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North Ionian

The North Ionian (Corfu to Preveza) offers easy sailing, so it's a popular area for inexperienced cruisers. Morning winds are light, and afternoon winds rarely exceed F5. There are several exceptionally pretty villages, and (with a few exceptions) the effect of mass tourism is light. Well sheltered harbours and anchorages are never too far away, but in peak season these become very crowded. A thorough exploration can take two or three weeks. The passages across to Parga, or south to Preveza, are exposed to occasional swell, especially in the afternoons.

Yacht services are very good - centered around Corfu town/Gouvia, and Preveza/Levkas town. There are good layup and live-aboard possibilities. Seasonal flights from Corfu and Preveza/Action are very convenient. Out of season air travel via Athens is a pain - best if you take an overnight break in Athens.

Greek Regulations for visiting yachts

North Ionian Harbours and Anchorages

Corfu (Kerkyra) and Nearby 

The harbours and anchorages around Corfu island offer reasonable variety. There are large numbers of seasonal flights to UK, air links to Athens all year, and frequent ferries to Igoumenitsa, on the mainland and Paxos.

Map of North Ionian, Greece

Northern Islands. Ericousa, Othoni and Mathraki are quiet little islands (with rather cramped harbours, exposed to the south) but ideal stopovers en route from Italy.

Northern Anchorages. A number of small bays in the NE corner of the island make very pleasant anchorages.

Gouvia has a full service marina, popular with live aboards who moan about its prices, and the fact they sometimes aren't permitted to work on their boats. Big entertainment is watching boats plucking themselves off the sand banks around the bay entrance. Port of entry,although vessels entering from outside the EU will have to go into Corfu Town for immigration control.

Local Yards to Corfu. Just NW of Corfu are some local slips and hards, good value for laying up ashore.

Corfu town is well worth a visit, with some lovely old arcades and a lively evening volta, when the population strolls around favourite streets to meet friends and relations. It's best consumed before June, since tourism rather overwhelms the place after then. Full port of entry. Anchorages and harbours:

  • Old port is crowded with commercial craft and has no room for yachts.
  • Mandraki, just north of the old city, usually has room for visitors, with the Corfu Cruising and Offshore Racing Clubs based there. Depths 2.4m, shelving to 1.2 at the sides, friendly, good bar/restaurant. Charges, water and shorepower. ; tel +30 26610 38763.
  • The friendly NAOK (just south of town - ring ahead, +30 26610 30470 or +30 69759 55530) also charges and is nearly as convenient.
  • Anchorage S of NAOK, with the coast just 1km from the airport, is useful for crew changes. 

Benitses, about 4nm south of Corfu town, has a small marina, with shore facilities. Useful for crew changes.

Petriti is a working fishing port. Anchor tangles are possible, but it's a pleasure to find a bit of real Greece hiding among the tourist traps of the island.

Kavos. Avoid, unless you like booze, bonking, bottle fights and all night noise.

Paxos & Anti-Paxos.

These islands are a "must visit". They have some really pretty villages, a variety of tavernas and cafés and well sheltered anchorages. Also many delightful, if rather vaguely marked, walks around the olive groves. Spend three to five days here if you can, and make one of your trips a day sail along the west coast, past the dramatic steep white cliffs of Erimitis. Some vessels lay up afloat over winter in Gaios —  guardiennage available. Ferries to Corfu and Parga. Port police collect harbour fees in Gaios and Lakka.

Lakka. This very pretty, compact village with many good value restaurants and some expensive quayside bars has a well sheltered, brilliantly clear blue bay for anchoring (line ashore if you wish). Strong northerly winds will test your anchor set once or twice in the season. Or go bows or stern to the small quay where the wind doesn't blow home. Port police. Over-crowded in July and August.

Gaios, enjoy quayside life in this exceptionally pretty village, shaped around a central quayside square. It's crowded by tripper boats from Corfu from 11:00 to 16:00, but the place returns to normal peace and quiet when they leave. Arrive early to find a berth in high season. For food with a strong sense of humour in about five languages, seek out 'Dodos' restaurant. Turn left (SE) along the quay from the village square. Outside the harbour breakwater, just before a green statue, look out for Dodo's sign post. Zig zag about another 150m inland following the signs. The place is decorated with some very ambiguous art. He's a gem. Manuel, of Fawlty towers, must have been modelled on him.

Loggos is tiny, and very pretty if you've got time. Rather exposed, this is a really a lunch time stop. Walk up to the windmill above the abandoned soap factory for good views, and reccy the unmarked shallow rock just SE of of the harbour which collides with about three yachts a year, occasionally sinking one. 

Moggonisi , a well sheltered small anchorage, sometimes has Greek dancing at their taverna

Anti-Paxos has lovely turquoise day anchorages with a couple of laid back tavernas. These become crowded with tripper boats in high season. 

Mainland

There are several anchorages scattered along this coast, in addition to the ports listed below. Watch out for fish farms. From the north:

Sayiadha is a little visited small fishing village, not suitable for vessels over 2m draft. Plenty of character. A one and a half hour walk up the hill reaches Old Sayidha, close to the Albanian border, a village abandoned during the civil war of the late 1940s.

Igoumenitsa, a port  of entry, is well sheltered, but has no charm at all, since it is a major ferry port, connecting with Corfu, Patras, Brindisi, Bari, Ancona and Venice. One bus 4 days a week to Preveza, sometimes daily in high season, times vary each year.

Plataria is a fairly pleasant small resort for Greeks, busy in high season, well served with tavernas and cafés. A recently built long quay provides good shelter for bows/stern-to anchoring. Some yachts permanently moor here, and it's a turn-round spot for for some 70 or so charter yachts.

Mourtos/Sivota. A pleasant cluster of anchorages around the islands, and a village quay sometimes rather exposed to northerly winds. Port police here have been intrusive.

Parga, is opposite Paxos. Mind the shallow unmarked rock 2.5nm out of Gaios (Paxos) towards Parga. Parga is lively and picture postcard pretty, stuffed with mainly British holidaymakers, and dense with tourist tat shops. There is a good sandy beach to the west, lined with serried ranks of umbrellas and sunbeds. At the far end is an (often crowded) small yacht quay. A water taxi service runs the 1 mile to town centre and will pick up from yachts anchored in the bay. Bays along the coast south of Parga provide (fairly exposed but quiet) anchorages.

Preveza is a traditional Greek town with lots of character and 'buzz'. The narrow streets inland, running parallel to the shore, are full of restaurants. The pedestrian quayside is lined with cafés and hosts a lively evening volta.  It has some Greek tourists and a long quayside (a bit smelly, noisy in season, and uncomfortable in southerlies). Four to five buses a day to Athens; one a day to Igoumentsa. Yacht facilities:

  • Preveza Marina encloses part of the town quay, and is managed by Cleopatra (next para) with low charges. It has concrete quays, water and electricity. Outer berths are exposed to southerlies, some inner berths suitable for wintering afloat.
  • A small boat harbour is tacked on the NE side of the marina.
  • Margarona yard, 1.5km north ot the town, offers low cost wintering for vessels under about 10m LOA, including catamarans. Crane lift

Preveza - Aktion  airport has seasonal flights to many countries. It's joined to Preveza town by a road tunnel for vehicles only. There are three good quality and highly competitive boatyards nearby, excellent for wintering ashore. Each yard's users praise their choice - which proves there's little to choose between them. Check if extra charges apply when using outside contractors, and check the degree to which you can work on your own boat; this changes from time to time. 

  • Cleopatra, Cleopatra has pontoons which often have a current running through (unfamiliar to Mediterranean sailors!) and also runs the town marina
  • Ionian Marine (was Preveza marine).
  • Aktio Marine. Aktio permits work on your own boat and does not appear to charge commission for outside contractors.

Amvraikos Kolpos is an inland sea of about 20nm length. Vonitsa, on the south coast of the gulf, is an attractive resort for Greeks. It has a well sheltered quay with lazy lines, and boasts a small ruined castle. A pleasant spot to visit.

For the nearby Levkas and the canal, see Inland Ionian.

Summary

  • Attractions: Paxos, a "must visit". Easy sailing, reasonably sheltered waters, enough anchorages.
  • Snags. Morning light winds, over-crowded harbours in peak season, two unmarked shallow rocks ( -1m) in open seas (one near Loggos on Paxos, the other between Paxos and Parga)
  • Ports of Entry.  Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Preveza, Levkas
  • Layup or Wintering. Wide range of possibilities, afloat or ashore. Wide range of yacht services available
  • Transport. Seasonal charter flights Corfu, Aktion (See Barry's Site)  . Buses Preveza to Athens Kifissou at  07:30, 09:10, 12:20, 13:00 (extras in high summer). Ferries. Italy - Igoumenitsa - Patras; daily. Corfu - Igoumenitsa; every one or two hours. Loads more detail at:.Ionian Travel Info.
  • Boat Charter. Many options from Corfu, Levkas town or Nidri localities, including novice options on yachts, flotillas and bareboat.

 

Reviewed May 2017

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