On the morning of 18th September, we set sail to Itea. We had the most wind so far, with gusts up to 30knots, but with one reef and some careful steering from Jelle, we did beautifully! We also crossed the Rio-Antirrio bridge, one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges (2880 meters long!), a very impressive sample of modern architecture indeed.
On the way, we decided to stop for the night at Trizonia, a small island in the Corinthian gulf just to split the difference in mileage and get some rest. We moored next to the big breakwater and strolled around the tiny village. The next day we set course to Itea and after a beautiful upwind sailing, we reached the quiet and calm port of Itea, the place which would become home for us for the next 7(!) days.
Itea is a mid/small-sized city with wide roads, a long promenade full of bars, surrounded by two mountains, which add a sense of nature and serenity to the place but also often bring some catabatic gusts. The strong winds were no issue for us as the port was very well protected and Libra barely moved. We spent our days strolling around, doing chores, and Jelle catching up on work. The highlight of our time there was definitely our visit to Delphi, the sacred temple where the famous oracle Pythia was situated. Delphi was presumed to be the center of the world, and although this is not the case today, the magnificent nature, breathtaking landscape, and wonderous ancient ruins (how on earth did Ancient Greeks build all these?) make it a truly magical place.
Having charged our batteries and full of groceries and water, we decided it was time to keep moving and although there was no wind, on the 25th of September we motor sailed all the way to Corinth. We spent two nights on the free (!) port and the only worth mentioning about our brief stay there was that one of my best friends, Christina, joined us there as she accidentally was also on a mini vacation! So happy to see her and for her to meet Elena again. Leaving abroad is always a bittersweet feeling: you have made another country your home, but you still miss your friends and family, and at the end of the day, home is where your heart is, no?
Leaving Corinth was no hard decision and we were so excited to cross the Isthmus of Corinth, the world’s most expensive canal per meter (we paid 270 euros!!!). Still, it is very impressive crossing this narrow canal on a sunny day, with the rough stiff cliffs around you, the wild trees and bushes growing almost vertical, and the 4 different bridges. Once-in-a-lifetime experience!
As we crossed the Corinthian canal at almost 5pm, we threw anchor just after the end of the canal and spend the night chit-chatting away with Christina. The next day, 28th September, we set sail to Aegina, one of the islands in the Saronic gulf. We threw anchor just outside the harbor. It was a very warm day, almost 30 degrees, so Jelle and Elena acted by jumping in the water for a quick swim! Afterward, we used our dinghy to reach the shore and strolled around the colorful promenade, enjoyed a nice seafood meal, and bid our farewell to Christina who took a ferry back to Corinth. Returning to the boat, we realized we made a terrible decision anchoring outside the port. The swell and the chop were so strong, we barely slept a wink the whole night! Against our original planning, with the first light of day, we picked up our anchor and set sail to our next destination: Kea!
Variable winds made for a not relaxed sailing, but just before we reached Kea, strong gusts started blowing! Luckily, the moment we turned to the bay the port would be, everything went calm again and we would get to practice the Greek way of mooring; throwing anchor and then going stern to the kade to moor. This time I was the one throwing the anchor and Jelle behind the steering wheel and it went great! Still, it is a wonder how we managed all these weeks to only have done this Med way of mooring only once before (in Preveza)! The port was well sheltered and we enjoyed two days of swimming, dining out, and incredibly good weather; we even swam in the sea on 1st October!
The plan was to go to Andros, but the wind predictions made that plan close to impossible, so we made the executive decision to instead seek shelter in Karystos, the southernmost port of Euboea. It was supposed to be a temporary stop. Only it wasn’t.