Aegina Island - 18 May, 2016 - 37:46.224N 023:27.603E

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Fri 20 May 2016 13:49
We are in the Aegean, (or rather we are not)?

We sailed from Messolonghi on Thursday 12 May and turned eastward into the Gulf of Corinth.  We had left early in order to keep our options open ahead of some deteriorating weather forecast for the following day, Friday 13.  In the event we by-passed our first planned stop at Triennia Island and sailed on to Galaxidi where we met up with a Sailing Holidays flotilla as they sat out quite a significant blow from the west.  After the wind dropped on Saturday we sailed on to a quiet bay on the north shore of the gulf with the canal some 18 miles to the south.  

This anchorage was not as tranquil as I had hoped and after a disturbed night we were all more than pleased to move on in the morning.  The bay had looked beautiful when we first arrived, although thoughts of swimming were swiftly set aside after we saw loads of small jelly fish that looked like gossamer condoms with bright red noses!  As the evening approached the wind started getting up and a short sea entered the bay making life less comfortable on board.  The wind then changed direction and we moved around the anchor.  Poor Ann in the fo’c's'le was introduced to the grumbing of the chain as it followed us around for the rest of the night - shades of ghosts of Christmas Past and Ebenezer Scrooge dragging his chains over the floor.

We’re on our way

Needless to say we were up early to scoot across the choppy gulf to the canal entrance and there to await a transit. The Ithsmir Pilot kept us waiting for nearly 40 minutes before it was clear for us to start our transit.  Although Maggie and I had been through the canal before this was a first for Ann.  It is an impressive sight from a small boat, the water way is narrow (about 20m wide) and about 7m deep.  The walls tower up vertically on each side and the marks left by the original labourers are in evidence.  

Historically, the canal was first started by the Romans(Nero) using 6000 Jewish slaves, but his efforts were abandoned long before the canal was established.  The early Greeks dragged their sailing galleys overland to access the Aegean from the the Gulf waters.  It was not until the 1800’s that the French came on the scene and completed the canal. Improvements and repairs to complete the canal in it’s present form were made after the war. 

It cost us Euros 228 to undertake the transit.

With the canal safely behind us we set sail to the south, exercising our new mainsail.

Then we were in the Aegean.  We sailed south to Nea Epidavros on the mainland shore.  This is a beautiful little port frequented by Sailing Holidays flotillas but otherwise unspoilt.  The harbour master (a young lady) is the proprietor of the nearby hotel and collects the harbour dues.  A two night stay, inclusive of water and electricity cost us Euros 16. Charles’ new bike was pressed into service to travel the 4-5 miles inland to the nearest shops!

The beach at Epidarvros

Now for the reason we are not in the Aegean!  Since launching at Messolonghi we have been concerned that all was not well in the steering department.  The helm has been tight and it was difficult to turn the wheel and the rudder.  We have had this problem before, when we left Barcelona, but on that occasion it quickly eased.  With no sign of improvement this time, we’ve come to a boatyard on the North coast of Aegina where we have been lifted ashore for inspections and repairs.  Hence although we are East of the isthmus at Corinth, for the time being, we are not actually in the Aegean!!

On Wednesday 18 we dismantled the rudder to drop it out and ascertain the nature, cause and extent of the problem. It appears the materials used in building the rudder stock bush have not stood the test of time and the bearing metal that lined the rudder trunk had detached and then corrosion had expanded as the white metal liner aged and deteriorated. With the aid of two capable Dutchmen, a new sleeve is being machined and we should be on our way again next week.

In the meantime the adventure continues.  

We have rented a very small studio apartment which has a fridge freezer!  Very important this as the contents of our freezer needed to be preserved.  The girls are busy assessing the shopping prospects while Charlie spends the days at the yard monitoring progress.  We have also hired a bright red ‘Ferrari' to wiz about the island while repairs are in progress.  

This halt in our travels has also allowed our bow thrust propeller to finally catch up with us so when we sail, not only will we be able to steer only go in around corners again but parking should be that much easier.  Charlie will be most relieved as coping with the canal transit with a seized helm and a boat that would go in straight lines was more than a little stressful!

The island of Aegina itself is a very pleasant stopover, being only some 24 km across the water from Piraeus and Athens and is well served by frequent ferries and hydrofoils.  Athens and Piraeus are just visible from the town harbour. The island is very popular with the Athenians, and according to the locals, many have holiday homes here.  As well being visited by the Athenians, it’s also quite a popular holiday destination with fellow Europeans and visiting yachts from all over the world jostle for places to tie up along the town wall.  

Charlie Bevis