How to make the most of a sailing vacation of the Saronic Islands, Greece
Anna Mourou, founder of the successful woman sailor network, She Captain, shares her review of her latest flotilla in Greece, sailing from our base in Athens to the Saronic islands with 44 members in five boats.
The ambience created on a She Captain flotilla is hard to explain. There is so much bravery released, so much fun and exciting energy that always spreads through the harbors we visit. During each flotilla, we make friends for life and everyone wants She Captain back for another visit!
When the first 47ft boat with a fully female crew entered the little picturesque harbor of Hydra, people stopped to watch. When the third boat arrived, we saw spectators wave for their friends to come and watch and when boat number five made an appearance, everyone had their cameras up!
Late season sailing in Greece
Greece is a destination that was a true pleasure from start to finish. Although it was late season when we sailed, we had 77ºF and lovely vacation weather. Sailing wise, some more winds would have been nice but I would rather have warm weather and no wind than cold weather and wind.
The scenery is beautiful and the welcoming, outgoing Greek mentality fits with us perfectly. We sing and dance whenever we get a feeling for it and the locals do also it too, so together we created so many memories that will connect us to Greece forever.
Our route took us from Athens to Aegina, Poros, Dokos, Hydra, Aegina and back to Athens, which were easy distances in the moderate winds. We didn’t have any pre-booked moorings but made sure to get to port no later than 3pm to have a chance for all five boats to get a place. It took some negotiation skills a couple of times to convince the harbour authority to bend the rules a bit to get us all in, but no one ever regretted that decision with the positive energy we spread.
At two harbours we did a joint restaurant dinner. Dream Yacht Charter’s base team, with their knowledge, helped us find good restaurant options for our She Captains. The food on these islands generally is so very good. Grocery shopping was easy everywhere we went, so we could always find the little things needed to create a nice meal. But don’t plan to buy everything on the smaller islands, you need to stock up in Athens.
Hydra was a favorite amongst the She Captains. The port is truly stunning with the beautiful Greek houses that surround this enclosed bay. Many of us took the short walk through Hydras’ narrow passageways up to the viewpoint and saw a sunset that we will remember for a long time.
To make some quality time out of the lack of wind we launched our own clean the ocean project called #NotInMyOcean. So while out on the water, we collected floating plastic and garbage and made a contest out of it. It became a wonderful way to practice manoeuvring with both engine and sails.
Flotilla sailing, Greece
Sailing in the Mediterranean is something most people have on their to-do list, but it can be pretty scary to rent a big boat and manoeuvre it as the skipper in situations very different from your own county. One of our flotilla goals is to make sure everyone gets to practice as much manoeuvring as possible and all different ways of mooring so they understand it’s not at all hard or scary.
The one thing everyone spoke about as the strongest memory from this flotilla was the magic we created when we tried star anchoring, a first for all of us. To create your own swimming pool with the sterns of the boats in a circle was an amazing experience. We played music, danced, swam to each other’s boats and truly enjoyed a lunch break with a twist.
On the flotilla for the first time was She Captain member, Heidi Torres. She needed a break from her everyday life as a development engineer for Scania and, as with many of our participants, she wanted to brush off her old sailing skills and get inspired to sail more while in a secure and fun environment.
“The ways to moor in Greece are completely different from what I remember when I was younger,” Heidi explains. “To be three boats in a row as we did at Hydra, with stern against the bow? I have never done that before. It was quite challenging to get ashore, climbing over boats and pulling yourself some way with a dinghy. But with some help, it became a fun adventure instead. My 48-year-old heavy body had some difficulties, but my inner 8-year-old cheered at the obstacle course of seven boats.”
Heidi continues, “Each port was different. We have been in a natural harbor, normal harbor and not so normal harbor. We’ve taken a swim in star anchorage formation, managed to get all of our five boats together in most ports and we have met other sailors who said that their holiday was fantastic because we were there. An unknown sailor with a wonderful singing voice sang a serenade to me at a restaurant on Aegina. I will remember those encounters forever.”
For a She Captain flotilla, we always have one experienced skipper and co-skipper on each boat. These are selected from the group of participants so we are all there for the same purpose – to enjoy sailing and have fun as no one is doing this for work. The rest of the crew is then a mixture of sailing experience, some have never sailed or been out on a boat and some have crossed oceans.
The Dream Yacht Charter base in Athens
Renting a boat in Greece was a delight. The check-in and check out was efficient and very supportive. We were all very impressed with how fast minor issues with the boats got sorted out and how effortless it was when Dream Yacht Charter sent out their service boat and staff to support us during our flotilla.
That security and feeling of having their support all the way made many women realize renting a boat is not that big of a deal. Also, seeing how other cruisers handled their boats or, shall I say, not always handling it, is always good for your own self-esteem. No matter how experienced you are, sometimes it just goes a bit wrong, and that has to be ok too!
So will we come back to Greece for a flotilla? Oh yes! So many She Captains could not stop talking about the amazing atmosphere and fun outgoing mentality Greece had given us. Member, Anette Ramström, summed it up perfectly, “Greece is easy to sail in and I love the friendly welcome they give you in each harbor. With wonderful clear waters, good food, natural anchorages and cosy villages with lovely harbors, well, Greece is a country I really want to come back to.”