Blog 4: The Gulfs of Patras and Corinth – unexpected surprises

We had perceived the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth as waters to be crossed only to necessiate moving between the wonderful sailing areas of the Ionian and Aegean Seas. Both bodies of water have a terrible reputation for strong winds and currents, which of course usually run against you. We were very pleasantly surprised, by the lovely anchorages within easy access of interesting land content. We lucked out both ways, with very favourable winds and settled weather, which made the trip even more enjoyable.

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We even managed to catch a fish (within 2 hrs of trying out our newly constructed rig – but haven’t caught another since!)

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We then berthed for the night at Missalonghi, (Sussex Inlet Greek style). Note the eucalyptus trees – makes us homesick!

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We had an early start into the Gulf of Patras and passed under the huge Rion Bridge at the narrow junction between the Gulf of Patras to the East and into the Gulf of Corinth with the winds and current (2kts) behind us. 

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The afternoon was very relaxing, we enjoyed a good sail with brisk winds, having assumed that the winds would drop as we entered the ‘marina’ at Trizonia. To our dismay, the winds persisted, gusting to 18knots inside the very small harbour. As there were few free spots in the harbour. We then spent a very stressful few minutes anticipating trying to work out how to “shoe-horn” Xela into a tiny spot along the concrete breakwater, in shallow water, behind a huge Canadian flagged “pirate” ship with the strong cross wind on our beam. We could imagine the sound of plastic boat grinding/crunching against concrete as we pulled in side on with the wind amid a scramble of lines. Amazingly, all went well, with Ian skilfully settling Xela without incident.

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 We needed a day ‘recovering’ in lovely Trizonia, drinking coffee, planning our travels and communicating with friends and family.

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We spent quite a few days on the town wall in Galaxidi (our jewel of the Gulfs), a small, pretty, friendly and non-touristy town, with some lovely cafes and restaurants – and by far one of the best stop-overs in the Gulfs.

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It is a great base to visit the wonderful site of Delphi nearby, a rather hairy hour long bus ride away. The ruins are fantastic and are in a really spectacular site high in the hills. The newish museum is also great. 

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Galaxidi has some lovely swimming spots, so we took some time out to sit, read and relax, something (surprisingly) we don’t manage to do enough of! Life on a yacht is much busier than we had expected, with days passing so quickly with seemingly little achieved!

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Navpaktos, also a short bus trip from Galaxidi, is another “must see” of the Corinth Gulf. It  is a small walled harbour close to the Rion Bridge. As the harbour only holds about 3 yachts, travel by bus seemed a good option also enabled us to see the beautiful countryside and towns along the Gulf. 

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Had a very pleasant lunch overlooking the harbour. What is unbelievable is that it is now peak season and no-one is around. Locals say that tourism in the Gulf is down by about 50% this year. The number of empty tables (behind us in the photo), and lack of difficulty getting into anchorages certainly indicate that this may be true. 

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As we wanted to get an early start down the Corinth Canal before our long sail into Athens, we spent the night at the Corinth Harbour. Must admit, we reached a bit of a low point here as we arrived with a screaming wind behind us, to be directed into a tiny spot alongside a concrete wall – with a bend in the middle which added to the fun of berthing. A rather traumatic (but successful) berthing achieved, we settled into our berth overlooking concrete adorned with graffiti, views of the rather dowdy port behind and warnings from Port Police to lock the boat as, unlike other parts of Greece, crime is big problem in Corinth.

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The Corinth Canal was spectacular. It is was built in the 1880’s, is 2.8 miles long, only about 25 metres wide and 7 metres deep. It is supposed to be one of the most expensive waterways in the world, costing 180 Euros each way for Xela. We were lucky to pass through the canal in calm weather, with only one yacht ahead of us. Some other yachties we met were following a tanker through when it stopped suddenly. As they were trying to control their yacht, they saw the cause, a bungy jumper coming down from the bridge above and almost hitting their mast! 

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Off to Athens, the Cyclades and the Saronic Islands!

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