For the first time this year we are backtracking and will return to Leros via the Corinth Canal and then across the Cyclades to Leros - a trip of about 340 nautical miles over 9 days. We had planned to go around the south of the Peloponnese but fires and weather systems make the Corinth the safest option. Another factor is the heat, with temperatures in the Corinth reaching 40 over the past week.
A friend, Paraic, came along us for the trip, joining us in Nafpaktos, definitely one of our favourite locations in Greece. Its a fairly long run from Vathy, but we leave the Ionian behind at 6.30 in the morning and head off in flat calm seas on our 10 hour journey through the Gulf of Patras, under the Rion-Antirion bridge (calling and gaining permission to pass from Rion Traffic control) and on to Nafpaktos, where we anchor at 16.30 just outside the castle walled town. We stayed for 2 days and explored the town and Castle.
On the 4th, we continued on though the Gulf of Corinth to Galaxidi 33 nm to the east and anchored in 2m in the middle of the towns small harbour. We arrived at midday and had plenty of time to swim and explore the small beaches around the town.
The weather was taking a turn for the worse with some pretty strong winds forecast so we needed to make a move and get through the Corinth Canal asap to give ourselves options for avoiding the heavy winds and for shelter over the coming week.
We lift anchor at 6.20am on another calm and sunny day and head out for the Corinth Canal. We have paid for the passage in advance, so no need to stop off to complete paperwork. At 11.40 we call "Corinth Canal Authority" and request passage West to East. Our timing is perfect and we are told to follow the boats that are entering the canal as we arrive. We enter the west side at 12:12 and exit at 12:42 - a charge of €279 for the pleasure of the 3nm passage. Its the second time through this summer and it is still as amazing and wonderous as the first.
We continue on to the island of Aegina, arriving at 16:15 and anchor just outside the harbour. All in all a 64nm run (38nm to the canal, 3nm passage through and 23nm to Aegina). We are back in the Saronic. Time for a swim with water temperatures c.29 degrees and a visit to town.
We lift anchor on the 5th at 6.30 and head east again to the island of Kythnos (Loutra - we chose the little bay to the east of town) in the Cyclades. Arriving at 14:50 after a 56nm run. The strong winds have now started to kick in and its takes some time to get the anchor in and lines tied ashore. Many of the boats coming after us have real problems trying to tie up and many abandon - I do wonder where they ended up. We didn't get a chance to explore as keeping watch on the lines and other boats arriving became the priority.
On the 6th we have another long 10 hour 65nm run to Naxos (Moutsouna). We anchored about 100m off the small town pier in 4m. we get to join the locals swimming in the tiny little port. We appear to be the only tourists in this small port.
An finally, the last leg of this trip, as we leave the Cyclades and head for our home port Leros in the Dodecanese. Its a 60nm run that will take us 9 hours, leaving at 6:25 and arriving for a well earned beer at 15:30.