High life

High Life

29 July 2017

9:00 AM

29 July 2017

9:00 AM

Greece

 
I am surfing along the Cycladic islands on Puritan, a 125ft classic that was launched in 1929 by John Alden and has remained among the most beautiful sailing boats ever. Everything on board is original, including the MoMC, my two grandchildren and my son. I boarded her at Porto Heli, where the granddaughter of Aleko Goulandris was married last week in a two-night bash I shall not soon forget. It was a mixture of young and old, Marietta Chandris being in her very early thirties, the groom the same age. I was among the oldest people there, a repeat performance that is getting me down sooner rather than later. I made up for it by getting so drunk even the youngest among the crowd of 500 were embarrassed.

And the crowd was a good one, the last hurrah of Athenian society, not a celebrity or Kardashian or Hilton among us. All the Greek royals were present, Greek industrialists and ship owners, plus the king and queen of Holland and German nobility. It would have been a paradise for name-droppers, the trouble being they were conspicuously absent.

Michael and Loula Chandris, the parents of the bride, put on a hell of a bash, yours truly getting off to a slow start because her father, Aleko Goulandris, was such a close friend. I hadn’t been inside his property since his death, and it took a strong drink to lift me from sad thoughts.


There were two gatecrashers on both nights, Taki and Maria, aged 11 and nine, but apparently both were so adorable dancing and showing off, people actually applauded them. My, my, I had to have two show-offs for grandchildren, didn’t I? What I appreciated was the lack of dressing down by the guests, a horrible habit practiced by so-called power players in order to look cool. This calculated ‘schlubbiness’ has also infected Greece, but it was absent at the parties. Relaxed does not mean look like a slob, and relaxed was the theme on the second night. The first was dark blue and neckties. Not one black motorcycle jacket over a white T-shirt was seen, a fact I thanked the God of fashion for, whoever he might be.

I know, I know, I sound prissy, don’t I? But have you ever seen modern tycoons in skinny jeans or cargo shorts and puffed up muscles they couldn’t use to beat their way out of a wet paper bag? Can you picture Jeff Bezos in full flow, his ugliness and bald head outshining his 87 billion dollars? It is a horrible sight. Casual now spells disgusting, and no one looks more disgusting than power players playing down their power by dressing down their armour in very expensive rags.

I am ashamed to admit this, but family outings can be so much fun. First of all there is far less partying on board. The MoMC stopped my son and I getting loaded the day after the night before by reminding us how much sailing we had to do that night to reach Serifos and Paros. We followed her advice — orders would be closer to the truth — and enjoyed a great crossing.

The crew is multinational. An Italian captain, a Russian female cook and a Russian stewardess. Both Russkies are not only pretty but very, very good at their jobs. A South African, a Kiwi, an Aussie and an Englishman make up the rest. Puritan is easy to handle, with a flatter sheet and more freeboard amidships, longer ends, a smaller transom and less spoon to the bow. The mainsail is quite large and she has heavy gaffs and running backstays. She was launched the day the stock market crashed back in 1929. Ouch!

Puritan served as a US Navy vessel in the Pacific on the lookout for Japanese U-boats, but I am reliably told that she never managed to get any of my beloved Japanese boats sunk. It’s said that at some point she may have been used for the transportation of drugs. I have looked deep into the bilges trying to find some Peruvian marching powder, but have come up with nothing. She has since been rehabilitated by rich owners who have turned her into a true classic marvel of a boat, and while sailing I can relive the way she was once sailed by gentle people during the 1930s.

I plan to sail for two weeks, visit lots of old friends, drink the minimum unless the company is good, which then becomes the maximum, and while the MoMC leaves the boat for ten days, I will look for Miss Perfect. She must be around the Greek isles. The Riviera is a shithole and the Hamptons have the lamest sailing in the history of lame sailing. Please Miss Perfect, come and visit the poor little Greek boy on board Puritan. You won’t regret it. Pretty please!

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