The captain dived into his cabin and returned with a mid-morning snack of iced tea and tiny choccy croissants. He navigated passed the Mama Mia beach and on to a tiny cove where the pines met the sand.
The anchor grumbled down and there we were, 30 metres from shore and ready for my first ever ship to shore swim.
The sea was that improbable mixture of turquoise and azure. We tentatively clambered down the ladder - Dimitris confidently said the first shock of the cold sea was good for the heart. Once you're in, it's heavenly.
After half an hour of splashing around (and J getting some serious attention from flying bugs on the beach), we were off to a tiny harbour village on Skopelos. Dimitris sent us off on a search for a bakery/sweet shop where I bought a jar of quince jam and nutty sweets as presents for cat and garden sitters back home. Then it was time for lunch...
And what a lunch! We were ravenous after our swim, and Dimitris served up meatballs, spiked with oregano, in a rich tomato sauce, pasta and a greek salad. With beer for me, and wine for J. It was delicious.
Did Dimitris make this himself. Yes, he said, good captain, good cook, good sailor, good tailor. 'Tailor?' said J. Yes, he said, he makes sails. So that settled that.
Perfect weather, perfect meal.
After lunch we began the slow journey back, stopping off at another tiny island for our last swim. J and I sat up on the prow of the boat, soaking in the afternoon sun. Then we were back on land, and climbed up to explore the old town and look back at the harbour.
Back home, I've rustled up an approximation of those wonderful meatballs.
400g minced lamb
Two finely chopped spring onions
Handful of herbs - I used oregano, marjoram and parsley from the garden
Salt and pepper
Half a beaten egg to bind
Mix everything together and squash it firmly through your hands to mingle and bind. Shape into ping-pong sized balls.
Pop them into the fridge to firm up. Fry the balls in olive oil until they've coloured, then add to a tomato sauce - I used a homemade version from the freezer, made by gently stewing toms in a onion/olive oil base then sieved to produce a silky sauce.