LEFKADA, Greece // We never considered sailing as part of our backpacking trip. Looking back on our original spreadsheet of travel plans that was made over two years ago, renting a sailboat in Thailand was never part of the plan either, but that ended up being one of the highlights of the trip. This influenced our decision to charter another sailboat, and in the end, the two sailing experiences could not have been any more different.
After meeting up with our friend Danny in Dubai, We arrived in Athens, saw the acropolis, then boarded a 6 hour public bus to take us all the way west to an area Lefkada. We rented a 36 foot Jeanneau monohull, which was the last week of charters season, and we were able to get our reservation in just by a few days before they closed up for the year.
The first night at the marina was not good. We could have left this night but there were gale force winds, which on the beaufort wind scale are classified 7 winds, 32-38 miles per hour. The boat rocked and moved all night, even while tied to a secure dock. This delayed our departure by 2 days, but when we did set sail, we had perfect amount of wind. As opposed to Thailand when we had to motor half the time, in Greece we sailed all the way from the north of Lefkada, to the south of the island to Sivorna on a single tack going 5 knots. We sailed probably 80 percent of the time the whole trip, which for us was a lot more than we have ever done.
We learned to sail in the British Virgin Islands and you take a mooring ball everywhere. In Thailand we anchored everywhere. In Greece, it is totally different as you med moor everywhere. This is by far the most difficult way to set up for the night. It involves essentially backing into a dock while laying your anchor. You then tie the boat with two stern lines to the dock / quay and have 3 points of contact with the third being the anchor. It took us three times in Sivorna, which was our first ever med mooring. We were assisted by a guy who pulled in almost as the exact same time as us. He grabbed the stern lines of our boat and cleated us to the quay making everything easier. He was sailing with his wife and 7 and 9 year old sons. They are from England and sailing the Mediterranean for a year. They told us all about their travel plans after inviting us onto their boat for a drink. We chatted for over 3 hours swapping travel stories, and it was refreshing to both of us to know that there are other like minded long term travelers as us.
We set sail towards Fiskardo the next day with equally perfect sailing conditions. We tacked, jibed, did circle drills, and played with points of sail just north of the island of Ithaca (where Homer wrote The Odyssey). There was so much wind it was perfect. We med moored again and did perfect on our first try thanks to two Greek guys on the dock. Fiskardo had so much history, and we hiked through the ruins of a 6th century church and through an old Venetian lighthouse. We made dinner on the boat and decorated for Halloween tomorrow!
In Dubai we bought a bunch of spider webs and cheap costumes. Danny was a skull captain, Jenny was cape girl, and Adam was Franky Head. The names were vaguely given regarding what we thought the costume should resemble. We played Monster Mash, Thriller, and all sorts of Halloween music as we sailed up to Little Vathi the following day. We cooked dinner again on the boat and made shrimp, and a vegetable stir fry. Our final day we stopped on the way back to the marina for a swim and hike in Varko bay. It was so quiet and peaceful and we even took the dingy out for the first time with the paddles. We returned the boat that evening to a big crowd of Sunsail representatives as we were the last charter to return for the season. With fenders ready we backed down an entire aisle of sailboats and into a spot with little trouble.
This spontaneous decision to rent a boat was a good one. I learned that as long as proper research and due diligence is done, a big decision or commitment will be just fine in a short amount of time. I learned from the English couple that taking a year to travel with children is an incredible amount of fun. I learned how to med moor a sailboat. After watching countless youtube videos and reading article after article on the topic, nothing helps more than practice and doing something yourself. Finally, I learned nothing beats traveling with friends and teaching your sailing knowledge to them. In the long term this just helps refresh our skills too and helps maintain them. Thanks for joining us Danny! (and Happy 30th Birthday!)