Beyond the Bridge
Fri 1 Jul 2011 10:49
Position: 38:45.7N 23:19.4E
We left our German friends in Panayia and set off northwards. Lumpy seas and wind on the nose again! We headed for Karavos - also called Aliverion. A small harbour which we anchored in - glad to be out of the wind and the lumpiness. A bit later our German friends arrived saying they were missing us already!! They were supposed to have gone on up to a sailing club where they are leaving their boat for a month but also found it too lumpy so came and parked on the wall nearby. (So that Don the dog could go for walks!)
Having decided our route to the Northern Sporades would be between the mainland and Evia, the Bridge at Khalkis, at the narrowest part of the channel between the two, has loomed large in our imaginations. Described in the pilot book as: "being 129 ft wide with a current of 3 - 4 knots through the narrow gap" - "local fishermen in dinghies riding the current" - yachts of all nationalities waiting to pass, in both directions - "bridge opening times between midnight and 0300hrs except Fri, Sat and Sunday when it does not open"! - the whole thing controlled by Greeks! (The Bridge itself splits in the middle and slides back into recesses beneath the road.) Perhaps you can see why we are pleased to have passed through the bridge and emerged intact.
When we arrived near the bridge we decided to go into the yacht club which is close by and welcomes visitors. They were very friendly and we found a good berth and got instructions for finding the Port Police to pay our bridge fee. We tied up and set off - it is quite a big town and we soon had to ask directions again but did eventually find the right place only to be told that we had to come back after 3 pm so that the appropriate person could give us a briefing. (At this point there were about five "officers" in a large air conditioned office which did not look busy!) We went away with our ships papers and explored the area south of the bridge (see photo) and looked at the wall where yachts can tie up overnight before or after the bridge. After a cold drink we went back to the office. Now another two officers took us upstairs and did the paper checking etc and then asked for 18.77 Euros. We proffered money but no they did not have any change and would we go and find the exact money! Another trip and eventually we were all legal with receipts for the bridge and a "briefing" which was basically instructions to listen to Channel 12 on VHF from 10 pm. They would call us sometime before 3 am...!! The first call would warn us to prepare and the second call would be to go through and we must not stop in the entrance/exit to the bridge! Doh! There are lights on the side and Red = stop and Green to go.
We returned to the boat and were able to get electric and water which was a bonus. Then waited and waited - the call came at about 0210! We dropped our lines and went round the corner and joined the rest of the yachts and motor boats waiting to go through. We never got the second call - he'd left it too late and was still speaking to yachts anchored etc, and calling them to prepare. The lights never went to green but we all went through anyway! It was a zoo the other side so we did not join the rush for space on the wall and continued past into the dark beyond going to a bay further round which was quiet and peaceful with good depths all round for anchoring. It was about 3.40 am when we got to bed!
Next morning it was flat calm and we motored off towards the top end of Evia (also written Evoyia) and found a tiny harbour called Limni (see pictures) which we backed into and with the help of a kind Dutchman and Canadian went into a space on the wall no bigger than about 45 feet! Graham is getting good at squeezing in! It is a delightful town and we may stay for the weekend..
Bye for now