Goinground PELEPONNESE 2016

Dingenotto

Personal review about the circumnavigation of Peleponnese by sea kayak

Going ROUND Peleponnese 2016

> Reflections <

My personal trip review to refresh my memory from time to time.

It might even be interesting for others, if not please do not blame me and safe your time for doing your own

paddling,

Christian Dingenotto, Oldenburg, January 2018

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 1


Content

Statistics

Going solo?

Tactics: trying to “dance with the wind”

Trip-Diary

I-will-come-back-list

“Balance”:Ireland Peleponnese

Gear-shed: little helpers

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Statistics

Day Date Start

reached at the end of the

day GPS Distance

Day 1 28.09.2016 Kyllini Letrina 37.65012,21.39574 53 km

Day 2 29.09.2016 Kalo Nero 37.29832,21.69478 48,5 km

Day 3 30.09.2016 Pylos 36.91784,21.70064 51,5 km

Day 4 01.10.2016 Koroni 36.79525,21.96394 46,7 km

Day 5 02.10.2016 Kalogria Beach 36.84982,22.25794 31,48 km

Day 6 03.10.2016 Gerolimenas 36.48222,22.39966 48,3 km

Day 7 04.10.2016 Kalivia/Paganea 36.66244,22.54480 48,3 km

Day 8 05.10.2016 Profitis Ilias 36.43445,23.11369 64,7 km

Day 9 06.10.2016 Monemvasia 36.68692,23.03977 42,5 km

Day 10 07.10.2016 Fokianos 37.07306,22.96627 50,8 km

Day 11 08.10.2016 Spetses / Kouzounos B. 37.24024,23.16287 31 km

Day 12 09.10.2016 Pera Mpiseika 37.44933,23.51810 42,6 km

Day 13 10.10.2016 Kiourkati 37.808481,23.16725 58 km

Day 14 11.10.2016 Korinth 37.94386,22.93117 28,6 km

Day 15 12.10.2016 Sikia 38.06710,22.65692 28,5 km

Day 16 13.10.2016 Xilokastro 38.081911, 22.622767 3,3 km

Day 17a 14.10.2016 Diakopto 38.19687,22.20225 40,6 km

Day 17b 14.10.2016 Kato Arachovitika 38.33110,21.84239 38,6 km

Day 18 15.10.2016 Paralia Kalamakiou 38.17750,21.49162 41,2 km

Day 19a 16.10.2016 Sandhill Kalogria Beach 38.16293,21.36487 18,5 km

Day 19b 16.10.2016 Kyllini 37.93765,21.14604 34,6 km

Distance (app.)

Km / Day (Average)

851,28 km

44,80 km

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Going solo?

Going alone

One of the big surprises of the trip. Going solo meant really BEING alone. Different from the

Ireland trip almost nobody was interested in what I was doing. I really do not need any

tapping on the shoulder or admiring conversations. In fact I was only once on the second

day of my trip offered help. Maybe it is because I did not know Greek maybe a seakayak is

even more unusual in Greece. I do not know. In fact after having been for eight to ten hours

out at sea I arrived at beaches mostly with some people. And I even got the feeling like

being invisible. Perhaps a bit like the ships of the Spanish conquistadores: there are reports

that they could not be seen by the native americans at first as anything slightly similar did not

exist in their mindset. So talking for two to three day often was limited to order a frappee.

Deciding alone

In fact there were three of us: me, myself and I. What I mean are these inner discussions

between my ambition (trying to get around the next cape, finding an even better campsite,

paddling another 30 minutes in clapotis) and my doubts (can I really do this?, will my

physical problems get worse?, what obstacle will be on the next corner? ). So even when I

had taken a decision “myself” did either not find it ambitious enough or “me” was constantly

doubting if the decision was a wise one and “I” was in a way in between all trying to please

everybody. Hope that does not sound to strange as my name is neither Jekyll nor Hyde.

However the “inner team” did not work well together at first. At first … I really do not know

exactly when. It must have been within the first days of the trip. The inner team started

working together and I just felt what was right and what would evoke certain risks I was not

willing to face and accept as part of my doing the trip. Perhaps it was one of my rare social

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contacts and of cause all the many hours at sea which triggered that off: Dave was a

Canadian sailor I met in the Marina of Pylos. He was interested in my trip and asked for my

experiences. When I was telling him I did something stupid, he said “no you did not -you

learned something.” The way he put it was not this standard superficial think-positive-andyou-achieve-everything-attitude.

Perhaps it is as well part of the German attitude that

everything has to be perfect and successful. I prefer the attitude that failure is not that things

you try do not work - failure for me is not having tried. So along the trip with all theses

continuous deciding where to land, to cross, to stop etc. I started more considering if I would

potentially like to learn something I did not feel like learning. So by and by the three of us got

quite well along with each other. For me one of the important learnings of the trip is that I can

now trust myself to make the “right” decisions - i.e. only to face situations where I learn

things I want to learn.

Feeling alone

What surprised me especially that even in duckpond conditions I was always alert and

tensed: where is the closest put out point (while paddling along the mostly rocky shores)?

What are the fall-back scenarios? How would or could a self rescue work? So the generally

very “healthy” seakayaking attitude of anticipation put me under almost constant tension and

stress. For example in conditions I could easily handle and would have completely enjoyed

with others like a surf in a good force 4 tailwind and a meter swell I was constantly alert of

what could be done if I fell into the water. Perhaps it is a bit too exaggerated to conclude that

this made the trip less enjoyable but this tension is for me enough reason to know that I will

not do again a solo-trip longer than 2 weeks and in colder and tidal areas, which for me adds

quite much on the things which could be learned.

Expedition feeling (for me)

When talking with some paddlers before the trip I realized that I do longer trips in a special

way or in a way typically for some expedition kayakers. Some wondered why I would not go

slower or why I would not spend more time exploring caves and bays. By explaining to them

I first understood myself what longer paddles mean to me. They are

● „Holiday from my brain“

I think paddling means for different people different things. Of cause I like the direct

experience with the sea and nature. But I really love the motion itself. I cannot really

explain why but for me it just feels good sitting in my boat and moving the paddle,

even for hours. And even after a long crossing when even I was glad to stand on my

feet again I enjoyed getting back into my boat after a longer break.

I always have difficulties to “switch off” from work, always thinking what to do next

which goals should be achieved and how. Paddling is the only physical activity when

I can just focus on what I am doing. Even being out for one day on an eastern frisian

island feels for me like several days. On multiday trips there is even less time to think

about anything else then paddling, planning to paddle, camping, eating and all the

things that come after that … But it is NEVER as I realized in Ireland already this

romantic over idealistic longing for a simple “better” life. It is for me more like

switching from one mode to the other. I really love civilisation from hot showers,

coffee, cake up to high speed Internet connection. And I love this simple “stupid”

dipping of paddle blades into the water. AND what I am really grateful for is the

opportunity to switch from one mode into the other.

● A race against myself

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I am not a racer. My technique is too poor, I started much too late with paddling and

my joints gave me the feedback that there is a physical limitation of daily paddling

distances which some people call “age”. Nevertheless I enjoy “eating miles”. I like the

feeling in the evening when looking back on daily distance of 40km or even more. Or

when I can fold the map to plan the next day's paddling. So it is not about speed in

km/hour it is more for me about being as fast as possible and sensible considering

the given conditions of the sea, the paddling area and my personal health. So it is not

so much about being faster than other people it is more about me being as fast as I

could possibly be.

A holistic experience of a coastline (“versus” detailed discovery)

I like structures especially with nature and rock formations, best to be seen from

about 1 km to a nautical mile offshore. Watching the coastline “change” while

paddling and experiencing the structure of a whole coastline or island with different

types of beaches, bays or headlands is what I really enjoy. While enjoying the holistic

view I always make a mental note on my I-will-come-back-list on another occasion on

another trip in the “discovery-mode”.

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Tactics: trying to “dance with the wind”

Never reckoned to be that fast. Having estimated 23 days on perfect conditions + 5 days for

being weather bound I was very much surprised being able to “do” the Peleponnese in 19

days. Of cause I was lucky with lots of tailwinds however this meant having closely watched

the weather patterns some weeks beforehand and relying on the predicted weather windows

for going round headlands, for example, and in the end the ability to paddle whenever it was

sensible and as long as needed.

● Forecast ressources

Beforehand I checked the planning with Windfinder which I used in Germany and

Ireland and there worked very well. Another valuable source for Greece is Poseidon

giving the generell wind and wave direction by every two to three hours, even as an

animated film. Due to Poseidon-Information - i mean the weather service not the god

of cause - I changed my original plan to start from Kyllini clockwise into anticlockwise

(i.e. going south first): The windpattern changed during September

consistently into the typical for autumn / winter common south-easterly going

direction. Meteo.gr I later on learned to know to be the most reliable system, you

“just” have to learn Greek to be able to use it in full extent. Below some specific

remarks per info-source.

○ Windfinder: very reliable for west, south and eastern part of Peleponnese,

probably till south of the Saronic Gulf. The windforce and even the time were

almost precise to the hour. However on the north coast of the Peleponnese it

did not work at all. The real winds were up to 2 bft higher than predicted and

the timing did not work at all.

○ Poseidon. Poseidon is a greek meteo service and is working perfectly for mid

and long- term planning and understanding the weather patterns and

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interactions of different areas all over greece. The forecast regarding winds

and waves are always shown on a map all over Greece.

○ Meteo.gr: According to Greek Kayakers and fishermen and my personal

experience the best possible forecast-system for Greece with the possibility to

zoom to specific forecast areas. I learned that especially the Gulf of Patras

and the Gulf of Corinth follow their own rules, at least when talking about

weather. For example: A specific strong wind area only existing on the

northern shore within the Corinthian Gulf pinned me down for one whole day.

It is really worth learning enough Greek to understand and use it properly.

○ Local knowledge: usually the best source was for me either not accessible or

not available. The appearance of a seakayaker is more than unusual. This

might be an explanation why communication was not so easy. Moreover the

weather conditions are often that good that even a fisherman would not go

out in conditions we as seakayakers would consider as more than doable. In

a nutshell: I could not use local knowledge as a source of information and do

not consider to be able to use it for future trip planning.

Crucial features

Some features played in the planning and the paddling phase and important role i.e.

were decisive for the trip to be successful

○ Big crossings (for me): For me big crossings have a length of about 20 km i.e

a duration of about 4 to 5 hours paddling. So I paddled along a peninsula to

that extent that the distance for the crossing was about the mentioned

distance. I do not mind sitting in the boat for such a long time: I paddled from

Kalogria to Gerolimenas along steep cliffs for more than seven hours without

being able to make a break onshore. However even in that case I never felt

that tensed as before one of the three “necessary” 4 to 5 hour crossings.

I started every crossing by dawn. So I had either lighthouses or other lights

for orientation. Mostly landscape features were at full daylight just

recognizable and helpful for navigation in a distance less than 10km or two

hours. That meant when starting in darkness I had the lights for orientation.

At daylight I was close enough to use landscape features for orientation.

Another advantage is that ships and even myself are easier to be seen in the

dark. The starboard and port lights of any ship make it easier to recognize

weather it is moving towards you or turning away from you. And the orbiloc

lights I use at my buoyancy aid is meant to provide a visibility of 2 nautical

miles. Even if less it is making a single sea kayaker at night more visible than

at daylight.

When crossing especially the first two hours were mentally exhausting: Just

boring - “stupid” paddling without really seeing that you get closer. Two things

turned out for me to be helpful. Hourly breaks to have a chocolate bar,

something I learned from the Ireland trip. It worked here as well. The second

tact tactic I discovered for me as very helpful was singing - best done if you

are out alone at sea so that nobody needs to hear you ;-) I used mostly sailor

and worksongs. They were composed for sailors to be sung at works when

they had keep a for example for lifting the anchor. So these songs helped me

to keep my rhythm and concentration level high enough not to nod off.

The last important issue for me was how to pee on a solo crossing even in

some waves. Without going too much into detail: the combination of 500 ml

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rectangular Nalgene bottle and a spray deck with balehole worked well. My

greenland paddle I used as an outrigger to stabilize my boat. All worked out

very well.

○ The cape before the cape

A big tactical learning for me: when planning at home I focused on the

headlands like Akritas, Tennaro and Maleas. When paddling on the trip I

learned that before any of them was stretch of coastline which proved to be

sometimes more crucial than the cape itself. Before reaching Akritas you

have to pass about 10 km of steep cliffs south of Pylos and north of Methoni.

This can be tricky with prevailing south-easterly blowing winds. So you might

get pinned down for days more than 30 km BEFORE the real cape. Once you

got round there, the were quite a few landing spots to “sneak” close to Akritas

up to less than 5 km distance. This is the same case with Tennaro. The

stretch of coastline before Gerolimenas proved to be the true gate to the

south. If I had not managed to pass it in a long over 7 hours paddle I would

have been stuck north of it for at least two days. These are just examples for

the cape before the cape. Even with some less exposed headlands could

experience that the crucial point for passing the headland was much before

the headland itself.

● Traffic

If there are in any case dangers in seakayaking I would not consider this to be

the wind and the sea. These are factors which can be generally considered.

The dangers in seakayaking in the Mediterranean is for me the marine traffic.

The shipping lanes are generally not marked. So there is in fact no safe way

in crossing them by waiting at a seamark crossing when the shipping lane is

clear. Apart from ferries there's traffic from big cruise ships. For example

there are at least 100 of them per year landing at the generally small harbour

of Katakolon. Fishermen with their smaller boats can react more quickly but to

me they appeared of cause to be always busy with their fishing lines. They do

not expect another vehicle apart from other fishing boats so they will not see

a seakayaker. The third and perhaps biggest danger is especially in summer

the large amount of hired boats and motor boats. Even if they see you they

will not know what to do. You cannot expect even the slightest training of

seamanship from them. So what to do? in fact my tactic worked out well:

I decided to go out at the end of season.

I started my big crossings in darkness or at dawn for better visibility and less

crossings.

I checked (with the help of George Gazetas) ferry time tables.

I checked whenever possible the traffic via the app Find Ship (the last

comments on the app Marine Traffic show that it turned to be much less

reliable after the last update in summer 2016)

When crossing ports I went close to the harbour entry. Directly at the entry I

found the usual seamarks so a quick paddle from one end to the other was

possible. I will add some sketches for the ports I passed.

Navigation and planning

○ Ressources

For sailors the Peleponnese is a classic area to charter a boat and sail along.

There even is in German a “Revierfuehrer Griechenland” online available

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 9



containing descriptions of ports and marinas. channels of the ports.This was

quite helpful in advance for planning the trip.

For daily planning I preferred to use a topographical map to a nautical chart,

which often is in many rocky areas like the Peloponnese the best choice:

For daily navigation the combination of a 1:150.000 map by Freitag & Bernd

and Google Maps (Sattelite view) worked best. There is an atlas in a larger

scale (1:50.000) available. However the sheets were optimized for land use:

A stretch of one subsequent coastline is to be found on very different pages

and even dismantling the whole atlas did not help putting them in a useful

sequence for paddling.

Every evening I planned the next day based on the weather forecast. Then I

checked on Google possible landing spots and escape points and marked

these on my map.

Night paddles

I did not plan night paddles beforehand. But by starting my trip almost by new

moon I knew I could do night paddles later in the trip if needed. In some

windpatterns in the Mediterranean the wind gets less by dusk or during the

night (not with Meltemi!) and picks up in the morning. So night paddling

especially in moon light is not only a nice but a sensible option. The first night

paddle from Xylokastro was a good and easy start as the sea was really flat

and the first 15km of coastline where clearly marked by lights of a street

following the coast. After moonset I decided to wait for dawn, as there weren't

any streetlights and the visibility was too poor.

The second night paddle along the headland of Kalogria. Was a bit more

tricky: although the moon was really bright I found it difficult to estimate

distances and heights of the cliffs I intended to paddle along. From the cross

check on Google map I had the impression that the cape was a low lying

headland. But in fact it was NOT. The cliffs had a height of about 20m but in

the dark it appeared to me much higher. That confused me quite a lot.

Nevertheless I tried to stick to the basic rule “keep calm and paddle on” - not

always so easily done than said. Note for future practise: estimate height and

distances at dark with features you know.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 10


Trip-Diary

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Day 1 28.09.2016 Kyllini- Letrina 53 km

First Day on the water. I slept in a former beach bar, which save me the hastle of putting up

a tent. However the mitches had a certain taste for a paddler and I was a bit nervous –

especially about going solo. So I did not sleep much and got on the water at first daylight.

The weather was perfect, but the paddling felt strange and tedious. So I was surprised in the

end having done more than 50 km and landed at a sandy beach.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 12


Day 2 29.09.2016 Letrina - Kalo Nero 37.29832,21.69478 48,5 km

On the water at first daylight again. Moving the paddle in the water along a seemingly

endless (and featureless) sandy beach felt like paddling in thick sour cream. So I

desperately needed a break and a coffee, and I found a beach bar. Although closed for the

end of the season they made me a Frappée which made me getting up my spirits again and

going on. Coming closer to the mountains paddling felt easier and I met I nice German-

Greek at Kakovatos for a break and a coffee. He offered to take me for a lift to the next town

to buy a needed gas cartouche (I did not buy one before starting the trip and could not cook

a warm meal). But I thought to be more efficient by finding a shop on the way. This ended up

searching for a shop for the evening and the whole day. Finally I ended up in Kalo Nero –

“good Water” with a big meal in a Restaurant and camp on the beach and the “real” start of

the trip: the beach part ended and the rocky coastline began.

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Day 3 30.09.2016 Pylos 36.91784,21.70064 51,5 km

It is getting rocky. Calm water. Low lying cliffs. Getting closer to Pylos the wind started

picking up from North-East creating slightly crossing seas, close to the rocks. Was quite

relieved when I found the northern gap between the mainland and Spacteria: All absolutely

calm in the Bay of Navarino. Would have loved to camp on the beach, but I had definitely to

go to Pylos to buy gas for my cooker. Finally found some and put up my tent in the marina of

Pylos. Dave “knocked” on my tent and invited me for a coffee and good company on his

sailing boat. Being retired and about in his beginning 60ies he told me he mostly spents half

of the year on the Greek seas and was heading north now to leave his yacht in a marina for

winter.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 14


Day 4 01.10.2016 Koroni 36.79525,21.96394 46,7 km

Leaving Pylos with first daylight. The forecast promised north-westerly winds up to force 5

later in the morning. And with the experience of the previous days choppy waves close to the

rocks I headed to Methoni in “ideal” conditions. If I had not been alone I really would have

enjoyed the ride with a good force 4 tailwind. However I felt rather tensed with the thoughts

of a 15km long rocky coastline no way out and the potential of capsizing in a surf.

So I was relieved once I got round the corner of Methoni and treated myself with a big

breakfast. The rest of the day with less tensed, and I reached Koroni by 6ish pm as the

launching spot for my first big crossing.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 15


Day 5 02.10.2016 Kalogria Beach 36.84982,22.25794 31,48 km

Quite nervous in the morning for being my first big solo crossing of more than 20 km. The

start in dusk proved to be a proper way to choose the right compass course and find one of

the peaks on the other side as a proper landmark to navigate to.

I was quite proud when I hit as planned the only available small bay within 5 km range.

Proper break, than to Kalogria to have a proper campsite. Rewarding myself with a big meal

I called it a day.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 16


Day 6 03.10.2016 Gerolimenas 36.48222,22.39966 48,3 km

Left Kalogria almost in the dark. The weatherforecast was increasing winds starting from 3

pm with force 6 to 7 northwesterly and therefore directly hitting the cliffs I had to paddle

along. These winds would prevail for the next 2 days at least, with a small weather window

till 9 am for the following day. So I paddled and paddled in an offshore distance of about 1 to

2 km. There were some options to land but that would of “cost” me at least 2 hours entering

one of that deep bays. Finally I paddled the whole distance without landing and made it

round the corner of the next cape when by 3 pm the wind picked up. Once I was allowed to

pitch my tent in the backyard of an hotel at about 5 pm the wind was howling, and I was safe

and very happy.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 17


Day 7 04.10.2016 Kalivia/Paganea 36.66244,22.54480 48,3 km

As always I was on the water with the first spots of light. To get round Cape Tenaro before 9

am was the task of the day. The wind was supposed to pick up after that, and it did. But I got

round the cape just in time and could paddle for the rest of the day on the lee side of the

peninsula.

Day 8 05.10.2016 Profitis Ilias 36.43445,23.11369 64,7 km

The Crossing went well and the progress was quite good during the day. Originally I planned

to camp in the harbour of Neapolis as I had to paddle the whole bay along the coast: The

bay was crowded with huge freight ships. I therefore did not dare to cross as I could not see

wether they were at anchor or moving. Looking for a campsite I pushed on an on. So I finally

landed at Profitis Ilias which was the closest harbour to Cape Maleas, which was good.

Maleas is well-known to be a “ship-wrecker” cape, and from here Odysseus was pushed to

the Libyan coast due to strong winds.

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Day 9 06.10.2016 Monemvasia 36.68692,23.03977 42,5 km

So pretty nervous I started at dusk as always. And then Maleas won the “Beauty Contest”

among all Peleponnes capes: Flat glassy seas and the sun rising slowly directly beside the

cliffs of this enormous cape – wow.

I got round the corner and was safe again. After the big chunk of paddling of the previous

day I rewarded myself with an impressive sequence of cakes followed by a nice dinner in a

restaurant and a relatively short paddling day.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 19


Day 10 07.10.2016 Fokianos 37.07306,22.96627 50,8 km

A long day with pretty good progress. I definitely wanted to reach Fokianos that day. Even

found a restaurant still open and was the only guest apart from an American – German

couple who had anchored their sailing boat in the sheltered bay and went to the restaurant

for a drink.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 20


Day 11 08.10.2016 Spetses / Kouzounos B. 37.24024,23.16287 31 km

Got up early as always especially before big crossings. And this on proved to be the

toughest.During the almost 26 km crossing the northerly wind picked up to force three to

four building up waves of a good half meter. Due to that I had to change my course a bit

more northerly not to get the wawes completely sideways. Finally reached a sheltered bay

and made a long break there. Then I decided to paddle round the corner to find a place to

camp and wasn´t sure were. Finally I ended up on a narrow spit at an end of a bay. I do not

know the cause but somehow I got into an awkward mood and at night I woke up several

times by nightmares.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 21


Day 12 09.10.2016 Pera Mpiseika 37.44933,23.51810 42,6 km

Was it the place? Was it the effect of having paddled for ten days without bigger breaks? I

still do not know. However I “fled” the place even before daylight and was just relieved to be

on the water again. I made good progress and while passing Metochi I realized it was the

right decision to follow the coast of the mainland as the ferry traffic leaving Metochi to Hydra

was quite busy. “Meeting” the ferry at sea would not have been fun. The passage between

Cape Skyli an the Islands was not so easy to see from far but I finally found the gap and

later a nice camping spot in a bay (even with a table to cook on). Had a good rest and

sunset view after the awful previous night.

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Day 13 10.10.2016 Kiourkati 37.808481,23.16725 58 km

Passing Poros I had my first big break and breakfast at Methana, the main town of the

peninsula with the same name just linked to the mainland by a small stretch of land. After I

got round I “rode” on a very favourable talewind along the Saronic Islands and crossed even

to Kiourkati. The last few km were a bit choppy as the tailwind hit the cliffs. I was invited by a

friendly local to pitch my tent on the terrace of a little fisherhut. So it was easier to dry my

stuff as the weatherforecast promised some rain and misty weather. Before falling asleep

after a long day I contacted Giorgos that I would manage to reach one of the highlights of the

trip something I had be looking forward for almost the whole trip: the channel of Corinth.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 23


Day 14 11.10.2016 Korinth 37.94386,22.93117 28,6 km

A misty morning with the promise of autumn being close. I paddled in the Korinth direction

with the distant view of big freight ships anchoring close to the area where once the Greek

fleet faught the Persians in the battle of Salamis. And then I saw it in about 5 km distance a

slit, a cut a gap in the silhouette of low lying hills – the canal of Korinth. Getting closer the

wind picked up still a tailwind bud with a good force four whipping the sea with reflecting

waves to a choppy mood. Suddenly a splash of water – and a Monk seal appeared to watch

me paddling a long. Later in the day I realized how rare this occasion was. There are just a

few hundred left of these seals in the whole Mediterranean Sea.

Had a short landing at an hotel beach as I did not know exactly where I was and got I call

from Giorgios who had arranged for me to paddle the channel with the channel authorities

asking how long I needed to the entrance of the channel.

I then discovered that it was just round the corner. Soon some officials appeared asking me

if I was THAT kayaker. As I could not see anybody else I said “yes”. “ Watch that white ship

over there. When this has passed it is your turn – and please be quick” So after choppy

conditions and howling winds I entered silence, and I could not believe it. Giorgos had

managed that I could paddle the channel for myself – a modern miracle, and absolutely

amazing, paddling in a passage just 20 m wide and up to 80m high. At the end of the

channel I turned westwards and landed at a beach of Korinth close to a diver´s shop. The

owner picked me up, like the other Italian kayakers who went around the Peleponne tow

years before me. I t turned out that he was an acquaintance of Vasilis who was a close

friend of Giorgos. Later on Vasilis picked me up and gave me the opportunity of a shower

and the warmth and comfort of a family home. And even later Giorgos appeared - so we

had a nice evening with lots of food and full of paddling talks.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 24


Day 15 12.10.2016 Sikia 38.06710,22.65692 28,5 km

Paddling with friends – with Greek friends. That meant we first spent an extensive visit to the

local bakery for breakfast and other breaks. Leaving the beach I landed the day before we

had a pleasant paddle together after 14 very solo days. After a pleasant day full of company

I left the boys at Kiato for another few km´s to Sikia, as the weatherforcast for the next day

was not promising.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 25


Day 16 13.10.2016 Xilokastro 38.081911, 22.622767 3,3 km

The weatherforecast kept it´s promise: The wind picked up and I could first sneak around in

the lee-side of a small cape than was glad to reach the small harbour of Xilocastro through

rather choppy conditions. Onshore winds picking up to a good force 6 whipping the water

combined with wonderful sunshine meant – first real day off, strolling through pretty

xilocastro having food and lots of cake and enjoying myself. On one of my visits back to my

kayak parked close to a slipway I found a note of one of the rare local kayakers and to

Norwegian kayakers who happened to have a flat round the corner. On the phone we

agreed to meet by 6 pm and have a chat. In the meantime I had a chat with my personal trip

advisor Giorgos. We agreed on the fact that the wind was supposed to drop down by

midnight and he suggested to start for a moonshine paddle. It seemed to be one of the rare

suitable weatherwindows as I needed to get out of the influence of the slightly notorious gulf

of Corinth: the rest of the waters surrounding Peleponnese where duckpond like. So I had to

pick the opportunity to get round the corner of the next cape.

So after I nice evening with chats about kayaking of course I moved with my mattress in the

lee side of the harbour wall and tried to get as much sleep as possible.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 26


Day 17a 14.10.2016 Diakopto 38.19687,22.20225 40,6 km

Was on the water by 0.30 a.m. Almost full moon and the wind had dropped massively. Just

amazing paddling in the quiet after the howling winds of the day. A street with streetlights

followed close to the coast which helped in Navigation. So I made good progress. However I

did not the moonset and by about 5 o´clock it got really dark. Used to Germany I did not

consider that, as at home there is always a bit of light from streetlights or houses. But in

there in Greece after moonset the situation reminded me of a black picture in a “scientific”

article about an excavated Egyptian tomb subtitling “we could not see nothing because of

the darkness”. So I sort of felt my way to a small beach huddled myelf in my rain clothes to

keep me warm and had a nap for some hours and the beginning of hopefully brighter

morning.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 27


Day 17b 14.10.2016 Kato Arachovitika 38.33110,21.84239 38,6 km

I had a good tailwind pushing me along and got close to Patras and it´s enormous and

impressive Rion-Bridge. To pass this bridge I planned for the next day. After a pretty long

night and day I decided to pitch my tent close to a restaurant and treat myself with an

enormous amount of any possible food. However they did not serve anything apart from

coffe – end of season I supposed. Was pretty much p… off but cooked myself the usual

huge bowl of bulgur with tuna than fell asleep.

Day 18 15.10.2016 Paralia Kalamakiou 38.17750,21.49162 41,2 km

If I had … I would have been. But no use talking about spilt milk unless you learn a lesson.

However if would have paddled the day before the few km to Rion Bridge I would not have

paddled in one of the messiest situations where I have been in my paddling life: Early again

on the water the tailwind picked up very quickly up to force 5 at least, and hitting the land

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 28


and the headland which marks the end of the gulf of Corinth and the beginning of the gulf

patras it built up crossing seas of at least one metre. Of course there is mostly a difference

between the felt height and the real one one seakayakers tell their stories. However any

wave was much higher than my head. In addition there with a rather busy ferry traffic to the

other side of the isthmus. I really knew I would be able to paddle another ten minutes in

these conditions until I would loose my concentration and even more. So I focused on a tiny

stretch of sand just beside the old ottoman fortress and hammered on land. Then relieved

and after short break I put my boat on the trolley and went just another 50 metres to get to

the water on the other side of the headland. Everything peacefull there and absolutely

different from the watery chaos on the other side of this tiny Headland. After a break I

paddled onwards eventless passing the harbour of Patras. By afternoon the wind picked up

again causing bigger waves. So I entered the harbour of Alikes and the local fishrestaurant

which was just phantastic. The wind ceased a bit reducing the waves to a doable height. So I

pushed on till dawn to get as close as possible to headland of Kalogria – the last potential

obstacle before reaching back to Kyllini which I planned to reach the next day. Giorgos had

promised to fetch me there.

According to the weatherforecast the wind was predicted to drop by midnight. So I huddled

myself between two plastic benches on a devastated hotel beach to hide from the wind and

to grab some hours of sleep.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 29


Day 19a 16.10.2016 Sandhill Kalogria Beach 38.16293,21.36487 18,5 km

By about 1 o´clock in the morning the wind had dropped and paddling “looked” (it was quite

dark) possible. So I started through gentle waves paddling along the cliffs of Kalogria which

looked bigger and more intimidating than they were and would be at daylight. After sunrise I

made a quick stop at Sandhill, a really impressive spot with yellow sand dunes touching the

rocky dark cliffs and the green forest in the background.

Day 19b 16.10.2016 Kyllini 37.93765,21.14604 34,6 km

Yes the last day of the circumnavigation – I almost could not believe it. And another

unbelievable thing happened: After sandhill I paddled some km´s crossing a bay and turning

around a tiny rocky headland I pulled in at small sandy beach longing for a longer break. I

just got out of the boat, a little stiff still from the night paddle, and there they were – almost

like a dream:

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 30


Two happy Campers in their campervan: Barabara and her partner from Hanover, a city

where we had been living for more than 16 years. There were as surprised as I was when

they discovered a kayaker appearing “out of nowhere” and liked to hear some stories from

my circumnavigation. And “of course” the fed me with lots of coffee and German “Butterbrot”,

just lovely.

So well fed and happy I did the last 20 odd kilometres. Was a bit tricky to pass the port with

the busy ferry traffic. Once I got round the pier and saw the beach I left 19 days before my

smile got bigger and bigger and when my boat touched the shore I even was a bit proud of

what I had done:

Surprisingly the last days through the gulf of Corinth and the gulf of Patras which I though to

be a piece of cake after all the crossing proofed to be the most challenging ones.

Anyway, I had covered a distance of about 851km in 19 days with an average daily distance

of about 44,80.

Yes this was the end and hopefully the beginning of many more seakayak trips.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 31


I-will-come-back-list

Not all the parts of a circumnavigation are that fascinating so it is good to remember the

spots where to get back to, one day in the future.

● Costa Navarino-Akritas

○ Voidokilia (cows belly /Ochsenbauchbucht): the perfect sandy bay: with its

perfect curved shape it almost seems unreal

○ Golden bay and bay of Navarino: a beautiful bay at one of the most historic

places in Greece and the place where the famous battle of Navarino took

place.

○ Cave of Nestor: important place for mycanean history.

○ Palace of Nestor: up in the mountains the most important Mycanean Palace

besides Tyrins and Mycenae itself.

○ Divari Lagoon: and important resting place for migrating birds

○ New Navarino Castle: ottoman fortress

○ Old Navarino Castle: frankish fortress

○ Island of Sphacteria: uninhabited, sheltering off the Navarino bay and cool

place to camp and explore

○ Pylos: nice place to take in some civilisation on a multiday trip

○ Methoni: byzantine/ottoman fortress with a nice little town ideal to explore the

neighbouring islands and rocky shores

● Neapoli-Area:Elafonisos/Kythira

○ Elafonisos: Nice island explore and go around

○ Kythira: probably the most exposed greek island apart from Crete. Remote

with steep cliffs and fir people who sometimes like it rough

● Spetses-Methana:

Island hopping at it's best. Each Island with its specific character

○ Spetses: nice little island with nice beaches

○ Dokos and the “others”: if you want to be alone on am island. Here is a good

chance. But don't forget water and food - no “Friday” will find you while

playing Robison Crusoe

○ Hydra rugged with a central village, the rest is sort of pristine and remote

○ Methana: A peninsula and “almost island” of volcanic origin with lots of cliffs

and places to explore

● Patras:”around the bridge”

Never expected this to be such a cool area, especially when you want to improve

technically: winds, currents, crossing seas in combination with constant marine

traffic will sharpen your mind and challenge your paddling in an area less than 3

nautical miles.

● Kalogria: Sand and stone

Getting to this headland from either side can be a bit boring. But it s worth a day’s

paddle round the cape as it changes from a rocky shore, sandy beaches, steep cliffs

to a low lying headland and a lagoonlike lake “changing” into cliffs again and finally

into sanddunes where sand and stone “meet” (described going from north to south

from Patras to Kyllini). Never experienced any other area with so many different

coastal features “in a nutshell”.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 32


“Balance”: Ireland Peleponnese

● What worked on both trips?

○ The kits:

■ The Ouch Pouch contained all I needed and used.

■ The in-case-Case was used for the first time when in the evening

before a big crossing one head-torch did not work any more. I had to

search for the light in the in case case without any other light. Without

that one the crossing would have been to delayed till daylight I.e

increasing the risk of “meeting” a ferry from Kalamata.

○ The little rituals: The RiZ (=Riegelzeit) helped a lot when doing the crossing.

Folding the map was like a reward for a good day's performance and helped

me to motivate myself. Coffee and cake helped to reward myself and to cool

down after challenging conditions or crossings.

● What was different?

○ Conditions

■ Warm: really relaxing not to care about keeping dry.

■ Non-tidal: makes planning much easier

■ Weather-pattern

● Lunchbreak lull: the wind mostly went down by about 11 am

and usually picked up by 3 pm, sometimes with a completely

different wind direction.

● Wind at night: unusual for other areas typical for the

Mediterranean. especially in summer the wind called Meltemi

even can pick up by night and if it is still blowing by sunrise

local experience says that the wind will continue at least till

sunset.

○ Bruises: They “moved” to a different area: my thighs and where my neoprene

shorts ended. The combination of constantly wet clothes while paddling made

friction and bruises due to friction a real issue. Really to be considered for the

next trip.

○ Water: Really an issue in warm environments - a new experience. I needed

to drink four litres daily just while paddling. So planning a break for refilling

my water-bladder on my back (2 L) was crucial. In one case I had to refill at

sea as the rocky short did not permit any landing.

○ Food and drinks (warm): Warm food was in Ireland essential in Greece not

necessary. The warm porridge in the morning was a must in Ireland - in

Greece I did not need once. Even the thermos flask for hot drinks I did not

use once.

Gear-shed: little helpers

● Sets / Kits

In Ireland I started to make little gear / tool sets they worked well and could even

added by another kit.

○ Ouch pouch: My personal first aid kit - I used almost everything in there so I

am go I going to use it as it is for further trips.

○ Night-and-day: A new “invention” from the Peleponnese-trip. A small

waterproof bag containing sunscreen for the day, an extra waterproof with my

wake-up-time for the morning and an extra head-torch for the night or for the

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 33



early morning paddles before dawn in case the head torch I used would not

work during the first (dark) phase of the crossing.

○ In-case-case: as mentioned above a really trip- or a crossing saver as I could

use another head torch from the case. I might add a lighter for the next trip.

Apart from that the contents of a knife and light worked out well.

○ PFD: “Fully charged”: another new learning of the Peleponnese trip: bought a

new PFD (Astral …) Pimped up with a waterproof bag I worked better than

my old Palm Kaikoura which in fact had too many pockets. Fully charged it

contained:

■ Money+key bag in an extra waterproof bag clipped in the big front bag

■ Net bag with at least 3 Snickers bars in the big front pocket

■ Spot tracker in the zip pocket in front

■ On the vest: a waterproof simple watch (from Decathlon)

■ Two Orbiloc lights: one red for the rear one white for the front (for

night and dawn paddes)

■ Rescue-knife: the clip at the front of the vest always got loose. Note:

have to find a better solution to fix it

■ Waterproof Decathlon watch: cheapest you can get for 9,99 € and

completely water resistant - best value

■ VHF: “wearing-out” after 2 year’s intense use. Might need replacement

:-(

■ For-whatever-carabiner: found it handy to always have at good

carabiner at hand for any case I might need one. And I needed one

from time to time. So that worked out for me. Had it clipped to one of

the straps of the PFD.

○ Wee-pee-bottle”: a Nalgene bottle, rectangular, 500 ml, some Duct-tape

wrapped round the middle for use as instant repair or plaster for injuries. The

string I wrapped around for immediate use got always loose. Better think of

placing it differently for the next trip. The bottle “worked” well during the

crossings especially for its original purpose, up to 3-4 Bft.

Single pieces of gear

○ “Fensterleder”: I had fixed on my deck lines and used it regularly for cleaning

my glasses and the lenses of my camera

○ Digi-Cam (incl. Pouch): I bought the Lumix FT 5 just before the trip and I am

just amazed about the easy handling, the perfect saltwater resistance and

the long lasting batteries.

○ Waterbag as backrest: A discovery by chance. I had to put the Ortlieb

waterbag somewhere and I do not like backrests. So in fact I removed the

backrest and put the waterbag there. Then I discovered that by filling it more

or less with water I had flexible fitting system for a back support. I will work on

that with my other boat and try to improve the system.

○ Mapcase: The “Axel Pack” from seakayak.nl again proved to be the best map

case ever.

○ Trolley: Also from seakayak.nl and also just perfect.

○ Cowtail as Lifeline. I fixed a standard Cowtail from white water kayaking to my

PFD and clipped this to my kayak. The perfect cobination for me of being

connected to my kayak and being free to move without getting messed up in

a long line. That worked well.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 34



○ The P&H Scorpio: the seating is the best I ever experienced. Never had a

problem with sitting - even after more than 7 hours sitting in the boat. The

boat had just one little minus: the skeg had to be pulled out by hand. They

should definitely work on that.

Gear to think about

○ The Palm shirt I wore as first layer was a constant pain. I rubbed my sides

sore - will never use it again.

__________________________________________________________________

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 35


A big Thank You to









Niklas giving me the physio-training with my elbows and enabling me to paddle at all

George for providing the boat, good advice and helping me to get permission for

going through the Corinth Canal

Pavlos for taking me to the ferry port in Poros

Dave for some good company in Pylos

The Authorities of the Corinth Canal for „letting me through“

Vasilis for giving me a rest, a place to sleep and good company

Barbara and her partner for photos and a great breakfast

And of cause to my wife Dagmar for letting me do all those weard trips and even

taking me back afterwards.

©Christian Dingenotto 2018 36

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