April 17th I met Susie and her fiance Dom at Stansted Airport. It was one of those reunions you see on TV. The last time we saw each other was over 10 years. Our relationship was that of sisters when I lived in England. Everything that came out of our mouths was exactly the same. It was like talking to myself in the mirror. We headed out to meet the owner of the B&B who was picking us up at the airport. Our flight Wednesday was very early a 4:30am wake-up. The first thing the woman said when she saw us was "Are you girls sisters?" we heard that all the time in England.
April 18th, arrived in Lamezia where I met Susie's Father/Captain Tom and his girlfriend/Yacht Mate Ann. Tom and Ann another similarity for Susie and I. We drove directly to the port of Sibari where the Yacht was docked.
Sibari Marnia began in 1979 and aims to be one of the largest marinas in Italy. Sibari = "sybaritic"
We stayed in Sibari for 2 nights waiting for the channel to be dredged.
As we unpacked our clothes on the boat, in very small Tupperware containers, Susie pulled out her perfume-D&G Light Blue exactly what I use!
April 20th the true journey begins. We left Sibari at 9am and sailed 38 miles. Very cold, no wind motoring the whole way. Stayed in Ciro for the evening. We had a nice meal at a local restaurant. I was told most of our meals would be eaten on the boat. Where I slept doubled as the table during the day and my bed at night. It was quite a learning experience from Day 1. I was the only person on the boat who had never sailed. I was able to get a run in early morning through the streets of Ciro. It's always a great time/way to explore and see the sights while the rest of the town sleeps.
April 21 left Ciro at 7:30 and sailed 58 miles to Santa Maria Di Leuca.
Santa Maria Di Leuca = White Limestone Cliffs, the Greek leucos meaning "white". The monumental stone staircase by the harbour was built by Mussolini as a ceremonial gateway into Italy. The wind was kicking and it was perfect, all sails up, top speed of 8.3 knots that day. As Susie said "Now this is Proper Sailing!"
It was a great little town. The smells, the sights and a beautiful harbour. We climbed the steps, that evening while the sun set, even Susie, she was a real trooper. You would never have known she was pregnant except for the midday naps should would take in the cabin. The running was even more picturesque then the day before.
April 22nd out at 8:00, sailed 48 miles to Nisoi Othoni, Greece. We anchored for the night. Another interesting experience. The wind was so strong that night we weren't sure if the anchor would hold. The captain stayed up most of the night watching and listening. Truth be told the whole crew was awake swaying and listening to the wind and waves crash into the boat.
April 23rd shortest sail of the trip 26 miles to Corfu Town. We docked at the N.A.O.K Yacht Club. The most popular Nautical Club of Corfu. Kids learning sailing in the smallest sunfish sail boats I have ever seen.
It was finally time to do some sight seeing. We would be in town 2 nights before heading to the mainland. What we didn't know until we got there is that we were in the "town" nowhere near a beach. It was not the Corfu I had visited many years ago.
Susie, Dom and I walked the streets, hit many shops & had a great lunch. I discovered one of the greatest clothing stores!! They carry a line of clothes called "Nice Day" - fab-bought one shirt. If Susie hadn't walked in I would have bought half the store. The chances of me ever finding that brand again will be slim to none. Group dinner that night. It was our thank you to Susie's Dad & Ann for having us on the boat. The restaurant was rather disappointing to be truthful but I didn't choose it which was half the problem.
April 24th 2nd day in Corfu. AM run and then another day of exploring. I went on my own this time which I much prefer. At this point I was tired of being the 3rd wheel. Mental note- (never again will I take a trip where I am the odd man out) I hit the side streets and found some super little shops hidden within the winding rows and rows of Greek houses. I bought a very cool bracelet made out of coral.
The last sail was upon us Wednesday AM. Headed to the mainland where I would depart from the crew. At this point I was about ready to get back. I never realized however how much of journey there was still to go....
April 25 - 56 miles Preveza, Greek mainland.
Each night on the boat someone made dinner. Dom and I had been able to get out of it due to our lack of cooking skills until the last night. Apparently Dom knew we were in charge and forgot to tell me. Good Lord - -can you imagine me cooking, not just cooking in general but with very limited resources and space to do it. I thought all day about it, Dom was zero help. I put him in charge of going to the store and getting me as many fresh vegetable as he could, olives, bread and cheese. I have to say I surprised myself.....I made bruschetta they could not stop raving about and pasta primavera.
Dom supervised for the most part and somehow on the Alba Voyager blog ended up getting all the credit. It was good fun.
April 26th was my day to head off. I needed to make my way to Athens for my flight back to London. I was able to sort out a hotel room that morning and figure out the bus schedule. I boarded a bus Thursday afternoon for a 6 hour journey to Athens. The scenery was spectacular. Arriving Athens on the bus my next challenge was to find a taxi driver who could speak English and get me to my hotel. I was absolutely dying for a shower. During the sail it was hit or miss if the marina would have a shower or even bathrooms for that matter. Upon arrival I was happy to see it was a decent hotel and there was some type of festival taking place in the square close by. I think I showered for an hour. All my clothes were dirty and smelled like a musty boat but I felt a 100 x's better. I walked the city that night. I happened to be in the heart of the shopping district and it was full of activity so It was a great time to simply walk and people watch. I disciplined myself to only 2 purchases: MAC blush which I was just about out of and Nag Champa incense which I was so psyched to stumble upon. I planned on saving my shopping for the weekend in London.
April 27th I boarded yet another bus for an hour to get to the Athens airport. Boats, Buses, Taxis, Planes, Trains and The Tube, I believe I covered just about every mode of transportation possible on this journey.
LONDON - I love it.......my hotel was in the Kensignton section of London not far from Harrod's and Hyde Park. Running Hyde Park was breathtaking. I was hoping to hang with a friend who I had met there a few weeks earlier but unfortunately he was working for the weekend in Liverpool. No worries I made the best of the weekend. The weather was incredible! I went to the Natural History and V&A Museum. I also decided if I was going to shop I needed to get rid of the dirty sailing clothes that filled my duffel bag which was now another appendage to my body. I took a bag of clothes to the "Royal Post" and shipped them off to Spain. Freedom to shop - Gap, H&M, Next, Boots, Marks & Spencers so many to choose from. I could not let myself think about the prices since the $ is so stinking weak against the GBP right now. The time in London was worth every penny!
April 29th another 4AM wake up. Gatwick to Gibraltar and the journey was coming to an end. Jess, Erik, Carla and Burnsie were picking me up in Tangier. The weekend I'm away and they decide to spend the night in Tangier and go to the Casino - go figure. Lucky for me I would have a ride back to Cabo Negro. There's plenty of time to back to Tangier.
Was the trip what I had expected..NOT- or maybe I truly didn't stop and think what a sailing trip would be like from Southern Italy to Greece. 244 total nautical miles sailed. The crew was a melting pot in itself regardless of anything else that took place during those 8 days. 2 Scots, a Brit from Yorkshire, a Pol and an American. A captain who has been sailing for many years and is the master of his ship. Different personalities, cultures & lifestyles but in the end another chapter in my book. One that I most likely would not have been able to to add if it was not for my move to Morocco.
The link below will direct you to Shutterfly where I have posted the photos from my trip.
ENJOY - - Sailing April 2007