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  #11  
Old 08-24-2006
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Beating the clock

You did not mention the Charter co..............I've found in Athens('03 & '04) & other places some companies are very strict & others are a lot more flexible.
You have picked a slightly slower time of the year = good.

My strategy has been to get into the marina area the day before (resting from red eye flight over + get the lay of the land) so I can get familiar with the Kalamaki/Alimos marina area which is large, find the charter company bldg or trailer, yacht dock area & meet the staff.

Being friendly & smoozing goes a long way plus they are a good source of info regarding places to eat, buy stuff, other services. You can even get paperwork & chart briefing (early next day) done early if staff avail.
Departing any base is hectic & Kalamaki is no different......even a little crazier given the density of boats & bases sharing all the docks.

Organizing your crew to get there early, divide & conquer (like you have already planned) and have a few standing by to help you do the yacht check out & stow gear/provisions. If the staff senses your "polite" urgency, organization & flexibility...........and the boat is ready. Then the schedule is often accelerated.

There's an alternate shopping area not that far from the marina (south exit-across & up street/incline) with a larger supermarket & good bakery next door..............but a taxi or charter co shuttle w/b necessary to get stuff back
Both times we left bet 3-5pm.............and ended up one time arriving definitely in the dark @ Aegina. I've never headed south to the Cyclades so can't help with short hop harbors. The Greek Water Pilot is a great source & an e-mail to author may help you, plus the charter co staff

Language = Never was a big barrier in Greece vs Guadeloupe which I did this June. English was spoken by the young people (taught in school) & all the adults who are working with any tourist related business. When you hit more remote harbors / local stores or older people it can be tougher. But if you smile & use simple greetings ..................somehow the transaction gets done.
The good news is that you will have a great time & the Greek people are so friendly. The first taverna experience will wipe away any pre-charter sweat.
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  #12  
Old 08-27-2006
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Thanks for the reply, Chuteman! Great to hear from someone who has been there. We will arrive in Athens on Friday, and stay two nights in the Plaka. We have a day of Athens sightseeing on Saturday, then start the charter on Sunday.

I will contact the charter company(Meandros) when we have arrived in Athens, Friday. As you suggested, it might be a good idea to drop in on the Charter base Saturday. My wife and I have been to Athens before. The couple we are sailing with have not been, so we need to hit a few must-see Athens sites, but will probably limit to the Acropolis and a few other things. So we might have time for trip to Kalamaki.

Charter company has said that they will take us shopping. Don't know if they are flexible about which supermarket.

My experience in the Carribean is that charter companies(and their contracts) forbid any might sailing and require you to be at anchor or moored by dark. Of course, sometimes stuff happens. Was that the case in your Greek charters, as well? I will remain flexible and keep several backup options in mind. I figure the worst case is that we would have to overnight at Kalamaki and make a longer sail on the first day.

Thanks,

RichR
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  #13  
Old 08-29-2006
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chrondi is an unknown quantity at this point
Try to avoid staying at Kalamaki marina overnight (it's clearly a waste of time). Even if you cast off at 17:00, you still have several hours available for sailing before it gets dark, since at destination (maybe at Sounion, in the small bay under the Posseidon temple) you just drop your anchor.
Another important point is that in the Saronic gulf usually you have no wind in the afternoon and hence under power you will easily make 6 knots.
Go straight, lucky boy, and enjoy the moonlight in the mid of this exceptional surrounding!
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  #14  
Old 08-30-2006
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Beating The Clock #2

Sailing after Dark = It was not emphasized as tough as the Caribbean but sure they would prefer you don't plus I think the contract will probably say no.

Yet the first company (greek) that we chartered from let us go late in the day (their fault) & knew where we were headed. There was no doubt we would be in the dark. Never the 1st choice in strange waters.

The good news in Greece (vs Caribbean) is that some navigational aids exist. Maybe driven by the large ferry network but we saw enough to help at various places.

I cannot comment on the suggested harbor going south. But the Greek Water Pilot & charter company can certainly help you there.
I would not bet on always having calm conditions leaving (or returning to) the Athens/Kalamaki harbor. Kalamaki can be very noisy at night due to nearby bars/clubs plus busy roads + boats/crews everywhere.

One note once you get past the 1st day decision. Usually getting into harbor earlier vs later is a good idea especially in small harbors. Getting a good med-moor spot .....both from a water (depth/obstructions/swell/etc) and land (clubs/bars/busy comm'l stuff) is key. Does not mean you will have no company. In fact people will attempt & many will succeed squeezing & pushing their boat into places where it looks impossible.
If you are there early, then you have a chance to get free entertainment. Get your happy hour refreshments out & watch the late arrivals.................we were in one harbor (hydra - very small) where it ended up triple "parked" = 3 layers off the quay with many confused on bow vs stern and boats so tight the fenders cried all night.........only place that happened ..............but not unusual to have a full quay..........so dont get in too late.
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  #15  
Old 10-02-2006
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Trip Report- Just returned from Cyclades

First, I want to thank all who provided great advice and insights before my trip! It was all extremely helpful. Report on my trip:

We arrived Friday evening and got to our hotel in the Plaka area (Hotel Adams). Good inexpensive hotel. Acropolis view. Great location for exploring Athens by foot. We walked to Acropolis, Syntigma, Monisteraki, many other places. Found a sim card for my cell phone. Throughout the islands, I always had phone service.

We chartered through Albatross, located in the US. Everything worked out well, and I have no complaints. As it played out, we found that all the contract paperwork was for Meandros, a Greek company. I thought, OK, US broker represents Greek charter company. But the boat actually belonged to Kiriacoulis, which is a large charter company. With so many middlemen, it looks like an opportunity for confusion and finger-pointing. But, everything worked seamlessly.

We got the boat we'd reserved. Got it on time (early, actually), and in good shape. Provisioning took a little longer that I'd anticipated. Two of us handled the checkout, and the other two went provisioning. We started the process at about 13:30. Departed around 16:00. Sailed to Sounion. Anchored about 30 minutes before sunset. The temple of Posideon is pretty spectacular. Especially when it is lit up at night. Not much in the way of provisioning there. Took the dingy to shore and walked up to the Temple of Posideon.

Had a great sail to Kithnos.

Actually all of our passages were sailed. We motored an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to keep the batteries topped off and fridge cold. Motored in and out of harbors. Other than that, sail all the way. No motoring because of lack-of-wind. Wind stayed between 10 and 25 knots. Maybe some gusts approaching 30 one day. We had heard that the prior week had some Meltemi winds, with many boats staying in port for 2-3 days. We had good luck on that-- perfect weather.

Attempted to med moor at Merikha,Kithnos. But, the mole was full. Looked like one spot available, but the port police told us it was too close to the ferry. This turned out to be a very good twist of fate. We backtracked to a nearby anchorage with a taverna. We had a great meal, wonderful waiter, appetizers, entrees, wine, dessert-- for 22 euro! For 4 people! Mealwise, this was definitly one of the high points. Although there were really no "low points". Did some snorkeling here also. Water is very clear, but marine life doesn't seem as plentiful as in the Carrib.

On to Serifos. Planned a lunch/swim stop at Koutala, but just did a fly-by instead. We made pretty late/leisurely departures. So, we pressed on to get into our next overnight anchorage: Livadhiou, Serifos. Sterned-to and found ourselves in the middle of a flotilla of Norweigians (about a dozen boats), and many other nationalities as well. Beautiful place. Got some provisions, a great meal, and a late night out in a night club. Many of the cruisers/charters ended up in the same night club till 3am or so. Everyone managed to negotiate their gangplanks without falling in. I would have lost that bet.

On to Sifnos. A little shorter sail. Good thing, as we made a slow start following the late night out. Also loaded up on pastries from the bakery before leaving.

Made a lunch stop at Kamares. Very nice place with many shops and tavernas. Our plan was to overnight at Vathi, and we kept to that plan. But, I was inclinded to stay at Kamares. Vathi was very nice as well. Not as many provisioning possibilies, but we didn't really need much. It was getting a little late, so we had dinner aboard that night. Didn't launch the dinghy till the next morning. After spending the morning walking around Vathi, we headed for Poliagos.

We sailed down the channel between Poliagos and Kimolos, then around the south side of Poliagos. Very spectacular! Beautiful high cliffs and caves. Large rocks sticking up to maybe 100 feet. We found a nice secluded cove with 20' depth and sand bottom. Snorkelled and swam. Headed back around to Psathi,Kimilos for the night.

Stern-to at the seawall for overnight. This turned out to be a rough anchorage. It was recommended by our checkout guy. It was fine when we tied up. But through the evening, the swell started coming into the harbor.
And, the way we were moored, the swell hit us on the beam. Made for a pretty uncomfortable night. Anchor held well. In hindsight, we might have been better off to untie from the dock and just swing on the anchor. But the harbor seemed to have some serious shoaling issues at the other end, also.

But there also many positives at Kimolos. We walked up to the main town. It was very beautiful. We started to see how much more there is to the islands than what you get at the waterfront. Had a great meal in a taverna. Just us, plus the folks from the other boat in the harbor, and a few locals. Everything fresh and homemade. Locally made yoghurt with honey and fruit!!! Certainly changes my thoughts on Yoghurt. Better than ice cream.

We had been given a recommended anchorage at Vathi,Folegandros. But we were starting to run out of time. We needed to be within an easy day's sail of Paros, so we stayed at a small anchorage in the eastern side of Sifnos.

Sailed on to Paros. This was a beat, but still a very nice sail. The boat (a Bavaria 38) sailed very nicely. We intentionally got a boat without a furling main. (You can pry those battens from my cold dead hands.)

Sterned to at the dock in Paroikia,Paros and spent one last night aboard.

I had a cell phone number for the guy who was supposed to check us in. When I called, the guy said "yeah, I just walked past your boat". I saw him on the dock and he waved. Checkin went smoothly, and we were on the next ferry for Santorini. Spend a few days there, then flew back to Athens to catch our flight home.

The absolute worst thing that happened during the whole trip was one rolly anchorage. That is close enough to perfection for me.

Most people spoke very good English. Though, I am very glad that I learned a fair amount of Greek prior to the trip. Between my wife and I we were able to work through some non-English-speaking cab drivers, waiters, shopkeepers in the more remote places. And even the ones who speak English appreciate the effort of at least knowing the basics of yes, no, please, thank you, etc.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
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  #16  
Old 10-02-2006
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Gotta Go Back

RichR:
Damn, sounds so good you make me wanna go back for a 4th, 5th, 6th week......
Glad it worked out so well for you.......sounds like you enjoyed the Greek experience.
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  #17  
Old 10-03-2006
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Dear RichR,
you should consider yourself very lucky regarding the weather, the condition of the boat, smooth running of your cruise etc., more or less as you planned it. Nevertheless, what was not clearly mentioned in the preceding information exchange (while you got some idea by visiting the 'chora' of Kimolos) is that visiting the main village a few kilometres inland is more than worth the time spent. As far as this aspect is concerned, it seems that you missed the Serifos 'chora' and Apollonia/Artemonas on Sifnos!

Last edited by chrondi; 10-07-2006 at 10:59 AM.
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  #18  
Old 10-04-2006
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Follow up

Yes Chrondi, I do consider us lucky regarding the weather, condition of the boat, etc. At the Altimos marina, we met a few groups that were ending their charter, who didn't have such a great experience.

One group had been stuck on Mykonos for three days due to the Meltemi during the the week before our trip, so that could have easily been our fate.

Our boat wasn't totally perfect. I didn't mention the glitches that we worked around. The knotmeter only read about half of the boats actual speed. I scraped some of the fouling from the impeller, but it made no difference. I kept my handheld gps at the helm and we used that. The second reef line was rigged to tension both the tack and clew, but it only tensioned the clew. We never needed the second reef, but could have rigged a downhaul if needed. Autohelm would work itself loose and would go out of control. Actually we found that we balance the boat well enough on most points of sail, that we could lock the wheel and stay on course. She sailed very nicely.

These were all little things that you work around, and move on.

I would have liked to spend more time going into the islands away from the waterfront. Yes, I think we missed a lot by not making more shore trips. But, we made the most of a 7 day cruise. The "one-way" helped a lot and was well-worth the extra charge. Two weeks or more certainly would be better. As it is, I have two kids at home (age 12 and 14). We had to get friends and relatives to care for and feed our kids for two weeks so we could do this trip. A longer trip, with more inland excursions would sure be nice. Next time.

Our group was not very agreeable to making early departures. So we typically arrived at our overnight port in the late afternoon, in time to get settled and go have dinner. We usually spent a bit of the next morning ashore, but needed to get underway by 10am-noon, to make the next destination. Our hike to the Chora at Kimilos gave us a hint at what we were missing. And we could see the larger hilltop towns everywhere we went, but had little time to go there.

Thanks again for all your help and advice. I am ready to go back!

Thanks,

Rich
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Old 10-07-2006
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Dear RichR,
thank you so much for all this valuable feedback! Potential sailors/charterers in the Greek Cyclades area should listen very carefully to your valid statements.
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Old 03-21-2010
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Rich R.

We are going on your itinerary in late may/early june 10. Do you have any further info on the taverna and anchorage off of Kithnos, which you liked so much? Fair winds.
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