July 01, 2005

Yainnis The Skipper

The life of a charter yacht skipper rolls from one place to the other making dreams come true for aspiring travellers.

The azure waters of the mediterranean are no longer a playground for such skippers, but a thinly woven collection of friends and transient homes. The yacht itself is both a vehicle of freedom and a vessel of containment, never far from the mind or body. Yainnis is one of these skippers. He spends all summer criss-crossing the islands, watching passengers come and go, and sharing morsels of his philsosphies with those who care enough to listen.

After several years working in these waters Yainnis has made friends in almost every village we pull into. He rarely decides which cove or harbour will be home for the night until the day itself, allowing the wind and weather to be his guide for navigation. In the more familiar destinations you will find our skipper talking late into the night with a near constant supply of sourma or araki. On the boat he is a man of few words. Just enough to get the job done. At 2am he is gentle tide of knowledge, lapping curious annecdotes of wisdom onto our shores. Each night the ebb and flow of his life is revealed a little further.

Yainnis is the personification of a Greek island. A combination of respect for history, committed study of culture and the arts, and impossibly difficult to lock down to a schedule. His catch cry is "cega cega", or 'slowly slowly'. This expresses not only the relaxed pace of life in the islands but the reality of uncertainty - nothing is taken for granted, nothing is assured, all things may vary. Better to enjoy what you have now than worry about what cannot be changed. While this manner of thinking becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy it none-the-less provides a gentle groundedness which enriches the Greek lifestyle.

The history of the islands reveals successions of occupation and punctuated growth of civilization. Yainnis is not so dissimilar. His working life has included construction work, warehouse labouring, courier and pizza delivery, and about 30 other fill-in jobs. Most of this work was to fund his study and passion of music. He played the trumpet. Fleeting success with a band eventually led to dissapointment and the young man began travelling the islands with a wandering spirit. On a remote beach in the Cyclades he met a man who wanted to be a sailor. "Here is someone who knows what he wants to do, but isn't doing it. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I decided to do it for him."

All these years later Yainnis still isn't sure what he wants to do, but he is happy on the yachts and would like to own his own one day. When he sails the music of his travels is with him on CD - jazz numbers from America, latin rythms from brazil, and bazouki beats from Greece. He says the music makes the sailing go quicker, you dont mind how long it takes to get anywhere so long as the music is good. He has no CD's from his own career as a musician however.

"I always sail looking forward. Cega cega."

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