We left the island of Kefalonia to sail to the Greek mainland. Along the way we anchored for one night on the island’s southeast corner, and continued in the morning towards the town of Mesolongi. We made landfall at dusk. Mesolongi is situated at the mouth of the Patras Bay, and surrounded by extensive salt marshes and lagoons. A narrow, dredged channel leads into the town bay, about a mile and a half inland. There are peculiar houses built on stilts on both sides of it, and many small wooden piers. Numerous bird species inhabit the wetlands, even pink flamingos, of which we saw a great big flock with our binoculars as we motored along the channel.
Mesolongi is a very protected harbour, which is why we were interested in the town’s potential as a possible winter base. We had travelled for nearly six months, with more than 3000 nautical miles under our keel since leaving Brittany. Even though the freedom of this lifestyle is great – you can stop in an interesting place for as long as you feel like, continue the journey when you feel like or expect the winds to be favourable – it can turn into a feeling of detachment. You’re no longer thrilled about each and every new place you see, it feels annoying not to know your whereabouts next week or even tomorrow, you have no address to send necessary boat equipment and spare parts you’d want to order. Add to these discomforts the built-in urge to prepare for the harsh winter season, that every northerner seems to have – well, let’s just say that stopping in one place for a while starts to feel like a much nicer idea than endless freedom. To have a base to live and to make some plans, even for a few months, feels very liberating!
It’s also nice to live for a while without checking the weather and the wind forecast first thing in the morning, or to wake up to every gust of wind at night to make sure the anchor hasn’t dragged. It’s also nice to go the supermarket, laundry or restaurant without first having to find out where they are, how close you can get with the dinghy, and whether there’s anywhere safe to park the dinghy. The everyday life of cruising is not as glamorous as it might appear to be, when you’re only dreaming about such an adventure. Some people think we’re not allowed to complain about anything, since we are living the life we always dreamed of! But there are good days and bad days to every life.
Mesolongi turned out to be a lively town that has pretty much everything you need. The town’s centre is a bit far from the marina, but we have our bikes, so it’s not a problem. There are no tourists, but there are plenty of university students, so the town will not die during the winter, like so many touristy places. The town itself is quite ordinary, but the lagoons that surround it, and the majestic mountains in the background were enough to rouse our interest. Maybe we can explore the lagoons by dinghy, and the area is nicely flat for long bike rides. There are buses to many different places, including Athens. The marina is also reasonably priced for our meager budget, so we decided to book a berth for the winter.
Now that we had our winter plans all sorted out, there could be no better way to celebrate but to head out to a little adventure again. After all, it still felt like summer! We would have plenty of time to sail the Patras and Corinth Bays, get to see the pretty towns and sights – it was not the time to settle down for the winter yet! We could sail the afternoon breeze, try and find Pythia while stumbling among the chunks of Corinthian columns in the temples of Delphi, enjoy the picturesque old towns of Nafpaktos and Galaxidi, swim in the warm waters and hike on the island of Trizonia, swarming with wildlife. But more about that next time!