We set off bright and early at 7.15am, keen to be on the move, with the Corinth Canal a good 21 miles away. The sun was shining, although it was still cool at this hour, the sea was flat and there was a very gently breeze, only 7 knots of wind.We motored to the canal arriving at 11am and lined up alongside three other boats waiting to transit, one was registered in Portsmouth – lots of Brits in this part of the world.
There was a group of stray dogs here last time and they seemed to be the same ones here again, but sadly looking a little bit more worse for wear. The paperwork took a record 5 minutes as we had crossed before but the costs had not changed from the eye watering amount of 234 euros. We were lucky as we only had to wait 20 minutes before we had the green light to go, Mark made sure he was the first boat through, keen not to get caught behind any stragglers.Some facts about the canal – It is 3.2 miles long and 25 metres wide, the maximum permitted draft is 6.5m. The limestone from which it is cut rises to 79m above sea level and as you enter the canal at each end there are two very unusual hydraulic bridges across the canal, the bridges are lowered DOWN into the sea water to allow the boats to pass over the top of them.In ancient times before the canal, they used to drag ships across the Isthmus on a paved road (the dhiolkos), for the history buffs, Octavian in pursuit of Antony after the battle of Actium had his ships dragged across here. Digging finally started by the Roman ruler Nero, using 6,000 Jews, but he got distracted and the canal was finally built by a French company and finished by the Greeks in 1893.Our original plan was to stop the night in Kiato about an hour and a half from the canal, (we did not like this place when we stopped here last year, too many dodgy itinerants around), so as the conditions were good and it was only mid-day, we continued on to Galaxidhi on the Greece mainland a further 6 hours along the Gulf. We arrived at 6pm, ready to unwind, Hudson was keen to stretch his legs, so following a walk around the bay, a short beer we retired back to the boat for dinner – more yummy king prawns.Galaxidhi was a lovely surprise, it is one of the prettiest towns in the Gulf of Corinth, the narrow harbour is from a distance, hidden by the rocky islets and stony hills. The bay is hemmed in by a pine studded peninsula on the east, with the town hunched on a rocky mound to the west. Back in the 18th and early 19th Centuries it was a prosperous, busy port until the Turks captured the area. Now it is a much more quiet and tranquil spot, offering shelter to yachts with very little other tourism, but surprisingly has many more bars and restaurants than would seem to be required for the number of visitors. The village is clean and well maintained and offers a great dog walk or morning run (to be decided) around the bay under the cover of the pine trees. We liked the setting so much we decided to stay an extra day and explore the village.Friday 8th September, it is so nice to wake up to sunshine, we had a lazy start catching up on our sleep before we took Hudson for a well-earned long walk around the bay. The road ended at a lovely secluded beach which was occupied by masses of tiny jelly fish who were sunbathing on the shore line (or dying, not sure which!) …. Shame, it would have been a beautiful spot for a dip.Marks next task was to sort out his storage areas, hoping to make more space. From what I could see, it involved emptying out all his stored items onto the main cabin floor (mess mess mess), jiggling them around a little bit and then putting them back in a slightly different order, resulting in a large bag full of rubbish, but oddly, less space than when he started. However, it is tiring work so he finished his jobs off with an afternoon siesta – bless him.
The next day’s plan was to get through the Gulf of Corinth under the always impressive Rion-Antirion bridge and anchor outside the Messolonghi Marina in the Gulf of Patras.