The weather forecasts for today was not very certain. Either there will be no wind again, or there will be way more than we need. So we decided to have a plan with options. If the weather conditions allow, we will cover about 70 miles and pass under the iconic Rio-Antirreo bridge. If not, then we’ll do about 30 miles and dock in one of the many marinas to regroup.
At first, it looked like there won’t be no wind. But a couple of hours later, we got lucky. For 7 hours straight we had solid 25 knot wind, with gusts up to 30 knots.
In the evening, we crossed under the Rio-Antirreo bridge. It is an epic structure – one of the largest suspension bridges in the world!
The Rio–Antirrio Bridge, officially the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, is one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges and longest of the fully suspended type. It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras, linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece by road. It opened one day before the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, on 12 August 2004, and was used to transport the Olympic flame.
About 30 miles later, we stopped for the night in a rather weird place – Missolonghi marina.
The entrance to the marine goes over a wide but very shallow channel. The water is green and stinky from all the growth within, and there are plenty of mosquitoes. However, the mariners are very welcoming and there is an excellent tavern right in the marina with amazing food and superb service.
Today we started early morning. Leaving the Poros marina before 7am, we were escorted by a huge turtle, that swam along our anchor chain.
With no wind at all, we arrived on the engine to the Corinth Canal, where we were delayed for a couple of hours, awaiting our turn. Apparently, there was a sailing boat with an engine failure stack in the middle of the canal. But all got sorted out quickly and without any drama.
The Corinth Canal is an artificial canal in Greece that connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, making the peninsula an island. The canal was dug through the Isthmus at sea level and has no locks. It is 6.4 kilometres (4 miles) in length and only 24.6 metres (80.7 feet) wide at sea level, making it impassable for many modern ships. It is currently of little economic importance and is mainly a tourist attraction.
The canal was initially proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD. Construction recommenced in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893, but, due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems, and periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators.
Corinth Canal is very narrow, with high walls on both sides and bridges above. This makes it a rather worrisome place to be. But it’s worth it.
After we crossed from Aegean sea to Ionic sea through the canal, we had another 35 nautical miles to do. With no wind at all, the heat was unbearable. I think we all were on the brink of the heat stroke. And it was pretty boring as well. However we saw a group of dolphins, who played with us for a while.
By the end of the day we arrived to a small town of Antikyra. Quick dinner, a few cold beers, and some sleep was all that we needed.
With everything prepared and tested, today we finally departed from Lavrion marina towards the beautiful island of Poros.
This leg of the trip is approximately 35 nautical miles. The weather forecast is a bit depressing – very hot and humid with almost no wind.
Cruising along the shore we passed the ancient Temple of Poseidon, which looks rather impressive from the sea.
The Temple of Poseidon is an ancient Greek temple on Cape Sounion, Greece, dedicated to the god Poseidon. There is evidence of the establishment of sanctuaries on the cape from as early as the 11th century BC Sounion’s most prominent temples, the Temple of Athena and the Temple of Poseidon, are however not believed to have been built until about 700 BC, and their kouroi (freestanding Greek statues of young men) date from about one hundred years later. The material and size of the offerings at the Temple of Poseidon indicate that it was likely frequented by members of the elite and the aristocratic class.
The Greeks considered Poseidon to be the “master of the sea”. Given the importance to Athens of trade by sea and the significance of its navy in its creation and survival during the fifth century, Poseidon was of a particular relevance and value to the Athenians.
On approach to Poros we managed to catch some wind and opened the sails for about an hour. That was a nice change to the noise and vibration of the diesel engine.
We also stopped by in Russian Bay for a quick swim. The water is very warm and clean.
With the Treaty of Kuchuk Kainarji, Russia secured free shipping for its navy, war and merchant alike, throughout the waters of the Ottoman Empire. As Russian naval activity grew, need arose for a supply station, and land was acquired at the edge of Poros town. Extensive materiel, coal, and food storage facilities were built, as well as a hardtack baking factory. After Greek independence, Governor Capodistrias requisitioned the facilities for use of the Greek war navy, and offered the Russians an alternative location in a nearby cove. The new facilities were far larger, and were used by Russian ships throughout the 19th century. The number of Russian residents of Poros increased and even a Russian school was established. Then as Russian naval activity declined, so did the base and by the early 20th century only a single Russian watchman was left guarding it. It was then granted to the Greek Navy by the Czar but was never put to actual use, and the abandoned buildings were left to decay. The ruins, in elaborately carved stone, were listed as protected architectural monuments in 1989.
Poros is one of my favorite Greek islands and I always look forward to coming back here. I don’t know why, but it feels like home, even though it doesn’t look like it.
The city pier was surprisingly empty so we easily found a place to stay. Even the mariner said that we are lucky, because yesterday it was packed and will most likely be packed tomorrow.
There was an interesting boat docked next to us. I spoke to the German owner and he shared some history and technical details of the yacht.
It was designed by a South African guy, while he was in a terrible Panama prison for some drug-related charge. He drew the designs using napkins and a pencil. After he was released from prison, he went to Switzerland where the boat was built. After he passed away the boat was bought by the current owner.
The yacht is built from aluminum. It is a catamaran and a half, with half the haul in the middle. Boom-less double mast structure is interesting. And the most amazing thing is that this boat can be disassembled into 5 parts, which can be loaded on a truck and transported over land easily.
Over a light dinner we reviewed and discussed the day, sorted out some team communication issues and made the strategic decision to continue the trip through the Corinth Canal, rather than around the Peloponnese region.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day. We’ll need to cover about 70 nautical miles. Wake up call is for 6am. We should leave before 8am. We’ll see how it goes…
So, today is the first day we get to play with sails. But…
The weather is tough. There’s some wind. But also a lot of heat. And we have a lot of things to do.
We are about to travel with the owner of the boat, who has a lot of personal stuff on board. But on the way back, the boat will be in charter. So we need to spend a lot of time making sure that personal stuff is removed to storage, while charter stuff is brought on board.
Then, there were a bunch of modifications, improvements and repairs on the boat, and we need to make sure that everything works before we embark on the 500 mile trip.
So most of the morning was spent in communication and awaiting mode. But at some point we were good to go out into the sea to test the new sails and engine maintenance.
Eventually, with the crew of just two people, we disembarked, fueled the boat, and briefly went out to sea. We opened both sails, tacked a couple of times, took the sails down and returned to the marina.
That was nice! Especially comparing to the dying wind and insane heat, while being docked. It did however gave us confidence for the rest of the trip.
All the preparations are now done, including supplies shopping. Tomorrow we are heading to Poros, one of my top favorite Greek islands. And after that we will make our final decision – whether to go through Corinth canal, or sail around.
Today, is the start of the new adventure. We’ll be sailing in Greece, from Lavrion Marina to the island of Corfu. We are moving the boat from point A to point B, while taking the opportunity to chill and relax.
So far I’ve made it from Limassol to Larnaca airport (thanks to my brother for a lift), flew from Larnaca to Athens by Sky airlines, and got to the Lavrion marina by taxi (around 40 minute drive).
The boat we’re going to be sailing is the X-Yachts X43 – a luxury performance cruiser. I’ve been on this particular one a few times, including the trip last December, from Lavrion to Limassol, Cyprus.
We’ve got on the boat, got ourselves settled and figured tomorrow’s morning plan. There’s plenty to do, including supplies shopping, fueling, and a test drive the new sails before we start our adventure.
We haven’t yet decided on our route. We’ll figure it out tomorrow. As we have a couple of options: either going through the Corinth Canal or around the Peloponnese region. Both have pros and cons. But that’s not the decision for now.
The decision for now is whether to sleep inside or outside in the cockpit. In basic terms: comfortable but hot vs. fresh air, possible mosquitos and wooden bench. A sip of rum is working towards the outside option… Good night!
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