I think the boldest travel decision my friends and I have ever made was to charter a yacht, something average budgeted travelers like us wouldn’t normally consider as an option.
We wanted to enjoy Greece by sailing its islands and originally set to go on a small and intimate cruise on a motorsailer, but the schedules didn’t work out so the idea of a yacht charter came up. The thought of having control of the itinerary, the freedom to choose what and when to eat, avoiding crowds, where to swim was very appealing.
Ignorant of how it worked, it took us almost a year of planning; finding a reliable broker, meticulously reviewing the terms of the contract and resumes of the crew as if we knew what qualifications to look for. The entire process was an adventurous and a learning experience in itself for first timers like us. I believe the part we enjoyed the most was selecting meal options, the types of dishes and fruits, desserts and even the brand of wine, soda and beer.
We definitely could not afford a super yacht, the one that had a chopper, wood-paneled carpeted hallways and a Jacuzzi; instead we chartered the more modest catamaran but we were spoiled and pampered nevertheless. George our skipper and Eva our hostess were very nice, attentive and professional all throughout.
The catamaran was surprisingly very comfortable and spacious with six cabins each with its own head and wash basin and shower. There was a chase boat, a vast partly open-air salon and a U-shaped spacious galley and a wide deck.
The fridge was well-stocked with a variety of beverages.
Food was fresh, prepared and cooked everyday by Eva, who herself picked ingredients from markets wherever we stopped.
We specifically requested an all-Greek diet for the entire duration of the trip and mealtimes were affairs we looked forward to everyday.
Mornings were my favorite and it became a ritual to sit on deck to watch the sunrise. I remember the one when we were anchored off the coast of Agia Marina. It was simply stunning.
I don’t know what it is about the Aegean but its waters are amazingly clear and blue. So inviting that even if it was a bit cold by my standards, I jumped in to join my friends for a swim in a quiet cove.
Each of the islands and villages we visited in the Saronic Gulf were beautiful and charming and the docks were clean and odorless. Unlike what I’m used to seeing back home where there’s usually floating trash or grease in the water.
Poros was colorful with traditional homes and cobbled streets.
In the evening, it was nice to watch the lively waterfront lined with cafes and shops while we relaxed and exchanged stories over drinks in our boat’s salon.
The following day we sailed to Hydra, a very picturesque island filled with red-tiled stone houses and traffic free narrow cobbled stone alleys. Transport is only by donkey or water taxi. Unfortunately the harbor was crowded and we couldn’t dock.
We also spent a night in Ermioni, another tiny but colorful village so tranquil and unspoiled it took us only half a day to explore it. Dinner we had on a restaurant on a hill by the waterfront was lovely. The locals were friendly , some took the time to chat with me.
The island of Aegina, known for its crops of pistachio was the largest we visited. We spent nights docked on three of its villages, Agia marina, Aegina town and Perdika, a small and quiet and another pretty fishing village with traditional small tavernas and bars.
Through the help of George, we got a taxi and got to visit the Monastery Agios Nektarios and the temple of Athena from where we could already see the coast of Athens.
For six days, life was blissful, entertaining, relaxing and peaceful. Each of us had our favorite spot and I loved lounging on the net to sunbathe, stargaze or just simply feel the breeze as we sailed the Saronic Gulf.
I enjoyed each day tremendously, including the hilarious misadventures; like when we were lounging on the net and accidentally swallowed salt water and beer when a big wave slammed the boat on our first day as we sailed from Athens or when I had to spend a night in a hotel in Methana when the boat got too shaky that it made me dizzy; So typical of the inexperienced but adventurous.
On our last night, we popped champagne to celebrate a wedding anniversary and the memorable experience shared with very good friends.
Our very reliable and trustworthy broker was:
Barrington Hall Yacht Charters – http://www.yachtsbhc.com