Saronic Gulf to the Argolic Gulf
T he prevailing wind here is the meltemi blowing from the north-north-east to north-east, though this is often not the savage beast encountered through the Cyclades and elsewhere. As you get down towards the home islands around Poros, Hydra and Spetsai the prevailing wind is the Bouka Doura, a sea breeze that gets up around midday from the south-east and dies down in the evening.
Korfos – If it is windy coming out of the Corinth Canal I usually head down to Korfos where there is good shelter at anchor or on one of the taverna quays.
Palaia Epidhavros – Just down from Korfos and the place to head for if you want to visit the theatre of Epidhavros up in the hills behind the town. You will need to take a bus, taxi, hire car or motorbike to get there, and yes, you really can hear a coin drop in the central stage when you are in the back tier of the theatre. If you have time, potter down into the Gulf of Epidhavros to Vathi, a gem of a small harbour on the western side of Methana peninsula.
Poros – The Rorschach blob island situated just off the coast where it bends around to the west. A narrow strait separates it from the Peloponnese with some shallow bits off the coast, so pay attention to your pilotage. The setting with the houses of the town built higgledy-piggledy up and over the rocky slopes is one of the most attractive in the Saronic. Of it Henry Miller said ‘… suddenly I realised we were sailing through the streets… Coming into Poros gives the illusion of a deep dream.’
Hydra – Is impossibly bijou and impossibly crowded in the summer. My suggestion would be to potter in and have a look and then come out and sail across to Ermioni on the coast, which is just as appealing and more civilised than the mayhem that is Hydra harbour.
Porto Kheli – This is the hurricane hole to go to in bad weather along this bit of coast. It offers all-round protection, sticky mud and a few restaurants and cafés ashore, should you need them.
Yachts coming down from Athens for the weekend rarely poke their nose into the Argolic Gulf so it is relatively uncrowded after the home islands. The prevailing wind here is the sea breeze, the Bouka Doura, that blows up into the gulf from the south-east. It generally gets up around midday, blows up to Force 4-5 and dies down in the evening.
Koiladhia – A fishing port on the eastern side of the gulf where you can anchor in gooey mud with all-round shelter. Trawlers are banked up on the quay and there are tavernas and a few shops ashore. The water in Koiladhia is
a bit murky, so on the way up it’s worth stopping for lunch in the anchorage off Korakonisia where you can see the bottom at 10 metres.
Navplion – Near the head of the gulf is the large town of Navplion, a pleasing place with a mixture of Venetian and neo-classical architecture covered in swathes of bougainvillea. There are excellent tavernas, chic shops and even Italian gelato. Looking down on the town is the imposing Venetian fortress of Palamidhi, at some 857 steps, should you wish to climb up to it. Navplion is the logical place to organise a trip to Mycenae on the plain at the head of the gulf.
Astrous – A small fishing village situated on the western side of the gulf that is overlooked by yet another Venetian fortress. This is a place to just chill out, with a long sandy beach running around the bay from the harbour. Inland by car there are some excellent vineyards you can tour and taste.
Leonidhion – Tucked into the entrance to a high rock gorge is the little port of Leonidhion, often just referred to as Plaka, meaning a ‘beach’, from the long sandy beach running around the bay. The hamlet is enchanting and the setting with the high limestone cliffs behind the port is spectacular, almost too picturesque if such a thing is possible.
Looking across the narrow strait that divides Poros Island from the Peloponnese
Epidhavros theatre – you really can hear a pin drop
Koiladhia: a fishing port and village in the Argolic Gulf
Leonidhion is one of the most enchanting places on the Peloponnese
At the top of the Argolic Gulf is elegant Navplion