Best three days of vacation I’ve ever had

The three days on Christos and Annie’s boat were probably the three best days of vacation I’ve ever had in my life.

My best friend and I wanted to sail along the south of Crete, but our budget was a bit limited. Thankfully Christos had time in his schedule for just three days, and we sailed from Hora Sfakion to Gavdos, then to Loutro and along the southern coast.

One of my favourite parts of the trip was the privacy and exclusivity – the lack of any other boats on the water. In the north of Crete, there were dozens if not hundreds of sailboats available for charter, and there were tons of boats out in the water whenever we drove through Rethymnon and Chania and Heraklion. Christos and Annie’s boat was the only sailboat stationed on the southern part of the island, and we could go an entire day without seeing a single other boat out on the water. It was like we had the entire south of Crete all to ourselves.

We saw amazing places on the trip. I originally wasn’t that interested in Gavdos island, but we put ourselves in Christos’s hands, and he recommended it, so we did it – and I’m so glad we did. It was one of the high points of the trip. There are only 85 permanent residents on an island roughly the size of Manhattan (although there are tourists, though not even 1% as many as in places like Chania). Christos arranged a private tour by car with a fellow named Niko, who showed us some of the most beautiful parts of the island and gave us fascinating bits of history (like why there are so many tiny chapels on the Greek islands, and that they were also used as fortifications against pirates). If you get a chance, do a tour of Gavdos with Niko! He’s hilarious and lots of fun!

We went snorkelling through caves with sparkling shafts of sunlight… jumped off cliffs into the sapphire waters… dangled our feet off the side of the boat (don’t worry, there are no sharks or any other dangerous animals in the Mediterranean)… and ate amazing food. One of the first things Annie made for us was dakos, a Cretan speciality of tomatoes, oregano, olive oil, and mizithra cheese on carob bread. In fact, I had probably the best fish I’ve ever had in my life on the boat: fresh fish that Christo caught spearfishing, and prepared amazingly by Annie, with potatoes and spices cooked inside the fish.

Probably the most important thing was that Christos and Annie are wonderful, lovely people. Christos always made us feel safe as the captain of the boat and was open to giving us tons of options but willing to do whatever we wanted. He’s also very funny and animated. Annie was warm and gracious and happy and made us feel like honoured guests. Together they were the main reason that the trip felt like a cruise for a king and a queen.

As an aside, my friend sailed halfway across the world on her own 30 years ago, and she said that Christos was an incredible captain. She said she felt safe and secure with him piloting the boat, and the trip for her had an added poignancy and joy being able to sail as she had so many years ago.

As I said, this was probably the best three-day vacation I’ve ever had in my life. Our other days spent on Crete were wonderful, but our time on the boat stood out as something incredibly special. If you want to cruise the coast of Crete and experience the luxury of feeling like you’re the only people out on the water, with wonderful company, incredible food, and gorgeous views, I cannot recommend Christos and Annie enough.