Aegean Wanderings by Declan Gordon

After 15 years of round the cans and the odd delivery it was presented by my better-half that cruising the Aegean with her college pals and assorted +1s could be an enjoyable way to spend mid-April.

New to chartering, the organisers did some research on the requirements for going bareboat. Completing an International Certificate of Competency (ICC) evaluation across with the INSS was both enjoyable in itself and a good way to brush up on chartwork, buoyage and safety maneuvers.

DSC_0225.JPGThough decidedly early-season, April suited the wider group’s schedules, and 8 of us flew to Athens to a temporary residence in a 48ft Beneteau Oceanis. We had prepared for the worst (i.e. typical Irish summer conditions) and had packed full wet gear, but enjoyed t-shirt weather and comparatively warm sea-temperatures. A single week, and a strong desire to relax meant we were restricted to the Saronic gulf, making it only as far as the Island of Hydra. This was no hardship in good weather, with inviting towns and beautiful anchorages along the western side of the gulf.
A visit coinciding with the Greek Easter observance and festivals meant lots of fireworks and candle lit processions on the mainland and islands before the restaurants opened each midnight to serve traditional lamb and offal dishes. On the way out we berthed overnight in Aegina, then Perdika before bypassing Poros in strong winds and a really interesting lightning storm to reach Hydra on Monday afternoon. The main port on Hydra is truly spectacular, and a ban on cars and bicycles on the Island makes for an idyllic pace of life outside the bustling tourist port. We left Hydra on Thursday morning after three days of hiking, exploring the town and its restaurants, swimming and competitive gin drinking. We moored in Methana overnight on the return to Athens.

It was a very enjoyable sailing holiday, only needing to motor for a small part of the return leg. We all remarked on the outstanding Greek hospitality experienced during the week, and the country has much to offer in natural beauty, historic ruins, food and a view of another island economy on the frontier of a shrinking Union.