Departing Aigina at sunrise, Matt and I motored westward toward the Corinthian canal entrance. By 1:30pm we lay moored by the canal authorities control tower where I paid the 95 Euro transit fee. Several boats were on route from the western end, and as they approached I moved off the quay to avoid their wash. Easy.
Just after 2pm we were literally waved through (so much for standing by on channel 11 VHF) and Eileen of Avoca majestically (if you ignore Matt’s laundry hanging everywhere) motored into the Gulf of Corinth.
Spectacular! Especially when the sky darkened, storm clouds moved in and lightning forked menacingly over the mountains to the south. That sort of spectacular I can do without, especially when it is accompanied by rain. Thoroughly drenched, we motored on into the night arriving in Navpaktos by daybreak.
With continuing fair weather we set sail for Aigina near Athens, skirting the south of Sifnos and west of Serifos. The sailing was uneventful, and only the port of Aigina is worth a special mention.
Warning! This is a quaint but expensive tourist trap!
To be avoided, unless you don’t mind paying 3.50 for a lukewarm espresso or 3 Euro for just a few minutes Internet usage in a cafe exuding unpleasant plumbing odors. The miser in me suffered considerably. 🙂
Note: This was the only port I visited in Greece since leaving Kos that charged me for the privilege of tying to the quay.
I arrived on the 3rd of September to find Eileen of Avoca boasting a new coat of antifoul and looking a little more polished than when I left her in August. Had Kos Marine Services lived up to my exacting standards?
The following morning, I had a close look at the work and my initial enthusiasm became somewhat muted. It all looked just a little hurried. The sea cock had been replaced along with the through hull fitting very professionally, but the three coats of antifoul looked more like one, the varnish for the rudder/tiller (400 Euro), while costing me more than the engine service (300 Euro) had run, and polish leftovers lay everywhere.
No serious workmanship issues, but I do confess to being a little miffed by the (exorbitant?) unforeseen charges, lack of itemized receipts, and requirement to pay more than half the work in cash. Perhaps I harbor unreasonably high expectations.
On the 5th of September Eileen was lifted back into the water. Free to travel at last.
By morning I’d been overtaken by my flotilla partner and Chalki hove into view. What a splendid little stopover. Since the jetty was crowded (well it is August), I rafted up with the boats at anchor. Considerably more chain is required to anchor with enough scope here (15-20m depth), but by 9am the charter boats moved on and I inelegantly made fast to the pontoon.
Dropping the Danforth (with 10m of chain) over the stern I motored to within a meter of the pontoon gently easing out the line. This generally works a treat, except when there isn’t enough line… Must have been the sleep deprivation 😉
I tried and failed to leave Agios Nickolaos and sail to Rhodes. According to the locals in Crete, the Meltemi is a little more persistent this year, making travel by sea somewhat uncomfortable.
I thought dry humor was the sole domain of the English. Apparently not! So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about turning back to wait for the next weather window.
An uncharacteristically hot engine, vicious swell, sunburn, unresponsive jib furler and seasickness were my other ego consoling excuses for turning back.
A few days extra preparation shouldn’t go astray. Except that a few days looks like becoming more than a week and I have a deadline to reach Kos by the 5th. Let me rephrase that… I have a “preference” to reach Kos by the 5th.
A little gymnastics is required to get on and off Eileen when she is moored “Med. style”. I have to haul on the warps to get the bowsprit to within a meter of the quay before making a proverbial “leap of faith” as the boat swings back into position. Not so easy when loaded with all manner of impedimenta.
Encumbered with my kayak tender this morning, I found myself taking an unexpected first-light swim in my Sunday’s best! Fortunately, nobody was looking, even if I could have used help dragging myself back onto the quay.
The rest of the day was spent on odd jobs: changing spent navigation lights, sorting through miscellaneous gear and removing the hastily repaired and somewhat troublesome “Tiller Pilot” mount. Thoroughly exciting so I’ll spare you additional details.
There was not much time to play tourist but I did wander into the heart of town on occasion. On one such visit I came across a most unusual spectacle. An old man wrestling with his goose (literally!). A small crowd had gathered to watch the senior citizen as he took a firm grip of the birds beak and gave it a vigorous shake. The goose was not phased in the least! Evidently this was a frequent and affable encounter which leads me to wonder; given the disagreeable nature of geese (flashback to childhood memories of being pursued by a gaggle of angry avians), how does one even think to grapple with a wild goose in order to acclimate it to head shaking in the first place?
All too soon it was time to pack and prepare for my trip back to Belgium. So, what was the point to all this travel especially as I didn’t get to do any sailing? Well, I delivered a handsome new Jeckells sail wardrobe for Eileen and paid my mooring fees, but more importantly I had a chance to reassure myself that despite a spate of last minute hindrances to the grand get away plan, the envisaged journey was still largely on track.
A pleasant sail to Methoni just 35NM away. Well before sunset I was anchoring among the fishing vessels below the walls of an ancient Venetian fort. Heikell states in his guide that this is one of his favourite stops in the Peloponnese.I can see why.
Inflating my Kayak tender I paddled to the nearby beach and explored the town. In high season I am told it is a hive of activity but by November it was winding down and I had the charming tavernas almost to myself.
With the wind blowing steadily from the direction of my intended destination, I stubbornly motored out of Gouvia Marina and made my leisurely way South at 4kts. Four knots was all Eileen would give me until I could find a quiet anchorage and scrape away at the cornucopia of sea life clinging to her propeller.
It was such a perfect evening that I could not contemplate stopping for the night. Mesmerized by the photoluminescent plankton (which in Greece is very different from what I had seen in Italy) the hours passed quickly. Near Paxoi, I switched off the motor and set up my short-wave receiver for NAVTEX updates. I can’t use the receiver when the engine is running because the alternator produces too much interference. I was so thrilled that this new acquisition of mine worked that I’ve appended the results of one of my first NAVTEX receptions:
KERKYRA RADIO NAVWARN 0259/
MAN OVER BOARD
AT SEA AREA-N IONIO SEA
KERKYRA ISLAND – GLYFADA BAY
SHIPS IN VICINITY REQUESTED
TO KEEP A SHARP LOOKOUT
REPORTING TO JRCC/PIRAEUS
KERKYRA RADIO NAVWARN 0256/
NORTH IONIO SEA – LEFKADA ISLAND
DOUKATO POINT LIGHT
38-34N 020-33E UNLIT
UNDERWATER EXERCISE BY
HELLENIC NAVY TEAM IN PROGRESS
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
IN SEA AREA PATRAIKOS GULF CENTERED
ON 38-13,38N 021-42,12E
AND RADIOUS 0,25 MILE
KERKYRA RADIO/WEATHER FORECAST
VALID FM 041600 UTC UP TO 050400 UTC
SYNOPSIS OF SURFACE WEATHER CHART
THE COMBINATION OF HIGH PRESSURES
1026 OF BLACK SEA WITH LOW 1007 OF W
MEDITERRANEAN SEA IS AFFECTING:
CENTRAL ADRIATIC AND NORTH ADRIATIC
WITH SE GALE 8 LOC STRG GALE 9
NORTH IONIO W OF 19.30 S ADRIATIC AND
BOOT WITH S SE NEAR GALE 7 LOC GALE 8
OUTLOOK FOR 12 HOURS
FM 051600 UTC UP TO 060400 UTC
NO SIG CHANGE IS EXP
What was a little disconcerting were the gales blowing in the Northwest and some poor fellow had fallen overboard. I wonder if he was ever found?
Once reaching the sheltered waters of Othoni, the remainder of the trip to Gouvia Marina (see www.medmarinas.com) was smooth and scenic. Corfu is a splendid island with lush vegetation softening its rugged features (stated as I scratched the rather lush facial vegetation softening my own imaginary rugged features). BTW has anyone successfully shaved while sailing his Yarmouth23?
Safely nestled in our berth opposite the seaplane service (see www.airsealines.com) I set about the unhappy task of packing and the many and varied chores necessary when leaving the boat for a lengthy period. I found quite a bit of water in the bilge and I can only imagine that it came in through the pushpit lockers during the crossing from Italy. I really must do something about that.