We came back to the boat in Aigina harbor to find that Joe had done a lot of work on it. First and foremost he had fixed the head. So, we now have two working heads again. He also re-ran our lines from the mast so that our reefing lines now run on the port side. Previously, it was a mess trying to use the one available winch on the starboard side to work the mainsheet, main halyard and the first reefing line. He also tidied up all of the lines that were in our locker, added whippings where appropriate and cut the extremely long port jib sheet to size. Joe used the severed end to replace the lines on all of the fenders, so now they’re uniform.

We were pretty pleased to see all these new and necessary improvements. We went out to dinner and then to a local club right on the beach. Adam and I listened to a few stories of Joe hitchiking in New Zealand. They including fishing with pitchfork and getting picked up, mistakenly, by Maori gang members. Sounds like something to try.

Our next stop from Aigina was a little anchorage near Andikira, but before that we had to pass through the Corinth Canal. The Canal separates the Greek mainland from the Peloponeses. It is an arrow-straight gap hewn out of the rock. The walls rise up into flat-faced cliffs above which cross three bridges. The water is cloudy with limestone and has an amazing turquoise color.

We only had to wait for 20 minutes or so to be sent through in a small flotilla of five or six other boats. You have to motor though because the channel is quite narrow. Still, it’s a cool experience being in this line of boats and looking up the cliffs and down the length of it. After the last boat (which was directly behind us) they had someone bungee jump from one of the bridges. The whole canal is only about 3.5 miles long. The fees of 180 Euros for crossing make it one of the most expensive canals per mile.

We were trying to figure out any other famous canals. There’s the Suez, of course, and the Panama, which is very different and in a class by itself. But are there any other canals like this that just cut through some narrow neck of land and join two bodies of water?

Beyond the Canal was the Bay of Corinth. The bay was, unfortunately, dead calm. We literally had zero knots of wind at points. The sea was perfectly smooth. The stillness of the sea actually made th motoring we were forced to do tolerable. An even nicer aspect was the change of scenery on the land. Now we could see mountains towering behind smaller hills that lead down to green plains. It seemed a much more fertile landscape than the harsh rocks of the Aegean islands. We had our first sighting of dolphins on this trip, far off on our port.

That evening we pulled into a little anchorage called Varesses. There were a few houses there that would not even constitute a village and a pebble beach with a family and another woman bathing there. We swam off the boat and watched as the setting sun turned the mountains and tiny islets across the bay first pink, then golden. We had an awesome dinner of a rich stir-fry and wine.

Dessert that night was a little invention of Andrew’s called banaileys. Basically, one throws some chopped up bananas into a cup and adds Bailey’s. It tastes as good as it sounds. You heard it here first, kids.

We picked up and left the next morning. Out windlass, the electric winch for our anchor, has broken, so we now have to hand ball the anchor. It is somewhat strenuous, but maybe not so much as it may seem. The trick is to wait for the chain to be vertical beneath the bow roller (basically, the pulley that the anchor chain rides over). Then you get some of the mechanical advantage of the pulley and it’s not to hard to pull it up. At a certain point, the person hand balling (I’m enjoying writing that as much as you are reading it) will feel a strain on the chain (mainly in the plains) which is the anchor coming clear. Unsetting the anchor is just done by the forward motion on the boat and the pressure that puts on the rode. Then the only other difficult part is to tug the anchor itself up over the bow roller. That usually means grabbing the small line that we’ve affixed to the head of the anchor. We will begin taking weekly measurements of our biceps until we get the windlass fixed. Stay tuned for the results.

From that little place we went on to Galixidhi. This town is cute as hell. It’s in the Venetian style and still remains small and charming despite the prime location and obvious wealth of the people there. The buildings are reminiscent of those in Simi and the city is capped off with a nice domed cathedral. For us, it was a jumping off point to go to Delphi.

We walked the crooked streets up and back down looking for a taxi before stopping to ask for one in a hotel. If you get to Galaxidhi, try the Hotel Poseidon, which is housed in an old family home near the main square. A dwarf-like man greeted us, called a taxi and had us sit down for some fresh )out of the carton) orange juice. Our taxi driver talked the whole way up to Delphi, which was a beautiful drive first along the water, then through an olive orchard and then up into the mountains. He told us of going to New York as a kid to stay with his uncle. Being from Galaxidhi he was used to the simple pleasures of country living, like to “do swimming”. “In Galaxidhi, if you want to do swimmming, in five minutes walking you are in the sea. Five minutes again you are back in town. You have a coffee and then you say let’s do swimming again. Five minutes, in the sea.”

Delphi was a pretty cool complex set up into the hillside. It overlooked a valley green with trees. We hadn’t seen trees in a while. The contrast made the mountains even more spectacular. The ruins themselves were pretty cool. I never realized that Deplhi was actually devoted to Apollo who has an incarnation in the for of a dolphin. The temple to Apollo has a few pillars still standing on much of the original floor. You get a good idea of the size of it. Then there is a nicely preserved theatre and stadium, all of which are at different heights. Unlike the Acropolis, which was overrun with Spanish tourists, this place was overrun by French tourits. Apparently it’s popular enough with the French that they made all the signs and maps in Greek and French, with no English.

After we saw that bit and the nearby temple to Athena, we headed back to Galixidhi. We had a lunch of pizza and beer right across the street from where Tocayo was moored. Joe picked up another fender from the pseudo-chandlery and a small pirate flag. Arrr we having fun yet?

We took off from Galixidhi that afternoon to motor over to Navpaktos. Man, the sea is calm here. At some point we passed from the Bay of Corinth into the Bay of Patras, but there’s no dicernable difference. Navpaktos is also known as Lepanto and it’s cool because the tiny harbor there is actually of medieval construction. You come in to this small little harbor bounded by crenellated walls with small turrets above them. The charming little town is right there in front of you.

When I say small, I mean that there’s only room for three or four sailboats. Most of the docking space is taken up by little fishing and motor boats that have very shallow drafts. Because of the shallow depths near the mooring area, we went in bow-to. This meant that we used our secondary anchor ff the back to stabilize us. We had to set up a bridle – a line that connects to both sides of the stern and makes a Y shape with the anchor line. We just used rope to connect the smaller anchor. I dropped it off the back as we pulled forward towards the dock. The design of the anchor is called Danforth, and it holds well in mud like we had there. We did pretty well for our first time using this anchor set up. Joe said that there are RYA yachtmasters that teach classes and have never done that sort to of anchoring. It’s not in the textbook, you see.

Navpaktos is filled with cafes, bars and restaurants right off of the harbor. We went to one for a delicious dinner. (Well, my salad was great, but my main course of shrimp and mussels was so-so. Everyone else liked it all.) The young people going out for coffee at 9 were dressed up very nicely. We felt like something was going on that we didn’t know about. We never figured it out, but we did get some gelato. Ate that in the town square. I had a flavor called “cookies” and another called Kastania (maybe it was hazelnut?)

The next morning we hiked towards the castle on the hill above the town. It turned out to be farther than it looked and we all agreed to just have breakfast at one of the places halfway up. In the interest of time, you know?

Then we took off for the island of Oxia. Exiting the harbor went as smoothly as entering and we motored onward.

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