JimB Sail newsletter

Once every few months we'll email you about site additions and cruising news - unless you unsubscribe, of course!

Subscribe to JimB Sail newsletter feed

Greece

Inland Ionian; Preveza to Kefallinia and Mainland

The Inland Ionian, enclosed by Levkada (Levkas) and Kefallinia (Cefalonia), is a sheltered and attractive sailing region with lovely scenery, suitable for novice sailors and families not keen on rough seas. 

A host of islands creates an enormous number of anchorages, all within a few miles of wherever you may be. Many are suitable for night stops. Popular harbours quickly become crowded in peak season, with novice charter skippers adding some chaos with their first attempts at 'being in charge'. Luckily, there are always anchorages available to escape the crowds.

Yacht support in the area is very good, with sailmakers, stainless steel fabricators, engineers, good chandlers and many layup sites, ashore and afloat. Many services are provided by British ex-pats (often ex flotilla staff) who have taken root in the area. Easy access in summer season through Aktion airport.

Read on for detail . . .

Crete

Largest of the Greek islands, and one of  most southerly places in Europe, Crete has little unsettled weather in summer and a relatively sunny winter. Few boats cruise the 560nm of coastline, and often you'll be the only boat at anchor. The north coast plain is the most densely populated, and rises steadily to the massive ridge of mountains that forms the bulk of Crete, with many peaks over 2000m, and sliced by over 30 gorges, including the Samaria Gorge, reputedly the longest in Europe.  Major port towns of Chania, Rethymnon, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos and Sitia are spaced fairly evenly along this coast, some 40nm apart, but with few anchorages between compared to other Greek cruising areas. The south coast is very steep to, only accessible by boat in most parts, is much less developed than the north.

Dodecanese

This very attractive region can easily occupy 3 weeks of cruising, but 5 weeks give you more leeway. We've included Samos and Ikaria since they form a natural extension to the cruising region, though not in the Dodecanese. The region has two characters — south of Kos has longer legs, limited anchorages and the most unusual sights, while north of Kos has numerous small anchorages, pretty harbours and a lot of charm. 

Regular summer winds are northerlies (the meltemi, brisk at times) but compared with the Cyclades, they are lighter, with reasonably flat waters and day sailing. Yacht support is adequate, with good wintering facilities. Seasonal flights to UK from Kos, Rhodes and Samos connect to other islands through the inter-island ferries. Out of season travel to UK is cumbersome, via Athens by ferry or small aircraft.

Gulfs of Corinth & Patras

This is a passage route, rather than a cruising ground.  If your cruise plan is to circumnavigate the Peloponnese (a rewarding six to eight-week cruise, depending on your natural pace) it's best done anti-clockwise to use favourable winds for 75% of the journey. So carry on south.

Gulf winds are predominantly westerly in summer, stronger in the afternoons, up to F5. For a westerly trip, either do it out of season, or make early morning departures, motoring as necessary, and keep to the north shore, where the wind sets in later. There are enough ports and anchorages en route to remove the need for night sailing.

West Peloponnese - Heading south

From Zakinthos (Zante) down the west coast of the Peloponnese to the Gulf of Navarino, is very much a coast of passage. It could be bypassed in one long day's sail with the prevailing brisk summer NW winds from Kefallinia to Navarino bay, but you would then miss the turtles of Zakinthos, and Olympia, the spectacular site of the original Olympic games. Passages north in summer are harder work.  Safe harbours are close enough for day passages against the wind, especially if you set off early in the morning before the winds reach full strength.

Cyclades

Our Cyclades (Note: Greeks pronounce it 'Kick-lah-thez'; none of this 'sick-le-dees' stuff) cruising region stretches from Cap Sounion to The Dodecanese.  This is exciting sailing, and summer winds may sometimes force you to hole up for a day or three. There is an enormous variety of harbours and anchorages, but no full service marinas. Places to visit include some of the great sights (and sites) of Europe, and many good circular cruises.  The effects of tourism are mostly smart. The region is not overcrowded, and most sailboats are over 34ft. Night trips are not needed. Your summer cruise plans will be dominated by the meltemi, a persistent strong northerly wind. It'll take at least 4 weeks to see the highlights; add another 4 weeks if you really want to do a thorough job. Even that leaves something for next year.

South Peloponnese

Between Navarino bay (the SW corner) and Cap Malea (opposite Kythera) the Peloponnese has some of the best sand beaches in Greece. Many are suitable settled weather anchorages. The towns (Pylos, Methoni, Koroni, Kalamata, Gythion) have lots of character and are favourite holiday resorts for Greeks, sometimes noisy on feast days. Free WiFi is common in cafés. "Must sees" include Navarino bay, ancient Mistras, and the Diros caves.

Free of charter yachts, this is cheap and uncrowded cruising in real Greece.Take this coast slowly and hire a car to explore inland. It's worth it.

Sailing in Greece

This page describes the more general aspects of cruising in Greece, weather, when to go, yacht support, and travel. The right hand menu leads to  pages describing each region in far more detail.

The law outlining what is required of leisure boats, written in Greek of course, is not published to visitors. You will get conflicting instructions from officials about what is required. Unexpected expenses are sometimes incurred if you don't read the small print. Keep smiling; sanctions for "breaking the rules" are very rare indeed.

See Greek Culture, Rules and Regulation for Yachts for more detail.

North Ionian

The North Ionian (Corfu to Preveza) offers easy sailing, so it's a popular area for inexperienced cruisers. Morning winds are light, and afternoon winds rarely exceed F5. There are several exceptionally pretty villages, and (with a few exceptions) the effect of mass tourism is light. Well sheltered harbours and anchorages are never too far away, but in peak season these become very crowded. A thorough exploration can take two or three weeks. The passages across to Parga, or south to Preveza, are exposed to occasional swell, especially in the afternoons.

Yacht services are very good - centered around Corfu town/Gouvia, and Preveza/Levkas town. There are good layup and live-aboard possibilities. Seasonal flights from Corfu and Preveza/Action are very convenient. Out of season air travel via Athens is a pain - best if you take an overnight break in Athens.

Athens & E Peloponnese

This area stretches from Cap Malea (SE corner of the Peloponnese) all the way to the coastline east of  Athens, with a host of islands between.These are sheltered waters with generally light winds, a lot of charter vessels, very good yacht support. Cruising is crowded in season NE of Spetsai and Hydra, favourite destinations for large Athens-based boats. Athens international airport has frequent daily flights year round to many countries. Athens/Piraeus is the transport hub of Greece, with a good rail, bus and tram services to ferry terminals and airport.

Subscribe to RSS - Greece

To save yourself money (and help pay site costs) buy discounted charts and pilot books through our Book Store


Alternatively, send me the price of a beer or two through PayPal!