Sailing the Cyclades – Aegina

PC3_0406Adventure Calls

Sometime last December, I got an unexpected message from a university friend that I hadn’t really seen in years- we are going sailing for 10 days in Greece, are you interested in coming along? We would be renting our own sailboat and going around the Cyclades. Now, I don’t know about you but when the opportunity to spend any time on the ocean presents itself, I will try my very best to make it happen. To top it off, I had been dreaming of learning to sail for over a decade having more times than I can count looked up sailing schools and promising myself, “One day!”. Well, it seemed the day had come!

A few weeks before my adventure, I found out that we would be leaving Ethiopia and moving to Japan for my husband’s job. I hummed and I hawed about having to leave early and pack up our whole house a month earlier than expected. But, an adventure called and I can never really say no to them.

So, I packed up my apartment in Ethiopia, brought 6 huge bags to our new home in Japan and headed off to Greece for my sailing adventure. It was absolutely amazing! Our course brought us from Athens, through some of the many islands in the Cyclades area of Greece and then back again. I learned to be more confident on the water and days were spent on the boat for a few hours, then exploring the places we arrived in.

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First Port: Aegina

After introductions at the Port of Piraeus, a group of us went to get food for the next few days. Although we would eat at each port of call, some evenings (and almost all lunches) were taken on board. We left Athens’ Piraeus port and our first day was pretty easy. A few hours getting to know each other, get used to the boat and just enjoy the sunshine.

We did have a ‘hat overboard’ situation which allowed us to practice what to do in a real emergency. Upon arrival at Ag. Marine on the island of Aegina, I went for a lovely swim. We also quickly came to realize that our dinghy’s motor was not working and leaking lots of oil. While that was a bit annoying, we took up paddles and went to shore to walk around. A few people went to shore for dinner but I stayed and cooked and spent a quiet evening contemplating on the boat.

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The next morning, three of us, including Kathryn, founder of the South African lifestyle blog BecomingYou and her husband Brad, woke up extra early to walk up to the Temple of Aphea, dedicated to the goddess Athena. First we paddled to shore because our motor on the dinghy was broken, then we climbed up to the hill. It was worthwhile waking up early for this as we had the whole site to ourselves. Just as we were about to leave, lots of tour buses showed up. Instead of having to wrestle the crowds, we had some pistachio ice cream for breakfast (having found out that Aegina is very famous for its pistachios) and taking a leisurely walk back down along the road with some fantastic views.

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Motor Troubles Smell like Adventure PC3_0061

Upon arriving back on the boat (we paddled/swam back), we learned that the boat company was sending a new motor via the ferry and we needed to bring the broken motor and put it on the ferry to Athens. Since Brad, Kathy and I were already dressed and ready, we volunteered to go and boy was it an adventure! I don’t have pictures from this part because I didn’t think it was going to be quite as exciting as it ended up being and didn’t bring my camera (Rookie mistake– always bring your camera everywhere).

First we had to paddle back to the shore, then try to find a taxi to the other side of the island where the ferries left from. The trouble is, most taxis serve either one side or the other of the island. A taxi was called, it arrived, they didn’t want to go that far and said they would call another one. Anyways, the very kind folks at the restaurant ended up calling one of her friends, a lovely woman driver who wasn’t too pleased that we were putting a motor in her immaculate car!

Half way through journey, we started to smell motor oil and discovered that the engine was still completely full, with oil spilling all over the boot of her car. Whoops! We stopped, cleaned it up and then with the engine held firmly in front with Brad, we ended up at the large port of Aegina. We missed the ferry as it left right as we arrived. Also, we found out that we had needed to be at the ferry port to pick up the new motor from the boat. The ferry with our new motor had already left! Well, that was a little frustrating but after a few phone conversations, we figure it out with the yacht company. They would be sending the motor to our next destination. All we had to do was load the broken motor on to the next ferry to Athens. So, we waited, got it safely on a ferry and went to eat a well-deserved lunch.

By the time we arrived on the boat, the day was becoming a little cloudier with some rain on the horizon. So while Kathy, Brad and I put up our feet to rest a bit and breathe a little after our day of adventuring, we sailed off to Poros.

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