When I left Sailing Logic last year I was very clear in my mind that I wanted more diversity in my life. I had become frustrated with my lifestyle and I was getting a little stale with the same programme year after year.  Upon completing my latest adventure I am sitting on the plane home reflecting on this decision and am looking back at the last twelve months and how my life has been re-moulded and improved.

Just over ten days ago I arrived in Patmos, a small but very beautiful island in the South Aegean Sea, on a high-speed ferry, the Island is too small for an airport.  I was greeted by a beaming Olivia who was extremely excited to be embarking on the first holiday of the year on her 33 foot Dick Newick trimaran, which was fresh out of an extensive refit.

I have always been a fan of Olivia’s infectious enthusiasm and had to be subtle in my approach to suppress her understandable desire to leave that afternoon into a force six headwind.  Luckily Olivia was easily swayed by the suggestion of a leisurely evening relaxing in the warmth of a Mediterranean Taverna, with the promise of a downwind blast to Kos, setting off at sunrise the next morning.

For the first and last time on the voyage we left bang on schedule, as a very excited Olivia was raring to get going.  As we headed south in a fresh north westerly breeze our adventure began.  The morning’s sailing set the tone for an awesome week of discovery, friendship, fun, exploration and a very different style of sailing to what I am used to.  As we were flying along at speeds of up to 15 knots with effortless ease I knew the week was going to be something special.

As I sat on the heads for the first time I could not help but recall the blog I wrote late last year when I was half way across the Atlantic on Ivanka, a luxury superyacht.  I alluded to the contrasting luxurious living conditions to those I was accustomed to on the racing yachts that I normally sail on.  The double bed, the dishwasher, espresso machine, hot showers, chilled champagne at sunset, unlimited fresh water and absolute comfort to name but a few of the extravagancies we were able to indulge ourselves in.  Well I can tell you that Native was at the other end of the spectrum in delightful simplicity and basic living.

The heads was just a small hole in the wing of the boat that connects the outrigger to the main hull.  It empties straight into the sea and provides a surprisingly enjoyable flow of air to the bare flesh that is exposed to the elements.  If one is very lucky then a natural but invigorating bidet effect is experienced, though timing is everything in the experience!

Our first port of call was Kos where we picked up Chris, our final travel companion.  Chris, a film director, bought an immediate energy to Native and with his eloquent personality it was clear that the three of us would bond extremely well as a constant and healthy humour continually bounced around the boat for the duration of the trip.

The objective for the trip was for me to help coach Olivia, to ensure that she became more confident with her new yacht, whilst exploring a part of the world I have spent very little time in.  It is fair to say to the Greek Islands have never held a huge draw for me, but as my time in islands progressed I soon realised that I have long since possessed a totally unfair misconception about the enchanting islands that I knew so little about.

I started to become captivated by the diverse beauty of the islands on the second night when we visited the tiny island of Levita.  There is just one family that lives on the island and the unique Taverna, tucked away in the hills, provided me with a humbling experience of how the raw simplicity of life can be so meaningful and endearing.

The goats run wild on the island and produce the cheese that makes one of the best saganakis I have ever tasted.  The Taverna is largely self-sufficient and it was like stepping into a time warp or onto a movie set.  As the heavens opened and unleashed the full force of a heavy spring thunderstorm we ate a home-grown dinner with the constant whirring of the wind generators as they produced the power for the electric lanterns hanging from the trellises in the open courtyard.

Next morning was an early rise as we wanted to be in Amorgos for lunch.  As the winds died twelve miles from the island the 9Hp outboard engine was fired up to propel us at just under 5 knots towards what was to become the highlight of my adventure.  At least with the outboard running we were able to supplement the solar panels ability to charge the batteries sufficiently to produce enough power to chill the three cans of beer we had on board!  On Native everything we normally take for granted has to be carefully planned in advance!

I quickly became aware that Amorgos was the Greek island where Luc Besson’s masterpiece, Le Grande Blue was filmed.  That film is of added significance to me as it was the film that inspired the name of Deep Blue Racing.  With one of the most beautiful monasteries in the world, Amorgos is a very spiritual place, which is very fitting for a film like Le Grande Blue.

Having never visited a monastery before I decided that this one was a must and I would make the 16Km round trip, over a mountain, in a befitting and pure way by running!  It would after all be great training for my forthcoming triathlon!  I certainly was not disappointed as the scenery blew me away.  It was incredible and I was totally absorbed into the environment and the moment.  The 11th centaury monastery was awe-inspiring; sitting impressively carved into the rock face overlooking the Mediterranean the surroundings were simply magnificent and totally unspoilt.

Feeling spiritually awakened I was sad to say goodbye to Amorgos, a place which has now become the spiritual home of Deep Blue Racing.  But it was time to move on as we headed toward our final destination, the more cosmopolitan island of Paros.  This was special for Olivia as her Uncle lives on the island and he had invited us to stay for a night.  I have to confess after the solitude, the almost primitive and very basic style of our travels and the unspoilt locations we had visited which were having an effect on me and I had become totally absorbed by the experience that is so very different from my normal work.  I hope therefore that Olivia will forgive me for not looking forward to it quite so much!

Olivia’s Uncle Thomas, a Swiss German, collected us from our beautiful anchorage.  A very charming and hospitable man, he very quickly squashed any feeling of apprehension.  The next 24 hours was the complete antithesis of our previous week aboard.  The house we were being hosted in was stunning, an interesting, unique and bold example of contemporary architecture which I could not help but marvel at.

Thomas and his delightful wife, Jeanine, were wonderful hosts and instantly made us feel extremely welcome.  We took full advantage of the luxuries of their hospitality and lapped it up.  Whilst I did feel that I was being dishonest to the humbling existence of the previous week my underlying justification and conclusion was that the diversity makes us appreciate both extremes with a more informed intelligence.

The beauty of the Greek Islands and the diversity that they have to offer, from unspoilt and uninhabited small islands to islands that buzz with energy and a vibrant nightlife.  There is something for everyone and you could spend months travelling around them and still see very little of their true heritage.

I have just re watched the Directors cut of Le Grande Blue on the flight home.  It is a very powerful and beautiful movie set in a very special part of the world that thrives on the enigma of its mythology.  The film captures the spiritual feel of the place and it was certainly more meaningful having had the privilege of visiting the island that much of it was filmed on. The appearance of the monastery, which featured on the screen, was more symbolic and evocative than it had been before and I had a much better appreciation and understanding of what Luc Besson was portraying.

Now I can honestly say that I have the diversity in my life that I have yearned for.  My life has certainly been enriched over the past year as I prepare and mould my future, with the knowledge that I am soon to be forty years old!