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Letter of the year

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Letter of the Year 2007

Phil joined Captain Chandler on his sailing yacht, Koralia 3, for a 2 week Odyssey around the Greek islands, May 19 - June 02 2007. Here's what he had to say....


What a fortnight!

My toe is no longer purple and I thought it was fixed, but this morning I stubbed it on a folded sleeping bag on the floor and set it throbbing again, so maybe it's still a bit tender.

If we'd had the final day's wind every day it would have been perfect, but that would have left nothing to look forward to next time...and the arrival of the breeze in perfect time for the photographs meant that Poseidon was with us after all. Imagine if it had dropped to 5kts just then? It don't bare thinking a-boat!

This last two weeks I clocked up about 12 "firsts" and learned a hell of a lot...even gunkholing. (You must be tired of people rushing about the deck to look at dolphins!) I've come away feeling that two weeks isn't enough though. Perhaps it was because we were struggling for wind for the first few days that we started to feel compelled to sail whenever we got any...and that sort of switched me off the idea of spending whole days seeing sites, eg Mycenae. The Epidavros day was excellent: a quick injection of culture and then a sail, but the site was worth a full least for us history people.

Aside from the brilliantly timed increase in breeze from 16 - 22 knots and the charge up and down outside Agina on the final day, for me tacking into the bay at Serifos was the highpoint...even if we did blow the first tack into a total horror show. If we'd got that tack right I would have held on for another 100m...we'd still have had water and wind.

The move to the Peloponessos was a big call and I know you were frustrated when the wind didn't work out even there at first, but the places we stopped were absolutely right for our party. The tuna-buying and barbecue was a big success...even if the Scots did show up. At least they paddled off in their boat and looked silly.

In terms of constructive feedback, I can't really offer much. The Koralia III experience is already pretty polished. Would it be possible, d'you think, to persuade clients to give up their guidebooks and leaflets etc when they return from various sites, and leave them on the boat, or fetch extra copies to sit alongside the paperbacks? - a little library of guidebooks and leaflets. I thought this when we got back from Epidavros, but I'd paid 7E for my guidebook and I wanted a chance to read it properly. To have 24 hours to read the ship's copy of the Epidavros guidebook before we went there would give people a choice to save 7E but more crucially it would make the excursion better because the site would make a little sense up front, especially if you only have an hour or so to look around. The theatre is site No.29 of the Epidavros complex. You mentioned at one point that some people never get off the boat, and I was thinking that a library of guidebooks might inspire them, not to mention give them ideas on what to do and where to go, especially if there is no wind or the weather is too dreary to sail...or maybe guidebooks would do the opposite and people would just sit on the boat and look at the pictures.

Of our party, I got off the boat least...but I think that was because I was very comfortable on board, which speaks for itself, and the trips I wanted to do (Mycenae most obviously, and Epidavros easily for another three or four hours!) were "whole day" affairs. Two weeks just isn't long enough! ...or rather, it isn't long enough for the clients. I'm guessing it's long enough for you. Whatever people say about the best job in the world, I think you pay a high price for sea, sun and sails, and we were grateful for that.

I hope very much to be able to put together something for August, but...and the but is sizeable...I'm looking at the schedule and working out that I would need a minimum of six working days' leave, and as of this moment I only have an entitlement of five left for the rest of the year until January 1st. (I can't leave work in the afternoon and fly out the same evening...or rather, I could but the total journey time to Athens was 12 hours, and it isn't going to be quicker to Lesvos. I'd arrive for the training day at breakfast time, having been at work and travelling for 24 hours).

A couple of months ago I also agreed to sail with my friend Phil to Alderney and Sark in the second half of August, and if I duck-out it means he has only one other crew member for the Channel overnight. It's not a trip I'm hugely keen to spend leave-days on (certainly not compared to the Regatta), but he was short of crew so I said I would go.

I will have to wrestle with both my conscience and my boss and see what can be done. I'm owed a lot of extra hours (like about 10 days worth!!)...we'll see...

Moving the half litre of Greek honey into my main luggage and wrapping it in a towel did not actually work too well. Two thirds of the jar leaked into my clothes, spread all over my life-jacket, coated my snap shackles, and even slid between the pages of my log book. Thank God honey is soluble in water...but it was interesting this morning trying to soak a life-jacket without setting the thing off!

Even as I type, the washing machine has come to a stop...and I will now inspect the first load of stuff.

When I've loaded the second, I will be able to take my kit bag into the bathroom and hose out the inside.

Martin, Mamma and I went to Sainsbury's this morning... Greek (definitely, we checked) extra virgin olive oil is 7.5E for half a litre. If I keep up the regime of half a cup a day, I will go broke.

Ain't life grand...?


(Phil C, from the UK).


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