Top: Provisioning from street vendors and market stalls is a
big part of daily life in Greece, and each excursion ashore
yields something fresh and unexpected. Above: Sitting atop
the Acropolis in the middle of Athens, the Parthenon is visible
from the marinas. The large park surrounding these ancient
landmarks is a magnet for locals and tourists alike.
English. His wife, Kelly, is from Kent, England. Kafe
Nion is not just a coffee shop, it’s a yachtie hangout.
Leo and Kelly offer laundry service, fuel arrangement,
showers, help with provisioning, local drivers, and savvy
advice—particularly that agents are not required. After
sampling several kinds of coffee, we checked with the
port police a block away. Sure, they said, we could get
off the boat, enjoy the town, and clear in on Monday.
Clearance into Greece at Argostoli did require us to
type up a cruising log, and they did want to see our
insurance endorsement, which already covered Greece.
Other than that, it was simple and inexpensive. Dockage
without shorepower was 16 euros per day, which was
extraordinarily cheap for Europe.
To explore Cephalonia, Leo found us an English-speaking driver with a Mercedes big enough for all
five of us. We explored the whole island, including the
quaint harbor at Fiskardo and the beach where Corelli’s
Mandolin was filmed. We would have car-ferried over
to the adjacent island of Ithaca had not the wind picked
up and shut down the ferry systems.
It was called a Sirocco, a strong south wind, and it
pinned No Plans to the pier for two days. Fortunately,
Argostoli harbor is well protected and our big fenders
prevented damage. We enjoyed the extra time exploring
the island, but as the weather broke on the third day,
we departed toward the Corinth Canal.
Dodging ship traffic, we entered the 22-mile-
wide mouth of the Gulf of Patras. As we meandered
eastward, the gulf quickly narrowed down to a
bottleneck, the 1-mile-wide Strait of Rion. The
commercial port of Patras is on the south shore,
and just past it a huge, harp-like bridge links the
Peloponnese Peninsula with mainland Greece.
Vessel traffic is controlled as it passes under this
bridge, so we slowed to 3 knots and called “Rion
Control” in English on VHF 14 to request permission.
Fast ferries zoomed across our path, and deep-draft
fishing boats chugged in and out of all three center slots
between enormous bridge legs. As we were wondering
how long we’d have to wait and which slot we should
aim for, the Rion controller read our thoughts.
“Proceed at 9 knots by keeping two pylons on the
right and one pylon on the left.” Five minutes later, we
entered the 65-mile-long Gulf of Corinth.
On the north shore only 3 miles east of the bridge,
we saw the crenulated walls and Venetian turrets of a
perfectly preserved medieval castle called Navpaktos—
formerly called Lepanto. In 1571 the Turkish fleet
sheltered off Lepanto, then rowed out to attack the
Christian fleet. The Turks lost again, so contemporary
mosaics show the sea covered with burning hulls and
corpses wearing turbans.
The tiny walled harbor at Navpaktos was too small
for a 57-foot Nordhavn and crowded with fishing skiffs,
so we anchored in the roadstead and took the dinghy
ashore for lunch. By taxi, we mounted the heights to
inspect the castle overlooking the harbor. Navpaktos
was ideal, so we spent a quiet night at anchor,
continuing toward the Corinth Canal in the morning.
We poked our noses into several interesting bays
along this north shore, including Galaxidi harbor near
the Oracle of Delphi.
The only marina near Corinth was too small for No
Plans. Because the wind was picking up, we weren’t
too keen on anchoring outside the jetties, so instead
we got permission to come starboard-side-to in the big