I was in a meeting the other day and talking to some potential agents about Custom Sailing in the Greek Islands. “Tell us about sailing in Greece” she said, “what’s it like?”
I thought back to my first visit to the place that has touched my soul and become my second home. It was our inaugural voyage and on board was a combination of friends and strangers, customers who would later become friends. We boarded a brand new 50’ sailing yacht. I was in awe, she was so new and perfect and very different than the standard charter yachts I was used to in the Caribbean. From the layout of the floor plan to the size of the WC’s to the well thought out galley, and the passarella on the stern which could be raised and lowered easily, my own gang plank (hmmm, did someone say pirate?) I was going to be very happy in my new “home”.
We welcomed our guests on board and left the marina in Athens late in the afternoon. We raised the sails and made our way along the coast of the main land west to Sounion, the tip of the mainland before you head to the Cyclades Ilands. We arrived at Sounion shortly after dark. We made our way into the bay and dropped anchor, it was very dark as the full moon had not come up yet. I knew the Temple of Poseidon dating back to 480BC was up on the hill above us but could not see it. We put the dinghy in the water and went ashore to a little taverna for our first meal, fresh calamari, real Greek Salad, cold wine, and the rest I don’t remember, but it was all good! After toasting our great fortune and the start of a wonderful week, and what was to be a life changing experience for me personally, we made our way back to the yacht. We all retired to our cabins as we had a long day ahead of us, we were sailing into the Aegean Sea!
I awoke at sunrise and excitedly popped up to look out of my cabin hatch. I couldn’t believe I was in Greece on a yacht, I had always dreamed of this! As I looked to the right the full moon was low in the sky and starting to set, to my left on the cliff was the Temple of Poseidon, magnificent and so well preserved and behind it the sunrise what a way to wake up! I still get chills when I think about it, truly magical!
During the 2004 Olympics games we had a family of 8 on board from Spain consisting three generations, the grandparents, 2 sisters and a brother and two of their kids. The granddaughter was on the Spanish Olympic team and her twin sister was on the yacht. We spent several days in Athens going to the games, drinking in the excitement and the atmosphere, the mood was electric. Witnessing the Olympics where it all started was such a privilege and an incredible experience, but now it was time to go sailing. We left Athens and headed for the island of Aegina, a short 2 to 3 hour sail. It was sunset and the city was bright with lights. The Queen Mary was anchored in front of the city marina and lit up like a Christmas tree, the Parthenon was lighted especially for the Olympics and the lights of the city danced in the background. As we sailed away from the Athens we all looked back in silence and marveled as the full moon was raising over the Parthenon. At that moment an Italian aria started first one tenor voice and then two more. The grandfather was singing and the daughters had joined in. It was “O solo mio”. As the voices rose to the heavens I thought to myself, it does not get any better than this! Unbelievable! We later found out that the grandfather was a very well know opera singer in Spain back in the day. He happened to have a CD with him and left it with us. The rest of the summer we started every morning with Italian arias and coffee, very civilized I must say.
When I finished my stories my companions exclaimed, wow! I said this, is my Greece! These are only a couple stories, there have been so many more over the years and more to come I know, so stay tuned and check back, or better yet join us and make some of your own stories!