Mutiny On The Aegean: Greek Island Hopping Gone Wrong

It was all part of my master plan. I would learn how to steer a ship and navigate the open waters. Eventually this skill would blossom into full command of a submarine I would then use to complete my world travels beneath the sea, all while bringing to life both long-lost and futuristic civilizations underwater.

The lessons had to begin somewhere. The Greek islands made for an inconspicuous location. They’re known for beauty and luxury. No one would think I’d be going there in preparation for a world-altering marine mission.

But things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes seasickness sets in. In this case, there was an antagonist. He was Luxembourgish. And he had an attitude. He was my sailing instructor.

Setting sail in the Saronic Gulf

Sunrise at the Port of Aegina

I arrived in Greece’s Saronic Gulf. The gulf is situated between a couple Greek peninsulas, with Athens and its Piraeus Port sitting on the northwestern edge of this body of water. Smack in the middle of the gulf is the island of Aegina. In addition to being home base for the sailing course, Aegina would serve as a strategic location when I would need to plot an escape…

Playing to the inconspicuous theme, I was learning to sail through a yachting club, or rather a British association for boating sports. Known formally as the Royal Yachting Association, this boating organization is reputable, and it would offer me the opportunity to get sailing certification that is recognized worldwide… or so that was the plan.

The first week of my sailing training was the “Competent Crew” course. As someone new to sailing, my first mission was to establish myself as a useful crew member on a sailboat. The second week I would do a skipper course, which would prepare me to charter a sailboat and head out by myself to coastal waters.

In my bid to become a competent crew member, I joined one American guy and one German guy on a sailboat. They had a little experience, whereas I was new to everything.

Preparing to anchor

Sailing was very tough at first. I struggled the first day. I didn’t wreck the boat or have some newbie accident like I did with motorcycling in Thailand, but it was difficult to adapt to the conditions out at sea, and I was already physically drained from lack of sleep.

But over the next couple days, I started getting the hang of sailing. I enjoyed sailing around the Saronic Gulf, going from Aegina to other islands and then anchoring to go snorkeling, catch sunsets, eat dinner and do some exploring.

Poros

Poros, for instance, is a lovely island with a relaxing atmposhpere. We also sailed out of the gulf to the island of Hydra and the nearby port town of Ermioni in Greece’s Peloponnese region.

Sunset from Ermioni after a great day of sailing

All this time, though, there was tension bubbling inside the boat. It was getting so thick you could cut it with a skipper Swiss Army Knife. From the second day of sailing on, I knew something would have to be done… about the captain.

The captain, my instructor, was a guy from Luxembourg, not much older than me. This young man from a small landlocked country had a big ego. He was a petty dictator (and not in the Bhutanese sense of controlling). In addition to constantly bossing me around, he found amusement, or who knows what, in telling me that I could not sail. It was clear early on that he was not going to let me pass the course. When I hinted I might drop out, he got angrier and insisted that I stay put, saying I paid for the course and did not have a choice.

The stateless mutineer

I tolerated this illegitimate captain for the first few days. But by Day 4 I had already hatched a plot. It would be a one-man mutiny — no conspiracy needed. I was going to take him out all by myself. I’m a big man and I have survived favelas and anarchic situations all around the globe.

But I wasn’t going to kill the captain. After I had him tied up, I would commandeer the sailboat and guide us back to Aegina, where I would dispose of him, as well as audio recordings of his lunacy, at the office of the Royal Yachting Association. Then the Brits could figure out what to do with this chap.

After all, I have stayed in the home of a direct descendant of the Bounty mutineer leader Fletcher Christian. Remember my drunken conversations with Steve Christian on Pitcairn Island? They weren’t just for shits and giggles or for uncovering the truth about alleged sex crimes in paradise.

In truth, my mutiny was more about undermining the authority of the captain than commandeering the ship. For what did I need this sailboat and the three-man crew onboard? However, like the bounty mutineers I, too, would get away and settle on a surprise island…

Execution time

It was Day 4. My bags were packed. Come evening, it was time to spring into action. As a crew, we were going to dinner on one of the islands in the area. I told them I needed to stay behind to take a shower and that I would join them after about 10 minutes. You can’t have a mutiny without a little deception. 😉

I waited until the American, the German and the doofus Luxembourgish captain were out of sight. Then, bag in hand, or rather on my back, I darted for the ferry. I timed things so that I would board the last ferry of the day back to Aegina. The plan worked. I escaped and regained control over my exploration of the Greek islands. The captain was left in the dark.

Yeah, I deserted ship. Call me a deserter if you so please. Maybe it wasn’t a full-on mutiny. I chose flight over fight — kind of like how I handle my business with governments and tax collectors.

Still, it was a quiet mutiny. I undermined the captain. He lost 33% of his crew, and more importantly, the façade of his power fell apart.

Upon returning to Aegina, I spent a night on the island. I stayed away from the sailing school office, though I later wrote them an email explaining why I left and what a wacky captain they have serving as the instructor.

Scouting for the Pitcairn of the Aegean

At this point, I was still in the middle of an escape. This was just a stopover on Aegina. It wasn’t a sightseeing detour. Anyway, I had already visited the ancient ruins on Aegina. Sitting on top of a hill on the island is the Temple of Apollo. Built in the 6th Century BC, the temple is now a collection of ruins that overlook the port and the town of Aegina and make for a beautiful sight.

Ruins of the Temple of Apollo on Aegina

The next morning I headed to the Greek mainland en route to other islands. I had no Bounty to steer, but I made use of a ferry. Following a five-hour ferry ride, I reached the Cyclades, a famous group of islands in the Aegean Sea. Cycladic culture dates back several thousand years. Cycladic art, in the form of marble idols, or figurines, can be found in major museums today. But nowadays the islands are known mostly for Mykonos and Santorini — and the partying, honeymooning etc. that is associated with them.

Arriving in the Cyclades

My first stop in the Cyclades was Paros. While it didn’t stand out, Paros had a nice village. I wandered around and soaked in the freedom that came with enjoying the Greek islands without an overbearing Luxembourgish captain.

Paros

From Paros, I island hopped south to Santorini, a place I had long wanted to visit. I checked into a pricey hotel with a view that was worth it. Sitting out on the patio and looking out at Santorini’s caldera (the island/islands of Santorini are basically what remain from a massive volcanic eruption), I was thinking this could be a great spot for a workation.

Workation spot?

Santorini is also a great place for hiking. I explored the island by foot, taking a look at some of the breathtaking views, as well as catching the sunset from an iconic corner of Santorini that is called Oia.

Santorini sunset from Oia

More Santorini beauty

I stayed in Santorini for a couple nights, then hopped slightly to the north. Ios (not iOS or EOS), is an island that does not have the fame of Mykonos, but might be even more of a party destination. Whereas Mykonos is more upscale, Ios is more for youth and backpackers. It is beautiful, but it is basically a party island. Ios is brimming with young people, parties and clubs. I did some partying there to celebrate the conclusion of my Greek island hopping.

Ios

I opted not to settle and live the rest of my life as an islander hiding out from British authorities. Rather, I headed back to Athens, where I would catch a flight to the Black Sea to indulge in some summer beach life in Odessa, Ukraine.

But my boating career is far from over

Yes, my sailing experience went wrong, but I righted the ship. Looking back, my “incompetent crew” experience is something to laugh at. And I managed to get some spontaneous partying and bucket list sightseeing out of the experience.

Of course, before long, I will return to sea to fine tune my sailing skills. And ultimately, I will be the captain… beneath the sea and aboard the Nautilos.