When to go sailing

Sailing schools and flotillas tend to operate only in the main seasons but you can take other types of sailing holiday all year round.  However, you might not want to – you may be surprised how cold and wet it can be in the Med in winter for example, and hurrican season in the Caribbean may be more excitement than you want!  It may also be expensive to reach some areas as charter flights tend to run only for the main season.

Personally, I'd avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean....

Personally, I’d avoid hurricane season in the Caribbean….

The main Mediterranean season is from April to October, with high season from July to September.  In the Caribbean, the main season is from November to July with high season from December to March.

Caribbean temperatures don’t vary hugely throughout the year, typically reaching peaks of 28-32°C with average day time temperatures of 24-29°C.  Summer is however very wet and humid, with hurricanes in the north, which is why most people go in winter when winds are steady, there’s less rain, and it’s a little less hot.

Mediterranean weather is considerably more variable through out the year, and in different locations.  In some places the difference between average temperatures in April and August can be 15°C.  Rainfall can also vary greatly.  So if you’re sensitive about your ideal climate, check the temperature guides in the Sailing Areas section carefully.

...and winter in the Mediterranean...

…and winter in the Mediterranean…

The large variation in temperatures also has a marked effect on water temperatures in the  Mediterranean.  In the eastern Med, where the water stays deep right up to the shore, swimming in April or May can be a surprisingly cooling experience.  It takes some time for the water to heat up, but once it does, the heat is retained.  So although the air temperatures may be similar in April and October, the sea is much warmer in October.

Prices are of course higher in high season and in the Med, school holiday periods (including the May and October half term weeks) of course attract a premium.  This applies to both flights and the sailing element.  The May and October holidays have little effect on crewed and bareboat charters prices (us Brits making up only a small proportion of the total market), but they do impact flight prices from the UK.

...and go where the sun shines.

…and go where the sun shines.

However, if you’re a family looking for a Flotilla in May or October you may get lucky – not all schools have the same holiday dates.  Most sailing holiday companies are based on southern England and tend to base their pricing structures on the local state school holiday dates.  If your dates are adrift of these, you may avoid the worst of the high prices.  The same can apply to the start and end of the summer break.

So, if you want to avoid the highest prices, avoid school holidays if you can, and think carefully about your ideal climate if you’re heading to the Med.  I like it hot, but burning the soles of my feet on a quay in Turkey one summer was not fun (though I could have put some shoes on)!