After logging 2,046 nautical miles in 150 days; would we do it all again? Without a doubt! It’s been a steep learning curve with countless novel experiences – mostly pleasurable; some stressful; a small handful somewhat terrifying. Despite the ups and downs, Xela was returned completely unscathed and probably in better shape than when we first boarded her – thanks to the intensive maintenance schedule! We’ve learned a lot – including how much there is yet to learn. We’ve learned to love and respect a good anchor. We’ve learned what we want and don’t want in a boat. Everything is a compromise in finding the ideal boat but we now lean more towards security and reliability over comfort – although there is a limit to that formula! However, there is little doubt that confidence in ones boat is the most important part of a complicated equation. We’ve learned that the Med weather, while generally benign, deserves a healthy respect as it can bite you – sometimes unexpectedly. It can also be very frustrating for the sailor (ie too much or none at all at times). August is to be avoided if possible – May and September were our favourite months (despite the somewhat more unsettled weather). Next time we’d park the boat and find a quiet place (if it exists in Europe) to escape the August madness and charter boat circus. We’ll certainly be back for more – the Eastern Aegean and Turkey are next on our list – hopefully sooner rather than later.
- Clearest water in the Med: Toss-up between Lastovo Island and Drevenik (Croatia).
- Favourite Greek Island: Paxos (and Antipaxos)
- Favourite Croatian Islands: Lastovo, Miljet.
- Weirdest anchorage: Former Yugoslav military base in Lastovo.
- Best beaches: Myrtos (Kephalonia); Emerald Bay (Antipaxos).
- Best monastery: Visovac (Krka river), Croatia
- Best (and cheapest) coffee: Petrol station at the Bosnian-Croatian border (75 Euro cents). (Coffee is Bosnia’s national drink).
- Best Capuccino Freddo (wonderful Greek “iced coffee”): Gaios
- Most surprising moment – catching a fish 3 miles off Split/Trogir – there still are fish in the Med.
- Dumbest things seen: A close tussle between the following two boats:
- a) The ship of charterers (sporting a pirate flag), who within 1hr of anchoring virtually on top of us in Sounion Bay had: lost their hot pink floating mattress to the Meltemi; nearly lost 2 of their crew + dinghy when they chased it without oars and a faulty outboard (rescued by a nearby crew from Super yacht); nearly lost one extra (poor swimmer) crew who swam out to get them and nearly didn’t make it back against the wind; jammed their self furling mainsail; hoisted the captain up the mast in a bosun’s chair to unjam the mainsail and then “dropped” him – Jatz crackers first – onto the spreaders – facial expression was priceless. All within one hour!
- OR b) the yacht that cut inside us too close to a dangerous headland on a lee shore and “raced” ahead to beat us to the last section of breakwater wall in Loutra (Kythnos) – he was in such a hurry to grab the spot (in a 25kt cross-wind) that he backed to the wall, attached stern lines – but had forgotten to put out his bow anchor first. Not surprisingly he rapidly collected all boats to leeward and created a huge amount of fuss on the dock.
- Most bureaucratic experience: Checking into Greece in Corfu – 2.5 hrs. Second most bureaucratic moment – checking out of Greece. This particular “job creation scheme” has to be seen to be believed.
- Nicest anchorage: We’re not telling – in case it gets ruined! Close contenders: “Lilo’s” Bay in Croatia; One Tree Bay and Billygoat Bay on Ithaca.
- Most unexpected place: Galaxidi (Gulf of Corinth) – lovely harbour town very close to Delphi and Navpaktos. Off the “beaten track” and away from the crowds being in the Gulf.
- Most interesting chance meetings: Wolfie and Doris (SV Seenomaden) Lastovo (2 circumnavigations including 2 seasons sailing in Patagonia).
- Most amazing sight: Seeing the stars reflected in the water in Lastovo (lowest light pollution in Europe).
- Most disappointing moment: Watching the Springboks wallop the Wallabies in a bar in Frikes harbour.