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Kerkyra (Corfu) to Preveza. The North Ionian offers easy sailing. This is a popular area for cruisers with good yacht support, and good layup and live-aboard possibilities. Morning winds are light, and afternoon winds rarely exceed F5. The passages across to Parga, or south to Preveza, are exposed to occasional swell, especially in the afternoons. There are several exceptionally pretty villages, and well sheltered harbours and anchorages are never too far away. A thorough exploration will take two or three weeks. Except in Kavos (Corfu) and perhaps Parga (mainland), the effect of mass tourism is light. Harbours are busy, especially in high season. Yacht services are centered around Corfu town/Gouvia, and around Preveza/Levkas town.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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). Preveza Marina faces 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. Four to five buses a day to Athens; one a day to Igoumentsa.
Preveza - Aktion. There are three boatyards on the opposite shore close to the airport; Cleopatra, Ionian Marine (was Preveza marine)and Aktio Marine. Cleopatra has pontoons which often have a current running through (unfamiliar to Mediterranean sailors!). Each yard's users claim their choice is best, so there's little to choose. They're all suitable for winter lay up ashore, with very good local yacht support facilities. Aktio permits work on your own boat and does not appear to charge commission for outside contractors. Control of work with the other two varies - ask first!
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.
Reviewed May 2015