My background of working with maritime attractions means that I know my port from my starboard and my heads from my toilets but I’m more accustomed to referring to sea-faring vessels as ships and the only spinnaker I know is a viewing tower.
I had got pretty bored of lazy holidays – sunbathing really isn’t my thing – and not being able to refuse a last-minute bargain, I decided to take the plunge and go for a sailing and watersports holiday at Club Vounaki in Greece. Slightly nervous about what to pack, I apprehensively ditched the heels for aqua shoes, swapped the sarong for polarised sunnies and substituted the bikini for something a little more sporty.
A smooth flight and short 45 minute transfer from Preveza airport and we were there at the beach club – greeted by a swarm of staff and a welcome drink. We were given time to chat to the friendly staff about the activities on offer and find out about the week ahead, before settling in to a comfortable night in our spacious room.
On our first morning, after a hearty breakfast, we headed straight to the beach and took out a couple of kayaks to get a feel for the water. I’d kayaked before (in the…ahem…girl guides) so I actually felt quite smug as I cut through the water’s smooth surface.
We were a bit more nervous about the dinghy sailing. We attended the free clinic with a member of the beach team on shore but found it difficult to grasp how things would work actually on the water. Finally we plucked up the courage to go it alone. I quickly realised that I wasn’t nervous about capsizing – that was inevitable – but more about being out of control and perhaps ending up out of the sailing area, or worse, into the rocks! After a couple of hours I realised I wasn’t a natural but it was fun all the same. And better to learn in the warm waters of the Ionian than the chilly Solent!
So we decided to join one of the free Wayfarer Sailaway days, taking a trip across the water to the gorgeous Church Bay, as a compromise. Luckily, by putting our name down early we were able to join others who could actually sail – a bonus – and learn a bit more while we were at it. Although the ‘experienced’ sea-dog we put our trust in did get us into trouble with the Beach Team, who had to chase us on their jet-ski to make sure we weren’t sailing off with their boat…
I was grateful for all the on-water activity, not least because of all the delicious food we had to burn off. It turns out you can have olives and feta cheese for all three meals a day when it’s all-inclusive and Mr Southsea Wanderer – who knows a thing or two about calamari – claims it was the best he’d ever tasted.
Another highlight was the coach trip to nearby Lefkas, with its Roman ruins and friendly restaurants, where Mr SW took it up a notch and tried grilled octopus. He enjoyed it so much that, on learning that there was an octopus living in the marina at our resort he named Invertibrus Maximus and vowed to catch it and eat it (luckily he didn’t succeed). We did, however, satisfy our respective curiosities for religion and history when we found a beautiful Orthodox church which was open late and bought a very detailed, carved icon. Through the wonders of mime and loud talking we managed to establish with the Greek nun that what we’d bought was made of wax.
Whilst we will probably never get to the stage of sailing solo on a top-notch 444 catamaran, we did come away knowing the difference between a jib and a genoa and accomplished the mission of having a beach holiday that offered some adventure on the water as well as relaxation next to it.
- Neilson now offer Beach Club holidays to Vounaki