Aye, Aye, Skipper!

Family Traveller|Spring/Summer 2018

Aye, Aye, Skipper!

How my family were transformed from landlubbers to sailors in just seven days touring Greece’s Ionian Islands

 

Steve Tooze

It was one of those moments you really only want to watch through your fingers. My daughter Scarlett was standing alone at the wheel, manoeuvring a very large boat through a very small gap.

The water in the harbour was still choppy from the previous night’s high winds. A concrete jetty loomed menacingly close behind us. Many hundreds of thousands of pounds of expensive yacht bobbed what looked to me like a few inches away either side of our mooring, and in front of us, too. We seemed pretty conclusively boxed in.

‘Yep, back a bit,’ drawled our skipper Fisher to my daughter, utterly unfazed by our apparent predicament. ‘Port a touch. OK, bit of throttle – and straight forward.’

Smoothly, our vast catamaran eased out of its apparent trap in Vathi harbour. I gave Scarlett a weak smile and a thumbs-up; she shrugged the whole thing off as if she’d been piloting boats out of tight spots in Greek harbours all her life.

Fisher patted her on the shoulder as we sailed out into the open topaz blue expanse of the Ionian Sea. Then, when he knew she wasn’t listening, he winked at me and whispered: ‘Not bad – I’ve seen grown men crack up trying to do that!’

That was Fisher’s genius, of course. From the moment we’d stepped onboard the beautiful and luxurious four-cabin Sunsail 444 catamaran a few days before in Lefkas, he’d treated Scarlett and her brother Fin, 10, as if they were seasoned seamen, rather than two landlubbers who’d rarely set foot on a boat.

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Spring/Summer 2018