No Medicane, just Monday.
Traveling to tropical places often comes with exposure to extreme conditions and their after effects. An active volcano in Hawaii for example, or the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the British Virgin Islands. We bring people to places that are beautiful, exotic, and ok, perhaps a little volatile, weather-wise. And again and again, it’s amazing how a few incredible swims in a place can lull us into feeling entitled to calm, excellent conditions. Silly.
As we winged our way eastward toward Greece, the news got louder and louder about the rare hurricane-type storm building up steam in the Mediterranean - the Medicane.
Come on, already. Everywhere we go??
In spite of a rainy, windy two days before our charter start, I’m relieved and happy to report that the Medicine, named Zorba, changed course and slipped well to our south. Sadly, it has battered more southerly Greek Islands and is currently marching toward Turkey - another place I have loved to swim. I’ll be thinking about the lovely places we scouted there tonight as the storm passes through, hopefully with mercy.
But you can imagine my pleasure when I awoke this morning, popped my head out of the hatch to see dark but clearing skies. Hello Monday!
Let me back up.
The VERY first thing I saw this morning, was Princess Lulu’s sweet face as she extended her hand down into my hatch holding the perfect cup of coffee. For me, in bed. I’ll love you forever, Lulu.
So yes, the coffee in bed thing followed by the clearing skies thing and I was ready for a great day.
And so it proved to be!
Richie raised the anchor at 7am sharp, as planned, and moved us to the location of our first swim of the day - Skorpios Island, made famous by its famous owners, the Onassis family. Aristotle and Jackie were married on this island, and it was the venue of many glamorous parties thrown by the couple. The island is currently under a 100 year lease to a Russian billionaire who gifted it to his 24 year old daughter. Still, the mystique hangs, and we were all a little gawking and excited to jump in. On approach, we saw a small fishing boat in a tiny cove, just below a very cool villa, like something out of a Bond film. We weren’t sure the guy in the boat was or what he would think about us jumping in so close to the very private and highly secure island, but it didn’t stop us.
It did stop Simon from executing his plan for a James Bond style swim up to the island, where he fantasized about coming ashore and unzipping down to his tuxedo. That would have been fun to watch.
We plotted a swim along a line of buoys and around a large peninsular outcrop, and around the corner to end at “Jackie’s Beach”, where the former first lady was notoriously photographed in the nude by paparazzi while trying to enjoy a swim. As a skinny dipper myself, I feel for her.
During our swim, Richie moved Cassiopeia around along side of us, and as he pulled into the cove of Jackie’s Beach, our yacht was circled tightly by some fast moving security forces in a very authoritative looking boat. They made their warning display and split.
We floated and bobbed a bit at Jackie’s, found a few sea stars, an annelid worm and assorted schools of tiny fish along the stunning rock formations just beneath the surface.
We boarded to a hot breakfast of eggs to order (thank you lulu), followed by a lovely 2 hour sail south to the island of Ithika. We pulled into lovely, turquoise Frikes cove about a half mile from the small fishing village of Kioni.
We lunched (more A-mezzes, echfaristo, Lulu!) and sun bathed and jumped in for some stroke video recording. Recording our swimmers underwater for later review has become one of the most popular things we can offer on SwimVacation, and Simon is such an excellent stroke technician and teacher.
The video session lead right into a windy swim. Everyone sort of did their own thing - such independent fishies we have. It’s good they each know what they want, and know what they need from a swim. A few of us went around a few corners to find one beautiful cove after another. The cliffs that line the coves are stunning slabs of limestone like drip sandcastles of pure white, topped by an assortment of trees in so many greens. There are the light silvery greens of the wild olive trees, the kelly greens of some other deciduous trees with long, slim trunks, and the deeper green of the tall, pointy cypress trees. The shapes and textures are so uniquely Mediterranean. The turquoise plus white plus so many shades of greeness. You’ve seen this post card. Today, we swam it.
At one point, Natalie surprised and amazed me when she swam right up to one of these steep cliff faces and proceeded to climb. Like a spider monkey, up she went. Effortless. I sat in 8 inches of water beneath her, flabbergasted and terrified (and taking pictures) as she scaled up probably 25 or 30 feet. Soaking wet, like it was nothing at all. Natalie is 66. I can’t move like that now so it would be pointless to hope I can do so at her age. She climbed down again and sat in the water and said to me, “I just had to!”. Did you? I guess you did. Amazing, Natalie.
We made our way back to the boat and climbed up for a hot water rinse and a short motor sail to our anchorage for the night. We rest now in the calm waters off of Skinos Beach, also along Ithika’s textured, colorful shores.
Simon gave our swimmers some useful tips in his stroke review session, and we all gabbed over Lulu’s stuffed chicken, potatoes and vegetables. The healthy, delicious eating continues.
Our first full day must have tired our gang out, as just about everyone was to bed by 9.
I’ve absconded to my tiny little berth on the bow with my laptop for some in bed blogging, and took a gaze up to the stars before turning in. This clear night, with all of these stars, so many of them a part of constellations named for Greek legends and myths. What history here, what color and texture and tone. What a very special place to be.
And so I end the day where I began, hoping beyond hope that in the morning, this laptop in my bed will turn into another cup of hot coffee, before I rise to what tomorrow holds.