Once upon a time there was a family – the dad of who had a dream. The dad in the family had dreamt from when he was a nipper that one day he would have an ocean going yacht.
So that is what the Dad did. He worked hard and scrimped and saved, then he retired and he finally had his yacht built.
Not just any yacht, mind you, this impressive vessel was a 54ft. teak yacht, with 10 berths and just as smart and spanking as anyone could imagine.
The yacht was built in Taiwan and shipped (ha) to Piraeus in Greece.
The Dad and the Mom went on a sailing course. The children did not. Delivery of the yacht was taken by the dad and then on the next trip, the family boarded the yacht in Piraeus and started their great big watery Mediterranean adventure. It was September. Unbeknown to the family, September in the Med is Meltemi season.
According to Sailing Issues, ‘the Meltemi wind results from a high pressure system laying over the Balkan/Hungary area and a relatively low pressure system over Turkey. The Meltemi brings with it harsh sailing conditions and doesn’t necessarily die out at the end of the day and can easily last more than three to six days.’
Which is all fine and fair enough, but hindsight and all that. Suffice to say the family’s adventure turned into more of a trial come survival-of-the-ignorant type outing. When they weren’t crashing into harbour walls; getting their anchor fouled; almost being arrested by various Greek islands police for squishing small boats (not on purpose), the yacht with all crew on board almost sank one horrible night just outside the teensiest island harbour ever because of the Meltemi raging across the bay.
Did I mention that the reason the crew had to stay up all night was to keep watch between two points of light in the tossing waves as the yacht’s anchor dragged back and forth? Or the fact that the reason the anchor was dragging was because the locals knew what the storm would do to a tethered boat in the wrong place? Or that they sent the family across the bay into unprotected waters because the yacht was too big and the Russian fishing vessels needed the space in the teensy harbour? No? Well, fact being stranger than fiction, that’s what happened.
You might not have picked up that this story is related with a tinge of humour, but it was actually very funny – almost like episodes of Carry on in the Med, however, that said, I wouldn’t wish most of these experiences on any ocean sailors. It was, in retrospect, a huge learning curve and all of the mishaps were far outweighed by the most incredible experiences, sights and sounds which stay very firmly rooted in memory.
*Blogista’s postscript – the yacht was first named ‘Shimi’ (Tibetan for ‘cat’) but when another yacht with the same name was found registered with Lloyds, ‘Shimi’ became ‘Mavournin’. (Mavournin is Irish for ‘my darling’).