Captain’s Epistle to the Corinthians keeps Spirit on the straight and narrow

//Captain’s Epistle to the Corinthians keeps Spirit on the straight and narrow

After an exciting but very windy Easter Monday in Mykonos, Spirit of Adventure is heading out of Greek waters; next port of call – Messina in Sicily.
There are two ways to get there: around the Pelopponese peninsula, which juts out from the Greek mainland like an outstretched hand, or through the Corinth Canal, a masterpiece of engineering which cuts through from the Aegean to the Gulf of Corinth and the Ionian Sea.
Being Adventurous we chose the latter and passengers were treated to a Champagne breakfast to compensate for their early start soon after sunrise.
According to Captain David Warden-Owen, all had not gone well when our ship made the passage a couple of weeks ago and he fired off an angry letter to the canal operators setting out his complaints about the pilots and his dissatisfaction at their inability to keep his ship’s hull from scraping the precipitous rock sides.
His Epistle to the Corinthians seems to have done the trick; today’s pilot kept us on the straight and narrow and was duly rewarded with the customary bottle of vodka and packets of cigarettes.
It’s no easy feat keeping a ship like the Spirit of Adventure on course, despite the fact that the canal runs as straight as an arrow for its 6.3km length and a tug pulls us through.
It is just 24.6m wide and 8m deep; Spirit has a beam of 17.5m and a draft of 5m. So there’s only a few feet to spare on either side. Passing safely under the road and rail bridges crossing the canal is no problem; there’s 52m clearance and Spirit’s maximum height is 30m.
Plans for a canal were first put forward in the 6th Century BC, and Julius Caesar and Emperor Nero began work on a canal 700 years later. But it was not until 1893 that the present canal was opened. Not surprisingly, it has been closed a number of times by substantial landslides and rockfalls, and in 1944 the retreating German army detonated explosives and blocked it with railway carriages. It took five years to clear the debris.
Nowadays about 11,000 ships a year pass through the canal, saving 300 nautical miles on the journey from Venice to Piraeus.
Spirit had less distance to travel, and our shortcut saved only about 30 nautical miles. The £3,000 toll outweighed the fuel saving, but the experience for Spirit’s 350 passengers was well worth it.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:08+00:00 26 April 2011|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

Leave A Comment