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Volos Sailing Journal by Helen, Nautilus Yachting

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

We have just landed in what appears to be the middle of a military base. Looking out of the airplane window we see a lot of decommissioned helicopters and jets. We are in Volos airport and it feels a little like landing in Greece 20 years ago, yet Volos is the 6th biggest city in modern-day Greece. 

Our taxi transfer takes us on service roads before joining the main road and heading into town and to the base, which is in the main harbour at the centre of town. The charter office is on a small pedestrian street just behind the harbour and staff are awaiting our arrival with cold mineral water and fresh fruit. We board our yacht for the week, a 2016 model Hanse 505, receiving a technical briefing from the local technician. The base manager then shares information about the local area and his tips for where to visit.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - Volos Port

The town of Volos itself is bustling with locals. A busy port town with sailing steeped in its history. The town’s symbol is of the Argos, the Argonauts legendary ship from 1600BC. We decide to enjoy our prime position in the harbour by taking in the promenade and exploring the town.

Once we are in the back streets we find a fantastic meze and tsipouro restaurant full of locals. We are the only tourists there and it is packed! Luckily, the staff squeeze us in and we enjoy never-ending courses of local seafood and traditional dishes alongside a couple of glasses of tsipouro (a strong traditional distilled Greek spirit). We discover most tsipouro tavernas involve simply ordering a drink and a selection of meze appears with it, so as long as you keep drinking, the meze will keep arriving! It is fantastic, very reasonably priced, and a great first night in Volos!

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - Agia Kyriakis

Our provisioning is delivered by the local supermarket so once it has been stowed we get underway. The sun is shining and we have glorious late season temperatures between 22-25 celsius with a steady breeze blowing. This area is known for its consistent winds as the bay is surrounded by hills and we can see Mount Pelion looming in the distance. The wind is blowing over our port stern so once we are outside the harbour walls, we get the sails out and enjoy a leisurely broad reach at 5 knots towards the middle of the Pagasetic gulf.

We sail to Pythos bay on the small island of Trikeri. There are just two other boats in the anchorage so we can happily drop the hook in the middle of the bay and swing freely. The water is aquamarine blue so in go the paddle boards and out come the snorkels. We enjoy a couple of hours of sunshine, paddleboarding, swimming and lunch before setting sail for the town of Agia Kyriakis. There is a small quay right in front of the two fish restaurants. It is a stern too mooring using the anchor and the restaurant staff are happy to help take our lines. They must have just received a good catch as octopus can be seen hanging around the veranda of the restaurant and the chef is on the end of the quay descaling a large fish. We stick a pin with our boat name in the next fish and pick a table right on the waterfront overlooking the channel. What a great way to start our trip around the Volos gulf.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Panormos, Skopelos

Today we are up with the sunshine to explore Agia Kyriakis. We find a couple of pretty beaches complete with palm umbrellas and fresh-water showers so we seize the opportunity of a morning swim. Walking around the harbour we discover a local products store selling honey from the nearby hills, perfect for our breakfast. Whilst out walking, a man comes out of his house to speak to us. He is English and has been living here for 20 years. Rarely hearing English voices in the area, he welcomes a chat and gives us some great tips for the best tsipouro restaurants in the area.

It seems a shame to leave this tiny port town but we are heading out to Skopelos island today. There is a lot of wind predicted so we are aiming for the bay of Panormos, known for its great shelter. Heading into the channel there is plenty of wind so we reef our sails and a series of tacks gets us set on a close haul towards Skopelos. We are prepared for larger swells between Skiathos and Skopelos, so have an exhilarating sail in between the islands.

Once in the shadow of Skopelos’ hills we can feel the wind start to drop and the sea start to calm as we navigate into the southeast side of the bay to our spot for the night. We drop anchor and take long line to the rocks ashore with a spring for good measure, knowing the winds are due to come in the night. There is a lovely sandy beach in the corner of Panormos so we tender over to enjoy the last of the sunshine on the sand and then make our way to one of the beach tavernas for dinner.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - Agnontas, Skopelos

As predicted, there is quite a lot of wind so we were glad of our long lines and spring line last night. We head carefully out of Panormos to see what the conditions are like. The swell is substantial and the winds are hitting 30 knots plus, so after getting the sails out we decide to have an easy day making our passage downwind on just a reefed genoa to the tiny village of Agnontas. The small quay should be sheltered from the winds and swell located at the bottom corner of Skopelos island.

After the daily ferry has departed we come alongside the quay where there are four other boats also sheltering from the wind. Once we are safely moored up the sun comes out and a tiny café behind the beach opens for an Aperol spritz in the sunshine. We are the only people on the beach for the afternoon as we enjoy the mid-20s temperatures in October and a hiatus from the wind.

There is a wonderful seafood restaurant at the end of the quay where we try some local octopus, homemade whipped taramasalata and other beautiful traditional dishes, alongside some excellent local wine. 

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - Koukounaries, Skiathos

The wind has dropped a little today so after topping up the water tanks we set sail for the island of Skiathos. Once we are out of the shadow of the island of Skopelos, we need to reef the sails in 20-25 knots of wind blowing on the starboard beam which makes for a fabulous beam reach sail over to Skiathos.

We have heard how busy Koukounaries beach can be in the peak season but by sailing in October we are able to enjoy the bay minus the crowds. Koukounari is the Greek word for pine trees, which line the shore of this huge anchorage. We anchor on the sandy bottom with depths of 5-7m, sitting comfortably facing the beach. There are only three other boats in the bay and while we can see sun beds on the long expanse of sand, there are very few people - what a treat!

We take the dinghy ashore, tie up in the tiny harbour and then enjoy an ice cream on the quiet beach. Before the sun sets, we head for a walk around Lake Strofila, which sits just behind the beach, to see some of the local bird life and wetlands. We also find a reasonably sized supermarket to stock up on a few supplies.

Dinner tonight is a short walk to one of the roads behind the beach where we find a fantastic traditional taverna somewhat strangely called ‘The Big Bad Wolf’. We all tuck into hearty Stifado, Kleftiko and Moussaka enjoying some classic Greek hospitality from the manager.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 6 - Palaio Trikeri

We are looking forward to returning to the tiny island of Trikeri but this time we will stay overnight in the port. This will be our last stop before heading back to Volos town. We sail down the channel towards the gulf with many other boats which all look to be heading in the same direction. The sails are set on a broad reach with one reef, hitting a steady 7.5-8 knots and managing the gusts coming over the hills. At the entrance to the gulf, we can see the little green island of Trikeri and a series of tacks gets us towards the port.

A restaurant has been recommended to us so we have booked a berth and a table for the evening since the owner has a small quay that holds just three boats. It’s a stern too with anchor on to the very end of his little quay. We have time for a walk before dinner so head up the hill towards the very top and the huge old monastery. There aren’t any vehicles on the island so it is lovely to just follow the paths amongst the olive trees until we’re at the top of the hill with beautiful views of the gulf. Then it’s back down the hill to the taverna for a fish dinner on the edge of the harbour.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 7 - Volos

It is time to return to base today. As we head out of Trikeri to go around the island and into the gulf, the wind immediately picks up and we have 20 knots blowing again so the sails come out and it's time for some fun. We take our time sailing in the gulf and enjoying a last sail before heading into port.

Anchoring on the northern side of the gulf, just outside of Volos, we have a late lunch and one last swim before heading inside the harbour walls. Once we have paid for our 20 litres of fuel (it has definitely been a week of non-stop sailing!) we navigate to the quay where base staff are waiting to assist with our mooring for the last time. It is a little windy still so the staff have got their work cut out for them, but with a little patience we are in safely and there is still time for one last G&T on board whilst watching a beautiful sunset over the harbour wall.