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Azure II
Family Cruising
Corinth Canal
05/23/2011

RJ Reports:
We have just motored through the Corinth Canal, connecting the Ionian and Aegean seas. This 3-mile long stretch of water was started by Emperor Nero in AD 67, but was constantly postponed due to invasions. Consequently, the canal wasn't finished until 1893 by a French engineering company. On each end of the canal, there is a hydraulic bridge that instead of lifting up, sinks into the water. Cars sometimes have to wait up to an hour to get across.

After a 5 hour passage, we finally made it to the entrance of the Corinth Canal. We radioed the canal office and waited for a few other boats to finish coming the other way. As we waited, a small group gathered around the entrance consisting of 5 sailboats, 2 barges, a small motor boat and a super yacht. There was a long delay while a straggler on the other side of the canal finally made it through, and another delay as everyone got ready to start. The total waiting time was about 2 hours. Then, one by one, we started going through. It was magnificent with the sides going strait up for more than 250 feet at some spots. Leo entertained himself by going on our home-made rope swing until he got bored and we started playing fender walking or "fender bender". We then started having a fender fight until Leo went back on the rope swing and we came out of the canal. We tied up to the exit dock and payed the hefty fee of $340 before making our way towards Athens.

(mom's warning: fender fighting - don't try this at home)
For full song by ZIMA http://soundcloud.com/zima-1/voyager-zima

Galaxidhi and Delphi
05/21/2011

Continuing down the Gulf of Patras we had a delightful stop in Galaxidhi. The town has a small quay to med moor and we were fortunate to be able get a spot. Restaurants and shops are just a step off of the boat. On the quay one has close neighbors, making for a fun, social environment. Most folks we meet are from the UK, but we've also met sailors from France, Germany, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada. Surprisingly, we haven't come across any U.S. boats since our return to the Med in March.

The ancient city of Delphi is 45 minutes away from Galaxidhi and we hopped on the bus to take a look. Delphi is in a spectacular location, high in the hills toward Mt. Parnassus where Zeus determined it to be the center of the earth. Established in 800 BC, it is the home of the Temple of Apollo where the Delphic oracle, speaking for Apollo, would predict the future for those who visited. Kings and emperors from all around came to get advice from the oracle - after they provided a grand gift of course. Leaders like Alexander the Great came and asked for counsel to determine weather to go to war, who to marry and where to journey. (I think some leaders today could use a good oracle.) Words of wisdom are not offered at Delphi these days, even so it was worth the time see the ancient ruins. Next on to the Corinth Canal.
Photos here

Rainy Tuesday
05/17/2011

It's not all sunshine! We've holed up in Nisis Trizonia an island in the Gulf of Patras. Hmmm- unpredicted headwinds, then big wind on the beam :) then rain?
Not slowing us down too much - we are making our way toward the Cornith Canal - the shortcut to Athens.

Ionian Islands
05/16/2011

Last week we joyfully left the boatyard and continued cruising the Ionian islands. Our first stop was in Tranquil Bay, Lefkada which happily lived up to it's name. We enjoyed wildflower filled hikes and we all slept soundly in the floating boat. Next we sailed to the island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus (from Homer's epic story The Odyssey made into an excellent movie too.) RJ studied this in history and we attempted to find the archeological sites on the island. Although marked on the map, it seems that the 300 BC built fortresses are in a shambles. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the journey in the car checking out the island and the tiny museums had interesting artifacts striving to prove Ithaca was truly Odysseus' homeland. The Ionian islands are gorgeous w/ green hillsides covered with olive and citrus trees. One could easily spend a season exploring these northern islands, but the clock is ticking on our remaining three months so we're moving on through the Cornith canal to visit the southern islands.

Photos Here




Boatyard Blues
05/05/2011

Seeing the boat get lifted out of the water is nerve racking. We could only hope that the straps were positioned properly. We stopped holding our breath when the boat was successfully lifted and moved onto land. The boatyard is concrete surrounded by dirt fields -filled w/ other boats out of the water. Although it seems an unnatural thing to have the boat out of water, it's necessary so that we can clean and paint the bottom. We need to sand, scrape and apply special paint so that barnacles and what not don't grow on the boat. While we're here, we're doing a number of other projects too, like a new thru-hull for the holding tank (holds the you know what.) All fun stuff.

We have lots of dirt, dust and wind . We trudge up and down ladders to get in and out of the boat and to go to the bathroom. Then there's the missing workers that are supposed to help us. We're living in a parking lot for boats. A few more days to go. I got the boatyard blues.

Paxos, Greece
05/03/2011

Just south of Corfu are a couple of small islands. We went to Paxos - a tiny, quaint island. It's not high season yet and weekend ferries to Corfu weren't running, so thankfully not many people were around. It was a perfect place to rent scooters and ride around the island and a good opportunity for me learn how to drive one! Towards the end of our driving around, Leo - my passenger - said "Mommy, let go of your fears and go fast" - when I sped up on the straightaway - he was whooping it up and I almost let go of my fear!

On Paxos we were tied up to the town quay in Gaios. While there, we med moored, which is a bit tricky b/c you put out an anchor, back up and tie two lines to the wharf w/out hitting the concrete quay. It's always exciting - RJ drops the anchor, Rodney backs up the boat and Leo and I tie off the stern lines. There is potential for disaster, but this was our second time and we did well. That evening, we were prepared for the wind to change to the south and we went to the recommended northern location. However, the wind was strong, pushing us into the quay so Rodney and I were up at 3:30 am fending the boat off the dock (the kids sleep through everything.) Prior to that a 50 foot motor yacht moored next to us, got a line tied around it's prop and we had to tie them to our boat which added even more pressure. We finagled things around, put out more fenders and eventually went back to bed. No harm done. But these changing strong winds have had us up more than a few times. The next day, we provided scuba gear so the powerboaters could get their line off the prop - and disconnect from us- then off they went!

We're moving on to the boat yard in Preveza to haul the boat out of the water and get our bottom painted - the boat bottom that is.

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