We had come for the sailing. David and I had always wanted to sail round the Greek islands, but it was clear this was not likely as David is not very mobile and I have little sailing experience and we are both well into our 70s.. So when I saw the advert by Eclipse Sailing www.eclipsesailing.gr in the Oxford University magazine, Oxford Today, with a picture of Nereida, a 45ft ketch, Genoa jib, Bermuda main sail and mizzen for sailing in Greece on the Pagasitic gulf and the Sporades, I wrote to Charlotte Glascock. Charlotte agreed to take us on. It was wonderful.
The boat was built by John Alden in 1982, a Renna style, and is very beautiful and sits well on the water, it has a long keel, which I think I am right in saying makes for speed and balance. There is another Greek skipper, Marios, also part owner. Charlotte and he looked at over 2000 boats before buying this one in 2012. Charlotte was given her first sailing boat when she was 6 and Marios is into racing, along with his young son, Costis. It was just us and another couple, who both had some sailing experience and made for very pleasant companions.
The first day we sailed across the Gulf to the island of Trikeri, having a very good Greek lunch on board, breakfast and lunch cooked by Charlotte: fresh fish, stews, and tomato and cucumber salad and other vegetables like oyster mushrooms and aubergines, fruit and often cakes, donuts, cheese cakes. David would have olives and cheese cakes. The Greeks seem to have a very sweet tooth. After having a bit of an explore round the harbour, and a first swim. Charlotte then organised a tractor to take David up to the Monastery, it was a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s birthday, so crowds of people were coming to the island and a big feast was laid out down in the harbour restaurants. The Monastery was very simple. Set in a square of cloisters, with gardens, flowers, 12 different types of basil I counted, with the cells on the first floor . We had a low door, 4ftish, and then a spotlessly clean cell, with a window (with mosquito netting) overlooking the island and the sea, just a sheet over us. Nails in old beams to hang clothes on, the loo the other side of the atrium. In the morning I went to church, the monks were singing from high up above behind heavy iron bars. We then had a breakfast on board, breads, cakes, home made jams of figs and walnuts, green oranges; fruit, coffee, followed by a swim where I had been the night. The water is warm and clear, totally delightful.
We then sailed on to Oreoi on the island of Evia, stopping off in a bay to swim. Oreia was full of Greeks going from restaurant to restaurant, having mezes, then a main course and some where else for cakes and ice cream.
The next day we sailed to the well established spa town of Aidipso This was full of very happy Greeks taking the waters, with a wide range of hotels and restaurants. We had a nice cool quiet room near a very good spa. That night we had a moonlight swim in warm waters coming into the sea from a sulphur spring. David is not really into spas, but the next morning the rest of us went along to the Spa, and were sprayed, pummelled and bubbled with warm water and then in a Jacuzzi. We then went along to some hot sulphur pools by the sea and bathed and played in these. Could definitely have spent longer there. There were also some very upmarket spa places, with mud baths etc. All highly recommended.
That night we sailed back to Oreoi. We were sailing anything from 5-8 hours a day. On deck, David on the hatch, us just looking, absorbing it all. The Nereida could get up to 6-7 knots an hour. Because she is older and made of wood, you need a lot of strength to get the sails up and down. It’s a very peaceful feeling, as well as man working with nature. We did nothing, except keep out of the way and enjoy/inhale/wallow in it all.
We stayed in a quiet part of Oreoi. Woke up in the morning to the sea like glass with a mist over it and orange bottomed boats gently rocking on it. We had had a delicious supper the night before in a restaurant recommended by Marios called Koheli, which is Cochlea in Greek, and he joined us, indeed one of the best restaurants we went to and packed with people. I had a long swim before breakfast as we sailed out of harbour and we set off back to Volos. On the way we had a wonderful swim. We stopped at a bay called Traheli, on an island with olive trees and a distant house with balconies all round, deep sea crystal clear, I swam the 150 yards to land under my shady hat and we clambered up the rocks to overlook the island. It was pretty well perfect.
We then sailed on to Volos getting back in the early evening.
It was a wonderful restful holiday and yes we would like to do it again in say the Sporades, perhaps slightly less sailing and more stopping in quiet bays for swimming and a bit of an explore to say a nearby church or point, I think this would be negotiable. We always looked forward to Charlotte’s food with keen anticipation and the hotels were comfortable and convenient. Highly recommended.