Thursday, 25 June 2009

Westwards thru the Corinth Canal ..... June 2009

19 - 23 June 2009
***Transiting the Corinth Canal, with the steep walls and a couple of bridges high above***The cute harbour of Galaxidi***The gymnasium area at ancient Delphi***Higher up at Delphi, overlooking the amphitheatre, Temple of Apollo and the gymnasium in the distance with the valley full of olive trees as the background***

After our 4 nights in Aegina is was time to move on again and head further west. We pulled out of the harbour without drama, not always a sure thing when you stern tie to the town wall, as anchor chains often get laid over each other, and can make for a very messy tangle often when leaving.
We sailed, then motor sailed as we lost the breeze and headed to the end of the Saronic Gulf, and the entrance to the Corinth Canal, till there was only land ahead. We anchored for the night, still not having spotted the gap for the canal - we hoped it was still there as it's a long way around! The canal is not busy at all, very few large ships can fit through it and it seems to serve mainly yachts, smaller coastal traders and a couple of tour boats that offer the 'canal experience'. Next morning with a light westerly breeze we headed for the breakwater, tied alongside the empty dock, Skipper went ashore with boat papers and credit card and the paperwork was completed in under 5 minutes. Maybe they could bring the Egyptians that run the Suez Canal up here and show them a thing or two on how things can be done efficiently! Then we just had to wait for them to lower the road into the canal, and off we went. The canal is 3.2 miles long, 25m wide and the limestone walls rise to 79m. At €177 for our transit it is quite an expensive half hours entertainment and we popped out in the Gulf of Corinth in no time at all.

With a building nor'wester and gathering thunder clouds we had full days sails to our destination of Galaxidi . We spent much time dodging lightening strikes and squalls, and realized it was the first time we had sailed in the rain since our passage from the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal to Sri Lanka in January 2008!! We weren't surprised by the rain, after all we had just paid for water to hose the boat down in Aegina, oh well.

Galaxidi is a delightful spot, visited mostly by cruising yachts as its out of the way for the charter fleets and a little off the beaten track for holiday makers. There is a small town basin to stern tie or if plenty of room side tie to, cafes and bars along the quay but its very peaceful and surrounded by a young pine forest. We spent 3 nights here, sitting out stormy weather, and spent one day visiting the ancient ruins of Delphi.

We caught the bus around the large bay to nearby Itea where we changed onto another bus and started the climb up the valley through acres and acres of olive groves, into the mountains to Delphi. This is where Zeus declared the centre of the world to be and the Sanctuary of Apollo was built here. This is one of the most important ancient sites in Greece, and although we have seen better preserved ruins the site is absolutely stunning, perched high on the mountain slopes with a stunning vista down to the Gulf of Corinth. There are still the remains of the gymnasium and running tracks, this was more a place of relaxation and leisure rather than a bustling city. It has done well to survive the earthquakes that shake this area regularly. The adjoining museum is excellent and houses treasures unearthed in the 1930's under the 'sacred way', artefacts are well displayed and documented.

The westerly winds eased a little so time to keep going but sad to leave, Galaxidi is a favorite. We spent the afternoon covering the 18 miles to our next destination of Trizonia, we had 20 knots, of course on the nose, but with relatively flat seas and after 11 tacks dropped sail outside this small island, just 1 mile off the mainland. There is another of Greeces unfinished marinas here, they receive money from the EU for various projects, start the building then when the EU money runs out the Greek Government is supposed to finish the project off, but it seems that alot 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. Yesterday we got a ride to the mainland and onto Nafpaktos to look around this bustling little town and tiny ancient harbour then caught the bus and ferry back. We have side tied to the end of a dock and here we will remain until the unseasonal thunder storms abate and the strong winds from the west ease, so we can make our way out into the Ioanian Sea.

Cruising Info for Eastern Corinth Canal, Galaxidi, Trizonia and Itea:
Anchorages -
Corinth Canal Eastern Side .. 37 55.25N 23 00.83E 6.5m and and weed held ok
Galaxidi .. 38 22.62N 22 23.26E 3.8m Stern tied to harbour wall, some holding not too good as continual dredging but we held well. Most likely very helpful Angelos will be there to direct and assist you. No charge for tying up, but pay extra for power and water
Itea .. We didn't stay here but it is a little closer to Delphi if you are wanting to go to the ruins. The marina is right by the bus stop. It has now been completed and we believe they charge €8 per night to dock, unsure of power and water. Although calm water inside it is much more exposed than Galaxidi to all but a northerly wind. Bigger town with all the facilities
Trizonia .. 38 22.15N 22 04.57E 2.5m side tied. Find wherever you can. No charge for tying up but no facilities and plenty of big holes in the dock to break an ankle on!!!!
Internet - Corinth .. nothing, Galaxidi .. OK Cafe has good signal and excellent coffee, have a coffee and get the code. Trizonia .. Posideon Cafe good signal in marina, charge is €2 1hour, €5 1 day or €10 3 days and skype worked well. Possibly free while having something at the cafe but need to pay if using onboard.
Money - Galaxidi ATM machines, nothing at others
Provisions - small stores at Galaxidi, tiny minimarket at Trizonia.
Fuel mini tanker on the dock at Galaxidi, water and power available 5Euro for each I believe
Formalities - Tried to check in Galaxidi 3 times, no one home. Nothing others
Sightseeing -
Galaxidi .. Buses to Itea from square slightly up the hill at 10am then onto Delphi 1045, return 1545 to Itea and about 20minute wait. €3.20 through tickets per person each way. Entry to Delphi €6 site only or €9 site and museum See for more on Galaxidi
Trizonia .. Bus back from Nafpaktos at 11am connected with 12noon ferry which waited for it. Bus was €2.70 each ferry €1. Got ride to Nafpaktos kindly from Spiros one of the restaurant owners.

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