Credit Where Credit is Due: Top Five Sailing Destinations in 2012

Sick of hearing about the economic crisis? It is inescapable, even on holiday. You don’t have to speak French or German or Spanish to understand the visibly-greying faces of politicians on the front pages, nor the shrieking headlines about the latest numerical disaster. Numbers don’t lie.

Neither, it seems, do letters. One of the most bafflingly opaque facets of the crisis is the ability of the unholy trio of S&P, Moody’s and Fitch, to send the world’s markets into spasms of fear by adjusting a country’s credit rating. Shave off an A here, add another B there and sit back to watch the ensuing chaos. Even the most knowledgeable financial wizards have their doubts about these controversial credit ratings agencies. They didn’t predict the crisis, for example, and they had Lehman Brothers pegged as a safe bet.

We’re sure a fearsome number of calculations are poured into the ratings, but to the untrained eye, it looks like they pick at old grudges and arbitrarily assign grades, in a peculiar mix of school yard-bully/teacher.

If they can do it, so can we. The only way to escape the unrelenting doom and misery is to batten down the hatches and take to the sea. Whatever your choice, whether its bareboat charters in Australia or powerboats in Greece, there is no newspaper delivery. Here’s our guide to the best sailing vacations of 2012. Hopefully you won’t need a bailout.

Italy

Agencies BBB-

Sailing Rating AAA

Poor Italy is having a very tough time of late, with the agency fillings its report card with red x’s and plenty of ‘must do better’s. Not so with sailing. Italy is lapped at by some of the best sailing waters in the world, largely thanks to the Mediterranean climate. Sailors are spoiled for choice for stop off points along its scribbled coastline, but marinas do get extremely busy in the summer. Summer also brings a raft of festivals to Italy, including the Festa Della Republica on June 2, Siena’s Palio horserace in July, and Florence’s opera festival, Maggio Musicale, while gourmands will relish the chance to sample the famous food at the proliferation of local festivals in August.

Greece

Agencies CC

Sailing Rating AA

Unless you’ve been hiding under a particularly large, sound-proofed rock, you’ll know that Greece has rather unflatteringly been given junk status by the agencies. Sailing around the seven Ionian Islands gives a much needed reminder that this is a cradle of Western civilization, with its noble history shown off by Corfu’s profusion of castles and the unparalleled Italienate style of architecture. Corfu also boasts an archaeological museum which is home to the famous Gorgon pediment of the Artemis temple. Greece also offers something to suit every sailor, with the more adventurous and stiff open waters tempered by the gentle eddying waters surrounding the islands.

Thailand

Agencies BBB+

Sailing Rating AAA-

Thailand has been designated a steady but underwhelming BBB+ by the agencies, but deserves a whole lot better in the sailing ratings. Regularly voted among the best sailing grounds in the world, it boasts good weather conditions, jaw-dropping scenery and a veritable smorgasbord of things to do. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, is the go-to island for those who wish to rest their sea legs. The shopping and nightlife of Patong Beach, the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife and Conservation centre with its mouse deer, monkey, macaques and bears and the mix of mountains and beaches means there’s something to appeal to everyone. And Bond fans can make like The Man with the Golden Gun on Ko Khao Phung Khan, commonly known as James Bond Island.

Australia

Agencies AAA

Sailing Rating AAA

Australia is one of the few countries remaining with a roundly positive rating, and it matches this for sailing holidays too. The 74 Whitsunday Islands are made for dinging around, with easy sailing conditions and a wealth of water sports and cultural attractions to keep everyone entertained. There are also a number of high end resorts on the eight inhabited islands. It is the furthest away of our destinations, and June, July and August are the wettest and coldest months. Of course, our idea of wet and cold is very different to Australia’s and if your own personal credit rating allows it, sailing in Australia is the trip of a lifetime.

Mexico

Agencies BBB+

Sailing Rating AAA+

Mexico is often overshadowed by her showier sister, Brazil and economic analysts believe that the ratings agency’s lukewarm BBB is an overly pessimistic rating. But negotiating the 800 mile Baja Peninsula makes for one of the world’s best sailing vacations, with improbably beautiful landscapes, an abundance of rare wildlife, and all the isolation you could wish for. What’s more, sailing conditions in summer are smashing, with clear waters, short passages, hot temperatures, cool breezes and almost guaranteed sunshine. It is also swimming and snorkeling heaven and when you have had your fill of peace and quiet, a hyper and margarita-soaked mainland awaits.

Biog: Laura dreams of getting away from it all on bareboat charters in the remotest locations.

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