Lefkada Official

Lefkadians life

Lefkada Official

Ionian Spirit

“Hello Fabio?”

“Ela Christos how are you?”

“Let say fine, you?”

“Fine thanks, tell me everything.”

“I sold the boat.”

“What did you do?!”

The first time I saw Ionian Spirit was in 2019.

It seems like a century ago.

I was sailing my furious Nitroglicerina, I had Sparti on port and Perigiali on starboard.

Then I saw her, splendid, with that old charm and her two masts made of wood like her planking.

I decided to end the enjoyment.

Let’s face it, I had had enough for that day.

I’m not 20 years old any more and going that hard after a few hours tires you out. On a physical level I mean.

So I let go of the sails, point my bow at her and approach curiously with Nitroglicerina acting the recalcitrant jealous. As in “what is it with you and grannies now?”

The closer I get, the more enchanted I am by her lines of yesteryear. I put my bow to the wind a few metres away from her and then of course her captain goes up on deck to see who those 11 metres of mast dancing so close to her side belonged to.

“Kalimera, ola kala?” Christos tells me.

“Yes yes all right, I was here admiring your boat.”

“Oh thank you.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen it.”

“Yes in fact I’ve just been here.”

“The way you speak Italian I imagine you have worked in Italy until now.”

“Not really but I have a lot of Italian friends, yours on the other hand? Pure racing.”

“Yes indeed. I will be at the Sailing Ionian Regatta in a fortnight.”

“Ah well then I’ll see you there!”

moment of uncertainty…

“You’ll come to watch the regatta?”

“In a way… I will be the jury boat.”

The 2019 edition was the last Southern Ionian Regatta and Rally worth mentioning, we made a mess that will be recounted in the history books.

In particular Nitroglicerina with me, Dave (Scotland) and Alan (England) on board came close to crashing at the start passing within 3 centimetres of the gangway of Ionian Spirit, aka the jury boat.

The funny thing was that it was all for naught because we ended up 46th out of 49… then we finished third but I will write about that another time.

Ionian Spirit became a constant presence in the years that followed, placid and tranquil as it ploughed through the beautiful, crystal-clear waters that embrace the archipelago.

Then in 2022 Christos phoned me.

We met in Karya, in the square.

It was Winter, it was absurdly cold despite the Sun and I had the unhealthy idea of going there by motorbike.

“It’s only six kilometres anyway,” I said to Alina who was shaking her head.

I arrived frozen.

Christos was there with a boy with long auburn and curly hair looking very funny.

“Hi Fabio.”

“Ela Christos how are you?”

“Eh, let’s say fine…”

“You can’t be fine after selling Ionian Spirit.”

“Eh but you know… I have an elderly mother and I don’t have that much time to devote to her you know…”

He let the sentence die there, then resumed….

“This is Francesco.”

Have you ever heard Greek spoken with a Sicilian accent?


Well, it is a beautiful experience.

Francesco is sympathy made flesh.

“Pleased to meet you Francesco Giordano.”

“My pleasure Francesco, I am Fabio, but… By chance did you race in a car?”

Francesco is a former Formula 3 driver who has not completely given up racing.

Testifying to this statement of mine in his garden are parked an AMG A-Class and a 600-horsepower GTR that when they scream from the exhaust pipes wake up even the deaf.

He bought Ionian Spirit, which in yet another kiss of luck could not have fallen into better hands.

He spent all winter and all spring servicing her.

Every now and then Francesco would call me for advice and I would go to the construction site.

It was in a constant cloud of dust, while inside, like ants, the workers gave each other no respite.

I couldn’t understand how it could be ready for the season, and yet they made it in time.

She was beautiful, when I saw her again launched in the waters of the Ionian Sea she had become splendid.

“I would like to do something special with her, something that hasn’t been seen here in Lefkada yet.”

“Well Fra I’d say luxury cruising is a given.”

“Yes that is the target, but I would like to dare more.”

When Francesco speaks Italian his Sicilian lilt is obvious. He is Italo-Greek, or rather Siculo-Greek as he likes to call himself. A Sicilian father and a Greek mother.

“Look I am a sommelier and have always done wine tastings on my catamaran, only given the space below deck I have never been able to match the dishes as I would have liked.”

“Ah please, on board I have both a kitchen and a bbq if you want, just tell me what to cook.”

“If we did tastings with dishes paired with each type of wine?”

“That’s exactly what I would like to do! Something innovative! Does anyone here already do that?”

“Not that I know of…”

The inaugural tasting was a day we will remember for years.

It was me and Alina, Francesco and his Annamaria, his in-laws Kostas and Anna and the British gang from Vafkeri, who as always never misses the best occasions to remember.

In extremis, Leon and Charmain dropped out, but in return, Elio and Sonia arrived… all told.

A memorable day.

At that time the captain of Ionian Spirit was still Minas, a tough guy.

A Greek forged from the Indian Ocean, raised on wood and diesel two-strokes.

Now Ionian Spirit is anything but easy to manoeuvre, he would turn her round and round like a pond.

We found ourselves in Perigiali, climbed aboard and after the ritual of pre-starting the engine, the ticking of the immense 3-cylinder diesel mesmerised us.

We pulled away from the dock with a manoeuvre that you wouldn’t find written in the manuals. A manoeuvre that today Francesco, in all the confidence of the talent he has for steering anything with an engine, does a few centimetres from the concrete of the pier.

Ionian Spirit headed for the channel, then past Scorpio the captain turned left to reach the splendid north-west bays, not before making a pirate foray into the bay of Porto Spilia.

The anchorage was another of those manoeuvres that leave you speechless.

Minas anchored in a space where with Nitro I would have had doubts about doing so… there’s nothing to be done guys, Greeks are born to be put in charge of a boat.

As if it were the most natural thing in the world then, the captain turned on the bbq a few minutes after turning off the engine.

I begin my tasting, explain to the guests the differences between the different types of glasses and why they are different, illuminate them with the silvery reflections of the Tastevin and surprise them with two fantastic Apulian sparkling wines that can now be found on the Ionian Spirit wine list.

The whites, on the other hand, are Greece:

Moscofilero from the Peloponnese, Assirtiko from Santorini… And then we move on to a rosé from Mount Athos… no less.

A fantastic tasting. One pearl after another.

All accompanied by excellent dishes prepared by the talented Annamaria.

When you are in good company and enjoy a pleasant moment, you hardly notice the passage of time.

The two sailing ships in the bay had disappeared as if in a spell.

We were left alone, with the birds singing and the cool breeze singing through the rigging.

What is a moment of magic during a day?

A blink of an eye that brings us back to normality?

The flap of a swallow’s wings that, like the best acrobatic pilot, passes within millimetres of the timbers of your mast?

Or just the awareness of living a moment so beautiful that you are almost afraid to breathe in order to break the crystal of its purity?

I don’t know… but what I do know is that it is splendid to remember.

“Ehy Fab… but what a wonderful day we had again today?” said Dave to me a few hours later when we found ourselves in Vafkeri as we were walking our dogs.

But it was the way he said it that made all the difference.

What he felt as he said it.

Then we realised…

The Ionian Spirit. His Soul.

He’s been sailing the seas since 1956. An encyclopaedia of emotions, for those who know how to listen.

I can’t wait to get back on board.

Right now, as I write this.


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