Dalmatian Coast 2007

CHAPTER A

Several years ago during a visit to the Nautical Museum in Galaxidhi I admired the paintings of the 19th century boats. They impressed me. During those days every captain/boat-owner was proud to have a painting made of his boat and he hung it in the place of honor in his mansion’s parlor. Many of these paintings have been preserved. Maintenance of the Nautical Museum today is supported by the Stavros S. Niarchos Foundation.

Shortly after I purchased “Faneromeni” in March 1987, a book titled Greek Sailing Ships was published by the Nautical Museum of Galaxidhi. This book contains reproductions of the paintings housed in the museum. Needless to say, I ordered this book before it even circulated. By now I have read this book several times and have gone through its pages countless times! Among other things, I have observed that many of the ships were painted with a background set in Venice, primarily the Palace of the Doge or the Piazza San Marco.

The Luzzo family, Ayios Yiorgios, aquarelle, 48x69 cm. The Brigantine of A. G. Marioti (235 tons). She was built in Galaxidhi on 1854.
From the book Greek Sailing Ships, page 65, plate 49.
This was engraved in my memory and I began to dream of a trip to Venice believing that after “Faneromeni’s” restoration was successfully completed I could realize this dream. The overall plan was to sail north on the Ionian Sea, visit the Dalmatian Coast, and end up in Venice. For many years plans for this trip were being made and discussed with friends.

Unfortunately, I was unable to realize this dream. The main reason for this was that while many of my friends were enthusiastic and had declared that they would come with me on this trip, int the end, when the time arrived for the trip, each one for his or her reasons backed out. On my part, because I did not want to undertake such a long trip all by myself, I kept postponing it until the circumstances were right. But when those circumstances did not materialize I decided to make a shorter trip to the Dalmatian Coast and not to go as far as Venice.

Finally, in 2007 I decided to undertake this shorter trip even if I had to do it all by myself. I announced this to several of my friends and many of them expressed their wish to participate, maybe not for the whole trip but for a portion, perhaps to join me in Corfu and then disembark somewhere else.

Note: At the bottom of this webpage there is a map that shows in detail the route of “Faneromeni”.

June 15, 07 Departure from “Faneromeni’s” home port Marina 4 in Glyfada. Passengers were Tonia and Irene Koukoutsa. Crew were Scott Mores, and, of course, Naxos, Mavrouka, and Pissa. Tonia and Irene were to come as far as Galaxidhi.

Departure from Marina 4 in Glyfada for the Dalmatian Coast. Naxos, Mavrouka and Pissa will follow all the way. During the departure from port, the quadrupeds, who are very excitable, were restrained to keep out of our way until we were outside the harbor.
Glyfada, June 2007                     (Courtesy of Tonia Koukoutsa)

After we had covered some distance a fault developed in the engine controls. These controls are the mechanism that engages the engine to either forward, reverse, or neutral and adjusts its throttle (engine speed). I decided not to return to the harbor but to continue on, figuring that I should be able to repair the controls by myself.

Irene Koukoutsa. The island of Salamis in the background.
Saronic Gulf, June 2007                          (Courtesy of Tonia Koukoutsa)

Tonia Koukoutsa with the skipper.
Saronic Gulf, June 2007                             (Courtesy of Tonia Koukoutsa) 

We arrived in good weather at the entrance of the Corinth Canal at 18:35 after 27 nM. We moored with some difficulty due to the faulty engine controls. I stepped ashore to take care of formalities and make the payment at the Canal’s office. We began our transit at 17:05. Tonia and Irene immortalized the transit by taking many photographs.

Irene Koukoutsa at “Faneromeni’s” bow during the Corinth Canal transit.
Corinth Canal, June 2007                         (Courtesy of Tonia Koukoutsa)

After completing the passage through the canal, we exited into the Gulf of Corinth. There the conditions were different from the Saronic Gulf. There was a strong breeze and small waves. As we went on conditions got worse.

Given these new conditions and because it was late in the day, I thought that it might be unpleasant for Tonia and Irene to continue under these circumstances all the way to Galaxidhi. So after a conference we decided to change course and head for the cove of Saranti, in Boeotia, and thus cut the passage short. I had sailed here before so the cove was familiar to me. We arrived in Saranti at 22:25 after covering 26 nM from the canal’s entrance. We moored on the outside of the small harbor’s breakwater. Because of its shallow depth we were not able to enter the harbor. Waiting for us to tie our mooring lines was Mr. Thanasis Mpouyias. He is Thanasis Dritsoulas’ uncle and he was born in Saranti. I had spoken on my mobile telephone with Thanasis and he had informed his uncle that we were due.

After mooring we had a good dinner at a pleasant fish taverna by the sea.

June 16, 07 This morning I focused on the engine controls. I removed them from the boat and took them ashore. In the meantime Thanasis’ uncle sent a friend of his, a retired ship’s engineer, to help me. We took the controls to his home garage where he had many tools and where we were able to repair the controls. After re-installing the controls back on the “Faneromeni,” we verified that they were operating correctly. The problem was solved. Following this I met Tonia and Irene at the beach where we swam, and then went back to the little taverna where we ate last night. In the evening we just relaxed.

June 17, 07 Tonia and Irene departed for Athens and so I was left with Scott, Naxos, Mavrouka, and Pissa. After some preparations and some shopping we departed Saranti at 13:15 heading for Galaxidhi. The weather was good. But as soon as we exited the Gulf of Saranti it started to gradually deteriorate. After Cape Velanidia, where the Gulf of Antikyra begins, the wind freshened, blowing from the west. By the time we were approaching Cape Makri Nichola it was so fresh that I had to reduce engine RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) so that the ride would be more comfortable as it was a headwind. Now Scott, who is a Filipino, asked if I thought that we will sink. I answered that no, we are in no danger and he should not worry. We simply have a little rough sea and, while it is uncomfortable, this is the way of the sea, and he must endure until we reach a good harbor. Then he will forget all of this. Nevertheless we did have a hard time rounding Cape Makri Nichola because the caïque was moving slowly due to the waves and the lowered RPM. After the Cape we entered the Gulf of Itea (Krissaeos - Κρισσαίος) where Galaxidhi is located. As soon as we entered the gulf the weather began to subside. Still we had a rough time until we entered the cove of Galaxidhi at 18:05 after 25 rough nM from Saranti. We anchored off shore because the quay was under repair and we could not moor there.

“Faneromeni” anchored off in the historic Galaxidhi.
Galaxidhi, June 2007                    (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Scott went to sleep and was dead to the world. I went ashore with the dinghy having in mind to eat a souvlaki (shish kebab). As soon as I stepped on land I saw a group of five or six people heading towards me. They greeted me with the following: “We, residents of Galaxidhi, wanted to welcome you and to congratulate you for your lovely Perama. We have not seen a caïque so well kept for many years now. Even her color is exactly the color that most Perama boats were painted. You have roused our memories and we want to thank you for it.” They then presented me with Eva Vlamis’ book Galaxidi the fate of a nautical state, a history of Galaxidhi. They also gave me various other mementos. I was very moved by this gesture. This was another unforgettable moment given to me by “Faneromeni”.

June 18, 07 We depart from Galaxidhi at 09:50 heading for the small island of Oxia located at the NW boundary of the Gulf of Patras. We crossed the Gulf of Corinth with good weather and after sailing under the impressive Rio-Antirio Bridge we entered the Gulf of Patras. 

Passing under the Rio-Antirio Bridge.
Gulf of Corinth, June 2007                               ((Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

In the Gulf of Patras conditions changed somewhat. At the beginning there was a western breeze, not too strong. But it was nevertheless a head wind. By the time we were abreast of Mesolongi the wind began to strengthen. After a while it really freshened. We proceeded with lower RPM and relative discomfort. I had been many times in the past to Oxia and knew that on its north side there is a small cove called Glycha (Γλύχα) which, at its head, is a safe anchorage. But I had not visited that cove in the past few years. So despite the discomfort and the fact that it was getting late and dusk was approaching, I did not worry, calculating that we would be soon at this safe anchorage. However I was counting my chickens before they were hatched. The small cove was occupied! A fish farm had taken over all of the cove and no boat could even enter. I could not forgive myself for this miscalculation. In the meantime conditions had deteriorated and dusk was falling. To top it all off, this area is hard to navigate because it is the estuary of the Achelous River and there are many shallows and many islets. All of these created a most unpleasant situation! After evaluating these new parameters I decided to go right across from the island of Oxia to the mainland where there is an open gulf, the Gulf of Oxia. It is very close to the mouth of the river. Taking great care and proceeding with very low speed because of the shallows and with Scott monitoring the depth sounder, ready to warn me of any change in depth, we finally arrived and anchored at a relatively safe spot, given the prevailing conditions. The time was 20:10 and we had come 69 nM from Galaxidhi where we departed in the morning.

We lowered the brand new small 4 hp Yamaha outboard to the dinghy in order to take the quadrupeds ashore. But the outboard refused to start. Of course right after purchasing it I had brought the outboard to the caïque and tested it just to make sure. It started then with the first pull of its cord, but now it would not budge. We did not have the strength to lower the larger and heavier outboard, and so I told Scott that we should just row ashore. We started to do so but halfway to the shoreline the boat grounded. There was not enough depth to approach the shore although we were some distance away. We dropped the small anchor, jumped overboard, and waded to the shore. The dogs were beside themselves with joy. Not only was there an endless shoreline with not a human soul in sight, but there were countless aquatic birds which roused the dogs’ great interest! They ran like mad and they could not be recalled under any circumstance. Mavrouka abandoned the birds when she found a cow and started chasing her. The cow was spooked and started mooing. This discouraged Mavrouka for a moment but after some hesitation she resumed the chase. Naxos jumped into a small tributary and attempted to catch the fish. Pissa chased the birds. It was a madhouse. It took some doing before we collected the dogs into the dinghy and rowed back to the caïque.

June 19, 07 In the morning we departed, with very calm seas, at 09:30. Today’s weather bore no relationship to yesterday’s. Under these conditions we made good progress and after a few hours we arrived at the entrance of the Lefkas Canal.

We transited the canal without any incident and by 14:40 and after 36 nM from Gulf of Oxia we were outside the Lefkas Marina. We were expected at the marina since I had already hailed them with the VHF (Very High Frequency radio). They helped us moor and in a friendly manner provided a lot of information. We rested for a while and later Scott started washing down “Faneromeni” with fresh water while I went on foot to the town center for provisions. I did not forget to buy the famous Lefkas salami.

June 20, 07 We departed from the marina at 07:35. At the bridge we had to wait for it to open so that we could proceed north.

The north entrance of the Lefkas Channel.
Lefkas, June 2007                              ((Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

This is a floating bridge that connects the mainland with Lefkas. It opens at regular intervals, by rotating, to allow shipping traffic. It opened at 08:00 and we went through. Right after the bridge there is the old fort of Santa Maura (Αγία Μαύρα). The weather was very good, calm. We made good and effortless progress. At 17:20 we arrived at the Gouvia Marina in Corfu (Kerkyra - Kέρκυρα) after covering 63 nM from Lefkas.

We moored at the berth designated by the marina attendants (I had naturally informed the marina yesterday of our impending arrival). I did not like this berth because it was not directly approachable by car or by the motor bike I have on board. One had to walk some distance from the car to the boat. In view of various needed supplies I wanted to have good car access to the caïque. I explained this to the attendants who said that such a berth was not available but promised to inform me as soon as one became free. So for the time being we remained there. Our first action was to take the quadrupeds, who had been in the boat for hours during the passage, for a walk. Then we unloaded the small Honda motor bike which is part “Faneromeni’s” equipment and is used for land expeditions.

After a while Bob Sutcliff cane to welcome me. Bob is an Englishman married to Evangelitsa, a Greek woman, and has been living in our country for many years now. He has been my friend for years. He and Evangelitsa have a successful chartering business Bob’s Yachts. They have been living on Corfu for years and have built a nice house in the Temploni part of the island. You do not even think that Bob is an Englishman because he speaks Greek fluently, of course with a Corfiot accent! After I explained our problem with the berth to Bob, he told me not to worry because I could relocate the caïque to one of his company berths which are in a better location and accessible by car. I thanked him for his offer but I told him that we do not need to relocate the boat right away because we plan to stay for several days on the island and can do so at a later time.

June 21, 07 This day began with Scott doing a general cleaning and washing down of “Faneromeni” inside and out. I went to the offices of a boat agency. I had already been in contact with the agency’s headquarters in Piraeus via my friend Michalis Papatheodorou who is a member of the company. The agency is called A1 Yacht Trade Consirtium S.A. , and it undertakes, among others things, the clearance procedures needed by a boat traveling abroad. While the use of such an agency is not mandatory when traveling outside Greece, I thought its services would be very useful in view of the countries that I was planning to visit. Not only did they brief me in detail on the needed procedures but they even called the Harbor Master of Sarandë (Ayioi Saranta - Άγιοι Σαράντα) in Albania who told me that he will expect me with pleasure. I then visited the offices of Vernicos Yachts , a company with which I had an old association. The office manager Mr. Thanasis Peitarides received me and after our discussion about my planned journey he assured me that he was at my disposal for whatever I might need. After these preliminary preparations, and since the day was very hot, I took the quadrupeds to an isolated beach with the dinghy for a swim. They had such a good time that they refused to come out of the water. Finally we returned to the caïque and they were rinsed with fresh water. In the evening I went with the motor bike to the town of Corfu for sightseeing. For dinner I had a wonderful pastisada, the classic Corfu pasta dish.

June 22, 07 A day of rest and relaxation. I spent almost all morning in the dinghy with the quadrupeds swimming at small isolated beaches in the wider Gouvia region. In the afternoon: resting and reading. In the evening I did some before-the-trip shopping so that “Faneromeni” would be well outfitted. I did this shopping in the nautical goods store of Mr. Takis that is located within the marina and has a wide variety of goods. Mr. Takis is an honest shopkeeper and I have been his customer for years. We were both glad to see each other again. In the late evening I rode the motor bike around the nearby villages of Gouvia and Kontokali.

June 23, 07 I had an early start because there were a number of errands to be accomplished. We cast off and moved the boat to the fuel station. After topping off the fuel tanks we moved to one of Bob’s Yachts’ berths. Bob was expecting us and gladly helped us moor. After that Thanasis Peitarides of Venricos Yachts came, climbed on top of the fore (front) mast, and replaced a burned flood light. After this laborious task it was the turn of the Kelvin engine. We changed the oil despite the fact that we had less then the required engine hours since the last change. But because we were heading to unfamiliar destinations I did not want to have to perform an oil change there.

After all these tasks were completed we went the the AB Vasilopoulos supermarket. Before shopping I asked them if they could deliver by car to the caïque since I had limited carrying capacity on my motor bike. After they assured me that they could, I proceeded with my shopping. In view of the big trip we bought a lot of provisions, filling five-six shopping carts. After we were done the provisions were loaded in the supermarket’s mini-van and Scott went with them to guide them to the “Faneromeni” while I rode back with the motor bike. I arrived at the caïque before them. I waited. Time passed but there was no sign of the van. After some time I saw Scott coming on foot. He told me that the van was stopped at the marina’s gate and they would not allow it to enter. I rode the bike to the gate where the gatekeeper told me that vans are prohibited from entering the marina. We must unload it and carry the provisions to the boat, a good distance away. Without further ado I went to the marina office and found the marina manager. He confirmed what I was told by the gatekeeper. I immediately understood the reason of this seemingly irrational prohibition. He wanted to support the small food supply store located within the marina compound. I had surveyed that store yesterday. I found that it had a limited selection of goods and at a higher price then other stores. I got mad and explained to the manager that this prohibition was illegal and violated the laws about unfair competition. I told him that I will file a complaint with the Ministry of Commerce and the National Tourist Organization because he is not only breaking the law but also giving a very bad impression of our country to the marina’s foreign clients. After this he dispatched the marina’s van to the gate. The van’s driver and an assistant transferred the provisions from the supermarket’s van to their own, transported them to the caïque, and carried them onboard! I am afraid that this incident reflects to a large degree the attitude of many of our countrymen. Let me state further that, with this exception, the marina is well run and kept and gives a good impression. But this shortsighted and mendacious attitude spoils a positive impression.

June 24, 07 This day was dedicated to preparations prior to our big trip. There was some additional light shopping from Mr. Takis’ store, collection of the dinghy and the motor bike, and topping the water tanks. We were then ready for tomorrow’s departure for Albania.

The total of the distance covered by “Faneromeni” from Marina 4 in Glyfada, her home port, to the Gouvia Marina in Corfu was 246 nautical miles. Her engine hours were 43. The trip lasted 10 days.

END of CHAPTER A

(To continue go to Chapter B)

The route of “Faneromeni” from Marina 4 in Glyfada to the Gouvia Marina in Corfu. For a larger view click on the picture, for a more detailed view click on Google.