Westward Go!

Dark Satanic Factory

After a little tweaking in the engine department we left Piraeus and Zea Marina, home port for the last three years and said fond farewell and to our friends Nick and Deborah, feeling a little sad that we would not be returning for a while.

Love Piraeus
Perfect reflection

 We did our usual ‘shake down’ run towards Poros where we anchored in Russian Bay for a couple of nights fascinated by the slow dance of the cable laying vessel and all its underlings.

The Boss
The team

In Poros we went stern to in the channel, something I’ve never been keen on but turned out to be fine.

No crossed anchors

Andy had boat things to do so I walked in search of a cookery course that our friends String and Ben had done the week before.  Not unexpectedly she didn’t have space but I loved the chat and the walk.  We hired electric bikes and cycled up the mountain (easily) through pines, relishing sun and the smell. Our destination was the temple of Poseidon at a great vantage point looking out north towards Methana and Athens.

Poseidon’s view
Our view

On we went following a circular route looking down into previous anchorages and one in particular where we will go no more as it has cables laid into it.  We stopped in Russian Bay and had lunch.  I commented that the tzatziki was very garlicky and he said it’s how we Greeks like to eat garlic with the addition of only a tiny bit of cucumber and yogurt.

From here, with a new engine starter battery we went to Epidavros and then on to the entrance of the Corinth Canal.  We tied up at the holding area, handed over 200 Euros plus and waited patiently while Naughty Girl led a procession of boats through and were amused when said boat turned out to be Knotty Girl. 

Going, going, gone

The sinking road bridge took Andy’s fancy translating it in his mind to Burntisland’s East Dock.  I hadn’t even noticed the traffic going across and thought it was some sort of lock gate!

Into the jaws of the Corinth
Corinthian isloation

We were very grand and went through the canal solo, the traffic was predominantly west to east.  We spent one rather uncomfortable night at anchor in the Alkionides Islands.  Myths abound and this one has to do with the seven nymph daughters of Alconyeus, king of the giants.  When Herakles slew their father they threw themselves into the sea in grief and were transformed by the goddess Amphitrite into kingfishers.  There is more! ………..Halcyon is a name for a bird, in Greek legend generally associated with the kingfisher who, legend had it, nested on a calm sea around the time of the winter solstice and so we get ‘Halcyon Days’ – neat! Alcyonides – Wikipedia

Entering the wide bay that led to Antikyra Andy noticed a factory on the eastern side.   We found a good place to anchor off the town and, once settled, went ashore to explore.  The first thing we noticed was a very familiar fine red dust that coated the streets and cars that were splashed with red mud – just as the streets and cars of our town used to be when the Aluminium factory was in full flow.  When we trained the binoculars onto the factory we could see Caustic Soda tanks, cranes, silos and areas for the ships to dock. It is indeed an Aluminium factory and the main employer in the town.

Red dust car
Aliminium factory Antikyra with cranes, tanks etc

The first morning we woke up to a dramatic rainbow

Morning rainbow

One of the reports on Antikyra from the Cruising Association app was a recommendation to visit a local museum ‘Allotropia’, housed on the first floor of a secondary school.  When we got there it was closed, padlocked behind the school gates.  We called the contact number and Demetra said “stay there, I will be down to open it for you in 20 minutes” While waiting we wandered around the deserted building above the school and found out that it had been purpose built by a benefactor as a specialist training school for aluminium related trades.  Sadly, the mayor of the town opposed it and so it has never been commissioned and has fallen into disrepair.  However, the ground floor seemed to have been taken over by a kindergarten so not all a waste but short sighted, nonetheless.

We were so privileged to be treated to a personal tour of the museum.  An eclectic collection – off a long corridor, like magic, doors were opened one after the other to reveal diverse interests, treasures of nature and of man, more passion and dedication.  There were costumes, art, fossils, history, and ethnography – what wasn’t represented? There was also a library where people from the town could borrow at no cost.  An altruistic venture which increases yearly I imagine. “Αλλοτροπία” – Λαϊκή Ακαδημία Γραμμάτων, Τεχνών & Παράδοσης – Home | Facebook

Antikyra bay and Selkie Dancer from the school
Museum sign
Demetra and some of the costumes
Scary or Pearly Queen
Works of art!

This is why I love our travels so much.  Shhhh!….it’s not really the sailing for in truth we have sailed only one hour in the last two weeks but it is the serendipitous meetings, the connections found and made that delight me.  We arranged to meet Demetra and her husband, an author, Demetrios for coffee the following day. Read about him here, I wish my Greek were good enough to read one of his novels but I can barely get past Jack and the Beanstalk Δημήτρης Τζουβάλης, ο συγγραφέας της Αντίκυρας | in.gr

Demetrios the author

We spoke for nearly two hours and I could have gone on……Demetra corrected my Greek a lot and I corrected her English a little. I hope we will stay in touch and meet again.

Demetra and me

Andy had ‘business’ on the computer so I went on a walkabout to find the ruins of the Temple of Athena and anything else that I should stumble across.  In the back yards and by the houses there were collections of wood cuttings, logs for winter, everywhere has an energy crisis.

Antikyra bay from the Temple of Athena
Antikyra the monuments with Selkie Dancer in the bay
Antikyra mosaics
Wood for the winter and waiting for the skip
I absolutely love these soft whiskery pines, smell & vivid colour

We moved on west to Trizonia, the only inhabited island in the Gulf of Patras.  We anchored outside an unnamed and unfinished ‘marina’.  Our little bay was beautifully sheltered and felt like a loch.  Where  the pine trees leant over the water shading it making it mysterious and dark emerald green  There is a man on shore, I tried my Greek, he’s not Greek,  we can’t say anything to each other I smile inanely and stutter, hear him say ‘magnifique’ and ‘tranquil’  aha! but can I bring any sensible French words to mind? Οχι! All that comes out is Greek.  The ‘marina’ has plenty of spaces, the boats interesting, some sunk, some abandoned and some live aboards.  We watched, while we had a cocktail, the little water taxi do a round trip over the mainland – 4 euro return. Cats outnumber humans, every couple of feet they sprawl and curl in undisturbed peace for it’s definitely end of season and they are in the majority. 

Like a loch

Further west we go, looking for somewhere to shelter from strong westerlies.  In the Gulf the wind either blows west or east.  This suits the International Kite surfing championships that are being held at Nafpaktos.  Here we are in Nafpaktos, has anyone heard of Nafpaktos?  Maybe you’ve heard of the battle of Lepanto; it is the 451st Anniversary this year.  It was fought in October 1571 and was the last naval battle between oared fleets (galleys).   A fine Venetian castle rises behind the tiny crescent shaped walled harbour, its entrance guarded by towers.  The castle walls have three distinct layers and descend to the harbour.  The Ottomans lost the battle but returned to occupy the very nice strong castle the Venetians have considerately left for them and ruled the place for the next 300 years. 

Approaching tiny Venetian Harbour of Nafpaktos
Safely in and looking out
Looking up at the castle

Surrounding the harbour are bars and cafes, bars and cafes that keep going until two or three in the morning, the tide of people ebbing and flowing and reaching high tide at about midnight thirty!

We came alongside another boat but were never particularly happy with the position of our anchor.  So this morning after an early morning walk up to the castle, the wind having increased and our anchor being suspect we decided to lift and relay it.  Not so easy in a confined space with a bouncing sea and a stiff wind but second time around we did it and are feeling a lot more secure, also hoping that the strong winds will die down later.  We were definitely the morning’s entertainment.

Amazingly we find another connection here, for sitting on a balcony above a cafe directly overlooking our berth was a lady enjoying our antics.

Lady on a balcony

  I guessed she was British and this morning we got chatting and it turns out she is from Fowey and knows good friends of ours, all members of the same yacht club – small world.  How did she settle on this place? She had simply googled – location, not too far from Athens, few tourists – and here she was and here we are but we leave tomorrow winds permitting!  Off under the Rion Bridge turn a gentle right and we’re in the Ionian.

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