Greece (Athens) One Week
March huh.... bring warm clothes, where as we do have some very nice days in March it will be cool on the water and can get cool in the evenings. You know what they say March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.... speaking of which Greek Easter is in March this year March 27th I believe, if you are around its well worth the effort to see some of the celebrations.
Golden Sail charter company......never heard of them, mind you there are so many small chop shop Greek charter brokers
Captain Nikos, yeap know him and his little catamaran that floats around Poros harbour all summer long looking for day trippers and other unsuspecting tourists.
One thing you must understand is that the Ocean star you are going on most likely does not belong to either of these companies ,but a private owner. Therefore, they are leasing it from him to give to you. The good points are the yacht is likely to have come straight out of the boat yard after winter storage and service, it will have a clean bottom and fresh antifouling so she will sail better than later in the season. The owner will have done any service work, in addition, the yacht should be in reasonable shape mechanically speaking, so the chance of breakdown during your trip should be minimum. Over all though 10 people on an Ocean start 51 will be cozy. I assume that some one in the party has sailing experience and can handle this yacht. With 10 people some one is going to be sleeping in the crews quarters up in the bow....brrrrrr. in march.
The ocean star51 is a comfortable yacht, hardly what one would call a performance sailing yacht, motors well, sails down and off the wind Ok, for your week charter it will suit you fine.
SO you arrive in Kalamaki Marina, then what?
Find the broker and the yacht, hopefully they have made some kind of arrangement to meet you somewhere as Kalamaki Marina in March will be a busy crowded place with yachts all over the place. Some in the water lots out of the water and every one in a hurry to get the yachts in the water for greek easter.
HOW A 7 DAY CHARTER QUICKLY TURNS INTO A 5 DAY CHARTER.
As a general rule of thumb, greek agents/brokers and the contract you have signed will let you on the yacht at 12 noon day of the charter starting. (Already Half day Gone) Bearing in mind you may need the morning to find the yacht!!.
Any way lets say you get onboard by 12 noon, Great ever yones happy on the boat, agent/brokers there and wants to be friendly and chat,(meantime you just want to untie lines and get the hell out of the place), so what is procedure here. Not too different from the Caribbean, just a little more time consuming and little more hectic.
1. Yacht check in, you will need to be shown how to operate the yacht,safetyequipmen, gear storage, engine compartment ,oil, water etc.... Shown how all the electronics work etc.....your standard extended bareboat check in that can run up to 1-1.5 hours. make sure you check everything, from sails to windlass, or else if it appears damaged when you return you could loose money from the security deposit. I’m sure if you have done all this in the Caribbean you will be familiar with how long it can possibly take.
2. So you and your crew are happy that you understand all about the yacht, time lapsed lets say 2 hours including storage of your gear etc...
3.Paper work. You will need to fill out crew list with passport numbers etc, have your Captains license and one other ready for the agent/broker, an Ocean Star 51 requires that there be 2 qualified people on board ,if you do not have any one be prepared to sign a waiver that you have the experience to Captain the yacht.. or as.(Charter Captains call “the I know what I’m doing, No Problem maan “ form)
What does this all this mean?, exactly that a waiver. The Ocean Star 51 requires that 2 Qualified Captains sign off as captain. If you as the captain hurt some one or damage another yacht then its your Liability at risk not the charter companies. In a court they will say “You told us and signed off that you had the experience”. Basically it absolves them of all accidents, you as the charterer may have.
All this paper work has to be filed with the Port Police prior to the yachts departure. In summer this can take a while, not only filling out forms but also waiting for your turn at the Port police to get all your stamps and clearance before you leave. In March it should go quicker but allow at least another hour for murphys laws screw ups.
Lets assume that all goes smoothly and now you can at least start thinking about provisioning. You have 2 options here, one let the broker provision for you, (not recommended) or
alternatively go to the super market just outside the marina and shop there for everything and have them deliver to the yacht. This only works when the place is open and its closed on Sundays. I have seen too many charters start on a sunday and find everything closed expect small mini market places with high prices. All items you find in the USA are available here and few more that you can not get too....with 10 people buy what you need, as the rest you can pick up in the islands from local stores, of course its cheaper in the supermarket and greater selection than in the Islands.
Allow an hour for shopping and god knows how long to have it delivered to the yacht. So there you all sit on your charter yacht, ready to leave and the groceries still have not been delivered ? time
lapsed now 3.5+ hours which would make local time now 3pm-4pm. It gets dark in march around 6-7pm I believe which will leave you about 2-3 hours day light to make it to the first island, in circumstances like this the only island you can make is Aegina Island about 19 miles away from Kalamaki. With the ocean star motoring at full speed you should be there in 2.5 hours about.
So here is where the fun starts, docking the yacht, remember here in the Mediterranean we go Stern to the dock, anchor
off the bow and back into the dock. If it’s something you have never done before, then you will have problems, especially if the town dock is full or the spot you want to get into is small. Oh and did I mention that it will most likely be geting dark too !!
End of first stress full day
In most cases yachts do get out of the marina in time and do make that first day count, however there are those times when you will not complete all tasks in time and therefore will have to stay in Kalamaki marina the first night. Read your contract as it states that bare boat charters are not allowed to travel at night.
One thing to start in day light and arrive at dusk another to leave at dusk and arrive at night.
In Most cases, a week charter will only really allow you to see the Saronic Gulf and surrounding islands to Athens. If you have experienced crew then it is possible to head off to the Cyclades, but that first day is a killer. Going the opposite way of the Saronic to the Cyclades will involve a 35+ mile sail to the island of Kea, not something you want to jump into unless you can leave Kalamaki before noon, which with a bareboat is difficult to organise. A Private Captained charter like you can find in the Caribbean is a whole different animal. When I say Captained Charter I do not mean bareboat+ Captain. As is often the Greek agents claim, is there version of a Private Captained Charter.
Ok so where does one go in the Saronic Gulf. If you made it to Aegina Island on the first day/night, then head off to the Town of Epidavros, here you will find a beautiful harbour, delightful town and the chance to visit one of the best ancient Theatres in all of Europe.
From there visit either Vathy, a small fishing port on the on the Peloponnese coast or sail around to the Island of Poros, great town, fantastic bay with great harbour facilities, water and power on the North Pier.
Poros to Ermioni via the secret cove of Teslavina, great lunch time stop, tucked in behind some rocks a magical place.
Teslavina to Ermoni is about 14 miles and a good down wind sail in most cases. Ermoni is a nice town they have been building a new Harbour so it will read this summer 2005.
From Ermoni sail over to Spetsai or visit the deserted island of Dhakos, great place to organise a beach barbque....
The island of Hydra is a must see, here you will definitely have your boat handling skills tested, the harbour is TINY AND VERY VERY BUSY, Easter will likely find this harbour full so be prepared to fight for a good spot on the harbour wall.
Harbour costs, well here is definately not like in the Caribbean. In march you should have absolutely no problem in finding an evening berth in any port you may visit, (Hydra Island on Easter sunday will be a problem)
How much ? In most cases you should have to pay no more than $5-7 US Dollars a night. Some ports like Poros have a Man who collects the Harbour fees and issues the electricity, other ports like Aegina, Hydra, etc you physically have to go to the Port Police with your Yachts papers and file entry much like in the Caribbean when you clear in and clear out. Only not so formal. Here the Port Police collect the Harbour fee and check your crew list and ships papers. They are normally very helpful and more and more speak excellent english, (especially the younger Officers). Other Costs will be water, ice, electricity
Finally, your last day. If you start on a saturday and finish saturday, you will be required to be back in the marina by 0900/10000, depends on the company but it does say in the contract you signed when you must return. In most cases charter companies want the yacht back by friday night/ back in the marina before dusk.
Which means that in most cases friday becomes a wash as you return from where ever you are. Some try and squeeze aegina island in again and get up early saturday morning and rush back to the marina early saturday morning. Thats all up to you but, strictly speaking friday is the contract day. So 7 days can quickly become 5 days sailing if you consider the travel days at each end!!
I never understood this, because with a little organization the client can actually get the full 7 days. Oh well as they say "thats Greece"....
Who am I ? An old BN from the Caribbean who now lives over here and works for a English charter company, running one of there yachts full time, so I know the islands and procedures very well.
One final note check out the thread "Greek chartering practices" the author knows his stuff and he mentions alot of helpful hints and tricks to watch for....
I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful time, the Greek islands are absolutely incredible, if you like the BVI''s then this place will knock your socks off. The islands are spectacular, the people so friendly as to be amazing, (No boat boys here). The winds and seas are different just about every day, the sailing can be exciting and can be calm. In March the weather can be hot or unfortunately cool and damp, just depends, but the islands will be Green and in early blossom. Epidavros in March has a permanent scent in the air of Honey Suckle and Jasmine. It grows every where all around the village and harbour.
FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS.........