In the middle of March, together with Beatrix and Peter, from whom we had bought Aglaya, we stood on top of the car bridge and looked out over the Corinth Canal. And I (Gisela) had stood there 40 years ago and thought about what it would be like to sail through in a boat. Now we have done that with Aglaya. For our boat it was not the first time, for us it was.
The channel connects the Saronic Gulf with the Gulf of Corinth. There were plans for it in ancient times and in 66 AD Emperor Nero made the first attempt, which he is said to have personally helped with a hoe and spade. 6000 Jewish prisoners of war were forced to work. But when Nero died two years later, the project was discontinued. Only the Venetians resumed the planning in 1687, but in view of the masses of rock that had to be moved, they put it down again. After the Suez Canal was completed in 1881, the new Greek state commissioned French engineers to build the Corinth Canal. It was completed 12 years later, despite major funding problems.
Already the journey was exciting: After we left the cosy little harbour in Nea Epidauros, we were unexpectedly met by wind from the front with gusts up to 45 knots with the corresponding swell. Is it possible to go through the channel with such a wind?
The day before we had already sent an e-mail to the Customer Service Corinth Canal and registered. Two nautical miles off Isthmia (eastern entrance) we then reported by VHF and immediately received permission to fix our boat in front of the office. Because you don't get through the canal for nothing. We paid 180 Euros for Aglaya. After a little waiting time, in which we could watch the oncoming traffic coming out of the canal and for that the almost archaic little road bridge was pulled under water with steel cables, we were called “Aglaya, quick, quick! Go!" So go! We had the canal all to ourselves, no other ships went in with us. 6.3 kilometres distance to the exit in Posidhonia, very close to us the partly bricked walls. 8 metres wide, that's not much, you're not allowed to make any detours. 30 knots wind from the front, but in the canal it doesn't matter, there is current from the front, but no swell. The small road bridge at the end of the canal disappeared under water when we were just before it. And then we were through. A great exciting experience!
But the welcome in the Gulf of Corinth was quite uncomfortable. The same strong wind from the west as on the eastern side of the canal. In addition up to 3 meter high waves. Fortunately we only wanted to turn left and enter the harbour of Corinth. That was the little excitement at the end of the day: mooring with 30 knots wind in the harbour. It worked. Luckily we had help from other sailors who were already in the harbour with their boat.