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Preparing to leave Greece

July 3, 2018

We left Rethymno, Crete, in the evening and headed north toward the mainland, passing through the Santorini caldera at sunrise. There is no good anchorage at Santorini and we pressed on to Naxos and then Paros. Heavy weather was coming and we choose a protected bay on the north end of Paros to wait it out. The winds blew 30 kts for one-and-a-half weeks but we could not have picked a nicer place to stay. There was the picturesque village of Naousa nearby, several great tavernas within walking distance of the beach, and beautiful hiking trails through the headlands. We made several new friends on boats in a similar situation.

It’s either feast or famine with the winds in the Cyclades Islands and we left Paros in a dead calm and motored north to Kithnos and then to the mainland, making landfall at Ormos Sounio and anchoring beneath the ruins of Poesiden’s Temple; nice view especially at night with the temple lit up. The next day we arrived in Piraeus and checked into the Zea Marina near Athens. We “squeezed” Persephone into a Med-tie space not much wider than the boat. We were astonished the next day when we returned and found another boat had been squeezed into the narrow space that was left and all the boats’ fenders were ready to explode. The owner of the new boat said that we were lucky not to witnessed the scene as dock hands pushed and pulled boats to make room for him. Luckily all boats escaped unharmed.

We thoroughly took advantage of our time in the marina with a trip to the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum in Athens and nightly dinning along the waterfront while ogling beautiful mega-yachts. When it was time to leave Persephone squirted out from the other boats and we were off to the Corinth Canal.

The Corinth Canal is 3.5 miles long, 25 meters wide, and the sides rise 79 meters above sea level. It provides a shortcut from the Aegean Sea to the Ionian Sea by bypassing the Peloponnisos Peninsula (now an island). It was exciting to take our own boat through the narrow passage and into the Gulf of Corinth, and even more exciting to learn that the weather reports were wrong and we were met with 25 kt headwinds and short steep seas breaking over the bow. It took us all day to go the 30 miles to a safe anchorage.

Two days later we passed under the Rion Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world, and into the Ionian Sea. We had bare-boated in the Ionian Sea with our family 12 years ago and it was fun to re-visit some of our favorite spots such as Vathi on Ithaca, Fiskardho on Cephalonia, and One-House-Bay on Atokos. We ate at the same restaurant in Fiskardho and were pleased to be served by Greg who had been our waiter on the previous trip. The Ionian is calmer than the Aegean Sea and we enjoyed many pleasant evenings dinning at the tavernas or enjoying meals in Persephone’s cockpit.

After two enjoyable weeks we passed through the Levkas canal (not nearly as impressive as the Corinth) and moved into the Northern Ionian Sea. We passed within hailing distance of our friends on Daramy who were headed in the opposite direction. We hadn’t seen Brian and Sue since we had worked with them doing cyclone relief in Vanuatu several years ago.

We stopped a couple of nights at Paxos before heading up to Corfu where we have been cruising for the last week. We will be checking out of Greece in the next few days and sailing north, bypassing Albania and going directly to Montenegro and then Croatia.

Cyclades Islands

 

Athens

 

Ionian Sea

From → Travel

One Comment
  1. Carolyn McDonald permalink

    Lovely, lovely pictures!

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