Another wonderful Colgate Sailing Adventure is in the logbook. This Colgate Sailing Adventures Flotilla Cruise in the Greek Islands, was again conducted by popular flotilla leaders, Nate and Heather Atwater. Here are excerpts from Heather’s diary.
Everyone arrived at the Zea Marina base in Piraeus in good spirits. We were scheduled for a 6pm boat boarding and Skipper/Navigator meeting with Ted from Marina Zea. Nate and I met with Mike, the base Manager, the previous day to review our itinerary. Mike recommended that we make some changes to keep the distances to a comfortable sail, arrive in the ports early enough to find berthing spots, and enjoy the natural and man made wonders that we had come to Greece to experience. Based on Nate’s research and Mike’s suggestions, we developed a new plan.
At 6pm we boarded the boats and stowed provisions, then dashed to the Meet and Greet at 7:30pm at Portofino Seafood Restaurant. A lovely long table set for 23 people awaited us, nicely appointed with olives. After our brief safety talk, we began to get to know each other, and ate, and ate. These folks in Greece know how to eat. First course: salmon tartar, then choice of salad followed by a lemon sorbet palate cleanser, then the main dish, then dessert which was a choice of cheesecake or chocolate delight with ice cream. We were beginning to see how the Greek take their dining experience and fresh food very seriously. We had two occasions to celebrate with candles; Lulu’s birthday and Shannon and Sharon’s 10th anniversary. We rolled back to our catamarans that would be our homes for the next week, and when I got into my bunk and looked at my phone it was 11:45, exhausted!
Our fleet consisted of four Sunsail 444s Fegari, Nube Azul, La Luna, and a Sunsail 404 Immortality. After acquiring a few items from the base such as, ice and extra towels, we set off from the Piraeus base around 10am heading toward Epidaurus on the Peloponnese Peninsula. The wind was non-existent, so we started off powering, leaving the mountainous shore of Piraeus behind us and threading past Aegina Island to port. When we arrived, the main quay was full, so we anchored in the neighboring bay a very short dinghy ride away.
The afternoon was rainy, so we chose to relax aboard, then headed to town to explore and enjoy an early dinner. Each boat organized their own evening. We joined another crew for a walkabout and a lovely dinner inland a bit at a very local restaurant where we feasted on meatballs, wild boar, fresh fish, tzatziki, lamb kabob, feta with honey, and moussaka. The owners were so engaging and kind, bringing us desserts and wine on the house. It was an excellent experience and we enjoyed great company!
Today we got any early start to catch taxis to visit the ancient Amphitheatre of Epidaurus before the crowds and the heat ensued. It was a good move as we really had the place to ourselves to visit and see the museum as well. As we left the ancient site the crowds appeared. After a relaxing coffee in one of the seaside cafes, we headed to the boats and Nate made his rounds, then we set sail for Perdika Bay. With light air, we practiced our engine maneuvers, man overboard drills and raising and lowering the sails.
A Beautiful Fishing Village to Explore
Upon arrival in Perdika we med moored. Once we were all settled in, we hiked, enjoyed cocktails, ate, swam, shopped, and otherwise enjoyed ourselves. Perdika Bay is a beautiful fishing village so for our meal that night we ate at a seaside restaurant where we chose our fish, prepared to our liking. In Greece as in much of the Mediterranean, their world slows to a halt for the mid-day heat; shops close and reopen later in the afternoon into the late evening. Strolling along the waters in the evening for a drink or a gelato is a very nice way of life. There is a beautiful chapel at the tip of the island that is worth the short stroll and the small island is easily explored on foot. The paths are narrow as you explore the interior and the homes are covered in flowering vines while the backyard gardens have many vegetables growing. We saw olive trees, fig trees, pomegranate, orange trees, as well as many different flowering trees and shrubs.
We left Perdika Bay at 8am and had a great sail to Poros Island. We jibed downwind while broad reaching through the cut between Poros and the Peloponnese Peninsula. We dropped sails and put down a lunch hook for a lovely refreshing swim in Russian Bay. After a nice cool down we continued to Poros Town. It was an exciting time med mooring in Poros town and once settled, we had time to nap, explore, shop, rent cars, to one’s own desires. That night, we all met in one of the waterside restaurants for a feisty dinner.
Wednesday 6-20-18 — Reaching to the Island of Hydra
We headed out at 8am for Hydra pronounced “Idra” – another lovely sail on a broad reach. On Fegari we sailed wing and wing through the cut between Spathi and Tselevinia. Very nicely done girls!! The wind had built a bit (not in the forecast) to a brisk 19 knots by the time we dropped sail outside of Mondraki Bay. This was a smaller, less crowded harbor than Hydra town and a lot easier to moor in. We med moored and fed our stern lines through rusty rings in the rocks. A line-throwing contest ensued with long heavy wet lines to achieve the goal of med mooring our little fleet safely in the Bay.
Gorgeous . . . breathtakingly gorgeous. The sailing, the sights, the scenery . . . stunning really. Once settled we did our own thing again. Some went ashore to the beach, others took the water taxi to town. Lulu even hiked over the hill to Hydra Town taking beautiful photos along the way. We took the water taxi and hopped on the famous donkeys for a lovely ride around the town with a local guide. Such fun, and a good way to scope out the town as well. Then we relaxed at a local café. They sure know how to make a delicious iced café latte, yum (makes Starbucks look amateur)! The shopping on Hydra was good with lots of neat places to wander and explore.
We had dinner around 7pm; some went to the swanky spot overlooking the harbor, our boat explored inland to a very old restaurant that was traditional with local fare. We took water taxis home after a great day!!
After Nate had did his morning navigational meetings we set off from Hydra in a light breeze, tacking back up the channel we had sailed down the day before. It was a good chance to practice our light air tacking, and required some skill on these cats to keep them moving through a light air tack with speed. We found that building speed before the tack, then back-winding the small jib through the tack, were essential to tack the cats in light air. I gave our boat crew a lesson in sail plan area calculations. Pop quiz, Pam, what are the I, J, P and E measurements and why are they important?
After sailing through the cut and on for a bit, we dropped sails and powered through Poros Town and past Russian Bay to our destination, a small, craggy harbor named Gerolimani, just before the cut. We all arrived and dropped our hooks, then hosted a 6pm cocktail party aboard our boat Fegari for more fun and group photos. Despite the yellow jackets, a good time was had by all. We ate aboard that night and enjoyed a yummy spaghetti dinner.
Friday 6-22-18 — Back to the Sunsail Base in Piraeus
We had a late start with light air, so we powered to start. The wind picked up a bit as we got closer to Piraeus and we did have a nice sail. It was a sad day as we all knew the end was near to our adventures. We got back to the base around 4pm and the Marina Zea staff was very helpful, assisting us in docking, connecting to shore power, etc. After the skippers went through the checkout procedure with the Sunsail staff, Nate gathered the entire group to say a few words and thank everyone for another wonderful trip. Some participants got off the boats that night, but most of us stayed aboard and disembarked the next morning by 9am. A large group of us gathered to celebrate one last dinner together at another restaurant adjacent to where we hosted the Meet and Greet, a fitting end to our sailing vacation in the Greek Islands. Next up, Tahiti! Check out all upcoming flotilla sailboat vacations today.
Nate & Heather Atwater
P.S. We have so many fond memories and photos to share of our flotilla in Greece that we put them in the slide show below. Enjoy!