I haven’t really told you about where we are, in terms of our sailing exploits, for a while.
We are still in the Ionian, where there are lots of places to explore. We try to go to locations that are slightly off the beaten track, where flotilla boats don’t venture. Nothing wrong with flotilla boats, but sometimes it’s nice to be among just half a dozen other yachts, instead of 20 or 30 jostling for places.
The island of Kalamos is part of the Ionian group, but along with its smaller neighbour Kastos, gets forgotten when you ask people to name islands in this area of Greece.
Most people might be able to name Corfu, Kefalonia, Lefkas, Zante and maybe Ithaca, but they are less likely to have heard of Meganisi, Paxos, Kastos and Kalamos.
Kalamos is west of the Ionian mainland, east of Meganissi and Lefkas. It is a small island, 5.5 miles long and just over 2 miles wide. It is mountainous, and covered in dense pine forest. The main town and small harbour are on the east coast, but we came to the even tinier harbour and settlement of Episcopi, on the north west coast. The harbour is shallow and there is only room for half a dozen yachts at most. There is one small seasonal cafe, run by a lovely family, who serve simple, cheap meals. The small road out of the harbour winds upwards through the pine forest, and you will eventually reach the other side of the island.
There are many old, abandoned houses here, with no windows and roofs that have fallen in, but some attempt has been made to being some back to life, and there are some very grand houses which are the holiday homes of rich Greeks, or converted into tourist apartments. Only a very few families live here permanently. There are no shops on this side of the island. The main ferry to Mitikas on the mainland leaves from the bigger harbour at Kalamos town, but a smaller passenger ferry also runs twice a day from Episcopi to the mainland.
Another area of Kalamos with a lot of deserted, ruined buildings, is the bay at Port Athene on the SE coast. There used to be a thriving settlement here, and the area was known for its limestone works up to the 1950s, when an earthquake destroyed the water supply and the village was abandoned.
There are a dozen or so stone cottages in various states of disrepair, and an attempt is being made to restore the main big house on the waterfront. There is a significant sized church here, painted bright yellow, which is tended daily by local,women, and attracts many pilgrims on various Religious days throughout the year. The small taverna which used to serve visiting yachtsmen is no longer there.
We are in the quiet bay, and lucky enough to moor on one of the little jetties, so we can easily get ashore without having to use our dinghy. The water is crystal clear and it’s easy to see all sorts of fish swimming beside the boat – and I spotted a bright red starfish! Last night the only sound was that of the wild goats bleating as they climbed down to the rocky shore at sunrise.