I often thought about the timelessness of sailing while aboard the Star Flyer, a 360-foot-long, four-mast clipper ship. It was a natural connection, because we were cruising aboard a modern vessel through the Aegean, the world’s great, famous sea of myths and legends. There I stood on the bow of a gleaming tall ship, traversing the same stretch of water as Odysseus at war with the Trojans. But unlike the tribulations in Homer’s Odyssey, I was relaxing with an Aperol spritz under blue skies.
This was my first sailing cruise—a weeklong voyage with Star Clippers (www.starclippers.com) through the Northern Cyclades Islands.The trip would take us round trip from Athens on an unforgettable journey to Patmos, Amorgos, Mykonos, Monemvasia, and to Kusadasi, Turkey.
Sailing is distinct from other cruises. Motor-powered cruising across an ocean or river have their own appeal, but the opportunity to sail was an intriguing alternative. As I plotted the trip along with my spouse and co-adventurer Denise, we wondered how the boat would feel on the sea, how much we’d rely on wind versus engine power, how easily would the crew manage the enormous sails?
That curiosity led us aboard the Star Flyer with open minds. At the cruise port of Pireaus in Athens, we climbed the gangplank on a hot Mediterranean afternoon, joining our fellow passengers in the ship’s open-air Tropical Bar where we awaited embarkation.
We soon found ourselves a flight up on the top deck, watching a dozen masterful sailors hoist sails over 200 feet high. It was like a ballet of movement by men (yes, no women) who spoke to each other in nautical terms as they performed age-old maneuvers on a modern-day craft. Then, at last, the engines powered down, and the wind filled each sail and jib, and we set out across the Aegean under a gibbous moon.