Crewed Yacht Charter in the Greek Islands and Turkey

Playing the Meltemi: Make our Mediterranean Vacation more enjoyable

Nothing like the wind in your face, the salt in your hair and soaked from head to toe for hours on end. Very bracing - but not exactly my kind of vacation; especially if I’ve spend major bucks on a nice fully crewed or bareboat charter in the Greek Islands or Turkey. Yes they are beautiful islands but there is this wind thing….

As everyone familiar with boats and yachts in the Greek Islands knows, July and August are “Meltemi Months”. The Meltemi is a strong off-shore prevailing wind from the North West that blows during the popular summer months, mostly in July and August. Sometimes the wind does not blow strongly, but many times it does and can reach gusts of 40 miles an hour. These conditions are hardly favorable to idyllic island hopping, especially when pushing to windward in less than favorable conditions.

Good Greek and Turkish Captains know how to cope with the July/August winds and the formula is pretty simple – make sure that you have the wind behind you most of the time. Now, in order to do this you have to plan your trip pretty carefully and this is where a knowledgeable charter broker - there’s a bunch of pretty experienced guys at - and a good Captain can play an absolutely critical role in designing the itinerary for you and your party.

The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to start every charter in Athens. In fact there are many other ideal locations to start from. Second thing to remember is that The Greek Islands are grouped into 6 major areas. One week charters should stick to one of these areas; a 2 week charter could conceivably do two areas, etc. The areas are:

1. Skiathos and the Sporades Islands: Located North of Athens and in the lee of, and protected by, the mountains; this is arguably the most protected area for sailing in Greece.

2. Athens and the Peloponnese that are also in the shadow of the Mountains.

3. Corfu and the Ionian Islands, on the Western coast of Greece. (these include Skorpios, home of the late Mr. Onassis)

4. The popular Cyclades Islands that include Mykonos and Santorini; unfortunately these are smack in the middle of Meltemi territory.

5. The Dodecanese Group, aligned along the Aegean Coast of Turkey, is also Meltemi territory.

6. Crete: Very interesting larger island as a standalone charter destination, you can always duck behind a promontory or hide out on the lee side of the island.

Never fear: keep the wind behind you. If you are looking for a week’s charter in the Dodecanese islands, for example, you should fly into and start your charter in Chios or Samos at the North of the Dodecanese chain and head southeast and finish up in Kos or Rhodes. If you positively have to do the popular Cyclades Islands, you should fly into Mykonos and then head south – maybe fly back to Athens.

If you start your trip in Athens and have a week to bum around, you should stick to lovely islands and picturesque villages in the Saronic Gulf which is very protected by the Peloponnesian Mountains.

In the case of Turkey, you should start your trip in Bodrum, for example and head South East (downwind) to be dropped off in Gocek. The Aegean coast of Turkey is another great Mediterranean location to consider for your fully crewed or bareboat charter.

All in all, your vacation should be a wonderful and peaceful event and not a nightmare of high winds and crashing head seas. Follow some of the simple rules above and keep it simple. After all Greek and Turkish sea captains and sailors have been plying these waters for thousands of years. Let’s learn from them.

Please don’t let this discourage you from visiting the Greek Islands; there is frankly no place on earth that is more pleasurable, where the people are so friendly and where the phrase, “a place where nothing has changed in 1000 years” can be most perfectly defined. The Greeks are laid back, fun-loving and, like the Italians don’t mistrust foreigners or dislike Americans. May you have a following sea wherever you go.

Article written by: Capt. Tony King, Principal

Further Reading

Back to "vacation"

Guide to all Countries of the Mediterranean

Pictures from cruise vacations in Turkey

DMOZ on Yacht Charter

Wikipedia on the Mediterranean and Greek Islands