I have officially made it back onto land after a week of sailing the Saronic Gulf. How can I possibly sum up the experience in one small post? I'll do my best to keep it brief. The adventure began in Poros, Greece on the sailing yacht Imagica with a salty dog of a captain named Captain Morgan from England. Yes, that is his name. The boat also had a hostess that could cook a feast in a galley kitchen on the high seas being whipped around as if she were at home in her own kitchen. Not even make a mess! They were both quite the impressive duo. Then there were the guests on the boat - four women from Scotland and me. After the first night on the boat it was renamed "The Fanny Boat." Our boat was part of a touring fleet of nine flotillas. The flotillas were full of "Silver Surfers" as the Scottish girls called then. Americans would refer to them as the retired folks crowd. The captain was either going to lose his patience with six women on board or come out a hero for surviving the tour. Needless to say Captain Morgan survived and so did we.
The itinerary was determined on a day by day basis because of either weather or mechanical issues. Our captain was a highly skilled sailor that knew when to take risks and when not to. We were the only boat that actually went to more than two places in the flotilla group. Never once did I feel unsafe with anywhere we went sailing. At certain points along the tour he taught us how to tie knots, steer the boat while using a sail or motor, and basic wind tracking skills. I have to admit learning how to sail was an at home feeling for me. Even the captain felt I was a natural for it. Keeping the sail full of wind while navigating a choppy sea was a rather fun challenge. A couple of the girls commented that I looked like I was at home at the helm. At a later date I will come back to sailing to learn more.
Now, onto the entertaining bits. This is where a few dot dot dot moments happened. For the first time in my life I had a trail of admirers in every port, a golden tan, and more mosquito bites than I ever remember. Our first port was in Ermione where we showed up with engine problems and the music of the town has never gone beyond the 80's. My first admirer was a taller version of a Danny Devito look alike that ended up being the bar owner where we were drinking that night. At some point three of us got up to dance to the twist and a few other sock hop type of songs. He was so excited to have us dancing that he started to throw cocktail napkins in the air like it was confetti and yelling "Opa!" while putting flame runners on the bar. That set the mood to the rest of the trip. Dot dot dot.
It took an extra day in Ermione to repair the engine for sailing. We took a ferry over to the island Hydra for the day. That was an incredible adventure. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island. Transportation happens by way of hiring a mule or walking. The jewelry on this island is some of the best I've ever seen. Truly artistic/elegant. We spent the day hanging out at the beach followed by one of the best fish meals I've ever had in my life. We went back to Ermione in the evening to find out the boat was ready to go in the next morning. Pretty sure if we had to stay one more night the captain would have a lot of angry women on his hands. We were ready to go!
The next stop was Plaka. When we showed up it was clearly end of season because we were one of two boat docked. The other boat was full of a bunch of retired Dutch guys hoping they could get lucky with The Fanny Boat. They went back to the boat very sad because they were shown up by one older Greek man (who also was the restaurant owner) at the restaurant we were at. Michael (older Greek guy) gave all of us flowers, did chair tricks for us, made us laugh, gave us free beer, and ended up being given a kiss on the cheek by all of us. Apparently his grandson and wife were watching the whole thing and were buckled over in laughter. His wife gave us a bag full of fresh tomatoes for our sailing trip. These were the best tomatoes I've ever eaten! The Dutch guys had a enough of being shown up by a one man act and threw in the towel for the night. We went back to our boat laughing hysterically all night.
Our next port was Astros. It was more of a low keyed visit where we could explore the remains of a fortress. Again, dinner was incredible. The owner of this restaurant gave us two bottles of red wine from his winery for our sailing journey. That night we had to make a decision if we were going to dock at Ermione again or spend the night docked in a secluded bay for the night. We opted for the secluded bay. It was a great night!! When it got dark out the sky looked like a salt shaker was spilled across the evening sky. I actually took a blanket up to the deck and fell asleep watching the stars that night. I counted 8 shooting stars before falling asleep. By about 2am I woke up to the sound of the anchor alarm going off. It was time for me to go back to my cabin while the captain took care of the anchor situation. We set sail at 10am for Poros.
Our journey back wasn't the easiest to navigate because of high winds. It was full of eventful comedy to lighten the mood. When the boat came around the back side of the island we were dealing with roughly over two meter high swells and a lot of ups and downs. We were all soaked by the time we got back into port. As we were docking we applauded Captain Morgan for his efforts. The docking guy said, "Hmmm.... applause? That must mean you scared them!" He was quite correct with that assessment!
What made this part of the trip so special for me was the warmth of the Greeks we met. All of them wanted to not only talk with us, but share good food and wine too. We learned about so many new things in these small port towns. The fruits and veggies all tasted so good! It amazes me the freshness of produce in Greece. Most restaurants have their own farm producing for the restaurant. The water has always brought something out in me that I can't really put into words. I just know I'm really happy near it. Being able to star gaze on the water will always bring up good memories for me. Next year I might just come back for a two week sailing tour. Thinking about it....
That is the recap of last week's adventures on the sea. This week is all about learning how to cook Greek food. Pretty sure I'll be cooking up a storm of fun and master pieces to remember! Stay tuned.