Greece offers a full range of Bareboat Charter experiences, from easy to extremely challenging, depending on your choice of area. You can find more on the individual sailing areas in the Sailing in Greece section, which includes a map showing the main charter areas.
It’s not just the sailing conditions that vary; if you Bareboat Charter in Greece, mooring up can present a challenge at some destinations. Most moorings are in town or village harbours and port officials are a rare sight on the quayside. As usual in the eastern Mediterranean, booking systems are unheard of!
Ability: Easy to very challenging options
Mooring: Busy in parts, especially in Ionian
Navigation: Few hazards usually well marked
Sailing: Varies greatly between areas.
Vibe: Island hopping. Villages & small tourist towns. Range of restaurants and shops
Getting there: Some bases near airports, others need sea transfer
In many places this doesn’t matter; there’s plenty of room for everyone. However, in busy ports, getting a spot can be a bit of a bun fight and may require some rapid rigging of warps and fenders. On the plus side, when it’s that busy, there are usually plenty of fellow yachtsmen on the quay to help with your lines!
All is not lost; Bareboat Charterers in Greece get used to rafting out, where yachts are moored outside the yachts already tied on the quay. Alternatively, there is often room to anchor nearby, which can be a preferable option for some people when in noisier places.
A bit of research on the ground also pays dividends. The arrival of a Flotilla can turn a quiet harbour in to a busy one so ask around to find out where the Flotillas are headed. Likewise, if you’re out for a fortnight, avoid going in to a yacht base in the middle of your trip; it will be full of charter yachts being prepared for the next guests.
Taking in to account the mooring a well as sailing aspects, I’d rank Greece Bareboat Charter destinations from the easiest upwards as the Saronic, the Ionian, the Sporades, the Dodecanese and the Cyclades.
Until the tourists arrived, the islands were reliant on agriculture and fishing, so there’s little sign of industry. The modern world has arrived though and you’ll find shops to meet your every need. Happily, the supermarket culture is less established so in the towns you will still find butchers, baker and grocers, like a British high street 50 years ago but with the odd mobile phone shop!
There are of course a disproportionate number of bars and restaurants but if you’ve visions of booze crazed teenagers fear not, the worst ravages of British tourism are concentrated in small areas well away from places you’ll be visiting. Greek bars and restaurants are generally tranquil family run affairs.
Greece’s history runs deep and you will see plenty of it. As well as the many well preserved remains from Roman times and beyond, the architecture reflects the various occupying forces that have seized parts of the country in more recent centuries.
Even the new buildings look old – much of the Ionian that was flattened in the 1953 earthquake has re-emerged looking much the same. It can seem a bit twee at times – some places bear a quite remarkable resemblance to their colour saturated postcards, and the country’s annual spend on whitewash must be phenomenal!
Yacht Charter Bases
The yacht charter operators are a mixture of large companies and family concerns. The major bases are near Athens (Kakamaki/Alimos marina and at Lavrion) or in the Ionian.
Many yachts spend the winter in Athens and are then sent out to their summer bases in the Sporades (Skiathos), Dodecanese (Kos and Rhodes) and the Cyclades (Syros and Paros). The choice and numbers of yacht at these bases are limited. Smaller concerns offer yachts from other places such as Poro (Saronic Gulf), Samos (E Sporades) and Santorini (Cyclades), again in limited numbers.
Athens retains the largest numbers of charter yachts, its popularity assured by the close proximity of Athens’ international airport, despite its geographical location at the edge rather than the centre of the Saronic and Cyclades. There is a good choice of yachts from here and the Ionian bases.
So your choice of start point is partly dependent on your choice of sailing area but also on how long a transfer you want to get there, particularly in the case of the Cyclades and Saronic Gulf.
For most people though, the choice comes down to whether you prefer the easier sailing of the Saronic and Ionian, or the more challenging conditions elsewhere.