David was with us for 3 weeks, his girlfriend Charlotte for 2 weeks, and Grace and her boyfriend Kevin for 2 weeks. The time flew by and it seemed too quiet after they were gone. We only had 4 days before our next guest, my mom would arrive. So we planned to dash to Albania, only 10 miles from Corfu town to Sarande Albania. Here in Sarande we booked an agent for 70 euros and he took care of all of our paperwork, this gave Cadence another 18 months in the EU without worrying about the VAT exposure. It also renewed our passports for the EU so we get another 90 legal days. Sarande is a resort town under major expansion. Every corner had a new hotel block going up, or shops being built. Only problem they have, at least while we were here, is that the place is empty. The hotels are empty if they are complete, and many are just under construction, the shops empty or vacant. Maybe if they build it, the people will come. Who knows, but the locals seem to have plenty of money as there is a load of luxury autos driving around. Really couldn't make heads or tales of this place but we only needed it for one reason and that worked.
We sat in Corfu awaiting the lovely Joyce Tobin, aka mom, who arrived after a harrowing day and half of travel. I picked up my mom at the airport at 10:30pm, bright, bushy tailed and ready for adventure. You could never tell that she had been awake for 40 hours. We stayed one more day in Corfu town so we could visit some sites and show off the lovely town. Although Corfu town is over run with tourist, the place is absolutely beautiful. There are two old fortifications used to protect the town from invasion. The Byzantine fort, or old fort lies on a promontory that contained the original old town. When the Venetians took over the town, they separated the fort from the rest of the city with a moat. On one side of the fort was the main Corfu anchorage, filled with visiting yachts, on the other side right under the walls of the castle was Mondraki marina. We were fortunate to stay in the anchorage when my mom first arrived, and in Mandraki marina for her last night. The airport was only a mile or two away so Corfu town was super convenient.
We left Corfu town to head south to Paxoi island, about a 25 mile trip. With typical med winds, we had zero wind until the end, then we had 30 knots. WTF. This all or nothing deal with the wind is a royal pain. We beat our way into the anchorage of Lakka on Paxoi. Good thing inside was total wind protection because the small harbor was packed, it was like Block Island on the fourth of July. Thankfully from past experience we are somewhat comfortable with sardine style anchoring. We wedged ourselves in between a big french motor yacht and a few charter boats. For me it was a stressful night, the motor yacht had minimal scope out and didn’t swing at all like a sailboat. Jess and my mom enjoyed a little exploring while I sat and waited for impact in the anchorage. Fortunately for Cadence there was none but we certainly were close on several occasions. The next morning the french yacht split so we were all able to spend a little time in town together. We didn’t want to leave without getting some of their world famous olive oil, supposed to be the best in all of Greece.
We left Lakka for the short trip to the south end of Paxoi to Port Gaios. Gaios is a beautiful town with a quay for yachts front and center. You arrive to the town in a small canal that goes around a beautiful island giving complete wind and swell protection. We arrived early afternoon before all the charter boats arrived. We have learned that sailing here in the Ionian not only takes research into destination and weather, but also you must get in the mindset of the charter boat crew. They hop from place to place, usually stopping at a lunch spot, then making their way into the anchorage or town quay for tie up usually at the same time. Its usually total pandemonium as they all quickly jockey for space with regard to no others. The next morning they leave en masse for the next lunch spot, then onto the overnight spot. The yacht needs to be returned the following Saturday so its imperative to see as much as possible. I guess I shouldn’t mock these folks as this is how I learned, bare boat chartering. The beauty in all of this is a boat you don’t need to maintain and you can have a little less stress as its not your home, only a short term rental. We stayed in Gaios two nights and enjoyed one of the best dinners we have had since arriving the med. The restaurant, Genesis, was in a perfect sunset location, the seafood was super fresh and the service excellent. We spent the next day swimming and hiking around the town. We were so impressed with the restaurant that we had to return for one more meal before leaving.
We left mid day and sailed most of the 15 miles, but the fickle winds forced us to motor some of the way to our next stop, the town of Mourtos where we anchored just outside in a lovely spot between the mainland and a group of small islands. The town was not much to write home about but the anchorage and the little islands were beautiful. We took the dinghy out to a little beach and spent most of the day swimming and relaxing.
We left Mourtos and went to a little fishing town on the south end of Corfu called Petriti. This town doesn’t see much in the way of tourism which was a nice breath of fresh air. The fishing boats dominate the harbor in town. We anchored just outside the harbor in settled weather and had a nice meal on the boat. In the morning we had a nice hike along the coast, poked around the town and went back to get Cadence ready for the short sail.
Jess painted down below while my mom and I sailed the 15 miles back up to Corfu town. We had a very pleasant sail with wind directly on the stern and the only the genoa poled out. We arrived three hours later and tied up in Mandraki harbor just under the fort. We had another great meal and enjoyed a passagiata around the town after dinner. Mom had a 6:30 am flight out of Corfu the next morning. It was a very special week having my mother aboard Cadence. Joyce loves to sail and the tranquility of the anchorages and everything that goes into this boating life makes her very happy and feel more alive than ever. We were so happy to provide the magic carpet for the ride. I love you Mom!! Come back and sail again soon.