Friday, 19 June 2009

The Saronic Gulf Islands and Athens..... June 2009

12 - 19 June 2009
*** Mark relaxing with a complimentary glass of ouzo on the harbour front in Poros***The "changing of the guard" in Athens***Look what they found when they tried to dig an air shaft for the Athens metro***Our neighbours on the wall in Aegina - a wooden replica enacting a voyage from Izmir in Turkey to Marseilles in Southern France - tied up awaiting repairs after being beaten up in the Aegean***

As we approached the eastern entrance to the island of Poros after a fast beam reach sail across the Western Aegean from Sifnos, a procession of large and extremely large launches crossed our path, it was late Friday afternoon and it appeared that everyone in Athens with a launch was on their way down to the swanky island of Hydra for the night. It was non stop, about 3 minutes apart and the wash from these beasts travelling at considerable speed was very messy.

We dropped sails and motored the last couple of miles and then negotiated the very narrow channel, which has you almost touching the boats tied stern to the wall. We successfully completed that little challenge and popped out into the sheltered and enclosed harbour. Along with several others we anchored off, the town wall overflowing with more enormous launches, a phenomenal display of wealth!!!

Poros is just half a mile off the northern coast of the Peloponesse Peninsular, its waterfront lined with cafes, bars and souvenir shops, but it has a laid back feel to it, despite all the glitz tied up to the town quay. Come late Sunday night all the launches had gone, the weekend holidaymakers from Athens had left on the regular ferries and it reverted back to a quiet island community. You can catch the little passenger ferry or dinghy across to Galatas on the Peloponesse for a change of scenery but there wasn't much there, its also a good spot to hire a car to explore the peninsular, but we didn't do this.

After 3 nights the winds had dropped enough for us to make a dash due north to the island of Aegina. We motored up in sloppy seas, and winds on the nose, of course. Our aim was to get in early as we heard the harbour wall got very busy, we did find a spot on the southern wall but abandoned it when out depth gauge showed 2 metres and we were still 20 metres off! We went out and anchored for the night but the wash and wakes from the countless ferries and hydrofoils in the outer harbour made this reasonably uncomfortable. Aegina is not a densely populated island, around 15,000 inhabitants, but the frequency of the ferries to and from Athens astounded us. Next morning we got a spot on the northern wall, backing onto the road and cafes, somewhat noisy but certainly in the middle of all the comings and goings and very little ferry wash.
Aegina is a lively spot, the harbour side again brimming with wall to wall cafes. Greece certainly is a cafe society, from early morning coffees to midnight glasses of ouzo and meals served non stop throughout the day, it emits that lazy carefree atmosphere that if it doesn't get done today, there is always tomorrow. Maybe that is why we feel so much at home here!!

Instead of sailing Balvenie to Athens where marina berths are hard to find and very expensive we decided to take the ferry for the day, along with our carefully packaged broken wind instrument in the hope of getting it repaired or replaced at the local agent there. By 11am we had a fix, just €440 for a new 'brain' about the size of my little finger, oh well there goes another NZ$1,000 boat unit, but if it works I guess it's worth it. So the rest of the day was spent 'doing Athens' (with fiercely protected wind instrument). As we had both been before we just did a mini refresher and walked the suggested Lonely Planet 4 hour walking tour in 38 degrees heat and searing sunshine, taking in the main sights, the changing of the guard, and as much shade as we could find!!

The next morning it was time for skipper to head for the skies again and refit the wind instrument to the top of the mast. All was going well until just past the 2nd spreader when it caught on something and came nosediving down in freefall, crashing to the deck, oh my god!!!! After a quick inspection I thought it was all ok, so repackaged it very securely, attached it to another halyard and sent it up to Mark, patiently dangling aloft, not believing it could have survived such a fall. I realised quite quickly when he received it that things were not at all well, 'where is the other end?' he shouts. Good question, where is the other end????? Oh dear, that's it dangling precariously over the side of the rail. Quickly retrieved before going overboard and
moved to a much more secure spot we independently surveyed our snapped off ends, mmmmm time for skipper to come back down I think. Now exopy glue has many uses, but gluing together a wind instrument that has a tiny rotating bearing in it, to the other end that has the circuit board 'brain' in it capable of reading the signal from this rotating bearing may not be one of them, but really, just what did we have to lose? So exopy glued it was, and then a little sleeve added for extra support, followed by hours of uncertainty while we waited for it to cure. Early evening we couldn't stand the suspense any longer so up he went again and reattached it in place. The moment of truth when I came below and turned on the instrument's all working, wind speed and direction, wow, who'd have believed it. Plenty extra rations for the crew tonight!!!!

We enjoyed Aegina, We stayed 4 nights, we didn't get to the ruins which are supposed to be very good, but in Europe there will always be more ruins, but there was a window for getting on westwards. Next stop the Cornith Canal.

Cruising Info for Poros and Aegina:
Anchorages -
Navy Bay, Poros ... 37 30.27N 23 27.02E 16m held well. Good shelter
Aegina Anchorage ... 37 44.46N 23 25.64E 4.6m sand and weed, took 2 attempts but then held well. Totally exposed to west, alot of wash from large ferries that dock on outside harbour wall
Aegina Town Wall ... 37 44.76N 23 25.69E showing 2m but we were still afloat. Cost €20.66 for 3 nights, 1st night costs most. Water and power available, water was €10 for 150-1000 litres.
Internet - Nothing in Poros. Free Port wifi in Aegina but I couldn't get it to work
Money - ATM's in both
Provisions - Everything you need within walking distance. Diesel mini tanker to dock €1.06 per litre
Formalities - didn't do in either

Sightseeing - Ferry Aegina-Athens €9.50 metro downtown €1 per person each way Posted by Picasa

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