Adventures in Greece as we pursue the dream of buying a boat and cruising the Mediterranean.
This week was the first that Karina and I have spent apart since the beginning of COVID, so what’s that? 100 years ago? Don’t know, but it’s been a really long time! I went sailing and she stayed home with Rosie and also to run the boat buying process, so we decided to split the post this week — I’ll share a bit about what I was up to and then she’ll talk about what she’s been doing.
Saturday I set off to Alimos (I think it’s our second home now) but this time to board a charter boat. It was amazing just how busy it was — although I’m told it was quieter than normal, it still felt like there were 100’s of groups of tourists milling around, boarding cruise boats and getting ready to set off for a week or two.
I was sailing with a group of Chinese people (Vivi, Jini, Nina, Kwan, Shida and Yu apologies in advance for misspellings) who all knew each other, a wonderful French lady, Camille and our valiant skipper Vasilis who took on the role of sailing instructor, life coach and ancient philosopher. The goal? To learn to sail (and for me specifically, to brush up on my sailing skills which were a lot rustier than I expected as well as experiencing some of the islands and anchorages first hand). A motley crew but one that bonded during the week and had an amazing adventure together.
I do love these types of experiences, 9 strangers thrown together, a mix of cultures and traditions and everyone there under a (somewhat) common goal. It’s intense, tiring but ultimately awesome — fast friendships (and sometimes enemies, although fortunately not this time) are made like this. It’s one of things I love about travel — you’re in a discovery mode, and more open to talking and sharing about things that perhaps normally, would take a lot longer to get to know.
After overnighting at Alimos, on our first full day, we (motor) sailed from Alimos to Poros island, just past Aegina. The weather was very good and we went to a small anchorage that was calm and still. We were still gaining our sea legs and this first day was definitely a little wearying for us all — no-one was sick, but several of us did feel uncomfortable. It was great to drop anchor and dive into the clear water that’s still sitting at around 28C.
We ate unbelievably well — Kwan and (I think Shida) were both Chefs, so we had some amazingly good Chinese food, I can’t believe what they churned out of that tiny galley. Rather than starving and existing on instant noodles we were in fact eating gourmet food!
On the second day, the weather was picking up with some strong gusts and the decision was made by Vasilis to head to Porto Kheli, on the Peloponnese coast to find a good anchorage with shelter from the winds. Despite 1-2 meter swells and the occasional 3 meter rogue with some rough winds, we’d settled nicely into the boat life, found our sea legs and made it without any problems.
We knew we’d be spending the next day at anchor, so we held a legendary party where I established myself as “a very good DJ” according to the group (two secrets 1) don’t be as drunk as everyone else so you can remember songs and 2) always play “Wild Cherry, Play that Funky Music White Boy” as the third song or so to really kick things off). We relaxed the next day, exploring Porto Kheli. Camille and I found a beach and drank coffee, while the others roamed around town.
We had some excellent sailing practice in on the Wednesday when we headed to Spetses island and stayed there overnight in an anchorage on the north side. Moved to Dhokos on the Thursday and back to Alimos on Friday.
At Dhokos it coincided with two Chinese festivals — mid-Autumn and the Chinese National Day, so we had to have a BBQ on the beach to celebrate. This is a real family time for most Chinese people, so we had to make our own family on the beach, BBQ fresh Octopus we’d caught the day before and share stories together. Sitting by the fire, watching the sunset over the boat — it made for a really special occasion and one I’ll remember for a long time.
It also helped re-affirm the decision we’re making — this is what life can be like for us, and I definitely missed Karina most at those moments when I was with new friends, enjoying a great time in magical surroundings when she was at home holding down the fort. It’s been quite clear from the emails and messages flying around the boat buying process that the organisation has been a very involved affair, but I’ll let Karina share that story.
I did a lot of organising and planning this week, ready for next week’s visit to Samos for the yacht sea trial and condition survey. I enjoy that kind of detailed work, so reading 53 old yacht maintenance invoices and summarizing in a spreadsheet was actually quite fun for me! Having to deal with Chase Bank in the US was less fun, and brought me close to tears after a frustrating 5 hour period of 8 different phone calls, 3 accidental disconnections and being locked out of my online account twice. Grrr. Sometimes you need these awful experiences to make you appreciate ‘normal’ life again.
Clothes shopping in the outdoor outlet mall was a highlight of the week for me. I was down to 2 t-shirts so really needed more. I also want to follow the Greek fashion of lots of block colors (my usual stripes and florals are not the rage here). So excited to make my first ever Scotch & Soda purchase! I have coveted their clothes for years, they are an Amsterdam based brand and usually very costly. It was great fun roaming the virtually empty stores and getting the full attention of the associates who helped me choose colors and styles.
I slipped back into ‘work mode’ briefly when I did a Zoom call with a local start-up to talk about the best practices, tools and mistakes in Customer Success. I had a great time talking shop with them, and they really appreciated my experience and suggestions.
I was reflecting on how we no longer need a scanner/printer nowadays. I’m used to always having one, but have managed to use GeniusScan app on my phone and Adobe Reader for e-signing documents. I’m turning all my paper recipes into a digital version using OrganizEat app, so am enjoying having fewer possessions and making my life more digital.
There are some really nifty things about living in Athens that don’t happen in other places I’ve lived. One example is people who are looking for a place to park their car, or are actively reverse parallel parking always turn on their car’s hazard lights. As a pedestrian it’s so handy to know what the driver is doing, so you can safely cross the street. I love that visual signal to help everyone understand why they are driving so a slow. Another example is the labor efficiency around household trash and recycling. Instead of each apartment block having a shared large bin for waste, every household instead has to carry their rubbish to the nearest Main Street to use the very large community trash bins. What this means is that garbage collection is simplified, with trucks on the streets for less time and less garbage collection noise in the residential areas. Brilliant!
Rosie the dog is continuing to be very popular in the neighborhood, she was photographed by two different strangers this week, and people love to talk with me about her. A nice ice breaker, and she was good company while Tim was away for the week.
Well that’s it! A very boat focused week, both with sailing and planning for sea trials. This next week will be a big one, several days back in Samos again, surveys, sea trials and a decision on to buy or not to buy!
Until next week,
Tim & Karina