Nidri, The Greek Ionian. It’s a sad day for Bengy today, he does not know it yet but the boat he uses for a day time shelter is being moved, I will have to make him another shelter out of a Lugger winter cover – with temperatures at around 33 he has to have shade and plenty of airflow.
July has been an interesting month in many respects, re-registering the Luggers from the UK SSR certificate to a Blue book Greek registration and forming a business in Greece for taxation purposes. These are all changes Greece has to make to comply with the 10 years of EU bailout finances imposed on them, this August seeing the end of financial support from both the IMF and the Euro-zone.
On 2nd July Dave and Pamela Craig arrived from Arizona, USA for a 3 week Island Hopping adventure. Dave is a teacher at an outdoor centre on the Gulf of Mexico and they have several Drascombe Longboats which they use as a part of their outdoor programmes with children and young adults.
It was not a good start to their visit, they missed a connecting flight and got stuck in Chicago and arrived 10 hours late at Preveza, late in the evening, only to find that their luggage was not on the same flight! They only had the clothes that they wore for the trip, not even a toothbrush. Hey ho, that’s not good. The baggage handling company could not trace these bags immediately and it was not until the next morning that we discovered that one bag was still in Heathrow, and Dave’s bag was not traced! With 2018 technology it is frightening to think a bag can go missing and not be traceable. So it was a shopping trip to Lefkas for Pamela to buy some basic clothes, whilst Ionian Air got their act together and made the transfer of the one bag via Athens to Preveza which finally happened 3 days later.
In the hope that Dave’s bag would appear, they set off from the apartment at Poros to catch up with their itinerary of pre-booked overnight B&B’s, the first being on the island of Ithica in the beautiful village of Kioni. They had a 5-night booking at an Air B&B room called Theo Filos House, you must read Dave’s diary!
Alas, by the Sunday, just under a week after their arrival I had delivery at my base in Nidri of Dave’s travel dry bag. This was strapped up with a docking line, I added a spare fuel container and put it onto the car deck of the evening Frikes ferry, for his collection at the other end. This is a typical Greek way of transporting things around the Islands – a baker in the morning will arrive on his scooter at the ferry port and add his 10 trays of spinach pies and numerous bags of loaves of bread, all to be collected at the other end by the Taverna or hotel which they are meant for, no payment and no hassle. It works, this is the Greek Islands. Being American, Dave was amazed that this could happen ‘what if there was a bomb in that bag of mine?’ he exclaimed with incredulity!
So, now with all their worldly belongings they were finally set for their adventure around the islands of Lefkada, Ithica, Cephalonia, Kastos and lastly Kalamos in Heulwen my 2017 Lugger. There have always been small boarding houses or lodgings available, but it has been mainly hotels and apartments were you stayed for the entire duration, but just this year the new phenomena of Air B&B has hit Greece and the Islands from mainland Europe in a dramatic way, with usually booking for a minimum of 3 nights and room prices around €70. Some were 45 and the most expensive 90, but still great value. Read more in Dave’s diary which is to follow.
For the End of Season’s Diary I will have done more research on more Lodgings, rooms and places that have flexible booking periods for you all to look at and maybe plan your 2019 Island Hopping Lugger adventure.
Arriving on 10th July for the week were the ‘Family Foster’, Simon, Louise and 11 year old Matthew, known as ‘Matty’, all total beginners to sailing, although Matty had done a little with his school. This was my first group of Family Sailing for Beginners, a feature I intend to push for future years.
Having this unique geographical position of Vliho Bay, some 3 km long, it is south of Nidri, with north and south prevailing winds, light in the morning with freshening winds later on; it is a superb ‘large pond’ to learn to sail on. In the past Lugger groups when faced with blustery conditions out in the Meganissi channel have used the bay as an alternative, being quite sheltered for half-day sessions and pulling in for lunch at the Gialos Taverna. Why be uncomfortable when you can have a few hours of gentle sailing and then lunch on the waters edge. You simply cannot beat it.
The Family Foster had specifically come to Dragon Drascombe to learn to sail as a family, and what better boat to have to learn to sail in. I go back to my sail training times of working as an instructor for the Outward Bound Trust, Wales sailing school at Aberdovey, Merionethshire, in the early 1970s.
So where to start and what will be the objective? A plan is needed and I set out with the following:
- To introduce the group to theoretical aspects of sailing, how the wind on sail produces a reaction and forward motion.
- The terminology used in sailing, quite important when communicating amongst a group sailing a boat. Everyone needs to understand terms like port and starboard etc.
- The use of knots and how to rig the boat. I am aware that present sailing tuition does not enter into this field – it is all about putting people onto boats and using one sail, a rudder and a mainsheet, but this is not preparing young sailors in particular to move forward and understand the wider aspect of sailing.
- The Lugger in the true sense is a proper boat, it has 3 sails, 2 masts, a centre board, a rudder, an auxiliary engine and lots of bits of string to pull
- This set-up will provide the family group with all the tasks necessary to sail the boat as a group, each having the chance to Helm or to satisfy the varying functions of the crew, be it on the jib or main sheets or centre board duties etc, plenty to learn
- Finally, my objective was at the end of the 7 days to have the family competent in moving the Lugger under engine safely and being able to sail on all points of sailing, that is, sailing a triangular course, fully rigged.
Was this ambitious? Yes maybe, but it was achieved.
We started by getting the Lugger moving under engine, picking up fenders that were thrown overboard, promoting manoeuvrability skill, coming alongside and very important being able to get back onto Geni Garden pontoon, bow to with lazy line safely. The days were split into AM and PM sessions with an important break at lunch time at the Gialos Taverna for a much needed Meza and Mythos beer, all except Matty who was stuck on Fanta. It was good to have this break and run through how the session had gone and we found that after the break the PM period went much better – not sure if the Mythos had anything to do with it?
From my position in the tender, observing the family group, they were learning a great deal from each other. Matty soon became very proficient on the outboard tiller, being excellent at coming onto a lazy line and judging distance and speed. He was quick to show his mum how to do things, whilst Simon his dad, once over the ‘hurdle ‘ of understanding the effect the wind has on sail and the various sail positions, became the boat Skipper.
What a successful week! Matty was presented with the Dragon Drascombe T shirt on the final evening in recognition of his outstanding progress. Well done to The Family Foster. I thoroughly enjoyed the week and their company.
Thanks to everyone so far this summer for making Dragon Drascombe very successful and enjoyable.
2018 is not finished yet, there are still good package deals on offer for late August at the Villa Eleanor, one week amazing deals for the last week in September and first week of October at both Geni Garden and the Gialos Taverna. Take an early winter break with me for the few vacancies left for the first and second weeks in October. Don’t delay, call to discuss on
+44 7812 562579