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A Family Holiday with the Captain


Tyson (center) and the Captain (right). Copyright: Tyson Brooks.The perfect way to explore the Ionian Islands is by boat, and that was just what my parents had intended to do. Unfortunately we had gotten off to a bad start. It was the captain: he was threatening to leave over a piece of toilet paper that had accidentally ended up in the toilet in the late hours of our first night on his boat. Apparently the plumbing on the rented motor yacht was so sensitive that one piece of toilet paper could shut down the entire system.

 

The next day went a lot better. We settled into a routine of anchoring off deserted beaches during the day and docking in picturesque little towns at night. The water was every shade of blue in the coves and bays, and we were able to dock with our stern meters from the action on the waterfront almost every night. Some nights we enjoyed a quieter location backing on to olive groves.

The captain turned out to be our greatest ally, but subtlety was lost on him and it appeared he would never leave us to ourselves – even in port. My parents and I hadn't seen each other for a few months and wanted to catch up. Occasionally I would reappear at the boat at inopportune times and he would ask if I would like any of my mom's vodka. Seldom did he clean up after himself. He was a camera buff, too, and would constantly change the settings on my mother's camera when she left it behind in her camera bag.

The captain had been going to sea for many years. He had been a sponge diver, a salvage diver and a sailor. He would maneuver the large yacht into spaces that appeared too tight and he always ensured the boat was safe under any conditions. When we somehow dropped the rope connected to the second anchor, he dove down the 40 or so feet to retrieve it. He would even go diving for sea urchins and other strange, slug-like creatures to add to his dinner.

Tyson practices captaining his own small craft. Copyright: Tyson Brooks.

One day we could see miniature tornadoes swirling in the distance and the white caps rose to become a white squall. When the wind started funneling into the bay, spray soaked the yacht's fly bridge, which rose some 20 feet above the sea. Foam and spray rose above the ocean waves forming a flat white layer flying above the sea. In the comparatively calm harbor, tenders (small runaround boats) flew like kites tethered to their yachts. Occasionally, anchors would pull loose from their holdings and boats would attempt to motor away from shore, often locked with other boats by their intertwined anchors. Passengers on many boats had donned survival suits.

It was not only in bad weather that boats went astray. Many sailing yachts seemed to be crewed by amateurs, some unable to tie the simplest knots. One such yacht had difficulty parking beside us. A husband attempted to row ashore using a rope attached to his large sailing boat, while his wife, wearing garden gloves, became concerned that they were drifting towards us and not towards the shore. She jumped on the controls and accelerated away, leaving the poor husband in his rubber dinghy to bounce off our boat twice before almost becoming entangled in our anchor chain. In almost every port this comedy of errors continued with a different boat and a different couple. It was safe for us to laugh because we had a good captain who knew exactly what he was doing.