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.
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.