sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : The Greek Island Odyssey

The Greek Island Odyssey

'House for sail in Kioni, Ithaca'    Maggie Joyce - Mariner Boating Holidays ©

In Mycenaean times the Ithacan ruler Odysseus was conscripted by chief honcho of the time Manelaus to fight the Trojan wars in Asia in revenge for the alleged abduction of his wife Helen by Paris, son of the Persian ruler Hector. At the end of the ten year siege of Troy he then took ten years to make it back to his home on the Ionian island of Ithaca - or was it Levkada as is asserted in some archeological schools? Either he needed a new travel agent or his yearnings for the pining Penelope had waned along the way.

Several hundred years later the fantasized version of his exploits turned up in the poems of Homer’s Iliad and today his name has become synonymous with journey in the English language. In 2008 a group of 29 Australians and a lone Canadian woman sailing five chartered Beneteau yachts covered half the journey of Odysseus, from Athens to Levkada, in two weeks, suggesting that Odysseus had in fact encountered some major distractions along the way.

Of course the modern journeymen and women had at least one major advantage; the trip had been shortened by some 200 nautical miles by a Frenchman who took a 1 million cubic metre slice out of the isthmus of Corinth to create the Corinth Canal. An engineering masterpiece at the end of the nineteenth century the canal today has limited commercial application given the size of most modern day cargo vessels but passage through the 75 metre high, 25 metre wide 3.2 nautical mile cut was a highlight at the beginning of the 2008 Odyssey.

Construction of the canal was first attempted by Nero during Roman times and he put 6,000 Jewish slaves to work for a brief period before Gaul attacks on Rome caused the premature termination of excavation in the limestone that comprises the isthmus.

The Roman emperor Octavian, or more to the point the slaves who dragged his ships on logs over the isthmus, would have much appreciated passage by water during his pursuit of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, who having deserted their defeated navy at the battle of Actium at the western end of the Gulf of Patras set sail around the southern end of the Peloponnese in search of sanctuary in Egypt. Octavian failed to 'head them off at the pass' but his pursuit was relentless and the rest is history.

The beautiful town of Galaxidi, jump off point for the short excursion to Delphi -  Maggie Joyce - Mariner?nid=49692 Boating Holidays ©  



First port of call after Corinth was Galaxhidi on the northern shore of the Gulf. Once a very busy trading port Galaxhidi today is a tranquil seaside village, which is largely unscathed by the ravages of mainstream tourism. Clean, friendly and with cobbled streets the town today greets visiting yachtsmen and a few land travellers. It also provides easy access to Delphi, a few kilometers inland and in the mountains that border the coast.

A clear blue September day provided perfect conditions for the half day excursion arranged by Mariner as an option on the Odyssey program. Delphi was a spiritual sanctuary in ancient Greek times and digital recreation of its splendor suggests that the engineers of the time were no slouches either. Located at the top of a sheer cliff on a precipitous mountainside the mere placement of 1 metre cube building blocks in the structures of Delphi defies imagination.

After an overnight stop at the tiny island of Trizonia another engineering marvel presented itself. The Rio-Anterrio bridge, a 2.88 kilometre cable stayed air-borne monster has its ends anchored to two different tectonic plates and its 4 huge pylons straddling a fault line between the two. The bridge connects mainland Greece with the Peloponnese from a domestic perspective but more importantly comprises an important component of a high speed road link between Brussels and Athens in the broader European scheme of things. The 25 Euro toll is indicative of what it cost to build this masterpiece.

Then into the Ionian Sea to the port of Sami on the island of Cephalonia, which provided the setting for Louis de Berniere’s famous novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the appalling Penelope Cruze movie of the same name. The size of the island suggested that an excursion by land might be the order of the day and Assos on the north western shore and nearby Mythos Beach quickly validated that assertion.

The spectacular limestone cliffs that ascend from a lime tinted turquoise sea prompted a previously unequaled frenzy of camera shutters. The tiny village of Assos, overlooked by a Venetian fortress, offered excellent waterfront dining following the giddying descent from the cliff top main road.

The Rion Antiroin Bridge -  Maggie Joyce - Mariner?nid=49692 Boating Holidays ©  



A return to the Delphinia Restaurant on the night of the lay day in Sami saw a local band of musicians whip the suitably imbibed diners into a frenzy of Greek dancing, which continued unabated from 9 until 1, when exhaustion finally prevailed. A great night with terrific exchange between the mix of nationalities and the Greek proprietor, who at the end declared the night the best of the summer, 'because Ozzies he make it good party'.

At this point of the rally only two of the scheduled three races had been conducted but both had seen 20 knots and more of a spirited westerly wind, rather than the benign 10 knot north-westerly breezes that supposedly prevail throughout the Ionian Sea. In fact the weather did not follow a settled pattern at all, which the locals told us was really un-seasonal. Now where have I heard that before?

Nevertheless an arm wrestle was developing between recently crowned Australian IRC Champion Peter Sorenson and Mark Hendry, who both sailed identical Beneteau 50 footers. Sorenson is a pretty competitive bloke and the step down from the glamour of the national championship to 'mickey mouse' passage racing in the Greek Islands did not dampen his competitive fervor.

The handicapping system developed by Mariner also brought total racing novice Robert Tardif and his similarly inexperienced crew into the picture and before the start of the last race only 1 point separated four of the five yachts in the fleet.

Back to the rally and on to Fiskardo at the northern end of Cephalonia, and the only town on the island not destroyed by the 1953 earthquake, which you can have described but which is still impossible to imagine. In some villages every single house was reduced to rubble and on Cephalonia the entire population was driven into the streets in terror as the quake shook the ground like jelly on a child’s dessert plate.

Fiskardo today has a busy tourism-driven waterfront where one of the great past times is the coming and going of the huge fleet of yachts that visit during their charters out of nearby Levkada. Reverse parking misadventures, knitted anchor chains and futile attempts at throwing tangled mooring lines made for great viewing while sipping a cappuccino in one of the many cafes. Not cheap mind you – 5 dollars for a coffee!


Fiscardo town and harbour, Cephalonia -  Maggie Joyce - Mariner?nid=49692 Boating Holidays ©  



Cephalonia’s neighbor Ithaka is the diamond of the Ionian Islands and Kioni is probably the diamond of Ithaka. With a dog-leg closing the harbour to the open sea Kioni is a perfect haven. The classic two story house on the right as you enter the harbour was for sale in September 2008 for a cool 1 million Euros. Built in 1896 it was owned by an English woman with a Hamilton surname who operated a fleet of barges on the Danube in Bulgaria and married her chief captain, a Greek from Ithaka. When he eventually brought her home to Kioni she built the mansion to specifications that easily survived the big earthquake.

An excursion to nearby Stavros brought us closer to the home of Odysseus but a sunny day and an appetite saw us lunching in the tranquil garden of the excellent Polythemos restaurant where we ordered and shared a range of excellent entrées accompanied by some equally excellent house wine. We then briefly contemplated the 7 kilometre walk back to Kioni before the school bus came along and we took the ride with the kids. The bus stopped at or near the house of each o




by Trevor Joyce

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=49692

11:32 PM Sat 11 Oct 2008 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on


Related News Stories:

05 Jul 2011  The Lycian Coast Yacht Rally - Turkey: 21 Sept - 06 Oct 2012
28 Jun 2011  The Italian Job – a Cruise in Company 29 June - 14 July 2012
27 Jun 2011  Croatia One Design Yacht Rally 2011 final days
22 Jun 2011  Tahiti Pearl Regatta 2012 teams up with Mariner Boating Holidays
16 Jun 2011  One Design Croatia Yacht Rally 2011 race one
15 Jun 2011  9th annual Croatia Beneteau One Design Yacht Rally 2012
07 Jun 2011  Caribbean Canter Yacht Rally: 19 February - 05 March 2012
02 Jun 2011  The Aegean Rally 18 May - 02 June 2012
29 May 2011  The Aegean Yacht Rally draws to a close with the last race on Marmaris
24 May 2011  The 8th Mariner Boating Aegean Yacht Rally
MORE STORIES ...

News - USA and the World







Volvo Ocean Race: Team Vestas Wind gears up in Alicante by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,






































Soling North American Championship concludes on Lake Erie by Canadian International Soling Association,






















Barclays 52 Super Series - Winning spirit of Quantum Racing prevails
ISAF Sailing World Championships Santander: The overall results +Video
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Four champions crowned as racing wraps up
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - USA finishes Top-10 in 4 classes
Outteridge and Jensen – What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Giles Scott wins Gold
Santander Worlds - 49ers Burling and Tuke clear ahead
ISAF Sailing Worlds – Live broadcast - Medal races
Starboard Hatteras Wave Jam day 5
WMRT Chicago Match Cup 2014 – GAC Pindar through to the semi-finals
Bart’s Bash 2014 at Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club in Victoria Harbour
Bart's Bash: First event in at Wakatere in New Zealand
ISAF Sailing Worlds Santander 2014 - AUS Laser and 470 Medals + video
2014 Patriot Regatta - U.S. Coast Guard team wins
2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 9 highlights
2014 Etchells North American Championship – Day 2
Chicago Match Cup - Top four tour teams tackle tomorrow in semi-finals
470 Men and Women Worlds - Champions decided in Santander
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: 49er and Nacra 17 world titles claimed
ISAF Sailing Worlds - Caleb Paine through to Finn medal race + video
ISAF Worlds - 49er, 49erFX, Finn and Nacra 17 Rio 2016 spots taken   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - 470 Women's medal race images by Thom Touw   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: Scott all set to lift Finn world title   
ISAF Sailing Worlds - 470 Men's medal race images by Thom Touw   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Aussies and Austrians claim 470 gold   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander: 470 awards images by Sail-World.com   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - 470 medal race images by Jesus Renedo   
Annapolis-to-Newport Race - 'What to Expect' Seminar to take place   
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - No racing on penultimate day   
Belcher takes record fifth 470 World Championship   
ISAF Sailing World Championships - Santander - Day 8 video highlights   
2014 Great Lakes Team Racing Championship about to set off   
2014 Etchells North American Championship - Day 1   
2014 U.S. Multihull Championship - Day 1   
2014 Chicago Match Cup - Repechage top four determined in final flight   
J/24 World Championship - 35th anniversary preview   
470 Men and Women Worlds - Santander medal race line-up confirmed   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Day 8 images by Sail-World.com   
Royal Cup Marina Ibiza - Quantum Racing stumbles in coastal race   
ISAF Sailing Worlds, Santander - Americans ready for 470 medal races   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News





Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT