A Tale of Two Cats
When we first boarded the rangy 50-footer, in a small marina in the Gulf of Corinth near the entrance to the Corinth Canal-the nearly four-mile waterway to the Saronic Gulf that cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, which separates the Peloponnesus peninsula and the Greek mainland-it was blowing a solid 30 knots, the sun was low in the afternoon sky, and six-foot waves were stacking up outside the breakwater. I added it all up and reckoned we'd be staying put for the night.
But skipper Leo Siafias was ready for action. We'd barely said hello before he was instructing his first mate, Alexandra Kouri, to untie the dock lines and haul in the fenders. Before we knew it, we were headed out.
I joined Leo on the flybridge steering station as he hailed the canal authorities on the VHF asking for clearance to enter the canal. And I was absolutely blown away by Lepanto's sure-handed ability to withstand, and even revel in, the horrendous seaway. As we watched a 40-foot monohull get pounded mercilessly, aboard Lepanto we endured a mere dollop of spray here and there when tacking through, or muscling head-on into, the seas. The twin 75-horsepower Volvo Penta diesels handled the fierce, breaking waves with aplomb, and before we knew it, we were coursing between the tall walls of the canal canyon in still waters with the engines in neutral and all sails furled, still making seven knots of boat speed before the fresh, funneling northerly breeze.
Once clear of the canal, we motorsailed down the coast to the small, confined harbor at Nea Epidhavros. The next morning, after we had coffee and a dip in the pretty anchorage, Alexandra gave me a tour of the impressive Lagoon.
The 500 is a yacht that happens also to be a three-story townhouse consisting of the upper-deck flybridge/penthouse, the central living/dining/social area, and the "subterranean" bedroom suites below. It makes for an incredible chartering platform and feels much, much bigger than 50 feet. In fact, after the several days we'd spent on the Nautitech 47, the Lagoon felt considerably larger and more substantial; it seemed surreal that it was a mere three feet longer.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the coachroof on the 500 is styled in the distinctive Lagoon profile, which is a bit reminiscent of a gun turret in a military embankment. To my eye, it's somewhat squarish, though it certainly does establish the brand. And to give credit where it's due, the builders have done a good job incorporating the upstairs tier into the overall design, which flows nicely with the overall lines and is quite unobtrusive-rather amazing, given the entire package. With electric Harken winches for the main halyard, the reefing lines, and the mainsheet, a remote windlass control, easy access to headsail sheets, and a full suite of Raymarine instruments, including a chart plotter and a VHF, the boat can be fully operated from the flybridge. It's push-button sailing at its finest, with an epic view, as well.
The aft cockpit has an expansive wraparound settee and a large table around which at least eight could be seated for dinner. A wet bar with its own sink is to port, and a nifty set of sliding glass windows can open up to merge the central saloon with the outdoor area, thereby optimizing the floor plan for parties and for entertaining.
The main cabin has another large dining table and matching settee just aft of the navigation station, work desk, and home-entertainment center, which includes a full set of Raymarine repeaters (and a joystick for the autopilot, allowing inside steering), a laptop computer, and an LG flat-screen television. The turret, looks aside, is very functional, permitting plenty of natural light to flow through the interior. The full gourmet galley, which includes a four-burner stove and oven, is to port.
The list of other features, along with the four lavish staterooms, goes on and on: three fridges, a combination washer/dryer, full air-conditioning, a dishwasher and watermaker, a deep freezer, half a dozen electric heads, and a 15-kilowatt Onan generator to power it all.
Alas, our time aboard Lepanto was brief, and after our tour of the boat, we spent a long day motoring back to the marina in Lavrion, where our travels began. We only wished we could've made our way back toward the islands.
After all, on this compact voyage, we barely scratched the surface of what Greece, surely one of the world's great cruising grounds, has to offer. But that left us with plenty of incentive to return sometime soon. Besides, we already know where the dolphins frolic-and of the good omens that always follow.
Greece: The Olympic Way
Our travels through Greece were arranged and hosted by Olympic Yacht Charters USA (www.olympicyacht
charters.com), a full-service travel company that provides bareboat and crewed charters through the Saronic, Cyclades, Dodecanese, and Ionian island groups as well as flotilla-charter opportunities and private land tours. For more information, contact New York-based charter specialist Alex Mazarakis via phone (718-392-7992 or toll-free at 1-877-2GREECE) or e-mail (email@example.com).
A Worthwhile Sidetrip
Do you remember the movie Shallow Hal? With regard to museums, antiquities, packaged tours, and the like, I might as well be Shallow Herb. When I'm going sailing, I generally like to keep things simple, as in Let's go sailing.
So when I learned that we'd spend the first days of our charter in Greece wandering by car in the countryside, I was less than excited. But a day later, sitting atop the remarkable, 2,500-year-old amphitheater of Epidhavros and taking in the commanding view, my perspective was forever altered. Down below, on the floor of the theater, a woman with a majestic voice broke into a stirring rendition of "Ave Maria" that reduced the crowd to stunned silence until the final note, when everyone responded with thunderous applause. It turned out to be a lasting memory of the trip.
In fact, our entire two-day drive over the bridge at the Corinth Canal and through the Peloponnesus peninsula was a highlight of our adventures. From the delightful waterfront cafés in Navplion to the mountainous terrain of Delphi, where the Delphic oracle held court alongside the Temple of Apollo, the side trip was a visual sensation in its own right, but it also put into clear perspective the history and culture we'd soak up once we were under way.
Our guide, Peter Mazarakis-his brother, Alex, runs Olympic Yacht Charters (see above) was a fount of knowledge and stories, and his love of his country was infectious. The land tour also allowed some decompression after the transatlantic flight; by the time we shoved off for the islands, we were rested and ready to go. Needless to say, I'm now a convert. If you're headed to the Caribbean, by all means bolt for the water. But if you're taking in Greece, consult with your charter operator and take the time to see the wonders of Athens or some of the nation's other rich venues and destinations. This shallow one highly recommends it.
Specs: Nautitech 47
Gorgias, a Nautitech 47
LOA 47' 5" (14.50 m.)
LWL 46' 0" (14.00 m.)
Beam 25' 9" (7.60 m.)
Draft 3' 9" (1.20 m.)
Sail Area 1,244 sq. ft. (115 sq. m.)
Displacement 24,441 lb. (11,086 kg.)
Water 234 gal. (885 l.)
Fuel 116 gal. (440 l.)
Mast Height 59' 0" (17.98 m.)
Engines Twin Yanmar 53-hp. diesels
Specs: Lagoon 500
Lepanto, a Lagoon 500
LOA 51' 0" (15.54 m.)
LWL 49' 0" (14.93 m.)
Beam 28' 0" (8.53 m.)
Draft 4' 6" (1.40 m.)
Sail Area 1,722 sq. ft. (160 sq. m.)
Displacement 37,639 lb. (17,073 kg.)
Water 252 gal. (960 l.)
Fuel 252 gal. (960 l.)
Mast Height 78' 5" (23.90 m.)
Engines Twin Volvo Penta 75-hp. diesels
Designers Van Peteghem/Lauriot Prévost
Herb McCormick is a CW editor at large.