We have just returned from the most wonderful holiday, sailing a beautiful Drascombe Lugger, called Paxi, in Lefkada. Our expectations of the sailing trip were far exceeded, and we will always remember it.
But first, how did two Aussies end up sailing a Drascombe Lugger in Lefkada, Greece in June 2019? Well, it all started a year ago. In July 2018, Tony was in hospital, recovering, thankfully, from a serious accident. With little to do, he read his Practical Boatowner, sailing magazine from front cover to back, but kept returning to an advertisement for Sailing a Drascombe Lugger in Greece. What a dream to sail a small boat in the Greek Islands - wasn't it only larger yachts that were available for charter in Greece, could we do this from the other side of the world?
Next step, Helen begins the email correspondence with Phil - which went back and forth for sometime (Thanks Phil). Eventually, we decide we will go for it! Of course, if we have to travel so far, we must stay for a good amount of time and see some of Greece also. Yes, one month should do it - 18 nights in beautiful Geni Gardens, some time for seeing the sights in Athens, Delphi, Meteora, and a bit more (what a fascinating place Greece is).
Whilst Tony is experienced sailing our two small sailing boats here in Australia, they are quite different to the Lugger, and we also don't really use a motor, so Phil provided invaluable guidance and great tips to get us quickly and confidently on our way - both motoring and sailing.
We had the best holiday - it is difficult to sum it all up, but here are some highlights:
Cheers Phil, and thanks for our Great Greek Sailing Holiday
"Greece would be nice", he said. "Let’s go sailing", he said. "You’ll enjoy it", he said.
My husband loves to sail whereas I am a very much a reluctant one despite having completed various courses (including competent crew and helming a topper) many years ago. So we looked at what was available in Greece with some day sailing and decent accommodation. We knew of Phil and his luggers so gave him a call, he suggested we stay at Geni Gardens on Lefkada.
Geni Gardens turned out to be a real find, set on the sea shore in beautiful, kept grounds with a pool, and run by a lovely family that live on site. The husband is the local baker so we could order bread, cakes etc the night before and they’d be delivered for breakfast, or we took the boat and motored across the bay to sit and drink our coffee at the bakery. Our ground floor apartment was spotless, full size cooker and fridge, comfortable beds and views of the sea from our veranda area. Perfect and with the added bonus of much needed air conditioning. Our lugger for the week, Annie B, was moored on the pontoon at the end of the garden.
A short walk from the apartment was a fabulous waterside taverna called Gialos, the food was delicious, the beers cold and the welcome warm. We also used the boat to motor there and someone always came to help us tie up alongside the taverna’s jetty.
Before letting us loose on the high seas Phil showed us the ropes (literally), called sheets on boats, and how to get the best from our sailing. He also gave us great ideas about where to sail, have lunch and swim. The first time we went out of the bay he accompanied us in his rib, which I found most reassuring. The lugger was recognised at one taverna where we ran the boat up the beach to ‘moor’ just as Phil suggested we do. A fabulous way to arrive!
It was a brilliant holiday, Phil was great with lots of suggestions & ideas for the best sailing trips, as well as providing a superb service as local guide. The combination of a lugger with the lovely Geni Gardens was perfect.
Thanks Phil for a great holiday
Sailing in the Sun, once more, August - September 2018.
One can perhaps get addicted to some things, if you keep trying them - this was our fifth holiday sailing one of Phil's Luggers 'in the sun'. Though our first Greek sailing experience goes back some few years to Lemnos when we had the shock to capsize a Laser on the first outing - the shock being the warmth of the water; we do hail from Scotland! Beware that there is a sensory impact of departing London and within little more than three hours be embraced by a duvet of warmth and the stunning blue sky reflecting in the sea - islands, mountains and water; there's a beguiling combination.
This year we were heading off to start on Ithika, after an all too brief catch-up with Phil as he transported us from the airport to Nidri for the ferry to Frikes. There were still time for some beers by the waters of Vlicho Bay, however adding those and the convivial company to the scenic combination and ... well we had to take a later ferry
Peter, of the Frikes Bay apartments, was to be found running his popular Ice Cream parlour and soon saw us settled in for our first week there. For our second week we sailed Lugger Heulwen back up to Vlicho and the Geni Gardens to enjoy the hospitality of Franz and Poldi, along with their daughter, Sandra and provisioned with bread and other daily necessities supplied by son-in-law Hari. Both weeks provided great opportunities to revisit some familiar bays and harbours as well as discovering some new ones. In effect we sailed every day; a nice routine of collecting together the necessities for picnic lunch, sail till we got somewhere then swim, snorkel, wander ashore, picnic, enjoy a cold Mythos from the chill bag and perhaps another swim to give an excuse for a chittering bite - Scottish term for a bit of bread eaten after swimming, to prevent shivering or the chattering of their teeth; we weren't shivering and the 'bread' might just have be a Greek pastry!
In all I see we sailed 216 km with some sailing days as short as 7 km and other longer trips of over 30 km. This year Phil had another innovation: Heulwen was fitted with a new set of sails and a chance to try the innovative Batten Roached Main. Isn't every sailing day a school day anyway? Phil offered some helpful tips and input from Dick at R&J Sails, the maker, namely more downhaul tension; keep the luff parrel beads and lacing slack; avoid having the gaff too tight to the mast, slacken the halyard slightly; and finally if you want to 'brail-up' the topsail, you have to release the downhaul - it has an extra bit of rope, the brailing line; we like extra bits to play with!
Our impressions included: the Lugger did make better progress notably for us in the lighter winds going to windward, when one might 'entertain' the crew with the game: 'What's our speed?' adjudicated by the Garmin GPS. In those light winds I also thought the Lugger would go about more reliably rather than falling back - though in past times there may have been a helmsman skill deficit here! It is a larger sail - but has two rows of reefing lines. We did put in both once but that was overdoing it that time; one reef proved a delight on a day tacking north out of Nidri, though I still like having the 'Jib and Mizzen' option especially when reaching in gusty conditions - simple and keeps the crew from mutinying! Drawbacks of this sail, 'wrangling' it is different, admittedly of course it was a new sail so the material will acquire more flex in time, however it needs a bit of discipline and there was no tidy 'roll it up' from the clew. We thought it best to routinely lower the gaff and bungee the whole thing up - especially the topsail section; the brailing line helps in that process. Part of the Drascombe's effect is adding to the delight of others and augment the scenery; with its topsail section it does add a distinct element of traditional style! Now you might see the risk of getting addicted to this Lugger sailing in the sun!
Our many thanks for accommodating our 2 families of 8 adults at the very special Villa Nisos on our most recent stay with you in the Greek Ionian. The Villa was just outstanding set high up and overlooking Vliho Bay and the Meganissi channel. Its facilities for our large group were just right and I highly recommend it.
Not having a safe mooring at Perigali meant the morning commute for Fiona and myself by your tender to collect the Luggers from the head of Vliho Bay. This for us was great as it gave the girls time to get themselves together and we enjoyed the time to ourselves on the water. It also served as a time when we could stop off at the Nidri slipway and get provisions for the day, rather than having to walk into town from Perigali.
You kindly organised the collection of Joe from her bus transfer from Lefkas. She travelled independently on the day of our arrival, that took an issue off my mind knowing you were in contact with her during her travels from Athens.
Again Phil, many thanks, we had a fabulous week sailing and exploring in the great Luggers and enjoying being with our families all together at the Villa Nisos and would do it again tomorrow.
We decided to get out of the mountains and into the sea to celebrate Simon’s birthday last month and were lucky enough to take a Drascombe Lugger for the day. Phil from Dragon Drascombe met us at the pontoon in Geni and gave us a thorough briefing on the boat before escorting us out of the bay, with some final instruction on putting up the sails, and then waving us off.
The boat was very responsive and glided through the water effortlessly; it was a pleasure to sail. There was plenty of room for us and our two boys and not forgetting our picnic hamper! We sailed around the islands that dot our coastline and anchored for a swim when the mood took us. It was a wonderfully relaxing day and one we hope to repeat!
Drascombe Lugger holidays are ideal for travellers looking for a different sailing holiday, one where you can get back to the basics, where you can be as active as you like – sail some days and perhaps read by the pool the next or take a MTB tour with us – a holiday where your lugger is simply at the bottom of the garden for you to hop on and off whenever you wish. Seems perfect to us!
We arrived on a beautiful, warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. There was Yani’s taxi waiting to collect us and we were whisked off to Geni apartments where Phil was waiting to greet us. After been shown our rooms it was into Phil’s dory for a short trip to Gialos Taverna for a much needed Meze lunch and cold beer. The following day we had instruction on the use and handling of our Lugger “Paxi” and so the weeks adventures could now begin!
Some of where to go and what to do within the islands is documented in other testimonials, but we would like to include another aspect which, perhaps not everyone gets to see. Phil suggested that one evening we take a short taxi ride to go and see “Concrete Bill’s” and Dimitri’s Taverna which is located in the hills above Nydri. Phil arrange for Yani’s taxi to collect us for our visit to the pub owned by “Concrete Bill”. At this point I should add, he was given the nickname after he built himself a concrete yacht, which he has since sold.
His pub sells real ale sourced from the Peloponnese within Greece, which he collects himself. As you can see the pub is not exactly what all may consider but I can assure you he is quite a character and you will enjoy the beer and the ambience of this unique establishment. Don’t be fooled by appearances, this isn’t Billy Connolly but Concrete Bill is a very likeable guy, very well educated and hails from Gloucestershire. The pub is very popular with the local ex-pats and well worth the visit, especially to sample his fairly strong beer!
The evening also included a meal in Dimitri’s Taverna, just a short walk back down the hill. This Taverna has some of the most spectacular views in the area. As you walk in you cannot fail to be impressed by the remarkable vista that awaits you.
Good food, excellent views and great prices make this a must-see location. We certainly recommend you to consider a visit to both Bill’s pub and Dimitri’s Taverna.
Another great aspect of this holiday is being able to use the Lugger for your transport to the taverna. We had great pleasure in arriving at the jetty of Gialos Taverna in the evening. Arriving while other diners are enjoying their meals becomes quite a talking point as you step off to secure your lines. Some even gave us scores out of 10! We should add they were exceptional!
Fair winds and a great holiday, we can’t wait to return. The whole experience is very well executed by Phil and we thank him for the efforts he made to ensure our holiday was a success. Many thanks to Poldi, Franz and family at the Geni apartment’s for providing the accommodation which is sensational and such a fabulous location to stay in.
“Are you really travelling around the world in that little boat?”
As much as I hated to decrease our status as instant celebrities, I had to admit the truth: “No, we are travelling around the Ionian Sea for a few weeks.” The person who asked the question was the third party in fifteen minutes to approach us as we tied off stern to at a quayside taverna. Apparently, one of the earlier passers-by had misheard me and our legend had grown exponentially in a short span of time. We were to discover that we would often be approached with questions and curiosity as we entered harbours and marinas in one of Philip Osborne’s lovely Drascombe Luggers.
[ This is just a short extract from Dave's article which you can read in full here ]
Thank you, Phil for all of the support and service. From one adventurer to another, we truly had an adventure we’ll treasure for years to come!
We enjoyed our week immensely and cannot thank you enough for helping make this a very memorable holiday. By the end of the week we felt we were starting to get to grips with the Lugger and were starting to find out how to get the best out of it. Next time we will be more confident with undertaking some more adventurous trips, but we were very happy with what we achieved in such a beautiful area.
Our excellent Dragon Drascombe sailing holiday in the Ionian, began with an advertisement in one of the sailing magazines that led to an internet search and reading Phil’s comprehensive introduction and looking at the website. A decision was made to take up a short notice offer for a two-week booking in June that had become available due to an illness cancellation.
We fully agree with all Phil writes, in his introduction, about the Ionian Drascombe experience being an all-encompassing holiday. We experienced an exceptionally flexible, laid back and enjoyable sailing holiday that exceeded all our expectations.
Flying from Heathrow to Corfu, after a short 15-minute taxi ride from the Airport to the Ferry Terminal, we boarded a ferry for a two-hour sail to Igoumenitsa on the Greek mainland. There we were met by Phil and whisked off to Lefkas and our apartment for the next two weeks in Geni Gardens. The journey took about two hours and after moving our luggage into the apartment we went to a local Taverna for supper, where we met two other ‘Drascombe’ couples.
Our stay in Geni Gardens was nothing short of superb, we had a lovely clean and modern apartment that faced a well-manicured garden stretching down to Vliho Bay where Annie B, our Drascombe Lugger was moored for our stay. The Owners of the Apartments Franz and Poli, along with their daughter, Sandra were fantastic hosts and we wanted for nothing during our stay with them.
Our sailing expectations were also exceeded, we had previously sailed cruising yachts in the eastern Mediterranean around Cyprus, but found that the Ionian, especially around southern Lefkas and Meganisi offered wonderful sailing and exceptionally stunning scenery. Both being a tad rusty especially in sailing a Lugger, Phil provided us with some sound mentorship, and introduced us to the nuances of sailing a Lugger. After a day on the water with him, we were left to our own devices and overall, except for one day during a particularly impressive thunderstorm, we managed to get afloat every day of our holiday.
Our sailing grounds included the Meganisi channel and the islands and bays surrounding the channel including Meganisi Island. We visited the brilliant Papanikolis sea caves, also the sea caves off the southern tip of Lefkas and anchored in Desimi bay. The winds around Lefkas can be varied with light breezes in the morning and good sailing in the afternoon with occasional and infrequent but interesting gusts if you get caught out in a shower. We did have to employ the iron foresail and or motor sail at times to reach a planned destination but for us that did not detract from the enjoyment of being on the water.
We anchored in some picturesque bays and enjoyed al fresco lunches under the Lugger’s Bimini; moreover, using the boat ladder, we swam and snorkelled off the boat, this was very pleasant, with the water temperature being around 24/5 degrees C and the air temperature some 6 or 7 degrees warmer. One fantastic event will stay in our memories for ever, we were sailing back to Vliho and Geni from Niso Thilia island, where we had been anchored, just off our starboard about 4 or 5 dolphins broke the surface and crossed in front of us heading towards Niso Skorpios. There was no leaping out of the water, but they were spectacular to watch, especially from the Lugger, we were almost level and very close to them for a short while. We saw them again about 20 minutes later.
All too soon our time to leave arrived and we were taxied up to the ferry terminal at Igoumenitsa where we caught the ferry back to Corfu, all in a massive thunderstorm, which was a strange and very wet way to finish our holiday, the temperature in Corfu was about 18 degrees C and on arrival that evening at Heathrow it was about 26 degrees.
On reflection, this was one of the best holidays that we have had. It provided us with all we could want and more. Already we do miss the weather, the people we met and the incredible sailing we enjoyed. We plan to return next year for more of the same.
We have just returned from a ten day stay at Geni Garden courtesy of Dragon Drascombe. We had a superb holiday, sailing ‘Ellie’ all around Nydri, Meganissi and the Greek mainland. Thanks to Phil, the entire trip went without any hiccups and he was on hand everyday to help with sailing tips and advice. All in all a fabulous holiday, where I learned so much about the Lugger.