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Sailing in Greece
A Family Cruise of a Lifetime

Sailing the Greek Islands: A Family Cruise of a Lifetime

by Tim Aquilina

For 7 days in July of 2005 I took my family on the cruise of lifetime. We sailed to the Greek islands on a yacht skippered by the most wonderful person, Stefan Ritcher. His first mate, Soulis was the perfect accompaniment. These two showed us the best vacation we've ever experienced.

Sailing in the Greek islands

Sailing in Greece: Stefen Richter When we landed in Athens, Stefan was there to pick us up at the airport and drive us to the boat, Caraya II in the port town of Lavrion. We immediately set sail for the island of Kea where we met with an old friend, Matt Barrett. Kea is one of the Cyclades islands and is closest to Athens so it didn't take long to get there at all. Over dinner we planned our sailing itinerary, and then retired to the boat for a good night of sleep in the harbor. The first day we sailed to the Cycladic island of Serifos, but first stopped along the way for a swim off a secluded bay near the island of Kithnos. This was the first in what I can only describe as 'the best way' to experience swimming in the Agean, or anywhere else for that matter. After our swim, Soulis prepared the most delicious omelette and Greek salad. I had never tasted anything so delicious. This was another first in what became a series of the culinary delights, each one better than the previous.

Afterwards we sailed to the port at Serifos where we rode a bus to the top of a mountain to visit a Church overlooking the bay for an incredibly beautiful sunset. Once nightfall arrived we returned to the harbor and had a tasty meal at a waterfront taverna which Soulis and Stefan had recommended. The next morning we set sail back to the island of Kithnos, and docked in a quiet little harbor where we had another fantastic meal consisting of the most deliciously fresh fish. Stefan and Soulis were right alongside us to help us with ordering and translating, they turned out to be much more than just skipper and firstmate.

Sailing in Greece The very next morning we sailed to
Sifnos , an island my friend Matt Barrett had highly recommended. It was at Sifnos where I met Tony, the owner of a really entertaining bar called the Old Captain. Tony bought us a round of drinks and told stories of 'the good old days' in the early 80's when Matt's band had played there. He had pictures on the wall by the bar, too many to count of not only Matt, but just about everyone who had passed through this elusive place in timeless Cyclades wonderment. Tony also recommended a great Italian restaurant so after drinks we headed for the restaurant Da Claudios where we encountered another savory delight. Stefan had checked the weather report at a nearby internet cafe and was concerned about north winds bringing weather to the Cyclades so we decided to change our itinerary and head for safer waters in the Argo-Sargonic Gulf. In the morning we headed for the island of Hydra. It was a long sail to Hydra from Sifnos, but the 'Ancient Sea Spirits'  provided us with fortuitous winds and we made it there in no time at all.

Sailing into Hydra, Greece We loved
Hydra . I think we had the most fun there. It's different from the Cyclades in many respects, from appearance to culture. It's a more polpular island so the harbor is more crowded than what we found on the previous islands. The port captain at Hydra is a colorful man and earns his keep. He's a short, stocky guy with a massive grey beard who I saw jump into the harbor to unscramble the 'anchor spaghetti' that can sometimes occur owing to close quarters of the boats. His name is Pan and he's not to be missed shouting orders at the boats as they navigate into 'his' realm of Hydra magic. We were so charmed by this place that we decided to stay an additional day so my daughter Sue could rent a balcony room overlooking the harbor to paint. While here Stefan and Soulis not only showed us the best places to eat and shop, but they took us to a nightclub for the 'best night' of the trip. We drank ouzo and danced into the wee hours of the night.

Sailing into Poros, Greece After Hydra we sailed to the island of
Poros , another in the Argo-Sargonic Gulf where once again Stefan showed us the most incredible place to swim anchored near some ancient, elusive island that was only large enough to house a small church. It was here that I swam to the place from our boat and explored timeless sands of the ancients. After a night on Poros we sailed back to the mainland at Cape Sounion where we anchored in the bay and rode a small dinghy to shore and climbed the hill to the temple of Poseidon where we watched the most fantastic sunset. There was a small crowd there at the temple which actually appluaded  the moment the sun went down beyond the horizon. It wasn't like any sunset I had ever experienced. After nightfall and dinner we returned to the boat which was anchored in the bay and went for a night swim which was the perfect 'last' swim of our trip. The moon was full and you could see the temple lit from above. It was more than perfect.

We had been met earlier by Stefan's charming wife and handsome little two year old son for dinner at the taverna in Sounion so it was a real pleasure to see him in his element as 'family' man, a perfect closure to our odyssey.

The next morning they brought us ashore one more time by dinghy for what turned out to be a sincerely tearful and heartfelt departure. For these two turned out to be much more than just skipper and firstmate.  They had became our friends for a lifetime.

(Tim sailed with Stefan again in 2009. For more information on Stefan see Sailing with Stefan Richter )

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