There really was only one purpose for visiting Itea, and that was to go to the ancient city of Delphi. Other than that, Itea has nothing really going for it, although has much potential. The very large marina is unfinished, and all power has been disconnected. Despite Rod Heikle (the Med sailing guru) telling us there would be water supply, there wasn’t. Not even a tap to fill our jerry can.
A few nice restaurants lined the waterfront with a nice outlook over the bay and the islands. That was about it. The rest of the town had many abandoned shops and was spoiled with graffiti.
So we spent the evening on the boat and went to bed early, as we had to get up in time to catch the 7:15am bus to Delphi with Ron and Kathleen. Getting up early meant we were the first to arrive, and could visit the ancient ruins without a crowd. It was absolutely amazing.
We managed to get Ron to run, and catch the 10am bus back to Itea, saving us a 3 hour wait and allowing us to sail out of the miserable town. And when I say sail, I mean motor. Again, the head wind curse got the best of us. That, and sometimes just having no wind at all.
Our next stop was on a small island just off the mainland called Nisis Trizonia. This is the marina where the Swiss people I spoke about in our last post told us we would fit in. There certainly were a lot of abandoned boats there, including a sunken Ketch. Such a shame.
The bay where the tavernas were located was beautiful.
This is also where we met Gary and Julie, who are in the 5th season here in the Mediterranean. They gave us some hot tips, including where we can find good cheap wine in Lefkas. Luckily, we are picking up Bek and Adam there on Monday!
The Harbour in Trizonia was so well protected, that when we motored out the next day we had no idea we were going to have an amazing sail to the West. Ron and Kathleen set off first towards Navpaktos. We all really wanted to go there because it is a medieval harbour surrounded by a fort. We had an inclination there would be no room for either of us, as the harbor is very small (Ron and Kathleen confirmed this later).
The winds started out perfect. Although, we could see the edge of some stronger winds coming, so we decided to set the main sail to the third reef and the jib still half furled. It was good that we did that, because the winds reached 25 knots, with some stronger gusts (not that I really trust our wind indicator as being accurate). We had a great cruising speed, going 10 knots at times, but an average of 8 or 9. It felt amazing to finally not have the sound of the motor rattling our brains.
At one point I made a comment to Ryan about how fast we would be going had we not seen the wind front and set the sails in full. He then replied that we would certainly have broken something if we had, and we were sailing well as it was. I agreed, and at that moment we noticed that the autopilot was not working properly. Talk about jinxing ourselves. The belt on it was not grabbing in one direction and could not turn the wheel. Oh bummer!
Manual steering it was, as we puzzled over what to do about it. We quickly sent a text to Ron and Kathleen to advise them that we were going to go straight to Patras, which is the third largest city in Greece. We were sure we would be able to get a new belt, or something to fix the autopilot there.
This meant passing straight under the Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world spanning at 2,252m long. As we approached the bridge the winds seemed to get stronger and stronger. We both became quite nervous, as there was a current running against us and there appeared to be less chop on the other side.
The reason we worried was that, as we sail, we lift the motor up. Doing so, and lowering it back, takes two of us. Without an autopilot, and getting so near the bridge, it was just too difficult. We hoped that the wind would keep up on the other side, because if it died, we would not be able to start the motor straight away and the current would probably have pushed us back, and perhaps into a pylon. That was what was going through my brain anyway.
We worried for nothing. The wind increased to 35 knots as we passed under anyway, giving us plenty of momentum. A ferry decided he would give us a close call.
You could sense the relief on the boat once we were through, and had safely entered the Gulf of Patras. The wind was much lighter on the other side, making the last 4 nautical miles quite relaxing….. Until I brought the main sail down and realized it had torn down one of the seams. Oh man! When did that happen?
When I was tying it down I also notice another tear in the sail. Luckily, the minimum stay in Patras Harbour is two days. It’s not exactly a cheap stay, but there was going to be a chandlery and a sail maker available.
The chandlery sold nothing of use. Nothing for the autopilot, and no sail tape. Ryan contacted the sail maker, who said he would be at the harbor soon. He did not show up. When we called him again, he told us he was too far away and would be there the next morning at 8am (this morning).
An hour passed and still no sail maker. We could have slept in!!! He arrived at 9:30am. It turns out he was not the sail maker at all. He just was coming to assess what we needed and then called the sail maker in. He told us the sail maker would come in his van within the next hour and fix the sail. Two and a half hours later he showed up and took our main sail away to fix it.
Geez I hope we get it back…. I’m a bit concerned that he did not give us a price before taking it away!!
By the way, I think I have fixed the autopilot issue. I have spent several hours using a sharp small knife refilling deeper grooves onto the wheel the belt sits on. Hopefully this will have solved the problem of the wheel not grabbing. If it hasn’t, then we might have to try some chandleries in Lefkas. Sailing without an autopilot is a bit frustrating if you are going long distances.
Here are some photos of the sunset last night, and our neighbouring boat.