OK, more assorted info.
Mythos is a charter company based in Athens. That said, I met the Mythos representative at Alimos Marina and he handed me over to the Moorings, who owned the boat. The Moorings people did the systems briefing and boat checkout and the Mythos dude disappeared, we left again without seeing him. When we returned the boat to him in Syros *we* had to give *him* the briefing before he could take the boat over again. I wish we''d dealt with only one company, it would have been much easier!
After the comments I''ve read here it seems that I oughtn''t go with Mythos again. ''Cause I''m definitely going back.
Technically you do need two qualified sailors to charter in Greece. But the Greek government appears to accept a signed form that says you can sail rather than any certification. I got a signed letter from my yacht club saying that I''d passed their keelboat skipper class, and my first mate just signed the "I know how to sail" form and it worked out fine. Actually no-one ever checked or anything, and there was certainly no skills assessment before they turned the boat over to me...
So. We departed from Athens, after accidentally meeting the guy who''d chartered the same boat for the previous week. He looked like he hadn''t slept the whole week, was jittery and disturbed. He told us horror stories about the meltemi, which we dismissed, being young and immortal and stupidly competant in our sailing prowess.
We had originally planned to spend the first few days sailing south into the Saronic Gulf, which is much more sheltered from the meltemi and hence calmer, but is also packed with other boaters and vacationers. We decided at the last minute that we were more unhappy about crowded waters than we were afraid of the meltemi, and just went east along the coast toward the Cyclades.
We sailed east toward Cape Sounion in maybe 5-8 knots, complaining about the lack of wind and hoping that we''d get more. (Note - ironic foreshadowing here.) The instant we cleared Cape Sounion and were exposed to the northerly winds, they built from 5-8 to maybe 20 knots in the space of about a quarter mile, and kept on building as we headed east toward Kea. We anchored there the first night and I went up the mast to try and re-rig the spinnaker halyard. It is truly terrifying to go up on the one remaining halyard when the problem you''re trying to fix is that the first halyard has snapped under not much load at all...and you''re afraid that the second might do the same thing with you 55'' off the deck.
Luckily no problem there, or I probably wouldn''t be writing.
Over the next few days we ran south-southeast, with the meltemi at our backs, and saw Kithnos, Serifos, and Sifnos. We made phenomenal time under triply-reefed headsail alone, the wind was so high. GPS said speed over ground was a sustained 11 knots at one point! The wind basically built over those 5 days to a pretty reasonable Force 7. It was extreme conditions for my crew and definitely the strongest winds I''d been out in.
The next day we were to cross around the south end of Sifnos and turn northeast, making for Parokia on Paros. We got a late start trying to find diesel when we realized that the fuel gauge was non-functional and we had no idea how much was left in the tank. Got out around 1130 and realized that, after hours of trying, we were not going to be able to make our destination as we were being blown down by the wind & waves. I wasn''t thrilled at coasting along a lee shore in Force 7-8 conditions so we aborted and headed south around the western corner of Dhespotiko, a tiny island immediately west of Antiparos. We were ruined with fatigue and so dropped anchor in the very first anchorage we could find, a deserted bay on Dhespotiko described only as "good shelter from the meltemi" in the Greek Waters Pilot.
That anchorage was the high point of the whole trip - a tiny bay, absolutely beautiful and completly deserted. We stayed there the whole enxt day snorkeling, exploring, and relaxing. If that''s your thing, I would recommend this anchorage to anyone. I don''t have my GPS here but I do have a waypoint for it, I''ll post it when I get home.
The next day was actually calm, light winds from the south, which seemed almost like blasphemy at this point. We ghosted along the south coast of Paros and north up the Paros-Naxos channel, ported in Naousa on the north side of Paros. From there one more day of calm let us motor north to Mykonos, where we stayed for one more day, then west (again in calm) to Syros, our final destination. We anchored in a small bay on the south side of the island.
Our last day we motored north the few miles to Hermopolis to return the boat, motoring into the meltemi which had come back up to force 6-7. We could only make about 2-3 knots into that wind so it took a long time to get there. Ported in the main harbor (a very uncomfortable place, I recommend the new yacht harbor at the south end of the bay instead) and returned the boat the following morning to Mythos'' representative, who ferried in from Athens.
The longest passage we ever made was about 30nm, with most in the 15-20 mile range. If the wind had been a bit lighter it would have been a wonderful and relaxing trip, perfect for a family cruise. I''d recommend not going in July/August though, the meltemi just isn''t messing around at all. I hear it''s a lot lighter in June or late September. Alternately the saronic gulf would be a good place to cruise, the wind is incredibly lighter down there.
Do not do this in a small boat. We were originally intending a 30'' or 32'' and a smaller crew, and one of the companies we talked to strongly warned us against taking such a boat into the Cyclades. The waves were very difficult to handle in a relatively heavy 36'' boat and I would not have wanted to take anything lighter and smaller in these conditions.
Anyway, despite the problems it was a great trip and a great learning experience for me as skipper! Really helps put my cruising dreams into perspective - and makes me want to go even more.
As usual, ask if you''d like any clarification or more info. These boards helped me out before I went, and I''d like to give some of that back if I can.
Thanks lots - keep sailing!