|By Rebecca Riley||
|July 20, 2004 12:00 AM EDT||
An impressive array of more than 50 Greek-flagged yachts made for an enjoyable show.
It was a picture postcard morning on the island of Poros, Greece. The only sound breaking the silence was the chiming of the clock tower high on the hill, standing watch over the harbor below. The villagers were making their way into town and the shops and tavernas were beginning to open. The first ferry from the mainland would arrive shortly and the island would once again bustle with activity.
But this was no ordinary morning. In fact, nothing about the last few days had been "ordinary." The Third International Yachting Symposium had filled the quiet harbor of Poros, Greece to capacity with an incredible display of Greek-flagged yachts. The crews, the owners, and private yacht brokers from all over the world had invaded the tiny island of Poros. Tavernas were overflowing, the Internet cafes were humming, and the nightlife kept bar owners busy until the predawn hours of every morning.
But the week wasn't just about parties. Brokers that specialize in chartering private yachts had come to the show to see what Greece might have to offer their special clients. They were not disappointed. In fact, most were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of the yachts and their crews. This was the most impressive collection of Greek charter yachts ever assembled in one place for one show.
The show began on a beautiful Sunday morning with temperatures in the low 70s and an abundance of sunshine. Even the weather was absolutely perfect. The yachts were impressively lined up along the harbor wall and the registration tent was opening its door. There were a couple of minor glitches such as registration at 10a.m. but no viewing of the yachts until 6p.m. However, most yachts were glad to welcome brokers aboard during the day so all was not lost.
There were more than 50 yachts - many of them built within the last two or three years - ranging in size from 50ft to more than 150ft. For those searching for a true megayacht, there were drawings and photos of two super megayachts measuring more than 270ft that would soon be available.
One of these megayachts, Omega, is shown here. She features 16 staterooms accommodating 32 guests. She has three tenders, five jet skis, two windsurfers, snorkeling and diving gear, and numerous toys. To relax and recover from all the activities she has to offer, there is also a gymnasium, spa, yoga and pilates studio, beauty parlor, massage parlor, plus indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis. She is available at a rate between $455,000 and $525,000 U.S. per week.
I began the show by visiting the sailing yacht President, a lovely 55ft yacht built in 2002 with three nice-sized and immaculate staterooms. Her rate is between 10,500 and 12,500 euros per week (July and August being the more expensive months). A wonderful smiling crew was eager to show me around and as we said goodbye they handed me a bottle of their own private-label wine. Yes, this was definitely going to be a great show!
Eratosthenes was docked next to President, and with amazing photos of the yacht underway completely covered in ice, I had to visit with this daring captain and get the full story of why on earth they were out in such horrid conditions! It seems the yacht was completed in the middle of winter and - like most boys with their new toys - being anxious to take possession, they were willing to take delivery under any conditions to get her in the water and underway - even if the temperature was below zero! Eratosthenes is a new 112ft Swan with every piece of modern electronic equipment possible. She has Internet access throughout and in every stateroom, plus a full range of communication devices to help you "keep in touch" if you feel you must. She is a magnificent sailing yacht with literally all the comforts of home and a truly remarkable crew. With only three staterooms you can imagine the spaciousness of the cabins and common areas. She is absolutely stunning - even with icicles hanging from the mast!
No yacht show in Greece would be complete without at least a few motor sailers such as the beautiful Matina. A brand new addition to the Greek motor sailers, Matina offers luxurious space to her guests. She has six almost identical cabins - each with a double and a twin bed. She accommodates six couples comfortably - or can accommodate up to three guests per cabin for a total of 18 guests. Her super wide 30ft beam gives everyone lots of space and ensures a stable and comfortable cruise. Her fabulous deck area offers individual sunpads for everyone and her main saloon is the perfect gathering place after a day of fun in the sun. Matina charters at a rate of 37,800-42,000 euros per week.
Throughout the show there were special events welcoming the participants of the Symposium to Greece. The mayor of Poros, Mr. Spyros Spyridon, gave a special welcome to everyone in the marina, then led a procession through the streets, shaking hands along the way with yacht captains and owners, expressing his thanks for their attendance at the show.
The new Greek Minister of Tourism, Mr. Dimitris Avramopoulos, made a special appearance at a welcome dinner held at the Naval Academy in Poros. He expressed his government's support of the business of tourism and wanted to show his support of the yachting industry by personally coming to this event and welcoming each and every participant. The new government has shown tremendous support for tourism and has recognized the importance of the industry. This was wonderful news for all the participants of the show. With support like this from the central government, we expect continued growth in yachting and other tourist venues in Greece making it an even more desirable destination in the future. His speech was followed by an incredible buffet featuring fabulous local dishes along the water's edge on the grounds of the beautiful naval academy. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
It was now Thursday morning and the show was over. I was sitting on the Jacuzzi deck on the top of the 153ft motoryacht White Knight, coffee in hand, enjoying the bird's eye view of the harbor. The chiming of the clock tower was the only sound breaking the silence.
Then it started: "ka chink-chink-chink-chink-chink-chink-chink." The peaceful silence was being broken as one by one, the magnificent yachts that had lined the docks in Poros for the last four days started to raise their anchors and slowly edge their way out of the harbor. My White Knight sailed out of the harbor leaving the peaceful island of Poros behind us. A sense of sadness at the end of such a wonderful few days was coming over me when the captain of my Knight in shining white armor promised he would be waiting to bring me back again next year.
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