Sailing the Dodecanese

The Dodecanese means the twelve islands but in fact plenty more! With the exception of Rhodes and Kos most of these are the lesser known names, so the area doesn’t quite have the allure of the Cyclades, though in my opinion is better suited to bareboat charter.

Vathi (Kalymnos): The harbour

Vathi (Kalymnos): The harbour

Many of the Dodecanese islands are quite hard to reach (without a yacht) so are much quieter than elsewhere and the locals are most welcoming to visitors.

There is a choice of yacht charter options. For those that like to go it alone, bareboat charters are available, mainly from Kos but with a few yacht also available from Rhodes.

If you prefer some company, there’s a flotilla from Kos with one and two week options. Some of these include a foray in to Turkey.

And for those that don’t want to skipper their own yacht, there’s a cabin charter that runs between Rhodes and Kos, taking a week in each direction. These trips are on large yachts (around 50 feet) with a professional skipper and hostess. You’re welcome to assist with sailing the yacht or you can just sit back and take it easy.

Nisyros: The volcano crater

Nisyros: The volcano crater

For those wanting a sailing trip in Greece that offers fantastic islands with a little more wind than the Ionian and the Saronic, the choice will probably come to down to the Sporades or the Dodecanese.

The Dodecanese is a bit more arid than the Sporades, though it varies island by island depending on the extent of springs.  It is generally less busy too, once you’re away from the tourist hubs of Kos and Rhodes.

Like the Sporades, the Dodecanese is subject to the Meltemi during the high season period with winds of F5-7 not unusual.  Like the Cyclades, the Meltemi blows can be quite prolonged, often setting in for a week or more. Out of high season, it’s less windy.

The sailing can be a bit harder than the Sporades, with the islands providing a bit less shelter and particularly at the southern end around Rhodes, the distances being a bit longer. So if in doubt, go for a larger yacht for extra comfort.

Kalymnos: Scenic view

Kalymnos: Scenic view

More significantly, the islands are aligned broadly on the same direction as the prevailing NW winds so sooner or later you’re likely to be heading in to the wind, whereas in the Sporades you head across the wind.

There are two solutions to this; the arrangement of islands at the southern end gives a few more options for cross wind sailing, though at the expense of some longer sails; alternatively take a one way charter between the area’s two charter bases, from Kos, to Rhodes.

Kos is served by Saturday flights from Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle with a number of regional airports offering flights on other days.

There are more flights to Rhodes with Saturday flights from a large number of UK airports.  Rhodes, like Skiathos, is not blessed with large amounts of mooring space and you may have to clamber across other yachts to reach yours, although at least the quay is at a sensible height!

Symi Town: Yachts on the north quay of the inner harbour

Symi Town: Yachts on the north quay of the inner harbour

For details and pictures of many of the possible stops in the area see the page on Dodecanese: Ports. For more pictures see the Dodecanese: Gallery.