The western Peloponnese
As you round Cape Matapan into the southern Ionian Sea and head north towards Zakinthos and Cephalonia, you leave behind the rugged mountains and sail towards the rolling green islands of the northern Ionian.
Finakounda – Once around Cape Matapan you can head for Cape Akritas and the narrow strait between it and Venetiko Island. Again, leave reasonably early and you can motorsail part of the way before the westerlies pick up. In general, the westerlies will not get much above Force 4 and die down in the evening. You can anchor off Finakounda on sand with good shelter from the prevailing winds. Ashore there is a popular tourist village with tavernas and bars aplenty.
Methoni – One of my favourite spots and a gentle six miles or so from Finakounda. If for any reason you are making up time you can bypass Finakounda and anchor off the old Venetian castle here, ready for the stretch to Kiparissia further up the coast. The bottom is weedy in places so make sure your anchor is well dug in. It’s worth spending a bit of time here to explore the Venetian castle with its distinctive Turkish tower on the extremity, and in the village there are some good tavernas and a bit of shopping. As you go up the coast you pass the Bay of Navarino and Pilos. If you have the time to spare, convivial Pilos is well worth a visit. From Methoni it can be a bit of a bash to get up to Kiparissia, but again you can leave in the early morning calm and motorsail for a bit. Kiparissia – This is a wonderfully Greek little spot You should wander up the hill to the central square for a beer and maybe a bite to eat.
Katakolon – It’s nearly 30 miles up to Katakolon with the wind pretty much on the nose. If you set off on port tack the wind does inch around to a more westerly direction as you close Katakolon and it really is a romping sail hard on the wind. Plan to spend a day here and take the train to Olympus. The site is amazing and the train ride is quite something, too.
Back into the Inland Sea – From Katakolon it is a hop, step and a jump into the Inland Sea. You can either go up the mainland side on the east or up through Zakinthos and Cephalonia on the west. Again, the prevailing north-west wind doesn’t get up until midday so you can motorsail for a bit to make up some ground.
Pilos ‘marina’ in Navarino Bay