We were just too happy to get out of Galaxidi in the end. Being forced to stay in a marina is becoming a bit of a house arrest sentence – not much more to do and by day 3 we were getting itchy.
We made our way to a small bay near Ormos Agiou Ioannou and celebrated the captain’s birthday there in the quiet serenity of a bay with lovely blue clear water! Swimming for hours and having fun playing ball in the water. That made us realise how fit water polo athletes must be to do it for such an extended period of time! I take my hat off for those guys doing it in a swimming pool and not in the densely salted water of the Mediteranian (with great buoyancy – where drifting with little effort is easy to do!)
Enjoying the sunset on the drop down seat/ swimming platform at the back of the boat with a G&T finished off a wonderful day. We had an early night in order to start the next day at 3am! It was still a good 6 hours to the Corinth canal and we wanted to be there early in case there is a line-up of yachts to go through.
It was a first for us to undo the mooring lines that time of day from the rocks – Lientjie and Johann, armed with headlights did the job in pretty good time. With hardly a breeze, we got out of our lovely Med-moor spot, heading for the amazing canal of Corinth.
The Corinth Canal:
The Corinth Canal cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland – effectively making Peloponnese an island. the canal was dug through at sea level and therefore need no lock system. It is 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi) in length and only 21.4 metres (70 ft) wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships.
The canal was mooted in classical times already in the 1st century AD. Superstitions slowed down the progress too and the idea at some stage was canned as they have believed that once the canal has been dug through, that Island Aegina will be swamped by the water that will be let through the canal. A few figures through history has attempted this mammoth challenge, including Nero in 66 AD but was arrested on charges of treason when he left the project for a quick visit to his garrison and was sentenced to death in 68 A.D before he could see the project through.
Construction finally got under way in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893.It failed to attract the level of traffic anticipated by its operators due to its limitations (width and navigational problems) and the fact that landslides periodically caused closures for reparations.
The biggest interruption of the operational canal was in 1944 (during the Second World War), by the explosion of the retreating German Army that caused 60000 cubic meters of earth to cave in, destroyed the bridges and dumped locomotives, bridge wreckage and other destroyed infrastructure into the canal to hinder repair work. It took the United States Army Corps of Engineers 5 years to repair the damage and reopen the canal.
It now has little economic importance. Each year 15.000 boats cross roughly the waters of Isthmus, of at least 50 nationalities. (It cost us 260 Euro to cross the Corinth canal – not cheap, but what price do you put on time? The alternative is a 300 Nm detour … another 2-3 day trip depending on the how nice the weather gods will be to you!)
It is interesting to see the Dilkos track-way on the right of the Corinth Canal.(As shown on the main picture at the beginning of this blog)
The Diolkos was a paved track-way near Corinth in Ancient Greece which enabled boats(or wagons) to be moved overland across the neck between Peloponnese and Corinth. The short-cut allowed ancient vessels to avoid the long and dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is interesting to know that that is where the phrase “as fast as a Corinthian” (from the comic playwright of Aristophanes) originates.
With the history as thick as honey running through the entire stretch of the canal, it was absolutely amazing to take Scolamanzi through it! Another mayor tick for the Captain, and a perfect birthday present to himself! It is something he has always wanted to experience first hand! Another Great experience we will never forget. Happy Birthday Johann!