that I had overlooked the recommendation to bring gloves.
Sailing is quite intense teamwork, requiring concentration and communication: perfect for testing marital harmony. During all this, Joe sometimes got a bit forgotten. He wasn’t strong enough to pull the ropes, and I wondered if we should have waited until he was a little older.
However, what he could do was hold the wheel. Standing on the bench that ran around the cockpit, he could steer all on his own. This was popular.
Each evening we moored in pretty ports on Paxos. Manoeuvring with the engine into a tight space and dropping anchor at the right moment was challenging.
There was a huge sense of sweaty achievement at finally coming to a bobbing standstill.
We dined most evenings en masse at local tavernas serving simple Greek food and carafes of local plonk. We made friends. Joe had fun, kicking balls around and playing games with the lead crew, who never seemed to tire.
Which brings us up to Mongonisi and that pivotal decision. Could we really sail without Ailsa?
We had to. Pride was at stake. The other novice couple had been sailing without help. (Though I should point out that they’d been rescued by the lead boat several times and not had the sails up much.)
The next day, conditions were perfect, the wind just off the bow. Motoring out between other yachts was stressful, but once we were in open sea, Karen held the wheel and I hauled on the genoa. Joe kept a lookout for pirates.
We were moving! The mainsail went up and, again, we felt that pleasing rush of adrenalin as Vanessa seemed to pause a moment, then leapt forward across the waves.
Once we were on our way, we hoisted a Jolly Roger, which Karen just happened to have brought. Now we were real pirates.
“Can I steer, Dad?” Joe asked. “Sure,” I replied.
And there we were, all three of us, sailing our own yacht on the azure sea.
Next time we just need to show Joe how to stay on course.