Med 2009 - 3 Greece - Athens, Corinth Canal and Delphi

I had hardly spent a day cleaning the boat and getting things in order when Denny arrived by taxi from Athens airport.  lDenny arriving in Taxi I had organized a taxi to meet Denny and bring her to the harbour.  "Yes Harry because you are a friend of X I will look after your wife and give you a special deal on the price."  Never trust a taxi driver especially if he his Greek.  I knew it was going to be expensive but it almost matched the cost of the flight from London.

Was I pleased to see Denny, and was she pleased to arrive at the boat after the long flight from Oz.  We soon settled in and went to the local market to stock up on fresh produce plus more than a few trips to the local supermarket to supplement the food supply.  It is always fun to stock the yacht at the start of a season because you never know where you are going and the availability of the special things you cant do without.  Markets The med and most places along the coast have good supermarkets however it helps to shop when you get the opportunity.  Why purchase pasta in Greece when you are going to Italy. Be careful if you think cans of tomatoes will be cheap in Greece because they produce large quantities.  They ship them to the rest of the EU and what is left is high priced and got as good a quality.  We now purchase when we see a commodity and need it but don't over stock the larder.

 I had been moored in a place of the charter yacht while they were out cruising.  A Greek man approached me and said that Malua was in his mooring space and we should move immediately.  Not wanting to upset any one we packed up and sailed off.  Our neighbor was not impressed and refused to move.  We did not wait to find out what happened but sailed south down the coast past the Olympic sailing venue towards Sounion with is Greek temple on the headland.  We anchored in the bay after a few tries to get the anchor set.  The wind subsided at sundown and we had a wonderful sleep.

The following day we were off on a SW course of about 30 nm across a flat sea of the Saronic Gulf towards the northern part of the Peloponnes to the enclosed area of Poros.   It appears to be a large bay but in fact it is two islands with about 200 meters channelRussian Bay from the mainland.  One can sail through the narrow channel but we chose to sail in the western side of the island and anchored in Russian Bay 37 31.077N 23 26.071E which was full of charter boat having lunch.  They left us towards sunset so we took a walk along the foreshore towards the town.

We wanted to visit the town so we uped anchor and sailed around the corner and dropped the anchor off the naval college in front of the town which was full of boat because it was the weekend.  We took the RIB ashore and walked along the waterfront through the cafe and restaurants which stretched right across the street down to the road and wharf where the small ferry boats where tied Poros channelup to take the people over to the mainland.  We managed to purchase some lovely lamb in an open air market and some fresh vegetables.  There was no wine shop.

We climbed the mountain behind the boat in Russian Bay.  While looking at the view I saw a white boat speed over the water at a very high speed.  Wow did it move.  I thought nothing of it but when we returned to Malua I again saw the boat but this time it was going no where.  It turned out to be the same fellow I helped in Serifos when his propeller blade came off.  Yet again a blade came off but this time the other engine.  He was not happy but limped back to a marina on the other side of the bay and took a ride with the boat's agent back to Athens.  Thanks goodness we have sails.

Moving westwards we sailed in to the bay 37 38.426 N 23 09.614 E of Korfos which is the port of Epidaurus or (Epidhavros) as known in the cruising guide. This is reputed to be the birthplace of Apollo but in fact the port is only a small village compared to the Epidaurus theater which is some way inland up in the mountains.  We did not know this and set off on foot to walk the mile or so to the largest theater in the area.  In fact we found a small pile of stones and realized it was the wrong place.  Undeterred we continues to walk on the road out of town.  At the end of the town we put our thumb out and hitched a ride.  The first car that came by were a couple from Athens touring the area.  We told them we were off to the theater and would they take us.  Sure just climb in.  After 20 minutes I knew we had asked a lot but the fellow assured us he had visited the site a few years previously and it was not far up the valley.  We eventually arrived.  He took us up to the front gate.  I expected him to park the car and join us visiting the site but he wished us well and drove off down the road we had just come up.  Very generous.

The site of Epidaurus is very large.  The acoustics are amazing.  We where sitting in the top of the 55 rows and could hear two young boys talking in the middle of the stage.  Just wonderful. Listen to acoustics at Epidauros   We walked around the site until closing and then set off down the road to again try and get a lift.  We were not so lucky but at the outskirts of the nearby village we were given a lift by a farmer who understood we wanted to go to the sea.  He careered off down the pass with the three of us in the front of his ute.  He dropped us on the cross roads and we got another lift to the outskirts of the fishing village and walked the rest back to the boat.  A great adventure with the lessons learned.. establish from two sources how far your real destination actually is.

The next day The Corinth canal was the destination some 20 nm away.  We wanted to get there early but only arrived at noon.  Tied up along side the dock behind another yacht which had been waiting a few minutes.  Off to the Canal Authority to request permission to use the canal. Sure just pay 167.00 Euro for the 6.3 kilometers.  It was built in 1881 to 1893 but first suggested in the 7th C BC.  Roman Emperor Nero had a go at it with his own hand but turned it over to the Jewish slaves who stopped on his death.  Corinth CannelAfter the Suez channel was completed they completed the current cutting.  Interestingly the road bridge not far from the eastern entrance sinks into the depth to permit the vessels to float over the top of it.  I was a bit cautious as we approached just in case it got stuck just below the surface.  The trip is  impressive as you motor through the cutting with the road and rail bridge high above and the sides only meters from your beam.  It is 21 meters wide.  There is a small current against you going westwards but I believe that can  change.  On the western side you just enter but must stop when you reach the eastern end and pay your dues.  A French yacht though they had a lucky day (at least thats what I credit it to) because they did not stop and continued steaming out into the bay.  They only got half a mile before a light gun boat was scrambled and after them with lights flashing.  I understand the Authority fines them the cost of the chase vessel! Watch video passing thru Corinth Canal

The wind came up on the nose the instant we entered the Gulf of Corinth so we had to reef and chose and anchorage we could reach in a few tacks.  This posed a problem because the are is very steep side with the mountains rising almost out of the sea.  Alongsite at IteaWe managed to sail into a bay Ormos Aghiou Ioannou 38 12.817 N 22 57.719 E and dropped the anchor in 8 meters of water on the edge of the drop off.  Not great as the wind started to rise during the night and the rain came down. We did not go ashore but set off into the strong wind to sail westwards into the wind.  After a few tacks right across the Gulf of Corinth we entered the large bay of Kolpos with Itea at its head.  We where off to Delphi.  We came along side and tied up to a Greek wharf and negotiated to get some more diesel from a fellow with a tanker.  He made a great issue of showing me that the counter was set to zero I believed him but at the end of the day when I calculated our fuel consumption it had gone up somewhat.  I should have filled a 20 ltr drum just to establish 20 liters filled the container.  My guess his would of only filled 2/3 the amount.  Well you only get caught once.

We caught the local early morning bus up the mountain to Delphi to get to the site before the tourist bussed arrived from Athens.  We arrived as the gates were opening.  There was no-one there however the sun had not risen from behind the mountains and the site was still in shadow.  It was wonderful to watch the sun come over the mountain and shine on each of the temples over the siteDelphi Treasury - The Temple of Apollo, the Treasury, the theater and the stadium.  I had a run on the surface but was soon chased off but the security guard.  I have now made an appearance at the Olympic and Delphi stadium.  I won both however there were no other athletes that day! I had been to Delphi on my initial grand tour in 1965 and wondered if I would remember the same sights.  Once seen Delphi is never forgotten.  Denny and I stood in the same spot my father had taken a photo of me those years ago.  Nothing had changed except now there are more signs telling you not to climb this or that.  Well it  brought back memories of a great trip years ago.

The museum is a must to see some of the original items found at the site especially the Charioteer.  Today was my birthday so we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the valley down to the sea.  Delphi ViewIt was filled with the largest olive grove I have ever seen.  Just below the window was the water canal flowing to wards Athens.  What an engineering feat.  The water looks as if it flows up hill.   After a false start we got the right bus and returned to Malua at Itea.

Here are some photos Poros Epidaurus Corinth Canal and Delphii
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