Sea Kayaking in Greece
Club Chairman John Wilkinson and his wife Sally spend a week of idyllic sea kayaking around the Ionian Islands in Greece.
John researched a local company to hire the kayak but decided not to hire a guide. John and Sally would be self sufficient for the week. John commented “ We had spent quite some time sorting through Mr Google trying to find a kayak hire business in Greece that would let us hire boats for a self guided trip. Knowing the limitations of travelling with a guide led group can mean having to travel too slowly, or paddle past interesting sites, or even being forced to go to and see places we didn’t want, or not be able to visit places we did – we were adamant that we wanted to self guide”
John finally went with George Kyriakos, who runs I-explorers. George provided them with two boats, spray decks, paddles, two nautical charts, and a throw/tow line. He could also have provided dry bags if required. John said that George helped a lot with local information. “George helped plan a suitable route for our trip and beaches to camp on, largely based on the tour he runs as a guided trip. He also made the offer of a pick up on the last day should we not want to paddle back to our start point and tent. He also provided telephone contact in the case of emergency and for passing on information should the weather be of concern”
John and Sally started on the Ionian island of Lefkada at the town of Vasiliki. They then paddled eastward making a looping circuitous route including the Island of Meganisi, visiting the town of Spartachori, to Kalamos. They paddled across to Kastos and then back to Vasiliki via Kalamos, and Meganissi.
John comments “One of the most notable things that were different from paddling in Northern Ireland was the lack of tidal flow and currents. Of course the other notable difference was the weather” John explains that the kayaks and the other hired equipment was more than suitable. “I paddled a Wilderness Tempest and Sally a Dag Tiwok. Both boats where is good nick, although the deck bungies on my boat were in a sorry state from sun and salt. It was a tight fit to get 8 nights worth of gear, water and emergency food in. The buoyancy aids were okay but pretty basic and also faded from the sun.
John recalls the trip. “Day one started nicely but we got a pretty stiff SW wind blowing part of the way through the day that produced some unsettling water for a while. So much for the sun and calm conditions. Anyway, still afloat we pulled up onto the first nights beach and went to sort ourselves out. Not altogether surprisingly no photos of the hairy bit. This beach was an easy paddle to the town but totally cut off by land – steep slopes, rough ground and scrub. Our own peaceful paradise for the night. The paddle from Kalamos back to Meganisi was our longest crossing (10km) – done early in the day to make use of the calm seas and to avoid the afternoon winds. The coastlines were forever changing but the crossings were much less captivating. The open sea also seemed much hotter than it was closer to the coast.
The crossing from Meganisi to Lefkada was possibly the most nerve wracking of the entire trip. The crossing itself was short, but the fact that it is a narrow channel between islands it made an excellent wind funnel. At times the sea state was a little challenging, but far worse where the other water users. The channel is a main route for sailing boats with many manned by novices. At one stage we had to slam on the brakes to avoid a cruiser crashing into us”
John continues “Overall it was a fantastic trip with a chance to get some sun and camp on some fantastic beaches. The other great thing was the abundance of restaurants and bars that were close to the coast and most of our campsites.