June 2018

After a nice time at Corfu, I went back South. Leaving this beautiful island behind.

Corfu Castle

The plan is to go to Turkey, but not via Crete, but through the Canal of Corinth. I always wanted to do that. Going to Crete can be risky. That is because the winds can be very strong around the island.

My mother’s birthday is the 21th of June, so I have to go back before that. Caught up in Crete is not a very nice situation. Going to a marina near Athens is much more convenient.

First heading for Aktio on Lefkas, where I left my ship for wintertime. I did forget to pick up the keys when I left.

A nice quiet sail for about 12 hours to Aktio. I did arrive early in the morning and could enjoy a nice breakfast at the marina of Aktio. I left after a couple of hours and wanted to pass the old and famous bridge at Lefkada. Than I smelled something strange. I looked into the engine room and saw a lot of liquid. It turned out to be diesel. One of the fuel tubes was damaged. It leaked almost 20 liters of fuel.

Luckily I’ve got two engines!

With one engine I managed to pass the bridge and went to Nidri nearby Vlicho. I could get the parts I needed and bought some extra. I’ve learned to buy parts in doubles. If one fails others will follow soon.

Then Vlicho, also on Lefkas. I wanted to see Horatio, the old bearded Scotsman. He suffered a stroke at the end of last year. So I realy wanted to see how he is doing.
And I left an outboard engine for sale at a store nearby. They sold it! Nice. I was afraid I had to pick it up again.

After the repairs and a good night sleep I left for Vathi. One of my favorites. It is a nice anchorage with good holding grounds and surrounded by the small village. Oh, and very good souvlakis.

The next morning I left for new territories. The Gulf of Patras and the Gulf of Corinth. There was little wind as predicted, but in the afternoon it would pick up and it did.

Looking on the map I saw a small canal near the entrance of the Gulf of Patras with a marina at the end of it, closed, but with a place for anchorage in front. So I headed for that small canal. It turned out to be beautiful! A small canal with flat lands surrounding it. Nice small fishing houses on one shore.

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I even came across a sea turtle! It is hard to take a picture of them, but they are very common in these waters.  Last month I managed to, but it is in a distance. She was floating drifting on an object I suppose. If you enlarge it, you can see she is quite above the water.

Sea Turtle

On the map I noticed you should be very aware of shallow waters in this small canal. On some places just 2,5 m. More then enough for my boat, but maps are not always that accurate in these waters. But all went well and I did arrive at a very nice pool and dropped the anchor.

Next morning I left for the second leg. Passing the enormous bridge near Patras.  The Rio–Antirrio Bridge. Officially the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge. It is one of the world’s longest cable-stayed bridges. Almost 3 km of length and its height of 52 meter it is an impressive sight.

Bridge (Medium)

Now it became a bit harder finding an anchorage for the night, but I saw a bay on the map that should be good. there where fish nurcesries, but I discovered there are a lot of fish nurseries in the Mediterranean. Fish in the wild is almost gone I suppose. When there is space you can anchor there. Here it turned out to be a very quiet place with even a small beach.

Then, finally the last track to the Corinth Canal! I just left and then the unexpected happened. Dolphins! A bunch of about 12. They went crazy. Even swimming against the boat and jumping all around. Another group arrived and another. I guess in the end there where 50 or so! Quite frankly, I became a bit frightened. I mean 50 big fish around and under the boat and all showing off!

Dolphins

On the top left you can see a part of my boat, to show you how close they where.

At around 3 pm I arrived at the entrance of the Corinth Canal. I called them by radio and I got permission to sail right in together with another yacht. Good timing.

The Corinth Canal is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland.

The canal was already proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century. Construction started eventualy in 1881 , 1600 years later, but was delayed by geological and financial problems.

French entrepreneurs were put in charge but, following the bankruptcy of a French company that dug the Panama Canal, French banks refused to lend money and the company went bankrupt as well. A fresh concession was granted.

It was completed in 1893 but, due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems, (you cannot pass a ship so only one direction at the time) and periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators. The canal is now used mainly for tourist traffic. Still it is weekly closed due to repairs.

Its high rock walls channel high winds down its length, and the different times of the tides in the two gulfs cause strong tidal currents in the channel. So just 15% of the anticipated cargo was transported through the canal. All in all, a bit of a failure, but still very impressive.

Corinth1

After you exit you have to pay for the transit. That is, if you enter from the West. There is only one office for payments and that is situated at the East entrance. About 150 euro. Hmm, just for 6 km of sailing, but then they still loose money I suppose, the Greek way.

I could anchor for the night just near the entrance.

Then I got a whatsapp video from my mother. She was getting worse, I could see that clearly. I had to go back as soon as I could. I contacted a yard on Aegina, an island nearby, and could get the boat lifted ashore for two weeks. A marina was not available. So the boat was lifted and the next day I took a taxi, ferry, bus, plane and hired a car to visit her. She was in bed and did not look good. She was very happy to see me. All the family was here. She enjoyed her family, I could see that and we had a very good time together. She passed away peacefully a week later, knowing her family was with her. The following week was busy and difficult. Arranging a funeral and coping with loosing her. Someone said, I should be glad for her. That is true, after all, she was 94. But still hard to do. Maybe in time.

After the funeral, I had to go back. The boat had to be launched. I begged for a few days more, but the man was very stubborn. So two days later I was back on my boat, sailing again and longing for a quiet safe anchorage and stay there for a couple of days. Just trying to imagine a life without a loving mother.

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