“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.
Our normal sailing grounds are on the North Norfolk coast, choppy short seas and usually a cold north or north-east wind and very limited tides. So the idea of sailing in 30°C, with a gentle Mediterranean wind, surrounded by mountains sounded really appealing when we discussed it at the tail end of winter and I have to say that it didn't disappoint.
We flew into Corfu and enjoyed a few days exploring before catching the ferry over to Igoumenitsa where a smiling Phil was waiting for us. It was a long ride down to Vliho Bay, but Phil then kindly treated us to a meze lunch before delivering us to the Geni Gardens, our base for the week. He then returned in his tender to take us out to meet our craft, Lugger Heulwen. It was blowing up pretty well, but undeterred we sailed around for an hour or so, getting the hang of our new boat. She handled well and we were happy sailors.
During our week we sailed every day, except on Thursday, when the wind was blowing into the bay and the sea seemed too choppy. On this day we taxied into Nidri with fellow lugger sailors Gordon and Fran, to explore and do some shopping. Looking at the sea from Nidri, we could have sailed quite happily on this day as well.
The boat does, as promised, sit at the bottom of the Geni Gardens, a stone's throw from our apartment. Our routine was to have a latish breakfast and then set off, with a picnic lunch (packed in the cool-bag thoughtfully provided by Phil), swimsuits and snorkels. Coming from Norfolk we aren't used to unlimited sailing, so we just wanted to sail, but as the week progressed we discovered that there is also joy in dropping anchor and hopping over the side to explore the bottom of the very deep, blue Mediterranean sea, so wonderfully refreshing in the heat. Phil provided a bimini, a sort of tent you tie between the masts to give you shelter from the sun when you are moored. This was great, as the sun is quite relentless.
The sailing was spectacular, with lots of islands and a backdrop of huge, impressive mountains on every side. There was not always a good wind for a Drascombe to catch so we had to use the motor more than we would normally, but we still managed to sail for four to six hours a day. The weather was blissful, but also exciting as we had three very big storms whilst we were there. Sailing home as we watched the lightening over the sea some twenty miles away will stay in my memory for a very long time. As will the two and half hours of torrential rain when we arrived back to base!
We were surprised that, whilst out sailing, we were very much the centre of attention. Local fishermen waved enthusiastically, we thought it may have been because we were sailing a traditional craft. Big yachts stared and photographed us; one even sailed in a circle around us taking a video and photos. They then passed us their yacht's business card (yes, I am not kidding!) so that we could contact them for copies of the pictures and the video. You don't often get photos of yourself sailing, so this was very kind of them.
Our intention on day one was to visit the caves, but the winds were contrary so we never made it. However that didn't detract from our trip, because there was so much to look at and always somewhere nice to which we could sail. Maybe next time...
Apart from the sailing, everyone we met: our hosts at the Geni Gardens; Christos and the staff at Phil's pet taverna The Gialos; Harry the baker (who baked me special gluten-free bread upon request and even delivered it to me in time for breakfast); our Lugger sailing pals, Alex and Penny, Gordon and Fran; and last, but not least Phil and Leslie, were all so friendly and welcoming it was a joy to be with them. We ate most evenings at the Taverna (gorgeous food and very cheap) with our fellow sailors (and often Phil and Leslie as well) which has generated a sense of comradeship which is unusual when on a holiday.
The week passed incredibly quickly and before we knew it we were having our final Saturday night meal in the taverna, with us dreading the thought that our Ionian sailing experience was over. But no! The lovely Phil suggested that, as we were not in a rush to get back to the ferry, perhaps we should spend Sunday morning sailing as well. Well, it would have been rude to say no - and what a three hour sail it was sailing around an island in perfect winds. They say you should always finish a holiday wanting more, we realise that we haven't finished with sailing a Drascombe in Ionia, so we will are going to have to go back.
Hi Phil, Lesley and James,
Thank you, it has been a brilliant time, your organisation and support have been fantastic and we have thoroughly loved learning a bit about the great little Lugger. We will be back next time for two weeks.
Hi Phil, Matt & Hayley,
Just want to say thank you for our awesome holiday, everything was amazing. Our Geni Apartment was wonderful, the view from the balcony was great, the owners, Franz, Leopoldine and family were the perfect hosts, nothing was too much trouble for them. Being invited by them to the Baptism of their Grandson, Ektoras, was an added bonus; the little church at the entrance to the bay was wonderful as was the reception at Geni.
Having our Lugger moored so close at the bottom of the garden was ideal. The Lugger was perfect for day sailing, be it just a quick trip to Nidri for supplies, a trip round the corner of the island to one of the many beaches, beaching the boat and swimming or going further afield to Meganissi for lunch and of course more swimming from the lovely beaches there. Whilst out sailing we were lucky enough to see Dolphins many times and a Turtle once, something quite memorable.
Our favourite day was when we all had a picnic, organised by Phil, Matt & Hayley, on the beach at Meganissi with the bonus of Paddle Boarding and Kayaking lessons. Seeing Benji, Phil’s big Sailing dog, try to Paddle Board was so entertaining. Being big dog lovers we fell in love with him the first time we met him. Our evening visits to Taverna Gialos, where Costas and his family always gave us a warm welcome and great food were always enjoyed. The added bonus was that we could just tie up our Lugger to their jetty and step into the Taverna.
As soon as we returned home we immediately booked for next year (2017) that says it all. Thanks again to Phil, Matt & Hayley, can’t wait to see you all again our new found friends.
A quick word of thanks from both Jess and I. We had a great week; Jess achieved her wish for a suntan and I not only enjoyed some good snorkelling, but also learnt a lot about handling the boat. I'm all set now for a bit more training and then maybe get one in the UK. The whole thing was just about perfect and we're very grateful for your assistance throughout. Jess and I agreed that we didn't feel like customers, more like the guests of old friends. You've certainly gained another repeat veisitor and I can't wait to come back and do it all again.
We've loads of photos and I've attached just a handful that I thought you may find fun. Thanks again and please also pass my thanks to your wife and of course Benjy.
We thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. We knew we would from the minute we arrived and were met by a very friendly and warm Matt and Hayley who greeted us with a much needed bottle of cold water followed by snacks, a cold beer and briefing at Gialos Taverna (an excellent touch and a great way to start our holiday).
We were also pleased with the accommodation and facilities at the Geni Garden. The owners were very friendly and could not do enough for us.
The little Lugger was superb, such a beautiful littel boat and we had great fun sailing her as well as pottering around the bay and up to Nidri. One of the highlights was motoring over to the bakery, morring up and having coffee and doughnut (where in the world can you do that?) Matt was good enough to give us a quick refresher lesson which was very much appreciated, the only negative point (a very small negative) was the wind was a bit unpredictable on a few occasions and by the time we got the sails up the wind had died, which means we will ahve to come and do it again!
In a nutshell we had a superb time and would recommend it to anyone. Usually when I see in write ups things like 'arrive as customers, leave as friends' I think it is a bit of a cliché but I have to say this time was 100% true. Matt and Hayley were great.
This would be our third visit to Lefkas and second to Ithaca to sail Luggers in the sun. As has been our norm, a Friday flight to London starts our holiday with a day in London and this year we soaked up the sun and music at Camberwell Fair held in Burgess Park followed by sampling of the food, beer and wine of Brixton with Neil's brother. We were met at Preveza airport by Matt and Hayley and the journey to Vliho was spent getting to know each other and catching up on news of Dragon Drascombe. The trip to Vliho is always of interest, seeing the beaches, the castle and the bridge over the canal - always something of interest. A quick drop off at the bakery to say hello to Aris and then round by the Bay to Gialos and a warm welcome from Costas and Aristea, then a late lunch with Hayley, Matt and Phil and of course cold beers in cold glasses - couldn't be better.
This year we did the walk to the Church at the point, interesting to see the Bay from the land and a wedding in the tiny church - so tiny that guests wandered back and forward having a look in at the door during the ceremony. A swift return for us for our evening meal and dreams of a good wind. We stayed at Gialos for a couple of days and enjoyed good, light and on one occasion quite strong, gusty winds - the force of which proved quite a discussion point at the evening meal. Our days settled into the usual pattern of breakfast on the terrace watching the boats and the fish flashing as they fed on the seagrass, before heading off for rolls and out of the Bay, sails up and we had some very good sailing. Lunches of bread, feta and tomatoes and a swim - always something of interest beneath the waves with sea urchins, fish of all sorts, tubes and the rock formations which at times look like the ribs of boats. And always a late return to Gialos for an evening meal in good company and tales of a day well spent. After Gialos, our next port of call was Frikes on Ithaca. We reduced our luggage to what was needed, headed out of Vliho Bay, turned right and headed down between Meganisi and Lefkas to 'where the big boys play' or so it seems in the Meganisi Channel. Phil and Matt bade us 'au revoir'. With our luggage onboard there would be no sailing, but the winds and waves were kind and we had a good motor reaching the cut in Arkoudi in time for lunch and a swim.
We then only had the quick hop to Frikes and lovely to see the two windmills appearing and recognise familiar bays and sights. And there were changes: the floating jetty had gone, Gerry had returned to Athens and the sisters at Symposium had gone. However, we made friends with the lovely folk at Tzatzamini and welcomed the new bakery. The welcome from Peter was just as warm and the food and welcome at 'Odysseus' just as good and warm as remembered. We collected our keys and settled into our new home overlooking the Bay - fab. We finished the day as we always have with an ice cream/frozen yogurt from Peter - bliss! Our days in Frikes followed a similar pattern: walk to the bakery for bread and rolls, breakfast, off in the boat, lunch and swim and the swimming was spectacular with fantastic shoals of fish, huge bivalves, numerous starfish, finding the test of a heart urchin and the teeth of sea urchins and even finding three violet sea urchins - look exactly like rolled up violet hedgehogs.
Ruth and I always find 'treasure' in the flotsam and jetsam, but this year M&D had the most interesting find of bones which turned out to be those of a sea turtle - fantastic find.
Our days are filled. However, last year we had met Katrina and did the Farmer's Walk at Kioni (sadly not this year), but, we were in time for her Homer's Walk so for us a quick jaunt to Platreothea - all uphill or so it seemed - with fantastic views and unexpected glimpses of the sea. We met up with the group in the town square and were then taken on ancient paths, listening to stories of Homer, Odysseus, Penelope, tasting figs straight off the tree, wandering around ancient sites and a quick look into Penelope's well and a sniff of the carob bean - was it chocolate or smelly cheese? If you have the inclination this is something well worth doing or even the Farmer's Walk if resurrected.
Matt and Hayley appeared at the end of our time to take our luggage back and we had an excellent sail back to Gialos and a few days before returning home.