There is no better feeling than setting off from Athens at weekends with my family on board my Azimut 103 S Duke, bound for the beautiful waters of the Aegean. I'm lucky enough to have travelled all over the world, from Hawaii and the Caribbean to Bali and the Maldives, but it's my great good fortune to be Greek and to live by the most beautiful sea of all.
I hope I don't sound too biased, but the Aegean Sea, with its thousands of magnificent islands, bays and amazing turquoise waters, is the place to cruise. The Ionian Sea, with Corfu, Paxos, Cephalonia and the other islands, comes a close second and then there are the Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos). Greek waters are definitely my favourite cruising grounds in the Med.
What makes the area so special is that Greece has something for everyone, whether you want to sunbathe, see ancient sights or take part in activities such as hiking or scuba diving. Adding to the breathtaking beauty is the wonderful Greek light and the colour of the water. There are so many choices, from little bays where you can moor all alone, to small ports with fish taverns and larger harbours with great nightlife.
One of the reasons I really enjoy the Azimut 103 S is that because of its size and water-jet engines, with the shallow draught, I can get to all these places very easily. My children (two sons and a daughter) are happy as long as we find deserted beaches on which to play football, beach volleyball and beach racquets, but also water polo, snorkelling, diving, water-skiing, wakeboarding, jet-skiing and fishing. We also have lots of toys on board. Our favourite anchorages include Rinia, close to Mykonos, and Ornos Bay at Mykonos. With its clear waters, white sand and pebbles, Rinia is great for a barbecue lunch; Ornos Bay has Kouzina, a fantastic bar and restaurant by the beach, and a great ambiance.
Then there is Kleftiko, at Milos, a sheltered swimming spot with numerous natural caves once used as shelters and hideouts by pirates; and Polyaigos, an island with magnificent waters suitable for snorkelling and diving. Kolones Bay on Kythnos, Zogeria Bay on Spetses and, in the Ionian Sea, Antipaxos Island and Pera Pigadi Bay in Ithaca are also great for enjoying the sun and sea. In the evening, nothing beats cocktails on the aft deck cushions while anchored in an isolated bay, perhaps listening to music chill lounge, ambient lounge or Greek. One of the reasons I chose the Azimut was because of its huge, open aft deck where you can really enjoy the Greek sun during the day and the amazing sunsets in the evening.
We love to have barbecues on the flybridge, and fresh fish is always on the menu. Tuna, sea bass, shrimps and spaghetti with lobster are some of our favourites. I also love the amazing taste and aroma of local tomatoes, and we never forget to try the homemade specialities wherever we are eating. Favourite restaurants include Sphinx and 1800 in Santorini; Kouzina, Matsuhisa, Sea Satin and Nammos on Mykonos; the fish taverns at Naoussa Bay on Paros; Thalami on Syros; Xeri Elia on Hydra, with its live music; and Nikolas on Shinousa, which serves the best spaghetti with lobster. Having a yacht allows me to enjoy all these things. It is a reason to escape from my busy life in Athens and spend time with my family, which is why I'm fanatical about it. Start the engines and just a few moments later you find yourself gazing at the sea with calm and positive emotions and the sensation of really charging your batteries.
Although I have a captain, I love the feeling of manoeuvring the boat and sitting at the helm seat while cruising and she really feels great the way she cruises at more than 30 knots. The design is amazing, too, with those 360 degree views from wherever I am seated, inside or outside, and the magnificent master cabin with its large windows.
Spending time on the boat really brings us together as a family. We enjoy the combination of privacy, sandy beaches, elegant nightlife, sheltered anchorages, picturesque and tiny ports, fresh seafood a luxury resort vacation, but without the resort.
Published in Boat International April 2013