Port Appendices
Saronic : Greece

These notes are intended to compliment Rod Heikell’s excellent Greek Waters Pilot, without which we would not have been able to properly and so expeditiously explore the Greek waters we love so much; we strongly urge you to buy each new edition as it is produced.  It is never possible for such a comprehensive publication to be totally up to date thus, where appropriate; we have mentioned changes.  

Mainland Coast

This covers an arc running north, east and south from Ak Malea in the Peloponnisos round to Ak Sounion south of Athens.

Monemvasia (Mone embasis: single entrance)

This is an absolute must to visit if in this area of Greece; it’s not Venice as it has no canals but it has Venice’s charm without the commercialism and from its previous connection with Venice you can buy Venetian glass, masks and puppets.  Care is needed in where you moor.

You can anchor off either to the north or south of the peninsula, picking your spot carefully or in the small harbour to the south or ferry quay to the north.  Why with care; because of the prevalence of gales from any direction at some times of the year.   Charlie thinks it is the law that you spend four days here as we did in September 2003 because of gale force winds but enjoyed every minute of it; it happened again in 2004.

Being a 300m high steep-sided rocky crag, only joined to the mainland by a narrow sand bar and with its position just north of Cap Maleas, perhaps the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean, it was perfect for both trading and piracy as most ships passing through the Mediterranean had to round the Cape.  Whilst it has had (and still has) its own seafaring people probably since Minoan times, it has been ruled or owned since the 6th century by the Byzantines, Franks, Catalonians, Papacy, Venice and finally the Turks until it’s liberation from them in 1821.  Its reputation of honour is that throughout its history, it was never taken by force; sieges were either avoided or ended through commercial negotiation thereby largely retaining their independence, surprising if for no other reason that there is no natural water supply only captured rainfall.  The Byzantine and Venetian periods brought the most wealth, much of which was spent re-building and developing the lower town in particular which is again today being sympathetically renovated and brought into the 21st century.  The streets were never wide enough for cars so remain today as they were in older times, stone paved.  The trading houses and warehouses have been converted to shops, tavernas and accommodation without spoiling the original architecture.  Dinner was had on a balcony overlooking the central square (see Photos From Aboard 2 2004).  Expensive?  You would expect it to be so but two courses and a half litre of wine was just €35.00. 

Ieraka (Yerakas)

A dogleg entrance to pretty safe haven, particularly if it is really blowing.  We have moored here alongside the ferry quay but that was very much out of season.

There are tavernas but we were unable to try them as they were all closed in April.

Kiparissi (Chapel Cove)

Not keen on the other two options the Pilot covers but also have caution about using Chapel Cove.  Mooring to the quay is an absolute pleasure but beware any wind with east in it as it puts up a very dangerous swell.  It caused us to leave in the middle of the night and anchor off in less than comfortable circumstances.

Astrous

A charming sort of ‘oldie worldie’ spot with excellent mooring to the quay and availability to good provisions and tavernas.

Water is said to be available though we have never needed it whilst here.

Navplion

A must to visit at some time though it is a bit cityish.  Mooring alongside the quay can give you some large neighbours to watch as it is a regular stop for cruise liners.  The fort above the town is said to be worth the climb; we haven’ tried it yet.

Water is said to be available.  This is NOT a swimming spot.

Tolo (Tolon)

An unfriendly place; don’t bother.

Khaiddhari

An excellent anchorage though it was a bit noisy with building work when we visited in 2003 so we only stopped at lunchtime.  Excellent for a swim.

Koiladhia

Another place that we fell in love with but are not actually sure why.  Anchor off in the bay and look out for the turtles that frequent it.  Ashore it is still a very active fishing port and the people are very friendly and welcoming; eating fish is thus relatively cheap.  In 2003 we had the cheapest (and largest) Metaxas we have ever experienced in one of the local bars.

The nearby caves are lit up at night adding to the charm of the spot.

Swimming is fine but the water is not crystal clear.

Porto Kheli

A place you either love or hate; we hate it.  However we have moored behind the islet on the north side of the channel where the swimming is superb in the crystal clear water over a silver sand bottom and entertaining to boot with all the comings and goings of ferries and yachts to watch.

If you must, then drop into the port to provision up.  Yuck!

Ormos Vr. Kheliou (Poto Heli)

A similar bay to Zyioryia on Spetsai but on the opposite mainland coast and requiring a couple lines taken ashore for security.  Being adjacent to the main entry channel to Porto Heli, it provides unlimited ‘boaty watching’ opportunities and is great for swimming (water temperature 30.6ºC when we were last there; warm bath stuff) and very peaceful at night.

Mid-Channel Bay

Halfway up the channel to Porto Heli on the right is a lovely quiet anchorage where you can sit and watch the world go bye, hydrofoils and other ferries included.

We safely anchored here in a gale in 2006.

Ermioni

Another spot we are not fussed about but it may suit others.  Make sure you moor well away from the ferry quay, the hydrofoil skippers can be quite threatening as we discovered even though we were moored up where directed by the port police.

We did not stop so cannot comment further.

Nisos Soupia (Frog Rock)

A safe little anchorage in settled weather.

Methana

The Pilot covers it well.  We went in, saw no attraction and left.

Vathi (West side of the Methana Peninsula)

A quiet little place when we went in, which was in very early April.  Nothing was actually open but someone appeared from nowhere to take our lines and then disappeared just as mysteriously.  We have meant to return several times since but have never quite managed it.  We have no doubt it will be worth it.

Epidhavros

A fairly busy little port as it is the best place to moor up safely, leave your yacht and visit what is said to be the best example of a Greek amphitheatre in existence.  It is worth the taxi ride to visit and is everything the guidebooks and the Pilot say about it.

Nea Epidhavros

For us, a real find.  The Pilot is not joking when it says the pontoon is rickety but don’t let that put you off.  The place is charming and quiet with a simple taverna that provides the pontoon so you are obliged to eat there once but that is no hardship.  There are other tavernas and a bar on the beach.

It is right in the estuary of a small mountain stream and that adds ice-cold fresh water to the seawater at the mooring, making for an interesting swim!  Hot one minute in buoyant seawater, cold the next and sinking in mountain fresh water.

There is not much room in here but you can always anchor off; the surrounding flood plain valley is very picturesque.

Korfos

The nearest safe anchorage to the Corinth canal’s eastern entrance, albeit that is 17 miles distant.  A sleepy place with a cowboy town look about it.

Anchor off or moor to the quay where facilities are available through the taverna owner who provides power, water, showers and some lazy lines.  The food at his taverna (the nearest to you as you come in) was very good and cheap.  The horta was so good we had three platefuls; piggies.

Corinth Canal East Entrance

There are places to moor around the entrance if you have to wait overnight.  We have not used them and don’t fancy them much either.

More comment on the Canal in Ports Visited – Gulf of Corinth and Gulf of Patras.

Athens Area

We make no comment about the marinas and ports close to Athens.   They are covered well by the Pilot and we think they are all ghastly, even the ones we have used through circumstance such as Kalamaki.  Yuck!

Chapel Bay in Ormos Anavissou

After Athens, this is a dream find.  Anchor to seaward of all the laid moorings.  It is a surprisingly tranquil and quite spot where we spent a very peaceful night.  It is also good for swimming.

Across the bay is Palaia Fokaia that is good for provisioning though it is best to anchor off and take the dinghy ashore.  The local mini-market was very well stocked with fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices.  There is a butcher right next door.

Ormos Souniou (Ak Sounion)

A necessary and convenient stopping place to await the right winds to leave the Saronic and head north or east.  Make sure your anchor is well in as the holding can be patchy and, if the wind goes westerly as it did with us, you will have quite a swell to contend with.

Eat on board, the two tavernas ashore leave a lot to be desired perhaps due to the proximity of The Temple of Poseidon and the coach loads of captive tourist customers that provides them with a captive clientele throughout the day.  We looked at both and tried one in the evening and regretted it.

Aegina

After twenty years we have decided that Aegina offers very little to the visiting yachtsmen other than convenience when approaching or leaving Athens.  The main port is always a nightmare, noisy and to be avoided at weekends when the Athenians descend in vast numbers.  Perdhika is charming, if you can get in and moor up without picking up a laid mooring or someone else’s anchor.  However, it does have some quiet anchorages and we mention those below.

Ormos Pirgos

On the south coast and safe in all but any strong wind with south in it; a bit deep unless you can get well in but the sandy patches are easy to spot: drop your anchor on them and we have found the holding good.  It is quiet and there are no facilities ashore.  It is fine for swimming.

Ormos Ayia Marina

Apparently exposed but we found it surprisingly protected as when we left in the morning in flat calm and no wind, as we rounded the NE corner just a mile or so up from the bay, we found it blowing F5 from the north.

We followed the Pilot and anchored away from the main town area, under a redundant bar.  The rocks are fascinating, the holding good and the swimming lovely.

Angistri

We have circled the island but other than the anchorages mentioned, did not rate the harbour or anywhere else for attraction or safety.

Nisis Dhoroussa

Inside this island are two bays, one small very picturesque and idyllic with a taverna ashore, the other much larger but very deep.  We opted for the smaller bay but only as a lunchtime stop.  The Pilot suggests it may be OK for an overnight stay; we would consider that unwise other than in settled weather or in a smallish yacht.

Poros

Poros

A busy little town and port with a lot of ferry traffic that caters for visiting yachts quite well; it has character and Planatos Taverna!  This is in a small square set back from the front in the old residential area and is run by the butcher who runs his shop across the road by day and the taverna by night; his spit-roast suckling pig is so tender it just melts in the mouth.  Another taverna that is equally worth a visit and is close to Planatos is Karavolos (snails and they serve them) and well signposted from along the west quay.

There is also a chandlers just off the north front that sells everything; it’s like being in Aladdin’s cave for a yachty.

But watch out for ferry swell, we slipped up and were to close to the quay and that resulted in some damage to our bathing platform steps.

Ormos Neorion

One of three bays within a mile of the town quay where a peaceful night can be passed at anchor and where swimming is fine.  There are tavernas ashore and one mini-market.

Spetse (Spetsai)

Spetse is OK but has become one of those islands where we wonder why we bother with all the mooring hassles involved in getting in there, Ormos Zoyioryia excepted.

Ormos Zoyioryia (Get your tongue round that one then!)

A delightful tree-lined sandy bay in the NW corner of Spetsai Island.  The sort of place it is easy to spend a few days doing absolutely nothing at all except swim, drink, eat and sleep.

Spetsai New Harbour (Baltiza Creek)

The town quay where the Port Police are situated does not welcome, or allow, yachts to moor; that is reserved for the generally over crowded new harbour where there are two or three choices.  We have moored to the inside of the outer breakwater in calm and settled conditions, within the inner harbour when we could find room and stood off the western road wall when we had to.  The latter is far from comfortable in a northerly wind and could become quite dangerous.

Hydra

Mooring up is such a hassle here we don’t even attempt it anymore; leaving is even worse.  But if you have never been, you must give it a try but to avoid the worst excesses of the hassle do not go ever in August or any weekend (Friday to Sunday inclusive).  Heed the Pilot well!