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Barry's Blog #103 - Sightseeing at Sounion, Greece

I'm the weak link in the chain when it comes to listening to my little inner voice. But I'm finally, after nearly six decades, getting much better at listening and acting on what the voice tells me.

When we're leaving an anchorage, and we've left quite a few in the 15 months we've been sailing, Aannsha and I have a routine we follow. She does all the front end stuff and I do all the stuff at the back. The same happens when we drop anchor at our destination. As a result I rarely get to see the anchor and the various connections to the anchor chain. So when we upped anchor at Porto Rafti, mainland Greece and my little inner voice said "Check the seizing wire on the anchor shackles." I passed that on to Aannsha who had a look and found that the wire had indeed broken on one of the shackles.

It's a quick job to do, so I handed the helm to Aannsha and went to the bow to replace the wire. I can see why it's breaking sooner than it should and I'll need to figure out a different sort of attachment when we put A B Sea on the hard for maintenance this winter.

Destination and a date

Porto Rafti to Sounion

The day we left Porto Rafti there was no wind but we had to leave because we needed to get A B Sea to a safe anchorage in time for me to hand the captain's hat over to Aannsha while I went to the UK for a long weekend. Plus we had our friends Shelley and Ian on board and they needed to get to Athens to catch their flight back to Australia.

The 3 hour motor south to our first anchorage at Sounion was mostly uneventful. But as we passed the industrial port at Siri there were 3 large tankers at anchor and one of them decided it was time to leave just as we were about to pass his bow. He let us know by giving a long loud blast of his horn. When these big ships give a warning blast it's best to err on the side of caution so I did a quick 90 degree turn to starboard and we passed port to port.

The anchorage at Sounion was still as busy as it had been last time we visited, but we managed to anchor in the same spot we did last time we'd been there. Away from the crowd in 6 metres (19.5 feet) of water with 30 metres (98.5 feet) of chain out, a scope of 5 : 1.

On our previous visit to Sounion we had no time to go ashore but this time we were determined to visit the temple to Poseidon especially as we had Shelley and Ian with us.

Homage to Poseidon

The temple is one of the major monuments of the golden age of Athens. It's perched at a height of almost 60 metres (197 feet) above the Mediterranean sea and was built in 444-440 BC. In 413 BC, during the Peloponnesian war against the Spartans, the Athenians fortified the site with a wall and towers to prevent the temple from falling into Spartan hands.

The entrance fee is 8 Euros (AU$13) per person and it's definitely worth a visit. It does get very crowded during the height of the summer months. Many visitors also come later in the day because the view of the setting sun is quite the sight to behold. Sensible walking shoes are advised because of the rocky state of the ground surrounding the temple.

One thing that really stuck out for me was the timeless human penchant for leaving their mark whenever they visit places. There are names and dates etched into quite a lot of the temples building blocks.

The oldest one I spotted was of two sailors' names, the name of their vessel 'S.S. Sparta' and a date of 1890. There's also one that's etched in quite fancy calligraphy and was allegedly done by Lord Byron, who was an English poet, peer, and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence.

Back to Varkiza

The next day there was a bit of usable wind but it was intermittent so we motor sailed for the best part of our 3 hour trip north to Varkiza.

As this anchorage was meant to be where I would be leaving Aannsha wearing the captain's hat we dropped anchor in sand in 4 metres (13 feet) of water and let out 40 metres (131 feet) of chain. That's a crazy scope of 10 : 1 but we were absolutely certain that no matter what the wind threw at A B Sea she wasn't going to move.

Shelley and Ian had booked themselves an AirBnB at Varkiza and after lunch I took them ashore in the dinghy while Aannsha caught up on some much needed laundry.

That evening we also had the chance to meet up for dinner with Rita and Sten Matthews who were having their catamaran electronics inspected at a marina near Athens after a lightning strike. It's always great to share sailing stories with fellow yachties and we certainly learn a lot about places we may be visiting which is always handy info to have.

Thanks for reading this blog and if you want to watch the video that accompanies it click here.

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