Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Nafpaktos & Messalongi 13/09/20–14/9/20 

Our next stop was Nafpaktos, with its’ beautiful medieval harbour, fortified initially during the 5th-4th century and the fortifications were designed by the Venetians.  Nafpaktos is a beautiful town and also boasts two Blue Flag beaches, plenty of tavernas and cafes and a stunning castle overlooking everything!

We arrived after a short sail from Trizonia and anchored outside of the medieval harbour.  The harbour is extremely small and if we had attempted to enter there would have been no ‘going back’ had we found that there was no space on the Quay!  The maximum recommended length of vessel for ease of movement inside the harbour is 40ft – Money Penny was definitely safer outside on anchor! 

medieval harbour statuemedieval harbour

We took the tender into the harbour to explore.  Lunch was amazing in a side street just off the harbour area – Captain Cooks Restaurant!    We then decided to take a walk up to the Castle.

IMG-20210407-WA0005view of bridge gulf of Corinthwalk to castle or not!

We walked through cobbled streets and up narrow staircases, passing ‘interesting’ and stunning properties along the route. In the afternoon heat, the distance to the Castle was a lot further than we had estimated and we were not even sure if it would be open when we arrived.  We seemed to be the only people heading that way!  We arrived at a roadside restaurant and decided to take a coffee break and soak up the view.  During coffee we made a decision to head back to Money Penny and continue our journey instead of staying overnight in the anchorage.  The wind had increased making the sea state a ‘little rocky’, we may not have had a comfortable night. We were pleased we had stopped at this picturesque town and harbour.

anchorage NaxpaxosMoney Penny at Anchor in the distance

At 15.52 we departed the anchorage in front of the Medieval harbour of Nafpaktos and began our sail westwards to Messalongi 25 miles away.  The wind was 15kts gusting 20kts making for a wonderful sail.

The Rio-Antirion Bridge is one of the world’s longest multi-span cable stayed bridges and longest of the fully suspended type.  It crosses the Gulf of Corinth near Patras linking the town of Rio on the Peloponnese peninsula to Antirrio on mainland Greece by road.  It opened the day before the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics and was used to transport the Olympic Flame.  7,808ft long (approx 1.8 miles) it now allows direct access by car between the mainland and the Peloponnese, however, the ferries are still in use as we found out on our approach.  The waterway was extremely busy as they manoeuvred back and forth.

Under the Bridge Gulf of CorinthIMG-20210407-WA0004

Having radioed the Bridge we were given permission and instruction as to which pylons to pass between.  As always when passing under a bridge in Money Penny (even after doing our sums), we held our breath as we proceeded under this masterpiece!

Messalongi is a major fish production centre and we approached the long entrance canal to a stunning sun set.  The canal is set amid shallow salt marshes and it was important to keep to the marked channel as we made our way inwards towards the Town.  On either side of the canal there were pretty little fishermen huts/houses built on stilts, it reminded us of Florida.

The town is built between the lagoon of Messolonghi and the one of Kleisova at the estuary of Evinos and Acheloos river.  ‘Messolanghi’ meaning ‘town between two lakes’. 

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There is a marina, a large town quay and a basin at the entrance to both where it is possible to anchor.  We chose the Quay but with approximately 13000 inhabitants, who all seemed to be out and about as we arrived  at 20.15,  we regreted not anchoring in the basin! There was certainly no Covid19 distancing as the nearby restaurants were packed to capacity and music and noise continued late into the night. 

The following day (14th September 2021) we departed Messalongi and headed towards ‘Big’ Vathi on Ithaca to meet up with Anthea & Paul from our home town of Tenby and rejoin Dave and Carolyn off Dulcinea.

Little did we know what lay ahead of us over the next week.

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 11 April 2021 21:02:14

9.9.2020-13.9.2020 Galaxidhi & The Island of Trizonia 

Our next destination was Galaxidhi, a small fishing town on the Gulf of Corinth.  As we approached through a selection of small islands and a narrow navigation channel, we could see the two natural ports ahead of us.  It felt like we were approaching another island but, in fact, Galaxidhi sits on the mainland not far from Delphi and within easy reach of Athens.

Galaxidi was only accessible by boat until 1963. For many years, the town was home to Greece’s most important shipping families, and their grand houses with wrought-iron balconies, stone figureheads, pebbled courtyards and brightly painted shutters, still line the waterfront along with a choice of the many restaurants and quaint shops including a gorgeous chocolate shop which we tried to avoid but failed!!

Worth a visit is the Nautical Historical Museum, which tells the tale of the town and its role in the Greek War of Independence through a series of engaging exhibits.

Opposite the quay where we moored Money Penny was the forested headland known as Pera Panta. We took a walk out to the headland past sandy coves for swimming and areas of rocks along the waters edge suitable for sunbathing. 

20200910_12373120200910_123906IMG-20210405-WA0007Alex & Kuni joined us in Galaxidhi and we rented a car together the day after our arrival, before heading out to explore the surrounding area.  On our way to Delphi we passed  beautiful countryside, including olive groves with irrigation canals stretching for miles, and also stopped for a coffee break at a hilltop restaurant with the most amazing views. 

canal onroute to Delphicoffe on way to delphiCoffee view DelphiAccording to Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles from either side of the ancient world and they met at Delphi, the centre of the Greek universe. Gaia, the primal Mother Earth goddess, was also said to reside here, and Delphi became one of the most sacred sites in the ancient world.

Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.  Understandably, the site would normally attract large numbers of visitors but again, due to Covid, coupled with the fact that we arrived early in the morning, we were lucky to share the site with very few other visitors.  We entered and climbed the long track, known as the Sacred Way, which lead to the Temple of Apollo at the top of the hill.

20200911_122922All that remains of the temple today are the foundations.  The stones are cut into unusual polygonal shapes and carved with inscriptions, many of which relate to the emancipation of slaves.

Above the Temple of Apollo sits the theatre, which dates from the 4th century BC. It’s still well preserved, and you can climb to the top tier of the seating for views of ancient Delphi, the surrounding mountains and the valley below.  It was amazing.  When built, the theatre had enough seating for 5,000 spectators and was used during the Pythian Games, held at Delphi every four years from 590 BC

.temple DelphiPillars DelphiDelphi viewDelphi theatreIMG-20210407-WA0001

In 2015, a replica of the Serpentine Column, a bronze pillar erected to commemorate the defeat of the Persian Empire at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, was added to the site.

IMG-20210407-WA0002The Stadium was built to host the athletics of the Pythian Games, it was changed by the Romans in the 2nd century and has well-preserved tiered stone seating. A running track with carved stone starting blocks is at the centre and close by is the gymnasium, which had an outside track.  Unfortunately this area is roped off but we had a clear view looking down on it from where we stood.

After walking around the impressive ruins of Delphi we visited the Archaeological Museum, this housed the most amazing collection of treasures found in ancient Delphi.  The Museum sits within the grounds of the site and displays its collection in chronological order. The highlights included a life-size bronze charioteer and the Sphinx of Naxos dating from 560 BC.  We were also ‘blown away’ by the intricacy of some of the smaller artefacts.

delphi museum horseIMG-20210407-WA0003Statue Delphi ladystatue Delphiplate delphismall statue Delphi

After our trip to the Historical site we had lunch together in the town before heading back to Galaxidhi for one more evening before moving on.  We highly recommend this area and would love to return next year.













Trizonia

On the 12th September we departed Galaxidhi and travelled 15 miles west to the small island of Trizonia.  The island is 2.5 sq km and has a population of only 64.  (according to the 2011 census).  We entered the marina and moored along one of the concrete quays.  The marina was rundown, full of old boats that looked like they had been abandoned and there was no office anywhere in sight.  Our overnight stay was free of charge! 

Just off the marina there was a sheltered area to take an afternoon swim and the walk around the headland took us to the pretty harbour and village.  The village was accessible directly from the marina but we chose to take a walk.    A sleepy place to just relax and chill!

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 07 April 2021 15:56:00

6.9.2020–9.9.2020 Vathi, Methana – Epidavros–The Corinth Canal 

We departed Poros early on 6th September and made way towards Vathi, a beautiful tiny fishing harbour on the west coast of the Methana peninsula.  As we approached we passed a gorgeous chapel perched on the cliff edge.  The entrance to the harbour was very narrow and manoeuvring inside the harbour was tricky!  We had been told to arrive as early as possible because of the lack of room inside the harbour.  We were lucky and took one of three remaining spaces, closely followed by two other yachts. 

We took a swim off the end of the harbour, had a walk around the quaint village where we passed an ancient olive press, and then we joined another British couple off a neighbouring yacht for dinner in one of the few tavernas.  One part of sailing that we really enjoy is meeting people along the way.  Sometimes it feels as if you have known each other for years.  We have made many long lasting friendships in our three years of travelling so far.

chapel vathi20200907_08372220200907_083729olive press

The following day we left Vathi onroute to Epidavros.  We had been told of a ‘sunken city’  and hoped that we would be able to find it.  The Sunken City is located in the bay of Agios Vlasios on the beach just outside Epidavos and only 2 meters from the shore in 2 meters of water.  We anchored Money Penny at a safe distance from where we could see a few people snorkelling, launched the paddleboard and headed  into the water.  The water was crystal clear and there were large pots, walls,paved sections and foundations of buildings clearly visible.  We paddle boarded and snorkelled around the exciting area.  A fantastic experience that we were happy not to have missed.  Having spent the afternoon experiencing this wonderful place, we made our way in to the harbour area of Epidavros.

Epidavros 2EpidavrosEpidavros 3Epidavros sunken city beach


We anchored in the bay off Epidavros and enjoyed an evening swim before taking a trip in to explore the town.  We checked the bus times for the following day to take us up to visit the nearby Theatre.  Epidavros was believed to be the birthplace of Apollo’s son Asclepius the healer, the area was known for its sanctuary situated about five miles from the town as well as its theatre.  The sanctuary was the most celebrated healing centre of the Classical world.   The great theatre of Epidavros was built in the 4th century BC. It originally had 34 rows but these were extended in Roman times by an extra 21, seating 14,000 people and still used today.  We took a small minibus the five miles to the Theatre, sharing our experience with crew from two other yachts.  On our arrival we were the only people to enter the complex and felt privileged.  We could only imagine the crowds that would normally have flocked here prior to Covid.  There were huge car parks and facilities at the entrance and a number of closed cafes.  We walked through the wooded area to the spectacular Theatre.  The acoustics were amazing, if you stood in the centre of the stage area and whispered, anyone right at the back/top seats could hear you clearly.  I climbed to the top and Alistair stood on the ‘spot’ and started to sing.  Within a couple of seconds an official appeared from the trees and reprimanded him.  Apparently there is a ‘no singing policy’, not even in Welsh!!

theatre  Epidavros theatretheatre 2

In the same complex is the Archaeological Museum, noted for its reconstructions of temples and columns. This museum houses a display of artefacts unearthed in the site and surrounding area.  It was fascinating to see these artefacts so beautifully reconstructed.

theatre museummuseum 2

On the 9th September we departed the anchorage of Epidavros and headed out towards the epic Corinth Canal.  The Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.  It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland.  It was dug through the isthmus at sea level and has no locks.  Construction first began in 1881 and the maximum boat draft is 24ft (7.3m).  The Isthmus was first crossed by boats in 600bc when a ship railway was built and small boats were carried on wheeled cradles running in grooves.  The Canal is 3.9 miles long (6,343 metres) and the earth cliffs reach a maximum height of 206 feet (63 metres).

As we sailed towards the Canal we were in the company of another yacht, Anastasia, belonging to Alex & Kuni, a German couple who we had spent the day at the Theatre with the day before.  We excitedly moored on the Quay at the entrance and Alistair headed to the office with our paperwork and credit card!  It was 216 Euros for us to cross the Canal but well worth it for the experience and also it would cut 185 miles off the return journey around the Peloponnese to the Ionian.  The payment office is only at one end so if we had been entering from the opposite side, we would be paying on exit.

Corinth Canal mapWaiting to enter Corinth Canal

The crossing of the Canal was spectacular with added excitement of a bungee jumper launching off a bridge as we passed under!  Alex & Kuni followed us in and were able to take a photograph of Money Penny as she made her way through.

Money Penny in CorinthCorinth Canal 2

Having left a fairly calm sea as we entered, we approached the exit and became away of huge waves breaking ahead of us.  To this day we are shocked that none of the staff at the payment office made us aware of the extreme weather ahead.  Had we known what was to welcome us, we would have remained the other side until the following day!

other end of the Canalsheltered bay after the Corith Canal

It took us nearly 2 hours to cover the 3 miles across the bay in 45 knots of wind and we were grateful that our anchor set first time in the shelter of the lee of the land. We were exhausted but relieved to be able to relax once again.  Anastasia joined us a short while afterwards but was unable to set their anchor so moved on to a bay further up the coast.  We swam in the clear water and then having eaten, retired early having first set our anchor alarm.  At 6.30 am the alarm sounded and it was all systems ‘go’ as we had swung around into a shallow area.  We decided to make an early start on the next part of our journey. 

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 01 April 2021 22:43:57