Greece is rightly known for its fantastic sailing with over 2000 islands ranging from internationally known party spots to secluded coves and deserted beaches. Throw in a heap of culture (at the very least some great food and drink) and ancient archeological sites for good measure and the Greek islands really do have something for any taste.
Sailing charters in Greece are usually either bareboat charters where the charter party must have at least one certified captain and preferably one certified crew member, or skippered charters where the captain comes with the boat. Flotilla charters are also available which allow inexperienced sailors to sail their own boat accompanied by a flotilla of similarly experienced crews along with a lead boat with an experienced captain to help out in any tricky spots.
Where you choose to sail in Greece depends on a number of factors. First and foremost, the islands you wish to visit will play a deciding role in where you sail. Secondly, some areas are better for sailors with less experience since they traditionally have lighter winds and shorter distances between islands. Lastly, how easy it is to get to a charter base in your chosen area might also influence where you choose to sail, with Athens being a popular departure point due to easy accessibility by air.
Below is a roundup of the most popular charter areas in Greece along with their pros and cons in regards sailing conditions and ease of accessibility, so get inspired and start planning your Greek sailing vacation!
The Saronic Gulf
The Saronic Gulf is in between Athens and the Peloponnese Peninsula and as such is very popular with trips starting and ending from marinas in Athens. Popular Saronic gulf islands include Aigina, Poros, Hydra and Spetses, all of which have rich histories regarding their roles in the formation of modern Greece. A sailing trip in the Saronic gulf can also fit in a day trip to the ancient theatre of Epidavros, a beautiful place and not to be missed if at all possible!
Sailing in the Saronic Gulf is traditionally considered relatively easy going, the gulf being somewhat sheltered from the strong northerly ‘Meltemi’ winds that blow during the summer months. The area is also popular with flotilla groups leaving from Athens, and as such can get pretty busy at times.
Besides Athens, the island of Poros is another popular spot for charters with a number of firms operating there, but getting to Poro will usually involve going through Athens so often times it makes more sense to start in Athens anyway.
The Cycladic Islands
The Cyclades are the quintessential Greek Islands with amazing beaches, clear blue waters and pretty white villages. The island group includes over 200 islands, many of which are uninhabited. Popular spots include the famous islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Milos, the more laid back islands of Folegandros, Serifos, Sifnos, Kythnos and Amorgos and of course the larger islands of Naxos and Paros.
Sailing the Cyclades is commonly done from charter bases in Athens with a one week charter allowing you time to see a range of the Northern islands. Two (or even three) week charters allow you to really get off the beaten track and visit many more islands in a leisurely circle from and back to Athens. The Meltemi winds can be strong in the Cyclades, especially in July/August, so it helps to have an experienced crew for the times when the winds are blowing and the waves are up.
The Ionian Islands
The Ionian islands are another popular choice for sailing holidays. Much greener than the above mentioned islands groups due to more rainfall in the winter, the Ionian islands are absolutely stunning, especially in the spring time!
Popular charter bases in the Ionian islands are Corfu and Lefkas (Leukada), both of which have direct international charter flights from many European destinations during the summer months. Other islands in the group include Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Ithaka and Paxos, all of which are in easy reach during a one week charter.
Sailing conditions in the Ionian islands are also usually more easy going than in the Cyclades, meaning lighter winds and easier sailing. This makes them a popular choice for less experienced sailors and flotilla charters.
The Dodecanese are located off the Western coast of Turkey and include the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Leros, Kalymnos and Patmos among others.
Main charter bases are on Rhodes and Kos, with both islands having direct charters from Europe in the summer season. The sailing conditions in the Dodecanese can be challenging when the Meltemi winds are blowing, so an experienced crew is recommended. One way charters from Kos in the north to Rhodes in the south are also popular, avoiding the need to sail north into the winds.
So there you have it, a quick roundup of the most popular sailing areas in Greece.
For more information on suggested routes, feel free to visit Sail Greece Yachts and particularly our page on suggested sailing routes. Happy Sailing!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Calgary Yacht Club
Club dinghy racing, handicap pursuit race at Papercourt Sailing Club. Sunday 15th April 2011.
RYA Champion Club. Good sailing for all the family.