If the passenger-carrying metal tube in which you are sitting is going to break down, then it's preferable to be in one with foils rather than wings. My trip on Tuesday was going really well: after my long sit down in Istanbul, Pegasus Airlines got me to Athens airport 10 minutes early and I hopped on the 5 o'clock bus to Pireaus, getting to the harbour in plenty of time to board the Flying Dolphin No 29 to Hydra. For the first time I was in Seat No. 1, with lots of leg room. My 25 companions in the front cabin were jolly French tourists on a trip to Ermioni for dinner. The vessels on this route have all seen better days. They creak, shriek and wobble and throw out alarming amounts of black exhaust. On a rough trip they also leak and if you put your handbag on the floor, you'll find a wavy salt-encrusted line half way up it the next day.
We left the harbour on the dot of 7:20 PM and I could almost taste the pork loin washed down with a glass of Santorini White that I was planning on demolishing before I headed up the many steps to the house. In anticipation of this tasty supper, I'd forsworn the free wine at Istanbul and only had a light beer, soup and sandwich. We'd progressed about 20 meters when the eardrum piercing screeching started. I'm not an engineer, but metal scraping on metal is a good indicator that an engine is not fit for a two hour journey. We slowed down, the noise abated. We speeded up, the noise started again accompanied by a shudder. We slowed down again. This carried on for 2 hours. There were vague announcements that there may be plastic around a foil. Oh yeh! After 2 hours, just when I should have been finding a table in the harbour, there was announcement that we were returning to Piraeus. I'd been following our progress on my iPhone and knew that we'd been circling outside Piraeus for the past 120 minutes. We hobbled back into port and got on Dolphin No. 17 which was sitting in exactly the place it had been when we left 2 and a half hours before. I finally got to Hydra at 11:30pm, climbed the endless steps and made do with a cup of tea and a cream cracker, wondering if the French tour party were still in such a good mood as they carried on to Ermioni to see if their dinner was still on offer at midnight.