From Athens, the most logical route towards home goes through the Corinth Canal, a shortcut that avoids the long tour around the Peloponnese; already in ancient times ships were carried across the isthmus and Emperor Nero even started digging a canal, but the works were soon abandoned.
Now the canal has lost much of its importance as large ships cannot get through and anyway the merchant traffic between Athens and the Adriatic sea is not very active; we had the impression that yachts account for a major portion of the whole transits (maybe that’s why it’s so outrageously expensive!).
From Athens to the Canal one has to sail west for about 30 miles, and once on the other side there are another 60 miles roughly due west before reaching the narrows that mark the end of the Corinth Gulf and the beginning of the broad Patras Gulf.
The area is notoriously windy, so we were not surprised to have strong gusts blowing out of each valley, going back and forwards between 10 and 30 knots (hard to have the right amount of sail all the time!).
The actual Canal transit has been good fun, squeezed between two steep cliffs not much more than 20 meters apart, and we had the Canal all to ourselves, no other ships or yachts; it’s only 3 miles long anyway, so the fun was soon over and we soon found ourselves battling again with a strong northerly wind.
We took shelter in a small cove in the Krissaios Gulf and next morning we decided to go to the little town of Itea, up inside the gulf, where there is one of the many un-finished marinas that are all around Greece, and from there we went to the site of ancient Delphi, located in a stunning scenery on the slopes of Mount Parnassos. We came back very tired, and finished the day with a dinner at one of the many tavernas on the seaside.
After Itea the wind turned from the west, quite strong and just on the nose, so we had to wait until the next dawn to rush as quickly as possible towards the Ionian sea before the wind built up again; the trick worked and already by mid-morning we were passing under the spectacular suspension-bridge that marks the end of the Corinth Gulf, and by sunset we were at the little port of Agia Eyfimia on the island of Kefallinia that we wanted to visit as we skipped it during previous cruises in the area.
Strictly speaking, we have not yet crossed our departure course, but we are in waters where we sailed previously, so that was a good excuse to celebrate with a bottle of Cider.