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Sailing in Greece
Frequently Asked Questions
(about Chartering a Sailboat in Greece)

Frequently Asked Questions about Chartering a Sailboat in Greece...
...answered by David Econopouly of GM Charters

What is the difference between a Cabin Cruise, a bareboat yacht, a bareboat yacht and a skipper/owner yacht?
A cabin cruise is a larger yacht that was multiple cabins and a set itinerary. On a cabin cruise you rent a cabin and follow a set itinerary. On a cabin cruise one or more of the meals each day is provided and sometimes alcohol. Each cabin cruise covers different expenses which is outlined in the description of the specific company. A bareboat yacht is a yacht that is chartered without a skipper. If you have experience and are qualified to sail a yacht then you will not need a skipper. If you are not qualified to sail a yacht then you will charter the bareboat yacht and hire a skipper to be the captain. With a bareboat yacht you can decide your own itinerary and unless you want to share the yacht, the only people on it will be from your party. On a bareboat charter you will have to pay fuel and water costs as well as docking costs. A skipper/owner yacht is similar to a bareboat/skipper except that the yacht is owned by the skipper. Docking, water, fuel and some meals are usually covered in the rate but you will have to check the individual skipper/owner to see what his charter covers.

How do I choose a bareboat yacht that will accommodate me?
If you contact David by e-mail form for his list of yachts, you will be able to compare the cost of the yacht, size, number of heads(bathrooms), number of cabins and if you click on the name of the yacht you will be able to see a photo and a chart of the interior layout. If you are going to need a skipper then you can add 910-940 euro to the cost of the yacht to cover expenses for hiring a skipper.

Once you have selected a boat or a number of boats that you think will suit you, then send me an email with the boat(s) and a confirmation of the dates. I will then check the availability and confirm the rate.

Once I have decided on a yacht, what is the procedure for securing it for charter?
When you have recieved an offer that you are satisfied with send an email letting me know that you would like to charter the yacht. I will request a contract which I will forward to you. Once you read the contract you can sign it and fax it back to me. When we recieve the contract you will have 7 days to send the deposit(25%) to hold the yacht and the balance is due in 30 days from recieving the contract(unless the charter date is within in 30 days in which case the total payment will be due within 7 days).

Where the payments(check or wire transfer) are sent will depend on whether I am in Greece or North Carolina, but I will supply the appropriate information when the payment is due.

What other expenses can I expect for the bareboat/skippered charter?
You will have to pay for fuel(most of the yachts use between 3/4 and 1 1/2 gallons of diesel per hour and diesel runs about 4 euro per gallon). If there is a lot of wind then you will most likely only use your engine for an hour or two just to get in and out of the harbor. If you have to do a lot of motoring then you could use and average of 3-4+ hours a day, but most islands you can get to in 2-4 hours.

Dockage- Most often you will stay at the government docks which are in the middle of the town. If the dockmaster comes around you will be charge a few euro for the night. The price isn't fixed and the dockmaster doesn't always come around so it's hard to put an exact price on it.

Water-There is a water truck that will come to the dock to service the yachts. The cost of filling the yacht with water varies but is normally about 5-10 euro to fill the tanks.

How do I set my itinerary for the bareboat/skippered cruise?
The best thing to do is to come up with a list of islands that you would like to see so you have a general idea of what you would like to do. Once you arrive in Greece and board the yacht you can look at the weather conditions and plan your sail, which most likely should be in the direction of the best sail. If you set your itinerary before you arrive without taking into consideration the weather conditions you can end up sailing into the wind which is bumpy, can be uncomfortable and will take longer. It's hard to change the direction of the wind, but if you change the direction of the yacht you will have a much more comfortable sail.

If you have hired a skipper, you will have a professional sailor who is also an expert on the Greek islands. Your skipper can be your personal guide and if you leave it up to him he will most likely put together an itinerary that you won't forget and will make for a great charter. It's important to remember that the skipper's main responsibility is the safety of the passengers and the yacht. You are the one who can ultimately make decisions on destination. The only time the captain can really override your decision(should you not agree) is if the destination you choose could put the yacht or passengers in peril. Otherwise, he is there to take you where you want to go! Discussing the options with the skipper and coming up with an itinerary together can lead to a more rewarding charter.

From Athens(Lavrion or Kalamaki) there are two general areas that are within reach. The Cylades Islands to the east which includes Mykonos, Santorini, Sifnos, Syros, Paros etc... and the Saronic Gulf which includes Aegina, Poros, Spetsi, Hydra as well as the eastern Peleponnesus. The Saronic Gulf is generally more protected and if the winds get heavy make for a much more comfortable sail.

What do I need to bring with me?
Remember that you are going to a warm climate. You won't want to pack for the Arctic chill(unless you are sailing very late or very early in the season- and then it's not an Arctic chill, but cool/cold sail. You'll want deck shoes that are soft-soled. Most of the white soles and some of the black soles won't scuff up the deck, so be sure to wear shoes that don't leave marks on the deck. A bathing suit, shorts and warm weather clothing, a windbreaker or light sweater and some rain gear(to keep you dry), but in most cases the weather will be warm enough so that the water that sprays on you will be a relief from the heat. There will be no need for your Tuxedo or formal clothing unless you want to use them somewhere on shore, but even there it will be hard to find a place where those pieces of clothing will fit in

Most of the yachts will have some kind of electical outlet(220 volt) but hair dryers, irons etc use a lot of power and are probably best left at home. You are on a vessel that is powered by it's own engine and batteries. It's not attached to a huge power plant that produces hundreds of megawatts of power. You're best leaving the electrical devices home and relaying on any electronics that you can power with it's on batteries..

How much should I tip the skipper? The standard tip for the skipper is about 10% of his fees, but if you especially liked him feel free to tip more! He will appreciate it.

What are the qualifications to skipper your chartered yacht? You are required to have a sailing certificate in order to charter a yacht, but if you have experience that also counts. This is a new requirement and nobody is quite sure exactly what you need to charter a yacht. The best bet is provide your personal experience and qualifications and we can check with the yacht owners to see if you meet their requirements.

When is the best time to sail in Greece?
Everyone has their favorite times. If you are on a motor sailing boat and want to swim in the day and hit the famous island nightlife then the best time is in July-August and even the first couple weeks of September when the islands are hopping. In terms of going to Greece to enjoy the combination of good sailing, warm (but not too hot) weather then May-June and September-October. But there are those like
Stefan Ritscher who believe the best time to sail is in the way off-season, even in December and January. See Winter Sailing. For what to expect temperature-wise see www.athensguide.com/weather.html

What is the best itinerary in terms of islands?
This depends on what islands you want to visit and how much time you have. But the best plan is to do a one-way charter. So for example if you were going to visit the Cyclades and you had a week you would go Kea, Kythnos, Sifnos, Paros, Naxos, Mykonos, and end up on Syros. You don't have to backtrack to return the boat to the port you started at so you can see more islands. Many people who do this end up on an island that has ferry connections to Santorini which is a long trip by sailboat but no big deal by ferry. So they do their charter and then spend a few days on Santorini and then take the ferry, highspeed or fly back to Athens. Or they spend a couple days on the last island where they left the boat. As for picking which islands to visit you can visit Matt's Greek Island Guide but it will also depend on the wind and anything you plan is subject to change. For example if you have to sail against the wind to get to one island you might decide to go to another that will be easier. Anyway it does not really matter which islands you choose before your trip because whichever islands you end up at you will be just as happy.

I am afraid I might get sea-sick or it will be too rough. Is there an easy trip?
Some of the best sailing is in the Saronic Islands because they are sheltered from the winds that you get in the Cyclades. So a nice easy sail would be to start out in Athens, or better yet
in Nafplion, and visit Aegina, Angistri, Poros, Hydra, Spetses and some of the beautiful spots on the Peloponessos like Methana, and south. You can even see the Corinth Canal up close. But even sailing in the Cyclades is not like sailing in the Atlantic. You have lots of islands and sheltered coves and if there is a day with really strong wind and you don't feel comfortable sailing you stay in port, swim, eat, drink and see the sites that the island has to offer. (Skippers love strong wind and most people who have never sailed  find it more invigorating than frightening). As for people who are prone to seasickness there are a number of natural remedies and pills like dramamine that do the trick. There are various pills and patches like Dramamine, including Marezine (which does not cause drowsiness), Bonine, Phenergan, Scapolamine (ear patches), all of which affect the inner ear, which is where seasickness originates before it affects the stomach. These must be taken before you get on the boat but there is a drug called Phenergan, which is a suppository that is supposed to be effective when you are already seasick. But more people are afraid of being seasick than actually get seasick. My brother Matt for example stayed awake all night with anxiety the night before his charter because he thought he would be seasick the entire cruise but he found a nice spot on the boat he liked and never felt the slightest sickness and did not take anything. Like many things seasickness is all in your mind.

Keep in mind that when you sail the Greek islands it is not as if you are crossing an ocean and going for days without seeing land. You sail a few hours, find a nice cove to swim, sail a little more and before you know it you are in the next port. So even if you get sick, relief is always nearby.

For more questions, itineraries,
rates or more  information
please contact David with this form or visit his website at
www.charterayachtingreece.com

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