Artvali and I threw my kayak on the car and headed to the port. He warned me that I may not be permitted to pass through the Corinth Canal that day as I had planned, and that a covert entrance would be absolutely impossible. If I had any trouble, I should call him. He could come with a kayak cart in his trunk to assist my portage.
I cut a straight line from Xylokastro to Corinth. Gone was the tailwind that hurtled me forward the proceeding days. The mountains turned to hills and converged at the end of the Gulf of Corinth in front of me. A sailboat glided effortlessly in the wind a few miles to my north.
They were headed toward the canal. I met the Australian sailors near the entrance waiting for the oncoming boats to pass and the canal’s traffic direction to change.
Under the assumption that I would not be allowed to enter under my own power, I hatched a plan. I would tie my kayak to a sailboat, with the captain’s permission, pass through the gate at the entrance, and then release the line and paddle under my own power.
The captain did not agree, but recommended I talk to the canal controller. I pulled out my radio.
“Corinth Canal this is Kayak Dov.”
“This is Corinth Canal, what is the name of your vessel?”
“Corinth Canal, my call sign is Kayak Dov.”
“What is your vessel type?”
“I’m a kayak.”
“Are you a motor yacht or a sailing yacht?”
“I’m a kayak.”
“Can you repeat? Are you a motor yacht or a sailing yacht?”
“Can you spell it?”
I rattled off “Kilo-alpha-yankee-alpha-kilo delta-oscar-victor.”
“Please repeat, slowly.”
Slowly, “Kilo. Alpha. Yankee. Alpha. Kilo. Delta. Oscar. Victor.”
“Please hold your position and wait for instructions.”
“Copy.” I replied.
I held my position and waited for instructions. I didn’t wait long; I decided to go talk to them in person. There was a lone two story house at the entrance to the canal with some antennas, on on the roof. The Australians thought that this was the Corinth Canal station location.
I paddled up to it. With an electrical robot noise, a video camera mounted on the edge of the roof changed it’s angle so that it was looking directly at me. I tried to communicate with hand waving that the person operating the camera should come out of the house and say hello.
The video watched me, but no one came out.
I pulled my boat onto the beach and walked up to the house. It was locked.
There were other people on the beach, and lots of dogs. There was a drawbridge two hundred meters inland along the canal with a booth for the conductor. Maybe he was Corinth Canal. I didn’t want to leave my boat unguarded with potential hooligans in the vicinity, but I did want to go the booth.
I went towards the booth. The dogs barked and snarled at me. I tried to watch them but they circled around me so that I could only see a few of them. As I walked, I radiated peace and love, and they left me alone.
I met the man in the booth. I explained how important it was that I be allowed through. The alternative was to paddle roughly 500 miles around through potentially terrible conditions. The canal was constructed in 1891; surely countless non motorized boats had passed through it in decades past.
The man told me I couldn’t go through the canal now, as the strong current would move against me. It changes approximately every six hours. I should return the next morning and maybe the current would flow in the right direction. The canal is closed at night. There are no current tables.
There’s a bar at the entrance to the canal with a patio on the water. It seemed like a perfect place to camp. I approached the bar. It was clearly closed for the season, but four or five people sat inside and chatted.
I knocked on a glass door. A woman approached and communicated with me in Greek that they were closed for the season. I still don’t speak any Greek, but I can get across the basics of “I kayaked here from Spain, can I please sleep in your porch with my boat for the night?” if only I’m given a chance. The woman wouldn’t open the door, and I couldn’t get my request through it. She walked away, uninterested in the crazy American outside, and then I, too, dejectedly returned to my boat.
I paddled a mile and a half back to the port and made camp on a long-deserted motor boat.
Current location: 37.941561, 22.936013
Nautical miles paddled: 22.6