Greece – Saronic Gulf

After going trough the Corinth canal we had to continue sailing for another 10 NM before finding an anchorage that seemed suitable for us. We anchored on the Peloponnese side of the gulf in a bay that was quite empty. We were joined a bit later by a French boat and realized it was the same boat we saw in Kiato. It was a nice and quiet night. The next day we sailed on to Nea Epidavros and anchored in front of the beach as the weather was settled and there was no swell. Or so we thought. Just before going for dinner to a taverna on the beach Halcyon Days started to rock like crazy. Luckily a couple of hours later the swell had decreased a bit. From Epidavros we sailed to Aegina. We had the idea to go to Perdika but read in the pilot that it’s crowded in the summer. Indeed when we sailed in front of it the harbor was completely full and there were even boats anchored on the outer pier and next to the harbor. We decided to go a bit further and anchored in Aeginitissa beach (Nathalie, if you read this, thanks for the tip). It’s a very nice beach with white sand and weed on the bottom so the water is quite clear and has a nice shade of blue. We really enjoyed snorkeling and swimming around the boat. Later that evening we had a very good dinner in a taverna on the beach with a view on the sunset and Halcyon Days. The next day we moved again and sailed to Poros. We arrived early enough so there was still plenty of space in the harbor. We were warned that a couple of times a day a big swell enters so we had to stay quite far from the quay. After a while we understood why: Halcyon Days was completely pushed against the quay and bouncing up and down for a few minutes. ‘Dikke Bertha’ (our big ball fender) literally saved our ass once again and we decided to bring the boat a bit forward. We stayed an extra day in Poros to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. The city is really nice (but touristy). We met Eric, our Belgian neighbor who sails Vanua, his Beneteau First, solo. We also met our friendly Australian neighbors who invited us for drinks. We were not too happy when we saw our worst nightmare arrive, a giant charter party-catamaran mooring next to us (Germans in pink board shorts: check, inflatable unicorn/flamingo/donut: check, party announcements and sex jokes written all over the cockpit: check). Luckily for us there was a charter skipper aboard who was friendly and knew what he was doing. Unluckily for us, it was sail week (or something like that), which meant a lot (really a lot) of party charter boats everywhere, it was a bit like floating Mallorca/Ibiza. The boats where filled with people in their 20’s who where mostly only interested in partying and had no clue about sailing. So when a sudden squall hit it was very chaotic to say the least. In the chaos one charter boat tried to go backwards towards the quay with a lot of wind on the bow, this resulted in a lot of panic and anchors being pulled out. One of the anchors that got pulled out was the anchor of a 50ft Romanian charter boat moored right next to Eric’s boat. Thijs helped Eric to keep the dragging Romanian charter boat off his boat, the engine of the charter boat was running but there was no one aboard. A long line from the bow to the quay created a stable situation. As suddenly as the squall had started, it stopped. A party charter boat moored a bit further on the quay was full of Polish people who decided to party all night long while listening to dance music at maximum volume. Thijs couldn’t sleep and was so fed up that around 3 am he walked to them and asked them to turn the volume down. Instead one of the girls replied to him “Come dance with me”. Mission not accomplished. The next morning when Thijs went to the supermarket (at around 9 am perhaps), they were still drinking beer in their cockpit.

After two nights in Poros it was time to move on so we sailed to Hydra. We discovered “Saronic sailing in season”. Charter boats in the Saronic gulf motor as fast as possible (regardless of there being enough wind to sail) to their next destination in a kind of mass exodus to arrive in time (before lunch time) at an anchorage or quay before it fills up. Everything is allowed in this crazy race. After being cut off while being under sail by a complete idiot on a charter boat running on the engine we fantasized about installing torpedo tubes on Halcyon Days. With our small boat there is no point in competing to arrive first in a harbor/anchorage. So we took our time and hoped there would still be space where we wanted to go. Eric already told us that he tried 3 times to go to Hydra harbor and every time it was full. So we decided instead to anchor in Mandraki, about 2 NM from Hydra (the city). It was already crowded there when we entered the bay so we left and continued until we reached Vlichos. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful anchorages of this year’s trip. And it was very quiet with only a few other boats anchored further away. The only downside were the water taxis passing close to us at full speed. We liked the place a lot but didn’t have a lot of time left so the next day we sailed back to Poros. This time we anchored in Russian bay. It was the day of the semi-finals of the World Cup and Sarah was quite happy when she saw that the beach bar was going to broadcast the match. We pumped the dinghy as fast as we could and rowed to the shore. Internet speed was not great and for the first half of the match the screen was frozen half of the time. The bay was quite full with charter boats when we arrived in the afternoon but many of them left a bit later and at night only a few boats remained.

For our last night in the water we decided to go to Agistri island. There is a very nice wooden bay on the south west of the island where we anchored for the night. Since it’s quite deep there (and a lot deeper than where we would normally anchor), we had to anchor quite close to the rocky shore so we brought a stern line to the shore. The anchorage was really paradise like, crystal clear blue water surrounded by impressive rocks with trees on top of them. We enjoyed the beautiful sunset and went to sleep. At 3 am Sarah woke up and heard there was a lot of wind. The wind really picked up and shifted during the night and kicked up quite some swell. We checked and realized that we were very close to the rocks and the anchor was dragging. We were only 3 meters away from the steep rocks and with this swell the rudder would be smashed to pieces in no time. In these conditions we could easily loose the boat if we would loose the rudder so we really had to come up with a solution. With the waves crashing on the sharp rocks there was no way that we could undo the stern line without getting hurt, it was pitch dark and the bay was too deep to re-anchor and retrieve our stern line later. So at 4 am we cut the stern line and sailed to Aeginitissa, we had anchored there before which was practical as we could anchor in the dark if needed. There was quite some swell on top of the wind and at around 6:30 am we arrived at the beach. It was not sheltered at all from the swell but at least we knew the spot, and we knew it has good holding. We hoped we could catch a bit of sleep (despite the boat rocking us a bit too enthusiastically to sleep) before going to the boat yard where Halcyon Days would spend the winter. Exhausted but happy that Halcyon Days didn’t get damaged the night before, we motored against the wind for the most part until we reached the boat yard on the north side of the island. There was still too much swell to immediately lift Halcyon Days out of the water so we first had lunch and a beer with the guys from the boat yard while waiting for the swell to drop. Takis the owner was super friendly and really helpful. The boat yard looked a lot like the one in Margarona so we felt almost at home. The downside was that it was really hot during the day and hard to work inside the boat. We could only do some work in the morning or late in the afternoon. So we spent some time at the beach in-between the winter preparations. The day of our flight back to Amsterdam was quite hectic. First we left in a hurry and didn’t have time to tie in the cover to the boat properly. Thijs left the keys of our house in Delft on the chart table in the boat. We took first a taxi to Aegina harbor. From there we took the ferry to Piraeus. We walked from the ferry harbor to the train station. Then we took the train to Athens airport. After some more waiting we could board the plane. And finally the train to Delft. It took in total 11h to get back home where we had to break into our own house. Needless to say we were exhausted, and sad that the trip was over already. Till next time, Halcyon Days…

 

2 Replies to “Greece – Saronic Gulf”

  1. A great read! I’m guessing next time you’ll run a trip line on that stern line Thijs!
    Cheers Simon

  2. Marco Siegerist says: Reply

    nice vacation story telling to read. Sarah, Enjoy your stay in delft and new job
    Marco

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