Markus' Travel and International Living Blog

Markus is an enthusiastic traveler, who lives in Houston, TX (USA) most of the time, but also spends some time in Saalfelden, near Salzburg (Austria). He is fascinated by travel and also by his experiences gathered by living in two different countries and continents.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009
Another Greek Sailing Adventure

As long time readers of my blog know, I like to go to Greece every now and then and sail around the islands. We did this last in August/September of 2006 (you can read about it here: A Journey to Greece, Sailing in Odysseus’ Track Part 1, Part 2, and subsequent drive up the Amalfi Coast and visit to ancient Pompeij and a few places in the Tuscany region). We made a similar trip in September of 2008. We once again drove down to Venice from Austria, got on a ferry to Greece (Iguomenitsa) and then hopped on a boat with Neil in Lefkas. I could probably write the same review of the journey as I did 2 years earlier. It was still great fun to take the ship out of Venice and all that. However, there isn’t anything really new to report on that part of the trip.

The same could be said about a lot of the trip. We went to Lefkas, stocked up on a bunch of goods we put on the boat, and off we sailed. That is Ellen, and myself, but also my parents came along time time, and Neil - owner of - was our skipper again, as I still wouldn’t be comfortable operating a boat all on my own. (A little bit of sailing isn’t a problem, but when a wind storm blows over and you have to make sure the boat is anchored properly, I would not be comfortable on my own).

On our first leg, we sailed out of Lefkas down to Mytikas (on the main land across from Lefkas), where we once again had an excellent dinner of various Greek delicacies. It was all good, but we really came for the Octopus. I am not a big Octopus fan myself – since it generally is a chewy mess – but in Mythos, you will find the best Octopus of all time. Tender as steak, and super tasty. If you ever are in the area, you just have to try it out!

Over the next few days we continued on to various islands and villages. Overall, this was pretty similar to our trip 2 years earlier. One just tends to go back to favorite places, and when sailing in the Ionian Islands, places like Fiskardo (on Kefalonia) are always great stops. Slightly overcrowded perhaps, but late in the season (September), it really isn’t too bad. However, we did go to a few new places as well. In particular, Assos stood out for me as a very cute little port of call.

Some classical Greek scenery in Assos.

One of the things that is really neat in Greece is that one can go pretty much anywhere, and each little town or village one comes up to has a quay (“dock”) one can simply pull up to and spend a few hours or the night. There always are tavernas nearby, and one is ready for a great night of food and partying in a typical Greek fashion. It is quite unlike anywhere else.

The weather we encountered made the trip quite interesting. While it was still better than back home in Houston (where hurricane Ike slammed into our area with devastating effect), and while most of the days were quite sunny, we had a stretch of a few days of rain and a pretty severe wind storm. One night, while anchored in Fiskardo, some other boats were ripped loose and slammed into the rocks at the opposite side of the port. We had to assist in a rescue operation. Not that anyone got hurt, but several boats ended up on the rocks and were severely damaged.

We ended up sailing in some pretty high winds and some serious waves. Top boat speed (measured by GPS) was 11.8knots… pretty darn fast for this type of boat...

We also tried a new thing this time around: Yacht racing!

We didn’t have a huge amount of time, but we had 2 opportunities to partake in races. One was a 3-day “rally” around some of the islands. We passed on this one, since it simply would have taken too much time and we weren’t into it quite that seriously, but we ended up by accident (or perhaps by Neil’s planning ;-)) in the same port as the starting location for one of the legs. So we informally took part of it anyway, and it turns out that we pretty much would have kicked everyone’s butt if we really would have competed officially. Despite the fact that we dragged our dingy – the small boat – behind our boat, to the dismay of a lot of the competitors :-).

Encouraged by this result, we decided to compete in the big Ionian Regatta, which had several hundred boats and yachts compete. This was quite the experience. One just hasn’t really seen what these boats can do until one goes for the mad scramble that is 200 boats trying to cross the start line at the same time.

The start of the Ionian Regatta. Ourskipper Neil is concentrating hard, while we are goofing around, trying to avoid the apparently traditional food fight… (yeah, I don’t quite get it either).

The regatta was split into 2 groups, with a group of smaller boats getting a head start of 10 minutes (since they are not as fast as the bigger ones) and the group of larger yachts going second (we were part of the later group). Neil did very well getting us going. Unfortunately, the wind stopped about 15 minutes after the start and everyone just sat there for 2 hours trying to move a little bit and getting into the wind first whenever it came around. We weren’t overly lucky in this endeavor, but we still did OK.

Once the wind picked back up, we did OK. Neil is a great sailor and he got us pretty close to the front of the pack, even though some of the other boats were significantly larger and thus theoretically faster. Unfortunately, about half way through the race, the traveler on the main boom broke, throwing us into a frenzy trying to fix it. It left us with very limited ability to adjust the size of the main sail, but luckily, the winds stayed pretty steady and we weren’t too severely handicapped.

One the home stretch towards the town of Syvota. Some boats are quite far ahead, but we still came in 13th.

When it was all said and done, and handicaps were calculated in (each boat has a certain handicap to adjust for things such as size, type of propeller, and all kinds of other things), it turned out we came in 13th. Not too bad at all for our first race, and considering there were several hundred boats in the race. We were happy and ready to celebrate our victory in one of the many tavernas in Syvota (this was the port that marked the finish of the Regatta). Unfortunately, we had to leave that same evening to make it back to our ferry to Italy in time. Oh well, we will party the next time. This time around, a little snack and glass of Retsina had to do:

A short celebration of a good racing result.

Posted @ 1:13 PM by Egger, Markus ( -
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