At last we were in Greece and heading for Athens where we had an appointment with a yacht broker to look at a catamaran – a Lagoon 420 – which we had been planning to view for what seemed like a very long time.
We decided to take the freeway which started very close to Kalpaki, just over the border from Albania, where we had stayed the previous night.
The road was beautiful – fantastic road surface, bathroom and picnic facilities at very regular intervals and hardly a car to be seen! It was such a pleasure after driving in Italy, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania with mad drivers and often terrible roads.
We soon learnt why the roads were so empty – the tolls were astronomical! We went through toll booths with monotonous regularity and as we were in a campervan, paid extra each time. The total for our day’s trip came to more than 50 Euros (Aus $80).
Quite by chance, we stopped for lunch near an archeological site and it was great to read detailed information about the recent finds in ancient Limnaia which overlooks the modern city of Amphilochia on the Ambracian Gulf. We ate our lunch to that typical Greek sound of goats’ bells tinkling on the nearby hillside.
Soon we were crossing over the spectacular Rion-Antirion Bridge (one of the world’s longest multi-span cable stayed bridges) spanning the Gulf of Corinth which almost splits mainland Greece in two. We then drove on a narrow road following the water’s edge to a campervan site in a small village by the beach called Aigio.
The next morning, walking along the pretty Neikoleika Beach, we were intrigued to see two people loading what seemed like their whole world on to their bikes. It turned out that’s exactly what they were doing!
Keiichiro Kawahara has been travelling around the world by bike since 2011. A trained nurse, he camps, couch surfs and stays as a guest at the home of people he meets on his travels. He met his Japanese girlfriend in Australia. You meet some fascinating people when you travel!
On our way again – next stop Athens. We had left plenty of time to get there for our meeting but getting lost and heavy traffic almost sabotaged our prospects. We ended up arriving only a few minutes late and just before the yacht broker, Yiannis of YD Yachts, arrived at our meeting place in Alimos Marina.
The moment we had been waiting for had at last arrived! To get to the catamaran that we were interested in, we had to walk through a vast number of sail boats of all shapes and sizes all up on the hard standing. There were thousands of them!
Finally the boat we had come to see – S/V Sunday – came into view. As promised by Yiannis, she was in excellent condition and most importantly, it was easy to see that she had been well cared for.
After a short while, the owners Nikos Zouras and his son Manos, came to join us. It was evident from what they said and their obvious pride in the boat that they were no ordinary charter boat operators. In fact, they only owned two boats and they had lavished them both with all the care you could hope for.
Nikos and Manos took us round Sunday and made sure we saw absolutely everything there was to see. They knew exactly what had been replaced when, and answered all our questions and more.
To be sure, Sunday has had a few dings and scrapes in her ten years on the water but they were all repaired well. The sails had been replaced in 2016, the canvas upholstery work and clears had been replaced recently, the plumbing for the toilets and the winches were refurbished every year, the teak and topsides were all well looked after and the electronics and engines looked to be in good shape and had received regular services. For a ten year-old boat she looked great and was well priced.
We were planning to look at other boats (all Lagoon 420s as we had already decided that was the boat for us) but we decided that we couldn’t have found better value anywhere else.
The following day we had a meeting with Yiannis to give him the good news but we weren’t prepared for the very Greek way in which this was done. We met in the restaurant next to the car park Yiannis had introduced us to and where we could stay for no payment. We ordered coffees all round and then we talked. We talked about sailing, about Yiannis’ wife’s business, about family and everything except about the boat sale. After about two hours of chat we managed to introduce the subject of the boat sale, and let Yiannis know that we wanted to buy her and then another meeting was arranged to sign contracts etc a few days later.
Although protracted, the whole process of buying a boat in Greece was so relaxed and friendly. When we met up a few days later with Nikos and Manos the drill was the same – several cups of coffee, lots of chat, more information on the boat, where to winter over, best places to cruise etc. Finally we signed the contract!
We will be taking possession of Sunday (to be renamed Bali Hai Too) in October, once her final charters are fulfilled, surveys are conducted etc and we have done some more travelling in our “land yacht”.
We can’t wait to be back on the water again and to spend next year exploring the wonderful Greek islands!