Corinth Canal

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WorldMediterraneanGreeceKorinthiakos KolposCorinth Canal

An online cruising guide for yachts sailing through the Corinth Canal.

Corinth Canal
Poseidonia (West End)
37°57.2′N, 22°57.44′E Chart icon.png
Isthmia (East End)
37°54.91′N, 23°0.61′E Chart icon.png
Corinth Canal.jpg
Magnify-clip.png
Corinth Canal - Photo: NASA

The Corinth Canal (Διώρυγα της Κορίνθου) is a canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. The canal was built between 1881 and 1893, cutting through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth that separates the Peloponnesian peninsula from the Greek mainland, effectively making the former an island. The canal is 6.3 kilometre (4 nM) in length and only 25 metres wide. The depth is kept dredged to 6.5 metres along its entire length.

The winds and currents tend to flow through the canal from either direction, depending on the prevailing wind, and the current can run at up to 3.0 knots (although 1.0 – 1.5 knots is more usual). Two road bridges at either end of the canal are lowered periodically to allow boats through. There is a waiting quay at the E end where yachts can complete the paperwork and pay the dues for transiting but none at the W end, where yachts need to anchor or mill around waiting for the signal to proceed. Yachts are given the lowest priority for transiting and will sometimes have to follow commercial vessels (at a sensible distance). The canal is open 24 hrs a day except for Tuesdays, when the canal is closed for routine repairs. Currently the canal is operated by Greek government staff, but is due to be privatized again during 2012-13.

It best to contact canal operator by either e-mail, telephone (+30 27410 30 880) or on the VHF channel 11 (must do so before entering anyways) for the latest information or to call the Limenarchio (Coast Guard) (+30 27410 37 777 VHF channel 12).

Passages

Communication

  • Coast Guard - VHF channel 12 or Tel. +30 27410 30 880
  • Canal Authority - VHF channel 11
  • Olympia Radio - VHF channels 02 & 64

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Navigation

Poseidonia (West End)

Chart of Poseidonia Entrance to Corinth Canal

A yacht should call Corinth Canal Control on VHF channel 11 when around an hour from the canal to announce arrival and enquire about the next transit from W to E.

Usually on the West (Poseidonia - Ποσειδωνία) side you will have anchor off on arrival and wait your turn, which may take several hours at busy periods. Once you are given clearance you must stay in contact with the controller via VHF channel 11 (a hand held unit on the cockpit is a real help). The road bridge will lower (sink) and the lights will go green when it is safe to enter. Note that if they stay red it indicates that E-W traffic is coming though and you must not attempt to enter. If in doubt, call on the VHF. After the transit you need to go alongside on the quay to starboard at the E end at Isthmia and go to the canal office to pay the fee. Note that the quay is quite high and bollards widely spaced; however there are some lower sections with steps.

The W entrance
The W bridge lowered for transit

Isthmia (East End)

Chart of Isthmia Entrance to Corinth Canal

A yacht should call Corinth Canal Control on VHF channel 11 when around an hour from the canal to announce arrival and enquire about the next transit from E to W. If approaching from this E side at Isthmia ( Ίσθμια), you will need to go alongside the quay to port side of the channel and visit the office to complete the paperwork and pay the fee. The quay is quite high and the bollards widely spaced, although there are some lower sections with steps. Once you have completed the formalities, keep listening watch on VHF channel 11 for notification when you can proceed. The staff will usually give you a rough estimate of the waiting time. The road bridge will lower and the lights will go green when it is safe to enter. Note that if they stay red it indicates that W-E traffic is coming though and you must not attempt to enter. If in doubt, call on the VHF. There is a restaurant where you can pass some of the waiting time.

Warning: While you are alongside the quay on the E side be aware of the very strong turbulence created by large ships. Use plenty of spring lines and fenders.

The E entrance
Yacht on the quay at Isthmia
Waiting for the Canal Passage
Tower and Office to pay canal duty

Passage through the Canal

Yacht in the Corinth Canal

While transiting the canal you must, as advised above, stay in contact with the controller via VHF channel 11 ( a hand held unit on the cockpit is a real help).

In general the passage through the canal is uneventful if you maintain enough speed to have complete control of your yacht but resist the urging of the control operator to speed up. Remember that they are used to large ships and not small yachts. A speed of around 5 – 6 knots is usually enough to keep steerage control in the event of turbulence and to keep the controller happy.

Danger: While transiting try to stay well behind any large ship ahead of you to avoid losing control because of the turbulence.

Warning: There is a current in the canal which can reach 3 knots (although 1.0 – 1.5 is more usual). Its direction can be either way, depending on the state of the tides.

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

References & Publications

See Greece.


Comments

We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit. Personal experiences?

  • In heavy winds, the holding area on the west is a bit tight. You would not want to spend the night there. We spent the night in the comercial harbour in Corinth then entered the west holding area late in the morning. We waited an hour for clearance and then were the only boat in the canal. The passage is unique. A must do! --Monterey May 2012
  • We paid €148 for the passage with a 41 ft sailboat. --Maelms July 2013

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This is a usable page of the cruising guide. However, please contribute if you can to help it grow further. Click on Comments to add your personal notes on this page or to discuss its contents. Alternatively, if you feel confident to edit the page, click on the edit tab at the top and enter your changes directly.


SailorSmiley.gifContributors to this page

Names: Lighthouse, Istioploos, Athene of Lymington,Monterey, Maelms


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