Greece  3

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Frank van Mierlo, his wife Ruth and their two sons Martin and Vincent spent a marvellous 9 weeks in the Greek waters, below their sailing adventures.

Part 3  Corinth - Santorini

This is part three of the logbook that describes their yacht charter holiday. Please, click on the thumbnails to see a larger 800x600 photo in a new window.

Part one: Athens - Ithaca
Part two: Ithaca - Corinth
Part three: Corinth - Santorini
Part four: Santorini - Hydra
Part five: Hydra - Athens

Corinthian Canal to the bay of Kanakia at Salamina

The bay of Kanakia at Salamina (Salamis island in the north of the Saronic Gulf) is a well kept secret. For the first time we were the only sailboat when we arrived at this lovely spot. We anchored of a small beach where the pine trees grew down to the shoreline and Vincent attached a long mooring line to shore.

I guess I have to reconsider my thoughts on the amount of fish in the Mediterranean. In this bay the flying fish literally jumped into our dinghy. We fried the unlucky trio and they made for a nice appetizer.

After the usual swim and hike, Martin organized a fire on the beach under the stars.

Salamina to the Temple of Poseidon

We raised the blister and sailed on a run past Aegina, then we crossed the main shipping lane on the motor. There was a lot of traffic and we had to take active evasive course corrections to stay out of the way of the many freighter, tankers and cruise ships that were coming to and from Athens.

We anchored in the bay beneath the temple of Poseidon at cape Sounion. It seemed fitting to visit the temple before we entered the Aegean although the state of the building did not inspire much confidence in the power of this particular god. It was an inspiring site nonetheless... more on temple architecture.

Temple of Poseidon to Kythnos

We got up early and were on the way before eight. Sailing started carefully with both the main and jib reefed as we entered the notorious Aegean sea. Currents in the straight of Kea can be as much as seven knots. We picked a patch of calm weather and with winds of fifteen knots we were soon flying all our sail. Just after mid day we arrived at Loutra on Kythnos. It is a lovely small town, there is a hot spring and at the south end of the beach you can sit in its warm waters. The architecture is very different from anything else that we have seen so far. We went along side the quay and filled up with water. This port had better water and electricity hook-ups than any other we had visited so far. At 12.33 EURO it was a good deal.

Kythnos to Sifnos

We sailed wing on wing to Sifnos, on the way we ran into and enthusiastic group of dolphins some of them jumped high out of the water as the crossed our path clearly showing of their superior speed.

From the harbour we took the bus to Apolonia (Apollonia). Its small winding streets were a lovely place to spend an afternoon, the boys had a hair cut and we had a pleasant dinner before we took the bus back.

In ancient times the people from Sifnos were known for their cheating ways; after they offered a gilt egg to the gods at Delphi instead of the customary solid gold egg Apollo destroyed their gold mines. Some of this might still be in the genes of these otherwise pleasant people. After we executed a Mediterranean mooring into the last available spot, a local came up to us and said there would be a fishing boat later that day. So we left and anchored off the beach instead. It was a fun exercise and we slept well at anchor. When we left in the next day, that last spot on the quay was still empty...

Sifnos to Folegandros (August 2)

The island of Folegandros was a prison colony as recent as last century. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a place to banish their political prisoners. It is easy to see why it would get this use. It is a harsh rocky place enough to grind down the fiercest spirit. The island is covered with stone walls no doubt build by convicts. These days it is pleasant enough with a few whitewashed houses and some small and well stocked shops.

We took the bus from Karavostasi port to the chora and hiked up to the white church of the virgin Mary at the top of the island. The long steep walkway elicited the observation from Vincent that the Greeks love to build stuff in places that take a bucket of sweat to reach. The views were breath taking. Down in the village there was a cascading set of squares and the plants and flowers were made al the more impressive in this rocky setting.

Folegandros to Santorini (August 3-5)

At dawn (6:15 am) we quietly motored out of the harbour of Karavostisi. Martin had asked to see a sun rise at sea; it was a magical sight in the early morning calm. The night before we had planned our approach into Santorini, a harbour that is known to be treacherous due to its many rocks, reefs and an ancient submerged mole right across the most logical approach.

At a quarter past nine we entered the submerged center of this giant volcano, this was the site of the largest eruption in recent geological times. At around 1600 BCE the residents of this island fled in advance of a huge explosion that wiped out most of the civilization in Greece at the time. It is probable that this event is the root of the Atlantis legend.

After motoring around this spectacular site we set course for the Vlichada harbour at the south side of the island. Vincent was on the bow as our lookout. We approached the chimney (N36 20.298 and E25 25.986) on the east side on a 45 degrees course as planned and we entered the harbour without incident. There was very little water under our keel once we were inside the mole. Our fine yacht has 2.04 meters of keel and our depth gauge was showing 1.9 meters of water as we inched our way into the inner basin!

Ruth, Martin and Vincent executed a beautiful Mediterranean mooring between two other vessels, we did have to fend off and left all boats and quay untouched. Luckily the inner harbour was a bit deeper than the channel at the entrance. The boat that was moored next to us reported that he did touch the bottom twice in the harbour entrance with his 2.3 meter keel. It was soft silt and did not cause a problem.

Santorini was a great island; we rented a car and visited the local towns and wineries. The sunsets were spectacular and the whole island had an air of sophistication that we had not yet seen in Greece. At Ia (Oia) we enjoyed fine dining while seeing the sun setting over the still active crater where we had sailed on Thursday.

On the fifth of August our friend from California arrived to sail with us for a week. After some sightseeing and a meal in Fira we returned to the boat. On the dock we had a friendly rope throwing competition which Ron won and then we settled for an early night. More Santorini logs.

 Story and photos by Frank van Mierlo

Part one: Athens - Ithaca
Part two: Ithaca - Corinth
Part three: Corinth - Santorini
Part four: Santorini - Hydra
Part five: Hydra - Athens

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