A popular folk tale tells of Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, who became so confounded at his inability to calculate the frequency of the constantly changing tides which flow under the old bridge at Chalkis, he threw himself off the bridge and drowned. In truth he died of a stomach illness in 322 BC.
As well as the irregular tides there are also unusual water flow speeds which can be as much as 7.8 knots (14.5km/h - 9mph). Put these two things together and figuring out when the bridge will open to allow passage is a kind of guessing game.
When we registered and paid for our bridge passage we were told to be ready sometime between 10.00pm and 1.00am. We got lucky and were radioed through at 10.30pm on Monday evening. We decided that rather than head off into the darkness to find an anchorage once we'd passed through the bridge, it would be wiser to simply tie off for the night alongside at the north quay on the other side. As it was quite late in the year there were only 2 other yachts with the same plan so there was plenty of space. I'm sure it's a very different story in the height of summer.
Full details of the paperwork process, including a map of where to register and pay for the bridge passage, are in this week's YouTube video #099.
Tying off at the quay was easily done with Aannsha stepping off at the amidships gate and securing the bow line, then walking aft to grab the stern line to pass through a steel ring and pass it back to me at the helm.
The lines we used are quite long because they're also the lines that are used when we do a stern to med mooring and we need to keep some distance between the quay and the back end of the boat. As I always do I threw the long unused end of the line onto the cockpit bench seat, in front of the helm, for tidying up later once A B Sea was properly secured.
As Aannsha came back on board she gave me a high five to acknowledge that we'd successfully negotiated the bridge and safely tied off without incident and she simply wasn't looking where she was putting her feet as she stepped back into the cockpit. Her left foot landed on the very end of the line which rolled and she slipped badly causing much pain in the foot and ankle area.
A week later when we got an opportunity to visit a doctor, an x-ray showed a hairline fracture of a foot bone and signs of ligament damage. She would be wearing a moon boot for the next 6 to 8 weeks.
The final hops
After passing the bridge at Chalkis our final destination of Limni was just 23 nautical miles away and we could've easily made it there in a single hop. But we still had 8 days of our Greek cruising tax paid for and as there was either no wind or wind from the wrong direction we didn't want to push our ailing engine too hard.
Leaving the quayside at Chalkis late Tuesday morning we motored just one hour to anchor at a place called Artaki. Even though it protected us from the afternoon wind that had picked up the physical contours of the headland meant that a swell came around the corner into the anchorage and we had a very bumpy night.
The following day we left Artaki and decided that we'd just go straight to Limni. The wind gods laughed at our plan and decided to throw some wind at us. At first it was good wind varying between 15 and 25 knots and even though we were close hauled and beating into it we were at least sailing and giving our engine a rest.
However the further north we went in the Evia channel the more playful the wind gods became. They took the wind away, then brought it back. They blew it at 25 knots, then dropped it to 8 knots. They sent it from the east, then from the north west. It was a very frustrating day of furling the sails in and out, tacking back and forth and turning the engine on and off.
Just 8 nautical miles from Limni we'd had enough and decided to turn west to spend the night at an anchorage on the mainland of Greece at Theologos. We actually spent 2 nights anchored there while we waited for the wind to settle down.
Are we there yet?
On Friday 25th October we woke to a relatively calm day, upped anchor and pointed the nose of A B Sea in the direction of the boat yard to the east north east of Theologos.
On the trip over I emailed Xaris, the yard owner, to let him know that we'd be arriving sometime around 11.00am. He said he was unsure if he could haul us out that day and suggested that we go into the small fishing harbour at Limni for the night. I'd seen the harbour on Google Earth and it didn't look large enough or deep enough for A B Sea so I asked if we could anchor just offshore from the boatyard, Xaris said we'd probably be better off using one of his secure mooring balls as the bottom was mostly pebbles and the holding not that good.
We made better time than I'd estimated and by 10.30am we were securely attached to the mooring ball. After putting A B Sea to bed we lowered the dinghy and went ashore to introduce ourselves and get details of the hauling out process. I'll tell you all about that in next week's blog.
To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.