Transiting the Corinth Canal is a major ambition for many sailors in Greece. At 179 Euros it's not something you want to do too often, but it is a major highlight of our trip. Transiting from east to west, there's a payment dock at the eastern end, and having paid, we were told to wait there for further instructions. Within minutes we were told to VHF to "follow the red ship, go now, go quickly". We pulled away from the dock and motored behind the ship, keeping our distance as the water surges around behind large vessels.
The crew were shooting lots of photos and videos whilst the skipper was having to work quite hard to keep Lyra in the middle of the canal. The bungee jumpers were waiting for us to pass so they could jump behind us. Thirty-odd minutes later we are through the second submerging road bridge (yes, you heard that right, small bridges at each end disappear beneath the waves to allow boats to pass) and into the Gulf of Corinth. A great experience, much recommended. There's a video link below showing our passage at x20, so the whole trip only takes two minutes.
For the last two weeks we have been cruising the Peloponnese, cresting the three capes that reach southwards towards Crete and we are now cruising through the Saronic gulf towards the Corinth canal.
We rounded the feared Cape Maleas (the most easterly of the three capes) in light winds and calm seas - a tribute to the weather forecasters. The cape is known as the Med's Cape Horn and we treated its rounding with immense respect.
We left Kalamata with a sense of real regret - our first impressions were not that favourable but the town, and especially its people have grown upon us and we left several new friends (locals and live-aboards) behind.
The weather has been cold for the time of year and winds as unpredictable as the sunshine, but things do seem to improving slowly. Greece continues to delight and confound - the wonderful friendliness of the people and the beauty of the landscapes contrasting with the collapsing infrastructure and widespread tax evasion. Even quays that charged fees a couple of years ago seem to have given up as if it is all too much trouble and the imposition of a new Greek cruising tax had been met with local indifference whilst north European sailors have struggled with dodgy IT systems to pay promptly and avoid the threatened fines. So far the Port Police have of course completely ignored our hard-won certificate of payment.
Now we are in Poros, the proximity of Athens, both in the increased number of charter and Greek boats denotes that we are back in "tourist Greece". We are currently on the town quay, providing part of the scenery for local and foreign tourists promenading in the sunshine.