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J/24 Jungle owner - Guus van den Akker - Maastricht, The Netherlands

by J/Boats 27 Apr 15:47 BST
J/24 Jungle © Guus van den Akker

Like the Stellin's cruising their J/42 on the Mediterranean, Dutchman Guus van den Akker has a great story to tell about sailing and cruising his beloved J/24 Jungle on the Ionian Sea around the gorgeous island archipelago off Greece. In short, he was reliving the voyage of Odysseus and, according to Guus it was a "fantastic experience".

"Cruising with a J/24 is a very nice thing to do. I am so lucky to have sailed my J/24 Jungle in Greece, especially the Ionian Sea, which is west from the mainland.

When I saw Jungle for the first time, for sale on a trailer at Lefkes Marine, her lines immediately struck my sense of beauty. Hmmm, Nefertiti's nose. Aha, the hips of Brigitte Bardot, the behind of Naomi Campbell... In total, she was swift, elegant, fine for cutting waves. Small enough to touch the water delicately. Finally, my dream came true to buy this boat and start sailing in the waters where Odysseus had been splashing around a few millennia earlier.

The 2016-plan was to sail down to Kalamata and meet some family in Pylos on my way back. Remembering last year's experience, I was aware that it's difficult to plan for any distances while sailing. The lack of wind can make anyone annoyed, and even if you have a nice, steady wind, you can lose it in five minutes... such is the fickleness of cruising in the Mediterranean! Any rock, island, mountain can change the wind's strength or direction. And, of course, the incessant burning rays of the sun on the Med. With some luck, the wind begins in the afternoon and holds on until after sunset. The only average is change. Panta Rhei it will be.

Jungle is equipped with two anchors and some lines. Because her draft is only four feet, it's easy to anchor very close to the shore. That gives a surplus of possibilities and keeps her close to other people and beaches. Jungle makes friends. Everybody seems to know it's a J/24!

The interior became messy, but well-organized. I slept almost three months in her broad belly without complaint. Good waking up, in waves of small fishing boats, or by bells of nearby goats....

Sailing my J/24 Jungle as a cruiser, and singlehanded, was a constant joy. Responsive, agile, light, smooth. Easy to handle on the water. Enough deck for walking around. I did put some elastic cord around the helm for self-steering. My favorite weather is light to moderate wind, that's good for me. I like to fiddle around a bit and Jungle is fast. My only problem is lack of weight on the windward rail, when the wind is increasing above Beaufort four!

I am a cautious sailor, and start early in the morning, when my next harbour is a bit further along.

On some days, I really made some good distance, especially when helped on windless days by "Mr. Tohatsu" (my 4 HP outboard). But, when this dear friend refused to serve, it was possible to tack Jungle into creeks and harbours and moor the J/24 to the quay.

Sailing with friends makes friends happy. They steered and enjoyed that a lot, they did not want to leave the tiller! Their good fortune joining me enabled them to enjoy the fantastic surroundings. Greece is such a nice area for sailing, hiking, lazy afternoons at a cafe... Actually, just being there put you in a good mood...a peace of mind found nowhere else.

The food is fresh, the geography is astonishing, the variety is extraordinary, the delicious wine lifts your spirit, people are polite, freedom is the rule.

Once, while laying at anchor near Lygia, a yawl with three elderly man motored straight towards Jungle, I was a bit worried at their intent. However, just a few meters away from her, the yawl encircled my tiny Jungle, and one of the guys shouted with passion "J/24, the love of my life!" After this human serenade, the yawl vanished towards the blue horizon.

My J/24 Jungle had lots of compliments, and from all these remarks, you notice that experienced sailors still keep her dear in their heart. It seems that one view of a "J" is the trigger for good memories!

At the end of my fantastic trip, Jungle joined some regattas and we won a few prizes for being one of the fastest under 35 feet. That illustrates the abilities of this small cruiser/racer and even augments the esprit'd'corps and pleasure of being a "J" owner. The versatility of the design ensures you of even more friends and acquaintances, both in sport and on an adventurous cruise!

We ended safe and sound in Nidri. Now, I am working again as an interior designer and builder in The Netherlands and dream of this experience, wishing and hoping that I can do it again. Time is elastic, too. Someday soon....

For more perspectives on my experiences, watch few videos:

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