Sa­ronic Gulf to the Ar­golic Gulf

Yachting Monthly - - CRUISING GROUNDS -

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

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