In a dazzling blue, fjord-like inlet on Greece’s eastern Peloponnese, a secret village lies hidden behind a fold in the rock. Home to a handful of fishing families and a taverna, this hidden harbour was for centuries an anchorage for Levante corsairs who could launch octopus-like ambushes on passing vessels oblivious of their presence. The pirates have long gone and time, like the merchantmen who never knew the village was there, has passed this haven by.
It’s clearly not the kind of place you stumble across. Those dining on catch of the day at Nana’s Taverna are there for one of two reasons: they’re either locals, or they’re clients of Spetses Cruising.
Husband and wife team Yannis and Veneta Vasatis have spent four decades gathering knowledge and sharing with friends the secrets of unexplored Greece. Their Spetses-based boutique boat charter service is thus an extension of a quest pursued for pure joy.
“We’ve been inviting friends over for the past 40 years,” said Yannis. “We always loved showing them the secret places, and because we’d become rather good at it, we decided to turn that skill into a business”.
The azure waters of the Argolic Gulf have long been a billionaires’ boating lake, with superyachts competing for attention in glitzy harbours catering for an affluent, international crowd. The alternative for those wishing to see, rather than be seen, has been to charter a caique – a charming yet somewhat slower and less luxurious option.
Yannis and Veneta’s idea has been to combine the power and all-inclusive luxury of the former with the agility of the latter, using smaller, faster, more manoeuvrable craft capable of leaving the crowds behind.
Skippered by local master mariners who know every beach, bay and anchorage of the Argo-Saronic coastline, the Spetses Cruising fleet comprises two ultra-modern boats. Nireas is a Swedish-built Nimbus T11, designed to serve as the perfect day boat with twin 350hp Mercury Verado outboards. Pytheas is a BSK Skipper Desire 120s: an 800hp ocean-going sports car.
Both come equipped with all the toys, facilities and personalised service of the champagne superyachts, delivered in full and half-day packages priced from €1,400 for up to eight passengers and tailored to clients’ exact needs.
Such adventures could include picnics on the island of Dokos – population 18 – on beaches inaccessible from the land; celeb-spotting expeditions to Hydra; archaeological tours of the extraordinary headland citadel of Monemvasia; a trip to a hidden blue bay described by Yannis as “the most wonderful swimming spot in the world”; and long lunches with Mr Takis and his wife Nana in the taverna time forgot in a secret fishing harbour the superyacht crowd will never find. The name of this mythical Greek village? You’ll have to ask Yannis.