In 1969, my friend, Don, and I took a year off school to backpack around Europe. Don was a keen sailor and he thought we should visit the yacht harbour in Piraeus, Greece. There, we discovered a a community of expatriate Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Canadians and sundry other nationalities, all working in the Yacht Charter business. We made some friends, moved aboard a boat, and soon were scraping and sanding; fixing toilets and servicing engines; helping the fleet get ready for the summer charter season. Once the season began, we worked as deckhands and before long we had visited a couple of dozen Aegean Islands.
Towards mid-summer, we realized there was a yacht in the harbour, all fitted out and ready for charter. It was owned by our Greek friend, Peter and his partner, Costas. Peter and Costas had purchased a traditional Greek fishing boat and converted it into a yacht. Their intention was to get rich in the charter business, which at that time, was just taking off in the Aegean. Unfortunately for them, their business skills did not extend to marketing and promotion and they had no bookings for the 1969 season. Don and I convinced the owners that they should let us run the boat and we would hustle tourists at the Athens Youth Hostel to go for day trips. Inexplicably, they agreed -- we were in the charter business!The Bounty was a 48 foot traditional Greek caique (inter-island freighter), flying a Honduras flag of convenience. It didn't have much in the way of sails but, in the Greek seafaring tradition, it did have a large diesel engine.
For the rest of that summer, we sailed The Bounty around the Aegean Sea, carrying tourists to the islands of the Cyclades. It was an unforgettable experience and created in me a life-long fascination with sailing and boats.
For many years it seemed like there would never be an opportunity to buy a boat and get involved in sailing again. We were preoccupied with careers and there just seemed to be no time or money for leisure activities. Susan's experience was limited to a few sails on friends' boats but she liked it and was keen to learn and we both yearned to get out on the water.
In 1997, we saw a Nordica 16 that we could afford and bought it on impulse. We thought: "Let's see if we can find enough spare time to get out on the lake occasionally."
We had a great time thrashing around on that little boat and even spent a night aboard once. That taught us we needed to be a lot younger to do that on a regular basis. We also realized we couldn't possibly carry enough beer aboard a sixteen-foot boat to last an entire weekend on the lake. A serious case of eight-foot-itis set in and we began shopping for our next boat.