I have been away for over a week as a hostess on a yacht charter and I thought you would like to share my trip with me.
I did not have long to prepare for this charter as having finished another one in Turkish waters on the Wednesday, I was asked the same day if I would be available to do this one starting on Friday of the same week. Life is always all or nothing for me but I love it!
Anyway, here is a glimpse into my week cruising around the Greek Islands with the wonderful Major family.
Friday 13th July.
I caught the infamous village bus in to Marmaris early in the morning and Dave picked me up from the bus station. This was the first time I had met Dave who was going to be the Captain on this charter but straightaway I knew we would get on well. We went down to the marina and boarded our home for the next few days.
The yacht was called ‘Lady Sara’ and was around 50 feet long with 4 guest cabins. After stocking the yacht with a few provisions for the journey, we set off for Bodrum where we were going to take our guests on board.
I spent some of the time learning where everything was in the yacht, making beds and preparing for our guests.
We decided to stop off in Knidos for the night after an 8 hour sail arriving early evening. I practiced my anchor skills successfully and after a quick supper, Dave and I had our last full nights sleep for the coming week! By the end of the first day, it seemed we had known each other for ever. Nothing to do with the fact that I am a chatterer, poor guy!
Saturday 14th July
We (or rather I) pulled up the anchor very early in the morning and we sailed for the next 3 hours to Bodrum. Once we were in the marina, which meant grabbing lazy lines, throwing ropes and putting fenders in place, we could turn off the engine.
Armed with my shopping list for the next week, we made our way to the local supermarket and staggered back to the yacht with all our purchases. This included too many diet Cokes for Dave as this is what keeps him going!
Around 3pm, the Major family arrived at the yacht. They all came aboard with their luggage and the fun began. Let me introduce you to my guests. Firstly, we have parents James and Sally Major, then sons Johnny (29), Edward, known as Ed (28), Ginny (23) and Harry (18)…along with Richard ( Ginny’s boyfriend) and Amy (Johnny’s girlfriend). A livelier bunch of people you could not meet and I knew instantly this was going to be a fun trip.
The cabins were decided, bags stowed and with everyone with a drink, Dave went through our itinerary and what a great week we had to look forward to. We planned to be at a different island every day, so a lot of sailing, which the family were really looking forward to experiencing.
Dave then took all the passports to go and start the ‘booking out of Turkey’ procedures. I spent some time getting to know everyone and to emphasize that I was there to look after them for the week and nothing was too much trouble. I am sure for Sally, this must have been a wonderful thought after looking after all her family over the years!
I soon learned how everyone like their tea, coffee and what they didn’t eat, as I would be providing breakfast and lunch every day. James liked his coffee quite strong with milk, Ginny liked her mint tea, sometimes Johnny wanted sugar, other days not, depending on his mood. (more dependent on his alcohol consumption the night before!) By the end of the trip, I had it down to perfection!
The plan was to stay in Bodrum for the night and set off early the next morning. So my guests showered, dressed and left us to go and find a restaurant for dinner. Dave and I had a quick supper and then also went for a wander. It seemed to be a wine tasting weekend near the marina but I resisted, knowing a hangover would not help the next morning!
When we got back to the yacht, everyone was already back from dinner and well into the wine and beers on board. Luckily we had three fridges and they stayed full the whole trip! We all sat around chatting, giving me the chance to get to know what everyone did for a living and where they lived. All the guys then decided they needed to go for another try of the ‘free wines’ so the rest of us called it a night.
I quickly realized that this trip was just going to be like when I had sleep overs for my sons with all their friends: so much fun! Dave did not have a cabin, so he slept on deck and I was sleeping in a ‘hole’ that I had to climb down into, by the anchor hold.
It was a very warm night and I got woken up early hours of the morning by a drunken Turkish argument on a nearby motor yacht. Eventually drifted off for another couple of hours of welcome sleep.
Sunday 15th July
I got up early while everyone was sleeping to start preparing breakfast. As there were only 4 cabins, all the couples had taken one and Ed and Harry decided not to share. So Ed had the cabin and Harry had a made up bed on the seating in the salon. It really reminded me how an 18 year old can sleep through anything! There I am banging pots and pans (not on purpose) and dear Harry doesn’t even turn over.
Eventually, as all the family drifted in for breakfast, we had to wake Harry up as they all needed to sit around the table. I laid the food out as a buffet and soon realized they all had good appetites. There were cereals, cheeses, cold meats, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, eggs, honey, jams and wonderful warm fresh bread. At the end, not even a few crumbs for the fish. Just how I like it!
Dave came back with all the paperwork and passports so we could leave Bodrum to head for Greece. The boys and James soon showed that they would be ‘hands on’, helping with fenders, lines and the anchor, it was a great help. We left the marina and headed for a secluded bay where everyone could have a swim.
The anchor was dropped again and everyone dived into the wonderful clear blue sea. After the swim we upped anchor and set off for Kos, our destination for the evening.
James and the boys were really keen to get the sails up, so after a few instructions from Dave, they were hoisted and it was great. Plenty of wind with James at the helm, bodies scattered everywhere with their books and suntan creams. They were all in heaven!
By mid afternoon, we were approaching Kos harbor so the sails were brought down and lines and fenders ready. By the time we were tied up on the harbor wall, lunch was ready.
My chicken and salads went down a treat followed by lots of fruit. There are going to be a lot of hungry fish on this trip if they are waiting for me to feed them the leftovers!
Later in the afternoon, everyone went off to explore Kos while David met up with the booking agent to get all our paperwork in order. We were now officially in Greece! I topped up on water and fresh supplies for the next few days.
My guests drifted back and we all sat around chatting before they all showered and changed to go off for dinner. Dave and I had quick showers and left the boat to go and find a cold beer. I then went for a wander around the old town and Dave went off to find a musician friend of his who entertained the tourists. I got back to the yacht before anyone else and was enjoying sitting on deck quietly with my book.
All of a sudden, the owner of the yacht next to me was running around his deck, armed with a hooked pole and screaming. Next minute, a guy on the shore has jumped aboard and is also running around. Then I see a huge rat and realizing how close our boat is, I am panicking in case it decides to escape to our yacht. I told the owner where it was and he attacked it and it disappeared on to the yacht the other side of him. This one was closed up so I hope it didn’t get inside, as they do so much damage.
Anyway, everything went quiet and the guy next door closed all his hatches and went to bed. I sat on the deck trying to read my book, but I was on ‘Rat Alert’. Sally came back on her own and we sat and chatted. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her about the rat, I didn’t think it was a good start to the cruise. I decided I would tell her a few days later when I knew it hadn’t become an ‘extra unwelcome guest’.
Eventually Sally and I went to bed, as goodness knows when the others will stagger back. I did not sleep well that night, thinking that maybe a rat would drop down in to my sleeping place. Got woken up early hours of the morning by drunken youngsters who had ‘borrowed’ a small boat from the other side of the harbor and motored over to ours. Lots of shouting by the angry boat owner and police. Joys of tourists!!
Monday 16th July
Breakfast is prepared and slowly my guests emerge. Sally and James are up followed eventually by Johnny, Amy, Ed, Harry, Rich and Ginny but not particularly in that order. They are all feeling very fragile so they obviously enjoyed their night out in Kos. This did not stop them enjoying their breakfast which I was happy to see. I would rather feed them than the fish!
Today we were heading for Nisiros, which is a volcanic island with two huge craters, but on the way, we stopped in another secluded bay for a swim and lunch. Lunch cleared, we were on our way with the sails up.
Ginny and Amy had got in to the routine of laying on the front of the boat with their books and sails flapping around was not going to deter them. You would see them hanging on for dear life as the yacht swayed over from one side to the other. This was going to be a well earned suntan for each of them!
Approaching Nisiros, it was time to bring in the sails and all the boys along with dad are becoming quite the experts, as well as taking their turn on the helm. We arrived around 5ish to a tiny harbor with just a couple of restaurants, market and bakery on the waterfront and only a thousand local inhabitants. It was ‘beer hour’, as it came to be known on this trip, but I have to say, that could have been any hour of the day by the end of our week. Sitting on deck with a drink, nibbles and my fun
company just did not seem like work for a brief while. We all showered, changed and headed for one of the few restaurants for dinner. Sally and James have asked Dave and myself to join them for dinner which is great. It’s a long time since I have eaten in Greece and I had a craving for Moussaka.
There we were enjoying a drink ,waiting for our food when two yachts full of Russians docked opposite the restaurant. Within minutes, about twenty Russians appeared, all in navy and white striped T shirts. Out came their cameras but then they needed someone else to take their photos so nobody was left out.
In I stepped! But then there were two cameras, one digital, one SLR and they wanted photos taken from an angle with me almost laying on the ground, as the flags must be included! David Bailey, eat your heart out! Half an hour later, a very happy group of Russians said thank you and wandered off to find their vodka.
After a lovely dinner, we split up and I wandered around the bay with the girls. We found some delicious ice cream to finish off our evening before returning to our yacht. I left all the youngsters on deck as no chance of them finding a nightclub here. I went to sleep listening to an amazing local musician playing Vivaldi’s 4 Seasons on his violin. Quite magical.
Tuesday 17th July.
I made an early breakfast as we had decided to hire a couple of cars for the morning and head up to find the volcanic crater. It was crazy to leave here without seeing it. As we drove up the mountain, you could smell it first, a strong sulphur smell just like bad eggs. Not a good smell in the heat of the day!
We arrived and walked over to the crater’s edge. Fortunately, it has not been active for thousands of years. Amazing how blaze we have become, there we are looking inside a volcanic crater and it’s “Okay, seen it, what’s next?”
Well, it was another drive to the really picturesque village at the top of the mountain. Beautiful views, winding streets with white washed homes and a little museum passed another pleasant hour.
Back into the cars, we wound our way back down the mountains to the harbor. Once on board, I prepared lunch while Sally and James went off in the car to take photos and a few minutes peace, I am sure! Lunch eaten by all and it was time to set sail for Tilos, our evening destination.
We had a few hours of sailing ahead of us and what a sail. With Richie on the helm, we hit the top speed of the week so far of 10.1 knots helped along by a force 7 gale! Ginny and Amy really had to hang on tight today. Harry took his turn on the helm and was an absolute natural. This was the best sail so far this week.
Then we had Ed with his theatrics! Telling stories about how he was traumatized as a child when out on a boat with a friend of his father’s, it capsized, trapping him underneath. Next minute, Ed is wearing his life jacket, clinging desperately on to the rails, laying flat on the floor, head in his hands if he was brave enough to take his fingers of the rails!
It was an ‘Oscar’ performance and had us all in fits of laughter. I soon realized that Ed was our resident comic for the week. Couldn’t wait for his next performance!
With the sails pulled in ( no easy task today), we had Tilos in sight. The island is famous for its extinct elephants. Apparently the story is that when Tilos separated from mainland Asia Minor, a group of elephants were trapped on the island. The remains of dwarf elephants were found in a cave, the adults only being 4ft high. No one is sure if they were hunted to extinction or ran out of food.
On getting close to the small harbor, we were told there was no room as they were expecting the huge ferry and it was staying overnight. It meant we had to drop anchor outside along with quite a few other boats. By the evening, the wind hadn’t dropped. We decided that James would take the dingy over with all his family for dinner in the town. He had to do two journeys there and back as he could only take 4 at a time. I think it was a bit like a roller coaster ride in a theme park.
Dave and I had to stay on the yacht in case the anchor dragged and we found ourselves too near another boat. Apparently Sally got so wet going over, she had to go straight in to a clothes shop and buy a dress. I am glad she did, as she looked lovely in what she chose.
Anyway, they had a nice dinner and all arrived safely back to clamber on board ‘Lady Sara.’ I made Sally and James coffee and they retired for the evening. Dave and I sat with the kids and played some great ‘mind’ games, i.e., movie stars, films, etc. Eventually I said goodnight and went off to bed. Absolutely no chance of sleep as the anchor was snapping every few minutes in the wind until I could almost time it!
Wednesday 18th July.
We all woke up early, Johnny and Amy offered to take the dingy over to buy fresh bread for breakfast and lunch. By the time they returned, everyone enjoyed breakfast with extras of poached or scrambled eggs. I am excelling myself on this charter! Only Sally declines as she has never enjoyed eating or cooking eggs.
We are heading for a long sail to Simi today. It was still really windy so I decided to make lots of sandwiches for lunch. There was no way I could be in the galley safely to do a complex lunch. The sailing was great with everyone taking turns on the helm.
Dave was wonderful, he let everyone have a go but was always watching for the slightest problem. We did come close a couple of times but he soon got thing back under control. The sandwiches went down well, I couldn’t have made them fast enough!
Later, Johnny decided to lay on the step at the back of the boat which was giving his girlfriend Amy heart failure. In the end, poor James had to play dad and order him back in. Shame, as Johnny was enjoying it but we were heading for World War 111, with Dave and I watching from the sidelines! It so reminded me of my two sons, James and Richard. Glad to see all families are the same.
Eventually it was time to pull in the sails, no easy task today, and we had Simi harbor in sight. We had docked on the monastery side of the island in Panormitis and it was beautiful. Built around 1740 in sandy colored stone with earlier structures incorporated, it had a huge Venetian winged lion over the main entrance.
The monastery is said to have been founded when a local farmer’s wife found an icon of Archangel St Michael under a mastic tree. She took the icon home, but in the morning it had disappeared. She found it again under the tree in Panormos. This happened three more times, after which she realized that it wanted to be in Panormos, so the church was built. It is a shrine to sailors even though St Nicholas is actually the patron saint of sailors in Greece.
We all left our yacht to go and explore and take lots of photos, then back to get ready for dinner tonight. James and Sally left with their family to visit the one restaurant in the bay. Back on the yacht, it was not a late night for any of us.
Thursday 19th July.
Woke up to another brilliant blue sky and hot day. Breakfast over, we motored around to the other side of Simi as the family needed urgent access to the internet. Cruising in to Simi is truly wonderful. It is such a pretty harbor, with little colored houses climbing up the mountainsides. As soon as we were tied up safely to the jetty, James and his family left to go and find cold beers and internet. Dave and I got connected to electricity, filled the water tanks and bought some more fresh supplies.
I prepared lunch for when my wanderers returned and then later they all went for a swim around the other side of the bay. After I had cleared lunch, tidied up the boat and got rid of the rubbish, I ventured off the boat to explore this pretty Greek town. By the time I returned, many more yachts had arrived, including a couple of huge motor yachts. It’s a very popular destination. We were also told a 97 meter private yacht was due in that evening so we were all trying to guess who it could belong to.
My guests , showered and dressed, left the boat to go and eat in one of the many wonderful restaurants that Simi can boast. After I had fed Dave and myself, I also wanted to explore the town again. I found an amazing gallery selling artwork in every medium by Greek artists. The Sophia Gallery was heaven to me; I love to see what artists can create from nothing.
Later, I met up with Amy and Ginny in a bar to notice some Greeks playing backgammon. Now, you may not know this, but I love this game. I also have a reputation of winning a lot of games. They saw I was interested and asked if I played. I told them I did and was invited to join them.
The Greeks actually play a set of three games, each one different. I only knew the first one, but hey, I am an adventurous girl! Unfortunately, I did not have my reading glasses so I couldn’t see the numbers on the dice very clearly. But my Greek hero , whose place I had taken, confirmed the numbers for me. I won the first game!. The second game I lost, but it was totally new to me. The third game, which I was learning as I went along, I won! Time to say thank you to my lovely new Greek friends after mumbling ‘Beginners Luck.’
I went back to our yacht having had a great evening, to meet everyone else on deck feeling the same. The 97 meter yacht never came so we never did find out which celebrity was on board!
Friday 20th July.
This is our last full day together so we wanted it to be a good one. After another big breakfast, we pulled up anchor and headed for Rhodes via another beautiful bay on the way for a swim. As you enter the bay, you see soaring cliffs and the most beautiful clear blue sea going down very deep.
Everyone quickly jumped overboard to enjoy the cool water. Dave and I stay on board to do a few jobs around the boat and I prepare my last lunch for my guests. It is not going to be a leftovers lunch, so I pull out the stops. They all come back hungry and once again the fish starve!
Soon, it’s time to head for Rhodes and we know this is going to be a great sail as there is plenty of wind! As we leave the bay, we see our huge 97 meter yacht in the next bay, obviously liking the seclusion. It looked liked a mini cruise ship!
Amy and Ginny head to the decks to top up their tans, Sally likes to sit at the front of the boat in peace, and the guys get ready to take their turn at the helm along with hoisting sails. I think this was the best sail of the week, with a record breaking 10.4 knots!
A few hours later, we have Rhodes harbor in view. It’s a tough time getting all the sails in but we do it in record time. We head for our reserved place in the harbor and before long, we are tied up. Dave goes off to see his agent to get our paperwork in order and James and the gang go off to explore Rhodes. I tidy up the boat and take a well deserved cup of tea on deck with my book.
Everyone wanders back to join me and chat over a great week with all its memorable moments. This evening, Dave and I have been invited to dinner with James and his family, so early evening we all leave the yacht to go in to old Rhodes town. I love this place: amazing architecture and wonderful atmosphere. We all have a great last dinner together and then Dave and I leave the family to their last evening in Greece for a while.
We wander back to ‘Lady Sara’ having felt we have given the Major family a great week. Sally and James return first to join us on deck. Sitting there with our drinks, the rest of the gang arrive. But shortly, the four boys get fidgety again and disappear in to the night! They reappear with the sunrise in the morning and fall into bed long after we have all retired!
Saturday 21st July.
The one thing the boys forgot about last night, was that they were leaving the boat around 10:30am. Dave and I are sailing back to Marmaris and the Majors have to hang around Rhodes until early evening before heading for their flight back to England.
They did not want to get up! Poor James had to keep knocking on doors, telling them to pack and shower. And that was before they ate breakfast. Apparently I made the best scrambled eggs today out of the whole week!
Before long, it was time to see our guests off the yacht. We had at least arranged for them to leave all their bags with the agent until the evening, so that made their lives a little easier over the day. I am sure the boys were just going to go and look for somewhere to sleep!
We exchanged emails and said our goodbyes to our wonderful guests. Soon, Dave and I were sailing back to Turkey, heading for Marmaris. Early evening found us tied up in the Marina and me being dropped back to the bus station, exhausted but happy. I said my fond farewells to Dave and hope that I will have another chance to work with this great Captain.
A few days later.
What a week that was, filled with fun, laughter, family dynamics and wonderful locations. I know James and his family will read this, so I would just like to add a few extra words just for them. Firstly, James and Sally, you have done a wonderful job bringing up your family. Each one is a credit to you both as parents.
Ed, I loved you for your whacky humor and I hope the offer is still there to help me with my ‘Twitter.’
Johnny and Amy, I enjoyed our chats and I hope the move to London goes well for both of you. Also, Johnny, I hope your meeting goes well with my James.
Ginny and Richard, you are a lovely couple and good fun. Thank you Richard, for being my constant ‘anchor man’ and also for giving us such memorable facial expressions when you were at the helm.
Then to darling Harry, last but not least. I send you a special hug, you had a lot to deal with on this trip but you coped so well. I was very proud of you. I am sorry I did not get to teach you backgammon, but maybe there will be another time.
Bye for now but hope we will all meet again.
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