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                              CORINTH CANAL & IONIAN ISLANDS- GREECE

Having replaced the waterpump and then having to fix our HF radio, we left Poros and set sail for the Corinth Canal. We stopped briefly overnight at an anchorage on the island of Agkistri, resuming our journey the next day to time the entrance to the Canal. We motored for over 12 hours and 72 miles, glad to have our pump installed.

We did the standard Check-in at Isthmia, tied to the wall. It cost us 128 Euro ($210) to transit the Corinth Canal, which is  basically the most expensive transit on earth, lasting only 30 minutes. But the canal cut through the centre of Greece takes off a lots of miles by not having to sail around the bottom of the Peloponnesus. We were in luck as they were just raising the bridge and rushed us right thru without a wait.


CORINTH CANAL

May 31

The Corinth Canal opened in 1893, cut through the Isthmus of Corinth, links the Aegean and Ionian Seas. It is a narrow canal chiselled through solid rock about 6 kms long and 20 meters wide, with vertical sides that rise 90 meters above the water. Overhead are a series of bridges.

We motored through the Canal, which spilled out into the Corinth Gulf, with flat calm waters so we continued to motor all the way to Galixcity, a record daylight run of 73 miles!


 

Galixcity

The sprinkle of palm trees in the rocky Cyclades gave way to tall slender cedar trees posed amidst pine forests clinging to high mountainous terrain. The taste of the shoreline buildings were more Venetian. We arrived at the flat calm water of Galixcity Harbor and tied to the wall (free).

We tied stern-to, Argos on one side, a large old schooner sporting a Canadian flag on the other side.

 



Galixcity


Aboard 36!! young people comprised of  a very colorful group of trapeze artists, singers, dancers and others making up the circus troop. We discovered that they were based in the Okanagan!! and most of the people on board were from Vancouver!! We met a young man whose father owned a boat building outfit in Canoe Cove Sidney, BC


eagle woman

The ship was a Travelling Caravan Theatre Showboat which gave performances on its tall ship platform.

A ring side seat to all sorts of acrobatics in the rigging, singing, rehearsing lines, setting up lights & so on.

 

Galixcity was a quiet town with a promenade that followed the waterfront, bordered by restaurants and tavernas side by side right across the road. We met up with Argos for a drink, then took a walk around to stretch our legs. The town centered around the inlet of the bay, where a little "duckhouse" and feeder floated amidst the fishing boats at anchor.

We returned to the boat just as the town was coming alive at 11 pm. We still ave not been able to convince our bodies that this schedule of late nights is the way to go! We turned in and I could here laughter and talking til at least 2pm, then the loud resonating  of church bells at 7 am awoke me with a jolt.

June 2

The following day was spent on the latest breakdown, our HF radio. After several hours of torment, Gord was able to bypass the on-off switch and get it up and running again. I cannot imagine not having a radio for email, weather and the morning net.


Trizonia

Trizonia has another of Greece's unfinished marinas, money from the EU for various projects, starts the building, then when the EU money runs out, the Greek Government is supposed to finish the project off. But it seems that most of the time they don't. So there are a few of these little marinas around, with all the docks, cleats, dock lighting etc, but no power, water or staff and generally in a state of disrepair, and they are free and most welcomed by us cruisers.

We immediately noticed that the marina was void of charter boats and we side tied, along with GWTW, Aros and Blue Banana. That evening we partied at the "Windy Banana Taverna" on the dock.

pictured right: Trizonia Harbour

 

The following day we all went for a hike. The land around the bay was lush and green and we walked through the hills above the little hamlet of Trizonia, through  olive groves, gathering wild rosemary and thyme.

We visited the abandoned yacht Club, for sale due to the owner's death from a snake bite.

pictured l to r: Sam, Phil, Annie, Liam, Ginny, Gord

June 3

We awoke to the sound of rain and the weather forecast predicted a blow coming through. So we all decided to wait out the weather before continuing west. It was dinner and a  movie on GWTW that evening.


Ascension under sail

June 4

With a favorable wind, we all headed west. We were pretty much close hauled and hard on the wind, so Ascension was a happy boat and, with the ability to point very high, we were well ahead of Blue Banana and Gone with the Wind. Of course, if there is any more than one boat on the ocean, it is a race! But it made for an exciting day of sailing as we tacked back and forth across the Gulf of Corinth. We sailed under the wide span bridge, amidst lots of ship traffic, all required to report to the port authorities for permission to proceed.

Mesolongion

The well protected marina (again free!) is up a long canal which pass rustic wooden homes built on stilts over the marshland. It reminded us of Indonesia, with boys fishing off dilapidated piers and front porches.

IONIAN ISLANDS

The Ionian Islands are the greenest and most fertile of all the islands in Greece and very different from the stark, barren rocky isles of the Cyclades. The first thing I noticed  in the western Ionians was the abundance of cypress trees towering above the dense brush, sometimes intermingled with palm trees.

Ithica

June 3-5 Vathi Bay, Ithaca

We anchored in the protected Vathi Bay surrounded by its brown roofed houses huddled around the bay.

The small rugged unspoilt island has a harsh precipitous east coast and a lush green west coast. The interior is mountainous and rocky with pockets of pine forests, cypress and olive groves.

Ashore, the town, reconstructed since the earthquake in 1953, was declared a traditional settlement. We had another wonderful evening with GWTW and Blue Banana beginning with a drink ashore, then a get together on Ascension. Sad goodbyes. ....


Lefkada Island-

Nydri

June 6

Levkada 38.42.2N 20.42.7E

We left our friends and headed 18 miles to Tranquil Bay, Levkada. Not living up to its name, Tranquil Bay was crammed with charter boats, amidst the islands. We picked up our parts that we had ordered and were being held for us at George's well stocked Chandlery. We also stocked up on fresh veggies and bread.


 

June 7    Since the closest customs & immigration office was Levkada town, we rented
a scooter to go there to check out of Greece.

Absolutely stunning scenery, best we had seen in Greece..... mountain towns, green valleys with pine forests, stands of cypresses, olive groves and vineyards, twisty mountainous roads, with switchbacks so tight we could hardly negotiate the turns on the bike.

 

There were stunning vistas where the water was that Bora Bora turquoise colour that we hadn't seen since the south Pacific.

 

In Levkada town, our attempts to check out were totally futile, as we were shuffled from office to office and back again as none of the officials seemed to be at their post!

Fabulous beaches, but not well kept secrets with endless fields of colored umbrellas, sunbathers vying elbow to elbow for their spot of the sand.

After 2 hours we gave up and enjoyed a 2 Euro Pita Gyros.

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