Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally Peck's daughter

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally Peck's daughter

Kinship

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Yachts have afforded Sally Peck and her family exclusive access to authenticity and adventure.

By Sally Peck | 22 June 2018

My grandfather took me sailing each summer. With a fully stocked fridge and a picnic, we’d wave goodbye to my mother and grandmother, wink at each other, and bellow: “We’ll be back in a few hours”. But we never were. A few hours almost always turned into all day. We’d pitch up to an uninhabited island, perhaps fish, and tell plenty of tall tales. Life at sea, if you’re captaining your own ship, is gloriously unstructured: you do what you want, when you want.

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally's children enjoy some time on land in Crete

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally's children enjoy some time on land in Crete

Call it the Famous Five life. Summon Swallows and Amazons if you will. I’m not as old as all that – but I am agèd enough to know that my open-ended childhood summers are a thing of the past; these days, we live under the oppressive pulse of the (most often digital) clock, beating out the time of our routines. I thought of my grandfather recently when I watched my husband dive off the side of a yacht in a remarkably athletic turn for a man so often bound to his desk. Bobbing nearby in the flat turquoise sea, our children, aged six and five, shrieked their approval. Here was Dad, but outside of his usual hustle and bustle: a leopard playing the violin.

If modern life is an intensively scheduled routine, holiday must offer the opposite. But how can you let it go? How can you guarantee that the words ‘C’mon, were going to be late!’ Won’t be uttered once while you’re away? Bobbing in the turquoise sea off the edge of Crete, not far from the former leper colony of Spinalonga, I was pretty sure we’d broken free. I watched how my children and husband fared without a care – or deadline – in the world. As I joined them in turning somersaults in the water, swimming under and around each other, and donning masks for inspecting what lay below, I marvelled at the power of a fresh perspective.

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Looking towards the port and beach of Koufonisia, Greece

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Looking towards the port and beach of Koufonisia, Greece

From the sea, the structure of the land slips away, and you’re left with the highlights. Greece, with its calm waters, is the perfect place for a maiden voyage with young children, but perhaps a smaller island is more suitable to families. Naxos, one of the highest and greenest of the Cyclades, is a good base for a while: by day, you might explore the island’s fantastic beaches. When she was five, my daughter and I spent a blissful four hours on the entirely empty Kastraki, on the island’s south-west, building sandcastles and reading books, marooned – happily – on our own island. Only a desire for lunch broke the spell.

Kastraki overlooks Paros, with its whitewashed villages, and blue-domed churches, but you might also moor for a spell off Koufonisia (population: 399) off to the south-east, which is composed of the two small islands of upper and lower Koufonissi, and possesses the unspoilt charm of Greece of the Sixties – perhaps more Leonard Cohen than Jackie Kennedy. Here you might dine on fresh fish while looking out over nothing more exotic than a fisherman’s workyard and the endless cerulean sea; this is the timeless, unspoilt canvas on which to paint family memories, a million miles away from the kids’ clubs and buffets of resorts.

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective
Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

After lunch you might nap on the beach – try Pori, on the southern coast, where your gaze may fall on Keros, the islet which, while uninhabited today, was an important centre for religious rituals 5,000 years ago. For those with more energy, the dark, echoey sea caves at Rina Bay back on Naxos offer a pleasing contrast to the bright beach.

A family could spend a lifetime circling the Greek islands, swimming alone to beaches accessible only by the water, venturing ashore to marvel at ruins and at the myriad variations on baklava. But novelty is another joy of life at sea, and it would be a shame to miss the extraordinary beaches and lively restaurants of the north-western coast of Mallorca. Anchoring off Deia, you might spend a day in the cove there, swimming, or you might clamber up the path to the village for lunch. More serene might be Cala Tuent, another beautiful pine-lined cove protected by the Puig Major peak. The drama of Mallorca – the thrust of the mountains from the sea – makes for excellent, if hilly, walks and its beauty is most spectacularly viewed from the water.

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally and her daughter in Naxos, Greece

Yachting in Pursuit of a Fresh Perspective

Sally and her daughter in Naxos, Greece

With older children, I would glide along to Portugal’s red-tinged south-western coast, for more impressive waves, perhaps then heading up to the Ile de Re, the perfect island for early solo exploration.

In an age of increasingly homogenised international hotel design, and a perpetual outsourcing of the kids, of sushi-making lessons in Cotswolds cottages and French wine lists that go on for pages in the Maldives, yachts afford families exclusive access to authenticity. Holidaying at sea is your ticket to life, at your speed, together.