PAXOS

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

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.

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