Τετάρτη, 11 Μαΐου 2011

Sea Kayaking. Από την Κέρκυρα στην Κεφαλονιά

Το Νοέμβριο που μας πέρασε, μια πολυεθνική παρέα έμπειρων sea kayakers, πραγματοποίησαν μια όμορφη αλλά και απαιτητική, πολυήμερη διαδρομή στο Ιόνιο Πέλαγος. Ξεκινώντας από το βόρειο άκρο της Κέρκυρας και με ενδιάμεσους σταθμούς στα Σύβωτα, την Πάργα, τους Παξούς, και τη δυτική ακτογραμμή της Λευκάδας, έφτασαν έπειτα από 13 μέρες στην Κεφαλονιά. 
Η διαδρομή, πέραν των ομορφιών της, περιείχε και δυσκολίες, τόσο λόγω καιρού, όσο και λόγω των μεγάλων περασμάτων από νησί σε νησί ή προς την κυρίως χώρα, ιδιαίτερα από και προς Παξούς, αλλά και το πέρασμα από Λευκάδα προς Κεφαλονιά. Μια ζηλευτή διαδρομή που αν όχι ολόκληρη, τουλάχιστον σε τμήματά της μπορεί να χαρίσει αξέχαστες εικόνες στους φίλους του καγιάκ. 


Ας αφεθούμε όμως στη διήγηση ενός απ' τους συμμετέχοντες, του Shaun Rodgers

Χάρτης της διαδρομής των 13 ημερών

Corfu to Kefalonia – 4 November 2010 to 16 November 2010

by Shaun Rodgers


As many of you will know an end of season challenge/expedition has become a bit of a tradition with Pavlos and I. This year we chose a trip that would involve a variety of locations and conditions, it is always nice to push ones abilities a little further and to ENJOY the TRUE FREE SPIRIT Sea kayaking offers.


Participants: Pavlos Georgilas, Shaun Rodgers, Timothy Davis, Nikos Mpenos-Palmer

After a few weeks of anticipation and planning, Pavlos and I boarded the afternoon ferry from Sami (Kefalonia) to Patra on the 3 rd of November, carrying our gear on our backs and rolling our boats on with wheels, we had no back up car or back up crew, the expedition was an ALL IN experience no easy bailouts “just paddle ” till we get home!!!!!!!
We boarded the midnight ferry to Italy via Corfu on which we met up with Niko who had driven from Athens. Getting to the ferry did however involve a looooong walk across the port of Patra dragging loaded boats and gear, we were gypsy paddlers.





Tim had arrived in Corfu a day earlier after having paddled across from Igoumenitsa via Sivota up the east side of Corfu an additional 80km of paddling, a solo crossing, a rain storm and a night sleeping outside the port office would be the start of his expedition. Anyone who knows Tim would just laugh as he is a very experienced and strong solo paddler.
After a good night’s sleep on the ferry we arrived around 7am. After dragging our boats off the ferry we were met by Tim and a good friend Neni, who had arranged a pick up for us and a morning coffee in the “old town”. The morning coffee turned into a long lunch with multiple plates of food and some tsipouro (local fire water).
Day one seemed to be a write off, but we eventually pulled ourselves away from the good food and company and headed to our starting point, SIDARI on the northern tip of the island. We quickly packed our boats and began paddling. Winter paddling does not allow for the long daylight hours we enjoy in summer, so we put our heads down and knocked a quick 9km out in two hours. We landed in the dark at AGIOS STEPHANOS with a small surf break. Cold and wet we set camp for the night and had what would become a traditional evening planning session, in the shelter of a kiddies jungle gym.




Day two started wet and ready to go at 9am. Conditions were good and we were able to paddle at a good speed. The wind was blowing north-westerly and enabled us to enjoy a good 30km for the day still having time to enjoy the scenery and play amongst the rock gardens that scatter the coast line. Nice cliffs and green hills were the order of the day. Although Corfu is largely populated, the west coast is certainly the better part of the island to paddle, especially in winter. Another evening landing found us arrive at GLYFADA for the night at a deserted tourist town. Camp was on the beach and dinner was shared under the shelter of an abandoned beach taverna awning.
Day three started with the most amazing fog rolling of the mountains behind us. The previous days wind had blown in a rather big swell. This gave us some good surfing waves to play in before heading off. Our paddling for the day was once again rock gardens long beach breaks and rolling hills. We enjoyed a sunny day playing in the swell. The most amazing part of the development in Corfu is that almost every spot that could or would be remote is developed with very seventies style hotels and studios, a reminder of the BOOM this island experienced during this time. 32km later and after a stop to buy some supplies we landed on a deserted beach at sunset close to AGIA VARVARA with nothing but drift wood and a fisherman’s shack, a warm fire, a dry place to hang our gear. Tim’s famous camp furniture (made from anything he can find) and a few beers created the perfect evening.



An early start and overcast conditions started day Four. The mountains became smaller the rock gardens continued and the beaches became longer as we approached the southern tip of Corfu. The prevailing southern winter wind had begun to blow and we had been informed that the next few days were going to be HEAVY, how heavy? We were about to find out!!!!!



We reached the southern tip around lunch time and then decided to cross to SIVOTA, a 9km crossing back to mainland. The south was blowing 3-4 beaufort (around 20km per hour winds) the crossing was made easy by our good spirits and team work (lots of friendly banter had developed and we were enjoying ourselves out at sea). The only problems with crossings in this region is BIG ferries going back and forth to Italy . VHF radios were on and we knew that this day was easy compared to the conditions we were going to face for the next few days. We arrived in SIVOTA in the early afternoon after 31km’s and headed straight into the little town for a celebratory beer and small snack. 




Sivota is a beautiful cluster of small islands very close to mainland and a favourite for sailing yachts during the summer. This was winter and we were glad to find it chilled out and full of locals. Our little snack lasted a little longer than we anticipated and once again we found ourselves paddling in the dark looking for a safe beach to sleep with the knowledge that thunderstorms and strong winds would arrive that evening. We found the perfect place, a winter storage boat yard for small rental boats in which we were able to bunker down under, beneath and around small boats to avoid the beating “MOTHER NATURE” was about to give us. We cooked a good meal with howling winds, lightning and thunder in the distance and all felt ready?



At about 4am Tim found himself almost blown away and Pavlos found the rising sea under his tent. A quick adjustment and no photo regrettably (for me) found two naked paddlers dashing for new campsites – when you don’t carry to much you can’t afford to get the warm stuff wet!!!!!
The night was ferocious, heavy rain, thunder and lightning, we had already decided that day five was not going to be a paddling day, forecast was 7-8 beaufort (high wind, moderate gale, gale wind speed about 60km per hour as described on the beaufort scale) We were not going anywhere but back to the coffee shop in SIVOTA called “bamboo”. A long wet day prevailed, cheese pies, coffee and coffee and more coffee was the order of the day. We then decided after a visit to the Coast Guard that late afternoon conditions would calm down to a 5 beaufort, so driven by caffeine and a request from Niko who wanted a test run in conditions he had never paddled in before, we decided to test the conditions and circle a few of the small islands just to see!!!!!!!



It was wild out there, the swell was 2-3 metres and the wind was pumping. The test run was a success and with no capsizes and lots of adrenalin the day was ENJOYED by all. We felt ready for the next day’s adventure.
We had a break in rain, cooked our dinner and decided that an 8am start could possibly afford us the window we needed to make some progress down the coast, even if it meant a few kilometres it was better than another “death by caffeine day” at bamboo coffee shop!
The night once again brought the ferocious weather and winds. We awoke prepared and packed our WET tents. It was however disappointing to hear that Niko had been flooded out and that he had decided not to continue. We knew he would have a safe passage by road from SIVOTA so we bid him farewell and began what we thought to be a window of opportunity.
The three musketeers were off and around the last point of protection, we then faced into an 8-9 beaufort swell, stinging rain and a 60+ km face wind. We remained closely grouped together in anticipation that a capsize and rescue was inevitable, the question being who was going over first. After an hour and forty five minutes and very little progress but no rescues, we grouped together and after a very short discussion, turned our boats around and “tails and paddles between our legs” we headed back to the boatyard. Fifteen minutes later, Niko still drenched to the bone saw three “drowned” rats appear after having paddled only 4 km for day six.
We headed back to bamboo for another “death by caffeine day”. Our night was spent under the cover of a summer only beach taverna, a welcome break from the wind and rain, and a short walk to the town’s souvlaki shop for dinner.
After dinner we bid Niko farewell, he had arranged transport and accommodation for that night, we crept back into our tents and waited for the next day, again we planned to leave!



Day seven saw the wind die to a force 5 south easterly. Still the swell was big and the face wind relentless. We put our heads down and spent a long hard day focused on getting to PARGA. A break in the clouds gave us a few warm hours in which to at least enjoy the long green coastline from a distance. Unfortunately the confused water and swell did not allow a second for any of us to drop our guard or concentration. We arrived in PARGA late afternoon 27km completed, mentally and physically exhausted after having had only one short break all day. We planned to spend the night in the church grounds on the little island opposite the town, but after a short assessment and still big swell crashing onto the small island’s beach we opted for the main town beach.


Shaun Rodgers
We walked through the town drenched and looking a little worse for wear after the beating we had taken, attracting a few odd glances from the locals. After stocking up we cooked our food in a central square, Tim and I then decided that in order to continue our homeless habits our shelter for the night would be the first floor of a half built abandoned beachfront building. Pavlos opted for his tent and the soft beach.


Παύλος Γεωργιλάς
We awoke on day eight to a pleasant morning, a walk through town and a coffee meant a late start but sea conditions looked good and we felt refreshed and ready for the big crossing to the island of PAXOI. we completed the crossing of 21km to the southern tip of PAXI in good time with no ferries bearing down on us, conditions remained good and we were all in good spirits. Our arrival in the main town of PAXOI was met with all our expectations, the island is well maintained, the coastline is beautiful and the smaller harbour towns picturesque. We paddled up the east coast to the northern tip in good time with a welcomed tailwind arriving in LAKA in the early afternoon. A first early landing meant an early dinner with tents set up in daylight and an enjoyable walk around LAKA. We paddled a total of 37 km for the day and a glass of wine, some cheese and good company ended a fantastic day, the best of the island was still to come.




Day nine was super fine, we got free pancakes from the locals, had coffee in the sunshine and we were about to paddle into some of the most beautiful scenery yet on the west coast.
Large limestone cliffs, massive caves, arches and rock gardens were the order of the day, a sea kayaker’s paradise. We played and paddled at a relaxed pace and we were given a north-westerly tailwind just to top it off. We arrived back at the southern tip in early afternoon with loads of time to spare so we decided to cross to ANTI PAXOI, the smaller island. After a quick circumnavigation and sunset upon us we found a beautiful grassy campsite at VORTOUMI BEACH on the northern tip to settle into for the end of a glorious 27km paddling day!



We awoke fairly early on day ten. We had decided that an early exit was a good idea. We were planning a BIG day and the crossing back to mainland was 32km of open sea. After a quick snack we were off. Heads down and lots of water in front of us we settled into a comfortable rhythm, we were averaging 5-6 km per hour, no ferries and lots of banter with the occasional philosophical discussion made the long and tedious crossing shoot by. We stopped for a quick snack and a stretch once we hit mainland after a good five hours in the boats. Still strong and motivated we paddled along the beautiful green coastline with kilometre after kilometre of long sandy beaches. We chose a wide sandy beach close to KANALI as our campsite; after some locals had given Pavlos a ride into town (Tim had to remind Pavlos of the “rules of the road” as we had been out at sea which by now felt like months – free and carefree we had become). After getting some meat we enjoyed a fantastic Pavlos barbeque and bonfire on the beach to end our 41km day, our longest daily distance so far.
Sun and good conditions greeted us on Day eleven; it was hard to believe that this was winter in Europe we were paddling and swimming in summer gear.



We could see LEFKADA island in the distance and set our sights on the northern tip, more sandy beaches, green hills and a little more development greeted us on our approach to PREVEZA just north of LEFKADA. We crossed the 14 km to LEFKADA in a flat calm typical Med sea and arrived in daylight at MYLLOI beach north LEFKADA, the total for the day was 34 km. After a welcomed shower under a hosepipe given to us from a very friendly bar owner, we sipped our beer and watched the sunset, with the knowledge that we were now close to home.
Clean and hunting for the infamous “hamburger” we had discussed for days on end and insisted we would enjoy together before reaching home, we walked into town. Card eating bank machines almost ended the burger dream but we finally sat round and devoured our junk food and enjoyed a relaxed walk around LEFKADA town. We returned to the beach stuffed, with severe heartburn but happy.



On the morning of day twelve we headed back into LEFKADA town, to confront the card eating bank machine, fortunately we were able to resolve the problem with the local bank. We then found a traditional MPUGATSA shop – imagine any filling ranging from meat to warm custard layered between fresh crusty pastry for breakfast, with a GOOD coffee, a DELICIOUS start to the day.
We packed up our tents and by mid – morning found ourselves paddling down the awesome west coast, long white beaches, cliffs and awesome scenery allowed a relaxed pace. The west coast of the Ionian islands can be ferocious on bad days but on good days they are breathtaking. Weather conditions by sunset had become surreal. The sea was so calm and the sunset so perfect that if one looked to long at the horizon it felt as if you would fall off the end of the world. We crossed to a small island that had the most amazing arch, which was obviously a resting place for migrating ducks heading to the warm southern hemisphere for winter. They painted line after line into the sunset, like highly trained pilots in training as they took flight into the sky on route to their next stop.



We arrived at GHIALOS BEACH just at sunset, set up our tents for the last time, collected our fire wood and just chilled as the fire ball disappeared into the ocean, 27 km of the most awesome paddling day ever was over.



Day thirteen, started like any other, pack up and head out paddling, but the scenery again was breathtaking as you approach the point of LEFKADA before crossing to FISKARDO – KEFALONIA (HOME). The famous bay of PORTO KATSIKI is awesome with the lighthouse marking the end of the west coast. Then one final crossing for home that is not without its dangers even on a good day. This crossing is the ferry highway for the boats between Greece and Italy which we discovered can be busy even in late afternoon. VHF radios were on and our heads were down like greyhounds chasing a bunny, we crossed in record speed and finally pulled into FISKARDO in late afternoon. 28kms for the last day took our total to around 330kms.
As any expedition paddler will tell you the “downer” after a long trip is always the hardest. You have so many things going through your head and experiences to process, from the natural to the extreme.



My expeditions have included river touring the GREAT Zambezi in Africa, the islands off Mozambique, the coastline of South Africa and for the last 4 years NUMEROUS Greek islands including non stop circumnavigation challenges and although I still battle with the “downer”, the greatest high after them all is the friendships I have made and the smile on my families faces when I return!!!!!!!
Thank you to Pavlos, Tim and Niko for a great trip.

Shaun Rodgers
Husband, father of two and “SOUL” paddler for life!!!!!!!

Επαναδημοσίευση άρθρου από το sea kayaking kefalonia


Το Sea Kayaking Kefalonia είναι ένα γραφείο εναλλακτικού τουρισμού με έδρα την Κεφαλονιά. Οργανώνει και υλοποιεί μονοήμερες και πολυήμερες εκδρομές αλλά και προγράμματα εκπαίδευσης με θαλάσσια καγιάκ, στην Κεφαλονιά και την ευρύτερη περιοχή του Ιονίου. 


Περισσότερες φωτογραφίες απ' αυτό το ταξίδι μπορείτε να δείτε εδώ

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου