A very warm welcome to all who follow the Dragon Drascombe website and my frequent Newsletters.
This photograph captures what sailing Drascombe Luggers in the Greek Ionian is all about.
To be able to find lovely shallow coves to anchor in, picnic and swim off the boat. To have the versatility to sail under jib or Mizen or, with full sails up, being able to sail in light winds. A boat with lots of bits of string to pull and adjust, and it has a proper boat feel rather than that of a dinghy.
Since my last newsletter in July we have seen more families than ever joining us at our base at Geni, just across the bay from Nidri.
Meet Jessie and Lugger Katerina
Jessie and her parents, Jon and Heather, had a delightful garden apartment at Geni Garden, perfect with a view of the bay, yet benefiting from the shade of the trees. This proves that learning to helm a boat can be achieved by young teenager’s as well as adults. She certainly took to it and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. At the end of their stay with us they moved on to a land-based discovery of the Pindos mountain region of northern Greece. Check out our website to see what Jon has to say about their visit.
This is the second visit for the Stride Family, and they stayed at the Villa Eleanor again, enjoying the secluded garden and wonderful pool. As well as the Lugger moored on the Villa’s pontoon, I arranged a hired road bike and 2 paddle boards, these rented from Argi at the Iris hotel. He gave a wonderful briefing on the Iris beach followed by a practice for all the family. Mum Emma did exceptionally well, however the 2 girls were in charge and the boards were taken out on their days out in the Lugger. Great quality boards that were kept at the villa overnight.
Early morning before the sunrise at the Geni Garden pontoon.
These Luggers have been given a full restoration out at my Nidri boatyard base. They were first rebuilt by my company Dragon Design between 2008 and 2011, and have been used extensively on my charters in the early days. They now needed a full restoration and upgrade, which has just been completed, so they are back to pristine condition again.
Late July saw the eventual arrival of Justin and daughter Barbara from New York. I say eventually because they had quite an adventure just getting to Nidri. My contact with Justin, who lives and works in New York, dates back to 2017. He had shown great interest in the Drascombe Luggers and has a similar open boat at home which he uses extensively with his young family. To date he has not been able to make this trip to the Ionian, however, as chance would have it his 16 year old daughter Barbara had enrolled on a summer school course in Rome to study Latin and Ancient Greek. This gave Justin jst the excuse to travel to the Ionian, and Barbara wanted to experience Greece and in particular visit the birthplace of Odysseus at Kioni on Ithica. This was the easy part: book a single flight from New York to Rome, have a hotel for 1 night for himself and Barbara. Next day get a flight from Rome to Preveza, our local airport where my taxi picks them up, and then down to The George Studio apartments within the hour.
That would be too easy, he said. Two days before leaving the US he called me with his bad news – Ryanair had cancelled his Preveza flight! Not to be deterred we sought ferry tickets for them both from Ancona to Igeomenitsa, which meant a rail journey from Rome to Ancona, with just 3 hours before the ferry departed on its 20 hour passage to Igeomenitsa. Yes, they did it, albeit 24 hours late, and my taxi arrived at Igeomenitsa and waited 4 hours for the late ferry. But they arrived at our base at one in the morning, very weary.
Their expedition started the following morning. The aim for Justin was to see the three islands, Lefkada, Ithica which is south and a part of Kephalonia, and finishing at Episkopi on the northern tip of the Eastern island of Kalamos. For those who are familiar with my past reviews this trip was done in 2018 by Dave Craig and his wife, again Americans who like adventure and travelling light. I will leave the rest of Justin’s diary for him to complete, and I’m sure you will find it very interesting; I’m looking forward to publishing this in late October, so keep checking the website.
During August the Villa Eleanor has been used a lot. The Johnston family who stayed last summer came for 2 weeks with their family visiting for part of the time. It was a special event that brought them back, so within the 2 weeks they had 2 Luggers, did a car hire for 3 days and thoroughly spoiled themselves. Elaine said “We had such an enjoyable holiday – a really good celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. We had lots of fun in the Drascombe Luggers, and having two of them worked out very well for the five of us. Lazy days in the lovely villa Eleanor, filled with swimming and reading and sailing in the afternoons – a perfect holiday. Thoroughly recommended!”
What now has become an ongoing arrangement with Effie and Christos at the Iris hotel and beach is using their wonderful pool bar patio for late afternoon/evening group meet-ups and briefings. They produce a great table Meza for our groups along with cold beer and the use of their pool and facilities – so good of them. It means groups can call in to the beach at the end of a sailing day, pop along to Elaini’s supermarket for provisions and meet up for an end of the sailing day, so many thanks to them for this.
This summer we have had bookings of groups of four, in particular 2 couples sharing a boat. It has worked so well, with separate apartments at Geni Garden, and they have thoroughly enjoyed their days together yet having their own private space in the evenings. You will note what Valerie has written and the review from Elspeth and her family / friends group. Why not give it a try and get your own interested group of 4 together. However, do not leave it too late – apartments for small groups will get difficult after November.
This summer I have had four groups/couples that have come primarily to learn to sail, including John and Charlie from Corfu in late May and latterly Nicky and Rob in mid September. However, I had a phone conversation with Paul in July wanting specifically to learn to sail, having lapsed from dinghy sailing over the past 30 plus years. His other requirement was to be introduced to the Lugger with the intention of having his own Lugger berthed at their loch-side garden on the west coast of Scotland.
This was indeed going to be a beginners sailing course, starting at the basics and trying within the week to cover specific Lugger sailing techniques. I think we made it! We started with half-day sessions with myself being in the boat with Paul and Beth. Day 4 saw them off on their own in the Lugger, while I had my rescue tender, Dragon Warrior on the water and closely monitored their progress. It went so well as you can see from the photos, great progress. Well done to you both.
So it’s now early October. The temperature has dropped to a lovely 24C with light winds, yet as is normal some rain and storms, but it’s been a great summer. After Paul and Beth left on 2 October it was time to clean and prepare the boats ready for next summer, 2023.
Book now for 2023
From the reviews and advanced bookings to date there will be great demand for apartments at Geni Garden, The George Studio, our new venue The Iris apartments and the Villa Eleanor. Why not now take the initiative and plan for next summer 2023. A booking made now in October or November will only require a holding deposit of £200, the balance of the standard 50% will not be required until 3 January 2023.
My thanks to all of you who have supported Dragon Drascombe this summer and over the past years. We are improving all the time, with such a variety of accommodation venues in the Vliho Bay Area, and we are now able to offer groups a mixture of sailing experiences along with land-based interests. With bike and car hire on a daily basis there is so much to enjoy on the island of Lefkada.
My very best to you all,
Dragon Drascombe Ltd