Sailing with Captain Panos

Sailing with Captain Panos. Doesn’t it just sound so badass? Like pirates on a ship, cruising through the Aegean Sea…

Apparently there used to be quite the number of pirates sailing between the Greek islands (or so our tour guide told us), so maybe that isn’t the best joke.

I digress.

After heavily researching things to do in Naxos, I stumbled upon a sailing cruise with Captain Panos – rated as the #1 sailing trip on tripadvisor. And for those of you travelers out there, I am sure you can agree with me that tripadvisor is like the bible of trip planning.

We eagerly headed to his banner by the marina on our first day, and just squeezed in a spot for 6 people. The next morning we would depart at 8am sharp and return about 11 hours later.

Armed with our bathing suits, towels, sunscreen, and a bag of chips (mine, duh) we hopped on the boat and secured a seat at the front. Captain Panos took his spot behind the wheel at the back, while about 12 other people loaded onto the boat, finding seats along the sides. We were happily greeted by Michalis (Michael), who would be our point of contact for the day. He brought us a few refreshments, explained the game plan, and before we knew it we were on our way!

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^ Mandatory mock Titanic poseIMG_0312.JPG

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It wasn’t a particularly windy day, so we settled for using the motor to get out and around the island. We “sailed” by the coast, admiring the little villages of white houses and the tiny churches plotted all around. Apparently, in Greece, there is free electricity within a certain range from a church (although, I forget if it was 50m or 500m). This explains why they are in the most random of places! That and the strong religious beliefs of the population.

Back to sailing, we continued our 2.5 hour cruise along the coast of Naxos.

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^ Doesn’t this look familiar?

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Now, I’m not going to pretend that I can remember (or spell) the names of the islands we visited.

So, location #1. Now my goal in Greece was to find that turquoise water you always see in pictures. Check.

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We grabbed masks, and others grabbed snorkeling gear, and slowly slid down the ladder and off the boat. The initial temperature was a bit chilly, but after a few gasps it was quite refreshing having been sitting in the sun all morning.

I even popped my head under water! There weren’t any fish to be seen, but it was incredible just how clear it really was.

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We climbed up the rocks, splashed around, and then Captain Panos asked us whether we wished to stay or leave to a new destination.

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Leave! We all shouted and returned to the boat to continue the adventure.

Michalis continued to tell us about the area – its history, climate, vegetation, etc. All while reminding us to watch out for dolphins. We chatted away, and met a great couple from Houston – who had returned from living in Hamburg for 2 years. I obviously ate this conversation right up, and it only further provoked my desire to live abroad.

Quickly we were at our next stop. A set of cliffs protruding from the water, and a few small caves. A little bit nervous, we grabbed water noodles to float, as the water was quite deep. Absolutely, ridiculously clear, but deep.

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I popped my head under for a second, saw a few sea urchins, and then swam towards the cave. The water here was super shallow, and we took a group photo before swimming through the cave into another, larger one.

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A little bit chilly, we swam back out into the sun, where we were told cliff diving was an option.

Way too much of a scaredy cat, I returned back to the boat. While the men, eager to show their stuff, jumped from a 7m rock. Eeek!

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After working up quite the appetite swimming, exploring, and jumping, we headed to a small island for lunch. I had a cheesily-delicious pasta, while the others had moussaka and various forms of cooked eggplant. At this time, I may or may not have wrapped up my extras and fed them to a hungry bunch of kittens.

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Feeling a bit sleepily from the heavy meals, we had a little snooze on the boat while we waited for the other members of our crew.

After about 15 minutes we were back at it, sailing through the sea, admiring the caves along the coastline, the clear waters, and the islands peering through the mist in the distance.

We were met with another swim (and an opportunity to swim under water between two caves or do some more cliff jumping). I passed, feeling a bit tired and not up for the adventure of holding my breath. Knowing I would fail miserably and potentially get injured. Besides, today was the first time I had put my face under the water in a long time, so I was feeling quite accomplished.

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^ Seriously though, how is this real!IMG_0342.JPG

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After about 20 minutes of adventure, we were back on the boat sailing home. On the way back we managed to grab enough wind to put the sails up for a bit and soar. I snuggled into my towel to avoid a sunburn and had a rest while the breeze brushed past us, bringing with it a sense of calming and the smell of salt water.

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Our final stop was a small church on a secluded island. The boys, again, jumped into the (now cold) water and trekked up the stairs, while I stayed behind and admired the day’s adventures.

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The day was picture perfect! Easily the best 80 euros I spent during our trip.