sailing with kids

Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Ithaki

By August 31, 2018 2 Comments

We had Sarah’s sister Kathie and her boyfriend Sebastian join us in Corfu for 10 days. They were our first full-time visitors since we began the adventure almost 3 months ago. We are now feeling confident in our abilities, and our routine on board has become almost normal.

I wasn’t sure how it would be though adding 2 extra adults. The extra space they would take up, the extra water and power consumption, and even the loss of privacy can take a toll on many liveaboards and I have been warned against it.

For us, it turned out to be fantastic and just what we needed. After months of only having each other for company or brief conversations with strangers who you will most likely never see again, having other people around to chat with and show off our new life gave us a fresh surge of enthusiasm.

After a month in and around Kerkira Island, it was time to head south to new places with our guests. We departed for Kefalonia Island early and decided to split the 14-hour trip into two parts, anchoring overnight for some swimming and dinner half way at 2 Rocks Bay just south of Odysseas.

The following day we completed the trip but stopped for a swim at a secluded beach on the West side of Levkas Island. The beach was gorgeous, made up of perfectly white, smooth round stones about the size of your thumbnail. There were a couple of small caves to paddle into and the place made a huge impression on all of us.

Having our guests on board for only 10 days, we wanted to make the best of the time they had. We visited a couple of semi-private anchorages and then berthed at the small sleepy town of Sami on Kefalonia Island. The town quay was 12 Euro a night and included water so we were happy to stay a couple of days and use it as a base to explore the island.

The best meal I’ve had so far was enjoyed in Sami at “Il Familia, Taverna Dionisos”. We arrived around 9 pm (normal by Greek standards) and stayed until after midnight feasting on crab risotto, lobster ravioli, calamari, and veal steak, followed by lemon meringue cheesecake, orange cake, and some sort of chocolate thing that was ridiculous! I don’t usually bother to write about meals but this was extraordinary and much appreciated.

The next day we rented a car to explore the island. There are two famous caves on Kefalonia; Drogarti, and Melissani, each with their own character.

Drogarti is a dry cave filled with calcium carbonate stalactites. The main chamber is enormous with the ceiling over 20m high it looks like a dragon should live there upon a mountain of gold, we wondered if a dragon from “Game Of Thrones” was named after it.

Melissani is a wet cave, a lake entirely occupies it and you are toured around by boatmen in large rowboats. We tried to visit twice during the day but were shocked by the sheer number of tourists, in the afternoon we counted 11 massive tour buses in the parking lot and the lineup was intolerable. Third time’s a charm, we arrived at 6:30 pm, just before closing to find the place empty and almost to ourselves, we had a very personal tour by the last remaining boatman.

Also while moored at Sami we celebrated Cadences 11th birthday. This included the normal celebrations and cake but also a birthday treat. Cadence loves horses and I discovered the Bavarian Horse stables were just a 15-minute drive from town.

The place is run by a stern German woman who keeps the place immaculate. The animals were all gorgeous and very well kept. We were all assigned horses based on our size, riding experience and the character of the horse. Mine, the matriarch of the heard needed to be kept away from some of the other female horses or she would be inclined to put them in their place. However, she was so easy to ride! Her pace could be controlled easily by changing the cadence of my hips; a small movement of the reigns was all that was needed to steer; the only time she needed a stern voice was in passing yummy flowers she wanted to eat.

We rode for a couple of hours up trails that lead to beautiful views out over the island and surrounding ocean. By the end, my legs were getting sore but we all agreed it was a wonderful day!

After we left Sami our route meandered south towards the island of Zakynthos. Our destination was the famous “shipwreck bay” the most photographed beach in the Med. It was spectacular once all the day trippers had left for the evening and the photo of my new yellow shorts was taken there.

Before we knew it the 10-day visit was coming to an end. Our guests were to fly out of Argostoli on Kefalonia. We arrived a day early to make sure we had no trouble with the weather and took a spot on the town quay. Mooring up to the town quay is like living downtown on the main strip. In the evening you become the centre of attention as people stroll by your living room looking at all the boats, comparing features and exclaiming over the different flags. Our Canadian flag stands out and gets a lot of comments.

During the day we get on with boat chores and begin to forget we are on the main street. At one point, distracted by my work I realized I was standing on the main street in nothing but my boxer shorts while surrounded by tourists all dressed up in preparation for the evening. Doing laundry in a bucket and washing the decks are some of the less glamorous chores that people stop to watch as they walk by. This can make you feel a little self-conscious when you’re used to living on a secluded little island!

Once our guests had departed a sense of sadness descended upon the boat. We had enjoyed their visit so much the boat felt empty without them. We are eagerly anticipating our next visitor in September as we realize how gregarious we are, and how much fun we have sharing our adventure with our friends and family.

We stayed in Argostoli for a couple of days to reprovision before heading out again, this time heading for the island of Ithaki where I now sit writing this. Along the way, we stern tied to shore in goat bay where I exchanged photos with my uncle who unbeknownst to me anchored in the exact same spot just a few years earlier.

We continue to have ups and downs, great experiences and homesickness. This adventure is a break from regular life but not from oneself. Each of us has different difficulties and aspirations. I’m happy to lounge around on the boat almost endlessly, Sarah wants to get out and explore the land, Talya is always on the lookout for someone to play with, and Cadence usually just wants to read her latest book!

Above all, though we are all learning about ourselves, each other, the world around us, and a life less ordinary.


  • Tom Ashman says:

    Thank you for taking us along on your journey. Don’t be sad and/or lonesome, you aren’t alone, we are with you as wander in wonder.
    The photos are terrific.
    And we get to travel vicariously through you. Perhaps someday you’ll choose to cruise Ontario’s Great Lakes, when you drop anchor in Wiarton Harbour, let us know we’ll be happy to tour you around our exotic neck of the woods.
    Happy Travels, Tom and Dee

  • Kathie says:

    What a great time we had on the OTOKA! I miss it everyday and can’t wait to come back. Great blog guys, am following all of it. Love you!

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