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Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

22nd October, 2012


The Ionian Sea was just about flat calm and it was a beautiful sunny day as we crossed over towards the Peloponnese Peninsular and onwards up to Piraeus, the port for Athens.

There was the usual ‘hurry up and wait’ scenario outside Piraeus port - too many ferries racing in to meet their schedules, several container ships and a car carrier all being told to ‘proceed slowly’ and other passenger ships waiting for the green light to enter. I’m of the opinion that because they know it becomes so crowded, all the Captains are on heightened alert long before they get there. Woe betide the uninitiated first timer who doesn’t do exactly what Piraeus Traffic instructs. Apart from the noticeable rise in pitch and volume, there are threats of ‘penalties’ which could be perceived as financial as well as personal. Pity the traffic people don’t always realise that it’s not exactly a motor car we chaps are driving.

Late in the morning, after the various ‘officialdom’ had been dealt with, we took a walk through the busy streets and over the hill towards the yacht harbours. The larger, Passalimani, had numerous very expensive craft alongside and one might have thought there was no economic crisis. Continuing on, we eventually came to the smaller Mikrolimano where numerous restaurants skirt the water’s edge. Here there were several empty and derelict units, and managers were standing at the doors touting for their trade, but except for a handful of folk, the laid up tables were empty. Perhaps it was because the locals eat later at lunchtime, and it was a Monday, but I wasn’t so sure.

It started to rain so we hailed a taxi. The driver, a young heavily tattooed chap was very friendly and was telling us he had to work at least twelve hours a day to make a living for his family. The fare was just two thirds the price of a small local beer. Maybe that says something?

Most of the passengers fortunately returned from their tours to the Acropolis and Corinth by the time it started to rain and seemed happy enough to stay on board for the remainder of the day. By the time our fuel bunkering was finished most of the other passenger ships had sailed and when our pilot arrived he was volubly keen to get us on our way. He mellowed a little when he read my name; apparently we had worked in the same company some years ago, although our paths had not crossed. He said, ‘Captain Rentell, you are famous with us Greeks’. I can’t imagine what for.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.