Itea and Delphi
We left Trizonia Island and our Mahe Mates, Copy Cat and headed to Itea. It was forecast to be quite breezy and it was gusting up to 27 knots. We were on a deadline as I was flying back to the UK on 19th July so had to get a bit of a move on. The wind was due to increase as the day went on so we left first thing before the worst of it. We moored up on the harbour wall at one o’clock and the wind steadily increased.
Our reason for heading to Itea was to visit Delphi, the site of the Temple of Apollo and home to the Oracle. Delphi was considered to be the centre of the world and where the Priestess Oracle received messages from the God Apollo and gave advice. Someone, can’t remember who, recommended that we get there early and before the crowds. So unbelievably there we were waiting at the bus stop at 7am, yes 7 am! The ride took us up into the mountains and the views were quite spectacular.
Our next destination was to the Corinth Canal. It was a day sail of eight and a half hours. We arrived in the pouring rain and a cool 25degrees. We moored up in the Corinth Harbour for the night. It rained constantly, at times torrential, that we never ventured off the boat here.
The following day (Tuesday 17th July 2019) we radioed up the Canal whilst we were still in the harbour to ask them what time we can transit through. We were told to head to the Canal straight away and radio when close by which we did to be told to wait within a certain area. Ian drifted out of that area! We then got a call on the radio telling us to get back in the designated area where we waited nearly an hour. There was only one other boat waiting to go through and the only advantage of milling about for an hour was that we were the first to be called to go through, so got an interrupted view.
The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf on the Aegean Sea. The canal cuts approx. 185nm of the journey. It is 4miles long, just 70ft wide and the surrounding walls are 170 feet high, so boats can only travel in one direction at a time. With hindsight, a wonderful thing, we should have checked the AIS (Automatic Identification System – tracking system on boats) to see if there was anyone coming through from the East. We would have then known that we would have to wait for them to exit on the west side before we could enter.
Signs show a speed limit for transiting the Canal, however, once inside we were told basically to “get a move on”. It took just 40 minutes from one end to the other and cost a £140 for the privilege. Apparently mile for mile it is the most expensive canal in the world but it was worth it for the experience.
Once through the Canal we headed to the small island of Salamina which is about 12 miles from Pireaus, (main port for Athens – where all the ferries depart and there are a lot of them). There was nothing much onshore by the anchorage other than two bars and of course a church. It was very quiet here and we could see lots of ships anchored by Piraeus.
We spent a couple of nights anchored at Salamina and then it was time to get me to the mainland for my flight. We set off to one of the marinas in Pireaus where Ian pulled up alongside, I stepped off and off he went back up to Korfos, near to the Cornith Canal to meet up with Copy Cat and hide from the Meltemi (strong wind) that was forecast. It was hot in Greece and I was quite looking forward to some cooler weather in the UK, well that didn’t happen the weather slipped into my suitcase and a heatwave ensued whilst I was back in the UK.
It’s always a dilemia knowing where to be dropped off and picked up, without booking into a marina. The choice for my pickup was made and it was Porto Rafti which is to the East of Athens Airport and just a 20 minute taxi ride. I confused the taxi driver( i spoke no Greek and he spoke no English) by being asked to be dropped off on the beach where my carriage awaited, the dinghy! Our next trip would be up the Evia Channel and onto the Sporades Islands.