First of all I can’t claim credit for the ‘dream to create’ title, it was actually a quote from the french poet and novelist, Victor Hugo.
This week I finally got to retake a photo that was first taken, give or take a few weeks, 20 years ago. It was of my daughters near the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion in Greece.
The story behind it is that it was our first family holiday abroad on our own without any other family members. It was an absolutely fantastic holiday and one that I would pay a king’s ransom to relive.
So what’s the story then?
Bear in mind that at that time I wasn’t a qualified skipper and wasn’t particularly into sailing although I’d always had an interest in the history and the pioneer spirit of it. During the holiday I’d hired a car for a few days so we could have a trip around the area. We were staying around 1 hour north from what is now, coincidentally, our base at Lavrion. There was also at that time no long term plan to set up Atlas Sailing either.
On our trip we happened upon this place called Sounion where high upon the hill stood the majestic Temple of Poseidon. We drove up to it and had a wander around. All the time boring old me is using the camcorder and taking photos. While I was stood looking out at the blue Aegean seascape with the temple behind me I gazed in wonder at what a sight to behold it would be to see this from seaward perspective. There was a yacht sailing in the distance with the white sails standing out against the blue background and I was burning with envy at what they were doing. Before leaving the area I took another photo of my daughters with the island of Makronisos and the channel behind them. Here begins a 20 year odyssey….
We then left Sounion and headed north for what ended up being a nightmare drive into the centre of Athens. I hadn’t been planning this spin through hell but because of some wrong turns we ended up in the centre (remember, there was no Satnav in those days).
Fast forward a few years
As time went by I ended up taking up sailing and eventually setting up Atlas Sailing. From setting up to present I have to admit there have been some extremely difficult times. Without trying to sound like a hero I could honestly say many others would have definitely fallen by the wayside. I’m in the process of documenting the odyssey of Atlas from 2012 to present in order to highlight what can be achieved if you actually stop moaning and just get on with things.
As I mentioned previously, there was never any long term dream to actually end up being based in Greece, and certainly not to be based on the doorstep of Cape Sounion. However, while we were operating from Fleetwood we had started to do charters around Greece using yachts of contacts I had out there. It was around this time sailing around the Saronic Gulf that the thought came into my head of how nice it would be to have the daughters out sailing with us and retake one of the photos from years gone by.
After a chat with her ladyship (the one that eats for England) where I explained about the situation at Fleetwood, I weighed up our options. In addition to the problems being caused by the marina I was getting severely jacked off with the terrible weather in Britain. One of the options was to relocate to ‘The Med’
The place we settled on was La linea and we spent a year sailing in that area but because of the lack of variation of places to visit we looked into moving to Greece. So after speaking with a few contacts over there and doing a bit of research we decided on Olympic Marina near the port of Lavrion. It is now that the dream starts to actually seem achievable.
In 2016 we move to Greece and start to enjoy sailing around some of the most beautiful places and islands in Greece.
Here come the girls
It was now that I decided on trying to get the girls out with us in order to retake the photo. It was difficult to arrange a mutually convenient time where they could get time of work and we could slot in the trip between our charters.
Well, this week it finally happened although it didn’t go completely according to plan. We were messed about by the crane operator and only ended up getting lifted back into the water a couple of hours before I had to collect the girls from the airport. I had planned on being able to spend a couple of days doing some work on the boat so this wasn’t now possible.
The weather also wasn’t in our favour meaning we had to return to port a day earlier than planned in order to avoid some difficult conditions at sea. We still managed to show them Kea, Angistri, Korfos and Poros but had to miss out Hydra.
The 20 year cycle is completed
After returning to base we had a drive down to Sounion to retake the photo. I was struggling getting the same angle for the shot. I had forgotten that they are now somewhat taller than they were in 1999.
As said, to get to this point I’ve been through some SERIOUS shit but if nothing else it shows what can be done with a positive attitude. Always remember, a dream doesn’t become reality through magic, it takes hard work, sweat and a shitload of determination.
That’s about it though I must say it’s not all been down to me (most of it but not all). I have to give a special mention to the wife for stepping in when others bailed out. There have also been others that have been helpful but a very special mention must be given to our dear friends Bob and Linda Abbott who, from when I first landed at Fleetwood, have been very supportive and who we now share some very, very special memories with.
Here below are the photos on top of each other. I must add that the weather was quite cold when retaking the shot and nowhere near as sunny.