Athen to Genoa Pt 1

 
so far so good. we left athens in something of a hurry on saturday afternoon and arrived at our first stop on italys west coast at dark last night. Apparently there is some bad weather on the way and the captain has chosen to hide in a harbour for a day or two. Not my preferred sense of adventure but he is the boss after all. so for now, i am sitting in a harbour in a very small and quiet town called Viba Marina. But let me tell you more about the amazing journey here.
 
Sailing is tough, especially when the skipper chooses to motor or the wind isnt right for sailing. we have been chugging away for to days now, covering a monsterous 200 miles in 24 hours. we chug non stop, working shifts to keep watch for other ships and to make sure we maintain our course. 5 hours on and 5 off to sleep, working in pairs so you really do nothing but work and sleep.
 
we left athens in something of a hurry , keen to get underway. Crossing the bay from athens to our little shortcut through the greek mainland was pretty uneventful, apart from the hundreds of ships and tankers that we shared our water with. We did have a cunning plan though, to cut through a man made canal that meant we didnt have to go south first to clear the bottom of greece.
 
The canal costs 1000 euros to use and is less than three miles long. Our boat fits comfortably through, ok, with only four metres each side, it was comfortable for me, but you can see the tension on the skippers face on the photos i have added.
 
it was of course one of those beautiful moments everyone should experience. The canal has road bridges at each end to allow traffic across too, but these are at sea level. when a ship approaches, the bridge is sank into the ocean, down to 8 metres deep. The ship passes and the bridge is re-floated until next time. once inside the canal, the silence is mind blowing. the chug of the boat, the gentle lap of the waves agains the wall, the crystal blue water and the cliffs that surround you, some 55 metres or approx 170 feet. it needs to be high too, our mast height is 42 metres, we have 10 metres clearance on the lowest bridge.
 
when you get through and out the other side, the bridge lowers again and we entered the corinth sea, our last blast in greek waters.
 
with land in sight at all times, we head for our next landmark, the rio crossing. we passed this at night, the bridge was afire with neon blue and yellow lights as we passed through the centre and highest arch. The photos just don’t do the sight justice.
 
shortly after passing the bridge, we hit the open seas of the Ionian. Nothing in sight for what seemed like an age. Even taking the radar out to 64 miles, showed no land and no other ships. totally alone, just the ghostly whispers of other bored mariners on the VHF, like something from a horror movie, these other mariners get bored and speak in spooky ghost like voices, that had me checking over my shoulder at regular intervals. The drag was long.
 
then, i had my first ever Italian sunrise!
 
Soon we would see the coast of italy and the island of sicily, with Mount Etna towering above the clouds, still capped with snow! In the distance i spied another vessel, a curious looking thing. Turns out, it was hunting sword fish. Two men at the top of the mast on look out, and a man with a harpoon at the front of the boat who would then run out along a plank that was at least twice the lenght of the boat. the photos are something to look at. but the best was still yet to come.
 
Dolphins.
 
I love these curious little creatures. I spied a small group swimming towards us and grabbed my camera and ran to the bow. As they met us head on, i can see them in the water, turning broadside and then heading in the same direction as us, they pick up speed to match the boat, skip and dive across the surface before submerging and crossing under the boat and carrying on with their own journey. I got one super cool picture of three dolphins under the bow together and my reflection on the surface just infront of them. enlarge this picture to capture all of its magic.
 
that woke me up for the rest of the day. We chugged for the rest of the day until we reached port at dusk. Moored the boat, hooked up the shore power and finally settled in for dinner. I hope the next leg will be as intruiging. we wil be here until at least tomorrow afternoon, depending on the weather and nothing more. Next stop Genoa.
 
I have also bought an italian card for my phone but it will take them at least two days to get it live. i will let you have the number as soon as i know it. only in italy can you buy a sim card but not know the phone number you have bought.
 
and lastly – the italian women are a vast, vast improvement on the greek, fat hairy chumps i have gotten used to viewing

Have a moan - the beers are on me !!

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