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Corfu Sailing Journal by Kali, Nautilus Yachting

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Flying on what felt like the very first flight from Gatwick airport, our three-hour Easyjet flight to Greece meant that we arrived in Corfu just before lunch, giving us the entire afternoon to get prepped and ready for the week. Stepping out of the airport into what felt like UK rain and drizzle we were not sure how the week was going to fair.

A swift 20 minute journey later we arrived at Gouvia Marina, which certainly brightened the mood. The Marina is a short distance from Corfu town but easily one of the biggest marinas I have seen in a while. A sea of over 1000 masts, a supermarket, a pool, plus restaurants and bars, all easily accessible from the yacht. Gouvia is certainly somewhere you could lose a few hours waiting for your yacht to be readied, which we did happily. A little before 5pm we met Helen, our trusted skipper for the week, and stepped aboard our SO449 that would be our home on the water for a week.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - Gouvia Marina to Benitses (10nm)

Looking to get as involved as possible, I joined Helen for a catch up on the week's plans. The weather forecast for the next few days looked to involve strong winds and swell. Rather than have a full on battle for our first day, we instead decided to head to Benitses, a small town only 10nm away with a very new and well-protected marina.

Helen safely took us out of the marina and thankfully the very British-style drizzle we were encountering seemed to stay over Corfu Town and we sailed into a great big blue sky and 25-plus degrees of heat. Now in open water, I happily had the opportunity to take the helm and sail us towards Benitses before our Helen took over the complicated mooring, spinning the boat on a sixpence and mooring us safely for the evening.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - Benitses to Plataria (17nm)

What goes down, must come up.

We had a very relaxed start to the day with a few pastries from a nice little bakery in the village but the relaxation did not last long! Last night's planning suggested a casual four hour sail across to the mainland so after a quick briefing from our skipper we set passage out of the marina and headed towards Plataria - a simple sail!

In reality, we had 20kts of wind on the nose, six feet of swell and what seemed like colossal waves for an amateur crew. Sailing on our second reef for over 30nm meant some real sailing today! We ended up with a six hour sail, speeds of up to 8 knots and the kind of weather usually found in the Dodecanese rather than the Ionian. For most, this was a pleasant surprise, however some of the crew did not take well to some fantastic sailing conditions!

Once we got through it, the calm waters of Plataria felt like a million miles away from the day's adventures. We enjoyed a well-deserved meal in Olgas Tarverna sharing stories of how brave we were on today's sail and thanking all the Gods for having a professional skipper to lead the way!


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Plataria to Syvota (7nm)

A new day, a new beginning. With yesterday's marathon behind us, we opted to have a very relaxing day today. After a quick conversation with our skipper, we updated the plans and created a new itinerary of a short sail followed by a day of rest.

The plan was that today's sailing would be more "Ionian" and a casual hour or two at sea. To get over the high jinx of yesterday's sailing our skipper encouraged my son onto the helm and he took to it like a duck to water. With just a quick informal lesson on how to helm, yesterday's seasickness went out of the window and he confidently took us to Syvota, a real gem of a town.

Syvota itself has restaurants, shops and tavernas lining the town key as well as secluded beaches, all within walking distance. Syvota felt like a place where you could easily spend a week's holiday.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - Syvota

We spent the day enjoying Syvota, exploring the beaches, 'testing' the tavernas in the town and living the high life. One side of the town has a long beach and due to the time of year, we had the beach all to ourselves.

In the late afternoon we wandered back to town and watched the yachts come in. Sitting with a gelato and watching everything from the shore, you can appreciate how much work the skipper does getting the boat in safely at the end of the day.

In the evening we strolled over the hill to Syvota Mourtas and enjoyed some fine dining in a five-star restaurant before retiring to the boat for the night.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - Syvota to Igoumentitsa Creek (10nm)

Waving goodbye to a town that I could happily return to at a later date, we carried on our sailing adventures. Following the calm sleep on anchor in Plataria on Monday night, we spoke to Helen and requested another night swinging on anchor. Knowing the area well, she recommended a small creek slightly off the beaten track. We restocked the galley ready for our night under the stars and set off for the quiet bay.

Igoumenitsa Creek had a precarious entrance but under the watchful eye of Helen, we pootled into a stunning little inlet. The advantages of sailing in October became very apparent as we dropped the anchor and noticed we were the only boat in the anchorage giving us plenty of space to swim and zip about in the tender.

As sunset approached we sat in the serenity of what felt like our own private bay, listening out for the sound of fish jumping out of the water catching flies. With this being our final night, we cooked a huge feast of almost everything we had on board and tried our hardest to finish all the gin and wine we had bought, before going to sleep under a cloudless sky.


Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 6 - Igoumenitsa Creek to Gouvia Marina (18nm)

Our final day and our journey back "home". After the strange weather from the opening day, our final day was the polar opposite. It was late October and we were motoring back to Corfu in 27-degree heat, not a breath of wind and water as smooth as glass!

We started the week as three fresh-faced sailors, but on this return leg our confidence had grown enough for us all to take turns on the helm. We enjoyed a final lunch on the water before heading into the marina where we happily reminisced about our week, whilst scrolling through a few hundred photos and videos!

We had a fabulous week on the water with amazing food, lots of laughs and a massive sense of achievement - leaving everyone in the group thinking "when are we doing this again?"