Have you ever had a vacation so epic that the only way to feel like you deserved it was to work your butt off for months beforehand?
This was such a summer for me and Oysterman, as we prepped for a Greek Island cruise — our first visit to the country and our first time traveling on, gulp, a private yacht.
We already knew our Oysterville friends and neighbors, Steve and Martie, were pretty spectacular human beings: generous, talented, kind and fun. But I’m still not sure how we got lucky enough to join them on the vacation of a lifetime — a week sailing through the Greek Isles on the 120 foot private yacht of Steve’s friend, a Turkish software entrepreneur (who also has an extra helping of generosity genes).
But that’s what happened — we were invited, we said “yes, at (almost) any price, yes!”
We all agreed on a date — the tail end of the summer season — and set to the business of planning it like a location shoot. We had to book flights, reserve hotels, stockpile oysters, train new staff and beg a few favors.
Of course, I didn’t have to work as hard as Dan (he quite literally did not take a day off since March). But hey, I made sure we had travel insurance and Dramamine and all the right shoes. It was stressful, but I knew it would be worth it. Little did I know that Yachting Life would have problems of its own….
The Top 10 Problems of Yachting Life
1. Unable to pronounce the names of the Turkish crew.
It was a lot of work learning the names of our four crew: Captain Yasar, Sanye the cook, Achmed the deckhand, and the young man who acted as first mate/coffee getter/bartender/Zodiac pilot and whose name was pronounced something like “Oourdgh.” But now that I think of it, it was probably just as hard for them to deal with the seven of us.
2. Mandatory shoelessness.
walking the plank stepping on board, were were immediately relieved of our shoes by Urgh. All that outfit planning down the drain. The sweet blue and white sandles, the sexy cream and gold thongs, all remained in the suitcase and the only thing I could wear with my breezy sundresses and cute capris was a fresh manicure. Life sucks so hard when you have to be barefoot for breakfast (even if Uargh is bringing you coffee).
3. The ice in your gin and tonic melts too fast.
Warm Aegean breezes are okay for some things, like “beach” hair, but when the dilution ratio of melted ice to gin becomes unacceptable, the only solution is to either drink it faster or fall back to champagne.
4. No parking for the yacht.
There’s perhaps nothing as frustrating as having all the slips in port taken by other yachts or even cargo vessels. This causes one to have to find another, smaller, perhaps secluded port and moor in the harbor. Though it does making jumping off the boat more enjoyable, and also eliminates problem #5.
5. Loud techno music from the neighboring yacht.
We can’t hear our Tom Petty/Rolling Stones mix.
6. Hard to apply mascara when the boat is moving between islands.
The only solution is to not wear it, which is really more of a problem for my traveling companions than me.
7. Can’t decide whether to eat on the upper dining patio, lower deck or indoor dining room.
Fortunately, Oordgha is good at setting them all.
8. Ouurghh can’t pick you up from your private beach in the Zodiac because he’s too busy unloading the jet ski for “those other people.”
Enough said. See #9.
9. Those other people.
Okay, this actually wasn’t a problem at all. How did I get so lucky to have such fun, generous, brave, adventurous and easygoing companions? I’m just hoping that I wasn’t one of “those other people.”
10. Saying goodbye to Ugur.
Yes, that’s how it’s actually spelled (he has it tattooed on his arm), and it really didn’t take a week for us to learn how to pronounce it.
After six days at sea, we docked in in Athens at the port of Piraeus. We were sad to see the trip ending but also to say goodbye to our Captain and his first-rate crew (and to our fellow voyagers, new friends to whom I feel forever bound).
Yasar took care of us as his own children, shy Sanye nourished us, quiet Achmed always had a broad grin, and Ugur never stopped working (or smiling). Though, upon docking in Piraeus, Ugur seemed happier than we’d seen him all week. I’m hoping he was simply looking forward to a few days of shore leave, and not just relieved at not having to make yet another cocktail or Turkish coffee or tell us, one more time, how to pronounce his name.