Summer 2010

Summer 2010 Cruising the Med

I (Madeline) have been asked to write a little summary of our cruising experiences in Greece. We proudly own MAMMA MIA!, a 49’ Lord Nelson Victory Tug hull #9 which we purchased in 2009 in Kusadasi, Turkey. My what an unforgettable adventure this has been.

For those of you hoping to gain technical, logistical and left brained guy boat information - then you probably need not read any further. If you want to know which are the best restaurants, finest wines, duty free shops, fabulous nightclubs, pricey clothes, golf courses and spas, etc. Not here, either. We eat most of our meals on MAMMA MIA! I cook Italian - nothing more needs to be said. We buy no, zero, nada souvenirs which are probably made in China anyway. I have acquired in 14 months one Pythagorean drinking cup, (half full, half empty theory) one Leros goat bell and one small broken wooden chair from a monastery dumpster - which I repaired and repainted Greek blue and looks fabulous in the saloon. We usually are in bed by 10:30 PM, wear just about the same clothes whatever the occasion, have our favorite drinks in our own cockpit. I do my yoga on the top boat deck. My best souvenirs are the memories I carry in my heart and my digital pictures. Greece has left a lasting impression on both of us, one that we will cherish forever. We hope that we in turn have left behind humanitarian feelings of good will and love. As the motto of Key West, Fl. states, “we are all one human family”, and cruising certainly reinforces this truth . The Mediterranean sea area affords one the opportunity to meet extraordinary ordinary fellow cruisers from all over the world living an extraordinary life. Language is no barrier when attitudes and compatibility of lifestyles are in play. Cruising is an educational adventure that carries with it a great responsibility. We are all small potatoes in a big pot and working together is what makes the stew a gastronomical delight!

Having an entertaining talkative whistling African Grey parrot as crew adds that special touch which draws young and old to MAMMA MIA! for a look see. Mallory is a superstar!!! As you may have gathered I am a simple romantic. I have no expectations of anyone or any place. It is what it is. By not harboring preconceived ideas, I’m available to experience new places and people on my terms. I walk in fresh and make my own way using my best thinking and an open heart. I have found this is not only a good rule of thumb to follow when traveling to unfamiliar places but also in our daily lives.

Cruising the Med and more specifically the Aegean Sea has really honed my boating skills and made me a better sea woman. Having previously owned a wooden schooner on the US east coast I already had some very good sea sense and a pretty thorough understanding of what duties fell within my realm as First Mate and Queen. However, the Aegean Sea and our MAMMA MIA! afforded many new and challenging experiences. The mundane problems of coastal water depths, boating traffic, huge wakes, bridge openings, pesky no seeums and mosquitoes, and the countless Coast Guard regulations are non existent in Greece. However, what we did encounter were problems understanding the VHF radio reports in Greek, the very turbulent seas, rolly anchorages, difficult docking procedures, crossed anchor chains, inexperienced, overconfident and inconsiderate charter groups and the always, always present prevailing winds coming up and over and around the islands at the most inappropriate times. The best I can describe the wind and water combination is that it felt like we were in a washing machine- being agitated in any and all directions at once. MAMMA MIA! is well equipped with two powerful 235 John Deere engines, 1 bow thruster, 2 much needed and used stabilizers and 10 huge fenders. Yet with all her modern trappings, she is no match for the devilish work of Poseidon- who is one very angry god! But in spite of ourselves, we did good.

We have explored extensively the Dodecanese islands - those which are the most eastern and the closest to Turkey. They are one and all unique and well worth getting acquainted with. On most islands we rented a motor scooter and my professional guide driver-husband Ken left no stone unturned nor dirt road unexplored. We have without question seen more of the back country of these islands than many of the locals who have lived here their whole lives. We are quite thorough when we go exploring.

When at anchor we use our fabulous dinghy to circumnavigate the islands, exploring countless grottos, caves, isolated bays and goat farms far from the hordes of tourists. Swimming in the warm clear clean waters is simply a joy one cannot put into words. It is very therapeutic.

And so to refresh my memory as I was writing this article, I went back through all my pictures. Oh my, so many beautiful places, so many beautiful faces! My affinity and love for animals is apparent since goats, sheep, cats, donkeys and dogs dominate much of my pictures. I love the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Aegean, I love the children, I love the sweet old people with big grins and firm waves, I love the friendly Yassas and Yassu which accompany every meeting (it means, Hi, how are you.) I love the traditional music and dances celebrating special days, I love the generosity of the Greek people and I love their proud heritage and traditional values. Looking back, I can honestly say there is not much about Greece that I don’t love.

One note I must make. MAMMA MIA! is loved by all who see her. Everyone, yes everyone, has nothing but compliments for our beautiful vessel. Her overall design and appeal is universal. The Greeks find her seaworthy, salty and steady as she goes. They are very impressed. They love America and everything American. It’s very welcoming to hear good things about one’s country considering world views have been so critical and condemning. Best of all, sailing wives, of whom I meet many, would trade boats and lifestyles in a heartbeat. Everyone who sees MAMMA MIA! loves her and wants her. She is a head turner and a welcomed addition to any harbor, port or anchorage she graces . She is one of a handful of true American boats flying Old Glory. Lots of American documented vessels are here in the Aegean flying the American flag , all are registered in Delaware and all are owned by Turkish.

Extensive planning and preparations had been made to transport MAMMA MIA! home to Key West this October. However life is what happens when you are making plans and she will remain in Greece for yet another year. We couldn’t be happier about this unexpected turn of events. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have this unique cruising opportunity and we encourage all others to follow their dreams and just do it. The great Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy wrote a poem titled Ithaca. It is my signature philosophy. If you are interested - google it and enjoy the poem, enjoy your journey.

In conclusion my love and thanks to Greece and all my wonderful Greek friends that have so embraced me and made me feel at home. Efharisto, Efharisto Poli!

Mamma Mia!




making friends

taking a bath

what's not to love …
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