Around 20 club members recently enjoyed a cruise in the Aegean sea, visiting various Greek Islands, on three chartered 50 ft yachts. Here are three reports, one from each boat – from Jim Haslam, Christine Tierney and David Cameron. (photos at the end of this post)
Highlights of the Greek Cruise
Two weeks after our return from a wonderful Greek cruise it’s time to reflect on some of the personal highlights of the holiday.
Ceri and I joined the good ship ‘Eros Helios’ in Alimos Marina, together with our fellow crewmates, John and Cathy, Jim Brown, Kyle and Moira and their good friend Lyndsey.
‘Eros Helios’ proved to be a very comfortable 50 foot Benetau Cyclades yacht, with 10 berths and a new 100 hp Yanmar engine, which came in handy for fast passage-making.
Team ‘Eros Helios’
It was the first time that we had all sailed together and I have to say that one of the best aspects of the next seven days was the way in which we got to know each other whilst aboard and very much enjoyed each other’s company during the week’s cruising. There was a great deal of fun and good humour on our boat and whenever we arrived in port it was also really good to meet up with our fellow TCC members and their friends on ‘Eva’ and ‘Jo Jo’.
The Best Sea Bass Ever
Arriving in picturesque Poros town on the island of Poros, we received a warm greeting from John’s friend Mike who runs the Oasis Taverna. Mike and his skilled team soon had all three of our yachts securely berthed stern to on the quay – both they and Kyle on the helm, made it seem easy!
After drinks in the sunshine on ‘Eros Helios’ it was across the road to our reserved tables in the Oasis, where a great selection of dishes was on offer. These included freshly caught sea bass – but only if three sailors ordered it.
This enthusiastic meat eater, switched to sea bass to make up the numbers and wasn’t disappointed – It was simply the best sea bass I have ever tasted. So big that it only just fitted on our three plates and cooked to perfection! The cuisine at the Oasis was one of many reasons why so many of us voted for a return to Poros town later on in our cruise; to sample their Lamb Kleftiko, Beef Stifado and their delicious vegetarian dishes…… I get hungry just thinking about their menu.
We ate well on-board ‘Eros Helios’. Brunches cooked by Kyle and Moira were followed by picnic lunches at sea and Greek cakes and coffee in the afternoon sunshine.
On one occasion that we’d expected to eat out and instead found ourselves at anchor in a very wet Porto Kehli Bay; Kyle and I decided to set up a water-borne pizza delivery service and we set off in our tender for the shore.
Once on land we discovered that the local roads were flooded but ‘waded’ across them to find a wonderful pizza restaurant. The manager was delighted to receive our ‘shipping order’ for a selection of pizzas and salads for the three boats and after Kyle had negotiated a good deal for cash, we sat down to enjoy a beer ‘on the house’ before calling next door to buy Greek cakes for desert.
Heading back to the anchorage at full throttle, with pizza boxes piled high, we congratulated ourselves on our fore-thought at having earlier picked out a large catamaran as a marker to guide us back to our boats. It was only as we rapidly approached a low-lying breakwater that we realised that we were navigating towards the wrong catamaran!
Kyle deftly executed a ‘hand-brake turn’ to avoid the break-water and we successfully delivered the pizzas and cakes to our fellow cruisers. We climbed back on-board Eros Helios and devoured our takeaway feast, whilst the magical Mythos (beer) machine and the magical wine machine got into full flow.
Blue Skies Return as we swim with the Fishes
The next morning the sun is out and Ceri says she’s off for a swim, so I follow her and we’re soon joined by Kyle and by Carolyn from Eva. Porto Kehli Bay looks quite different in the sunshine.
Cathy and I then raised the anchor whilst John plotted a course for the island of Hydra. We’re soon anchoring in Mandraki Bay on Hydra and it’s time for John, Moira, Lyndsey, Kyle, Ceri and I to enjoy a swim in the clear warm waters, amongst brightly-coloured fish; before heading ashore for lunch in the local taverna. This is just what I imagined the cruise would be like.
That afternoon, Ceri enjoyed helming our yacht back towards Poros under the experienced guidance of skipper Kyle. During the week we all took turns on the helm and it was our crewmate Jim Brown, on his first cruise on a yacht, who expertly helmed our yacht back towards Alimos Marina on our last day at sea.
Athens and the Acropolis
The final day’s sight-seeing in Athens, was like the cream topping on one of the many Greek pastries we’d enjoyed. After our Odyssey around the mythical tram system; that leads everywhere but the centre of Athens, we re-grouped over brunch in a pavement café, before setting off to see the sights.
Lyndsey negotiated an excellent deal for her crewmates on an open-top bus tour which introduced us to many of the famous sights of the city. Ceri and I then hopped off in sight of the Acropolis to walk through the city; passing the remains of grand Roman buildings, before ascending the Acropolis Hill. Lyndsey had told us about the great views of Athens from the top, but nothing quite prepared me for the amazing vista of the city and sea that unfolds as you reach the summit.
A Great Holiday!
All too soon it was time to head for Athens airport and our flight home.
We met John way back in January at the London Boat Show when he was negotiating the special charter deals for this year’s cruise, so we’ve seen just how much planning and thought goes into making these trips a success for those lucky enough to sail with him and Babs.
From booking great value yachts and flights; to advising on what to pack, and arranging comfortable and quick transfers there and back; John organised every detail to make it a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. Both he and Babs worked tirelessly to ensure that all of the arrangements and communications with our large party of 21 sailors went smoothly. Many thanks again to John and to Babs for a very enjoyable cruise!
Eros Helios and Carapace.
Well what a great holiday we all had. Not having done anything like this before I was slightly nervous about how it would all go but I needn’t have worried. The organisation was excellent and everything just flowed. From being picked up at the club in a luxury coach to take us through to Edinburgh Airport to transport waiting at Athens Airport to take us to the marina. It all went without a hitch.
We arrived at the marina outside Athens around midnight and were still able to get something to eat and drink from the Dia Noche café bar located just across the way from the marina. This is a nice place with big panoramic windows looking out over the sea. Just think Scott’s but in the sun! Then we all got settled into our quarters on ‘JoJo’ our lovely 50ft Bavaria Yacht which would be our home for the next week.
Quite a few of us had never met before but we quickly gelled into a one happy crew with everyone doing what was needed and having some great laughs along the way. We were a mixed bunch with mixed abilities but everyone was able to do something and enjoy the experience.
Before we could set sail it fell to Frances and myself to go ashore to get provisions in i.e. beer, wine, oh – and some food too. There were people walking around the marina offering to take you in their cars to go and get your shopping. We were just thinking about going when a car drew up with a man offering to take us shopping. I was thinking about whether we should take him up on his offer when the man informed me that we would need to go now! Oh well, I thought, I suppose there is no time like the present and we do want to set off as soon as possible.
So off we went in the man’s car. He was laughing and joking with us but things soon turned a bit sour. He took us to his off-licence (or Greek equivalent) and started to get angry with us when we wouldn’t buy his ‘very cheap’ offers of excellent wine for just €10 a bottle. Everything he insisted, would be double the price on the islands and he became angrier and angrier as we refused his various ‘offers’. We did buy some water and some beer but that was it. We did contemplate not buying anything but I wasn’t sure how he would have taken that. A second man in a different car then appeared to take us to the supermarket. The trip seemed very long and I began to wonder if we were being taken away for the ‘white slave trade’ but no, we did eventually arrive at the supermarket. He spoke to someone at the checkout then left. After we had got our provisions a third man with car appeared to take us back to the marina. And yes – we did get taken safely back to the Marina but what had we been thinking?? When back in Scotland would you get into a stranger’s car just because he said so? We learned later that he was known to the various reps and one said that “he was not a nice man”! Ah well – you live and learn.
The next day we set off in fine weather to sail to the island of Poros. The scenery was lovely with various islands to see as we sailed along with the wind in our hair and the sun shining down on us. Pure bliss!
Our skipper John Woods has travelled this way a few times and had already booked us into a restaurant that he knew. He knew the owner Mike very well and John said that he would most likely be there to greet us, help us tie up and would possibly be bearing free wine. John was not wrong. Mike was very pleased to see John and Babs again. He helped us to moor and did also generously gift us some very nice wine! The food and hospitality at Mike’s place was really good.
We soon got into a routine of buying provisions in the morning before setting off for another island. We would take turns at doing the shopping while the others would look around the shops and/or enjoy a leisurely stroll and a coffee somewhere along the way.
The islands we visited all had that unspoilt Greek charm. No lager louts or Irish pubs here. We visited Poros, Ermioni, Aegina and Hydra. In the main, the weather was fine but the one evening it did rain quite heavily. We hadn’t been able to get into port as there were no berths left and had to drop anchor in the bay. I can’t remember where this was but just that it had the cheek to rain on us and we had eaten all the food. It was a fair wee distance into port and the outboard motor on the rib had packed up. It was beginning to look like early bed with no supper when Kyle and one of his crew came alongside in their rib to take orders for Pizza. They took their rib ashore in the pouring rain and came back laden with pizzas AND cake for all. They were our heroes! The night actually turned out quite well. We played games, had a few refreshments, were entertained by some of John’s stories (yes just some – as I’m sure there are plenty more that we didn’t hear!) and watched some funny YouTube videos.
When we went to Hydra we found that the berths were all taken. Fortunately for us, John knew of a bay – Medraki Bay – which was just up a bit and round the corner, where we were able to drop anchor and go ashore on the ribs. We had a nice coffee here before Babs, Janet, Ronnie and myself took a half hour walk along a coastal path, which took us into Hydra to stock up on provisions. Hydra was just beautiful and we were all sorry that we didn’t get to berth there. The four of us did have the pleasure of enjoying a nice lunch there beside the harbour, before doing the all important stocking up of supplies. The walk round had been quite hilly so we decided to get a water taxi back round to Medraki Bay which took just about 10 minutes.
Strong winds were forecast for that night so we had to leave Medraki Bay and make for a safer place which was a return to Poros as it was nearer our final destination of Athens. We went to Mike’s restaurant again where we received another warm welcome. After dinner we stumbled upon a lovely pub where a guy was playing some seriously cool jazz on clarinet and saxophone. The G & T’s weren’t half bad either. It was the perfect end to our second last night on the boat.
Ah well – all good things come to an end but before they did we were able to spend our last day sightseeing in Athens, which was really great. After we had something to eat at Dia Noche, at the marina it was time to get back in the minibuses for our trip to the airport.
The holiday was fantastic and a wee birdie tells me that there may well be a trip in May next year leaving from Corfu. So if you’re up for some sun, sailing, great fun and adventures maybe you will consider coming along. I promise, you will not regret it.
SAILING TRIP GREECE 2018
Sat 20th Oct Flight from Edinburgh to Athens and transfer from airport via luxury coach to Alimos marina. Boarded Eva 50ft Bavaria and settled into cabins as dictated by the plan provided. It was fantastic to have a cabin each a much appreciated luxury. We went to Dia Noche for a quick drink before heading to bed as we were all tired from the journey.
Sun 21st Oct Up early to do boat hand over. We all sat down was a group to decide what provisions everyone wanted put on board and started a kitty which Carolyn agreed to manage. I did the boat checks and paper work whilst others went to the supermarket. Once every thing was stowed away we headed for Poros a journey of 35 miles. We motor sailed and berthed stern to on canal side outside the Oasis restaurant. The weather was warm and sunny and the seas calm.We had drinks on board before heading to the Oasis restaurant for a lovely meal. On route we discovered water leaking into the engine compartment from the water pump.
Mon 22nd Oct Phoned Nomicos and reported leaking pump. An engineer was sent and the pump repaired within 3 hours. The rest of the crew had the chance to wander around Poros. About lunch time we headed for Ermioni 20m. It was quite breezy and there was only space for Eva to berth stern to on the quiet side of the harbour. Once again we had drinks on board followed by a meal ashore.
Tue 23rd Oct After the usual breakfast of cereal, banana and coffees, tea had wander ashore before heading for Porto Kehli. Port Authorities would not let us moor stern to and as a result we anchored in the bay. 15m We had our first spell of bad weather here. We were very sheltered but experienced very heavy rain which stopped us getting ashore. We were considering making omelettes when Kyle phoned and said he would go for pizzas. He brought a selection of pizzas, salad and pastries which everyone enjoyed. FANTASTIC well done Kyle and Jim Haslem. We all had restful night in the very sheltered bay.
Wed 24th Oct The next morning the rain had stopped and left Porto Kehli and headed Poros via Mandraki Bay. We had swim in the sheltered bay. Carolyn made Croque Monsieur for everyone followed by Baklava. We moored stern to in Poros late afternoon. We ate in Mikes restaurant at night .
Thur 25th Oct A storm hit early in the morning and we were up early tightening the anchor chain and running the engine to keep the stern off the quayside. Carolyn bought us cheese and ham croissants for breakfast which were delicious. Before moving th boat to canal side in the late afternoon. We had time to shop and enjoy Poros in sunny but breezy conditions. We also ate some very moist apple cake aboard. At night we ate in Mikes other restaurant which was more sheltered.
Fri 26th Oct We headed off towards Athens stopping at Nisis Moni where Carolyn went for a swim and we ate a lunch of cheese, ham tomato and bread. Once back in Athens polished off the remaining alcohol and retired to bed after having some fun aboard dancing and listening to great music. 35m
Sat 27th Oct Brilliant sunny weather for the last day. Some people enjoyed a day in Athens, others spent time sunbathing and swimming in the sea. Early evening we had another luxury coach trip to the airport.
We covered approx 150 miles. We had a couple of good sails. Ate some great food visited lovely locations and generally had a great time at a very reasonable cost thanks to John. As always I had a fantastic time.