Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Meet Tobin Bronze

To Australians with a long memory Tobin Bronze was a legendary racehorse of the 1960s. After one of my brothers won a load of cash in a crazy gamble on Tobin Bronze he bestowed the name upon the boat he built with the winnings.

Going to England where this brother, Peter lives and going sailing on Tobin Bronze has become something of a family tradition.  I may be oldest of the siblings but I definitely wasn't the first to make the journey, it took me the longest to get there.  Even three of my children beat me but I got there in the end.  

I love sailing and was so looking forward to a week on the boat in Greece with Peter and his lovely wife, Judy.  

Tobin Bronze is a 35 foot moulded plywood sloop, launched in 1985. Like any mature lady she requires regular maintenance and with a recent coat of new paint she can still turn heads.

We found her up on blocks in a boatyard just a quick taxi ride from Kavala Harbour, with plans in place to lift her into the water.  

Pete and Judy on the right keeping a keen eye on the lift.

Beside the boatyard, an all too familiar sight in Greece.

Once we were on board. Peter motored to Nea Peramos, where we would spend our first night on board while he checked all the things that have to be checked. 

I was reminded that I was a lot younger when I used to go sailing when evening came and I had to get down from the boat into the little dingy to row ashore (or for Peter to row me ashore to be more precise.)  On shore P & J left me sitting on the beach under a tree while they scarpered off to do some shopping.  It was the perfect evening beach scene.  20-30 people of all ages in the water cooling down after the heat of the day,  Tiny waves gently lapping the beach, happy voices, quiet laughter.   

A lady about my age, dressed in a longish black dress sat down beside me on the bench.  We tried to communicate.  She became quite agitated and I finally understood what she was trying to tell me.  Six days/weeks/months/years ago (definitely six somethings) the one who put the wedding ring on her finger, the one of her heart had died and gone to heaven.  She then started to sob with her head on my shoulder.  I put my arm around her and did my best to comfort her until I heard my brother call my name.    I wiped her tears and told her I had to leave.  When I stepped up from the beach to join Pete & Jude, Peter was interested to know what I had said to her to upset her so much!! 

When we found a place to eat it was totally booked out (it was a Saturday night) but that didn't mean the waiter was going to let customers get away.  He trotted over the road and came back with a white plastic table and three chairs which he put on the beach out in front of the restaurant.  A few folded menus made the table legs reasonably stable.  The tide was coming in and lapped at the end of the table but our feet were dry.  Magical!

As we made our way back to the boat Nea Peramos had one more surprise for us.  The bathers from earlier on had all gone and now reflections from the buildings along the shore danced on the still water.  Peter rowed, the only sound the slapping of the oars as they entered the water, when we looked down and there, at the end of the oar on the port side, about 50 metres from shore, was an elderly lady's head.  She didn't make a sound but as we passed she slowly turned her head to watch us, unblinking, as we drifted by.    It was eerie - and we thought hilariously funny.  It looked for all the world like a floating head.  

During the afternoon we had heard a very noisy and joyous sounding procession of vehicles pass along the shore.  (You might have to use your imagination a bit to get the picture).  Peter said it looked like a wedding procession.  It was much later that night that the wedding party really kicked off.   The traditional greek music grew louder as the hours passed and the singer sounded more and more frantic till he seemed to reach fever pitch.  The music was upbeat but the songs sounded dirge life, haunting and full of melancholy.  Goodness know what time it was when peace descended over the harbour.  

I didn't mind one little bit, the smile probably didn't leave my face even as I slept, or tried to.  I was in Greece, on Tobin Bronze.

Tobin Bronze at anchor from our restaurant table on the beach.


  1. Already you have adventures. You were brave to help that woman and her open sadness. I would have been a bit suspicious of her motives because of all the issues now in Greece.

  2. It must have been an exciting boat ride for you. I only have been on a ferry but not on a sailing boat. I love the view in the last photo.

  3. To sail around the Greek isles would be a dream come true! Love the waiter's ingenuity.

  4. I LOVED this slice of your life, Pauline. First of all you are so lucky to have a brother with a boat!!! ..... in Greece!!!!
    Okay, enough with the exclamation marks....this was such a full post. Full of life and music and humanity. I look forward to reading more about this trip.

  5. What a fabulous experience! I'm thoroughly enjoying catching up on your adventures. How kind of you to comfort that lady.

  6. Great post. That poor lady. ANd what a good name for the boat.


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