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Old 20-01-2010, 11:50   #1
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Cyclades, Greece Itinerary - Comments and / or Local Knowledge

I am planning a bareboat charter to the Cyclades for the last week of June through the first week of July, 2010. I have not charter in this area before and, as a result, I have quite a few questions related to my itinerary and local knowledge questions. I have consulted the Heikell guide, Greek Waters Pilot

I outline the itinerary below. The boat I have is a new 54 foot monohull. It draws 7í 6Ē (just over two meters). We have the boat for 11 days or so. There were certain parameters I had to allow for:
  • Santorini had to be included as a stop.
  • I wanted to pick the boat up in Paros, in part so I donít have to work so far back upwind to an island like Syros or all the way back to Athens.
  • I didnít want to include a lot of upwind work with the crew on the boat, so I plan to drop them off before I move the boat back to Paros.
  • I needed to build in a lot of laydays to allow for the Meltemi doing her thing and to have a chance to explore and experience some of the islands.
With those parameters in mind, this is what I came up with:

Itinerary

Day 1

We will all meet in Paros in the town of Parikia. Probably I will have arrived the day before and will spend the day provisioning.

Question: How is the provisioning in Paros? Where is the best place to provision?

Day 2

We will dock off early and run South a distance of 50 Nautical Miles ("NM") (approx. 7 - 9 hours) to the Little Cyclades (Iraklia, Schinousa, Ano Koufonisa).

Questions: The boat draws 7.5 feet or two meters. Is there anyway I can go South through the channel between Paros and Antiparos? Heikell seems to indicate it is a close call.

What is the best first night anchorage in the Little Cyclades? Want a protected inlet, good holding ground, nice beach (or as many of those as possible).

What are other favorite anchorages?

Days 3 & 4

We will spend two days there.

Questions: What is the best town to dock (Med moor) the boat (Best = good restaurants, picturesque, possibly ability to supplement provisions and good docking).

Are these islands ďworthĒ a two day visit as that is about 20% of the time I have for the entire charter.

Day 5

Little Cyclades downwind to Amorgos.

Question: What is the best town to dock (Med moor) the boat (Best = good restaurants, picturesque, possibly ability to supplement provisions and good docking).

Day 6
Layday in Amorgos.

Question: Is this island worth staying for the day? Other than the monastery, what are the highlights?

Day 7

Sail to Santorini

Day 8 & 9

Laydays in Santorini

Day 10

Sail to Ios

Question: Everyone is going to tell me Ios is not a good stop. But I need to get the boat North so I can get it to Paros the next day. Does Ios really suck that much?

How about heading to Sikinos? Is this a good place to stop? I have to let my crew off here. I am worried that there are not frequent ferry connections for them to make it back to Athens in good time and order. Am I correct?


Day 11

Upwind to Paros, about 40 NM.

Question: Is this unrealistic? Am I just asking for trouble or, if it is not blowing a strong Meltemi, is this reasonable?

Day 12

Hand the boat over in Paros at 0900.

Question: What is the best bar in Paros to really tie one on? I intend to get very drunk.

Thanks in advance for all your input.
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Old 20-01-2010, 12:38   #2
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how dare you not call into naxos Island and yes i would change your routing a bit and yes it is safe but narrow down between antiparos and paros and no i would not got that way myself although i have done it on a few occasions and santorini is a pain if busy if you like i can post you what i think would be a good route for that time of yr
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Old 20-01-2010, 12:52   #3
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I would be happy to visit Naxos (and pay my debt in beers) if I could figure out a way to see Naxos, get to Santorini and get the boat back to Paros without running my crew ragged.

Which way would you go South from Paros assuming I do not use the channel between Paros and Antiparos. Remember, I am trying to get to the Little Cyclades on the first day.

I would certainly like to see your suggested route for 11 days, starting and ending in Paros, including Santorini and allowing for a few days where we get blown out and can’t sail due to the Meltemi.

(I am afraid my beer debt is growing by the day).

Thanks in advance.
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Old 21-01-2010, 10:45   #4
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Hi Matey,
Seem you're going to get some local knowledge and that sure to be more current that we can give.
But in 2007 we found Ios just as lovely as any other Greek Islands and would certainly vote to park the boat there and day ferry to Santorini rather than take the boat into the Santorin caldera. If you do someone is going to have to spend the day on board keeping anchor watch - andif the wind has any west in it you'll not have any protection. The marina on the south shore would be tricky with your depth - and its a dump anyway.
Few pictures and descriptions of thhe region can be found in our blog if you go back to the right time period....Swagmans Sailing Blog
Enjoy
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Old 22-01-2010, 06:31   #5
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Our boat has a 2.2m draught. When we stopped at Santorini we got into the marina in the south, just. it is far better to tie up there for the day and get a taxi than pick up one of the mooring buoys in the caldera. They are designed for cruise ships.
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Old 22-01-2010, 07:58   #6
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lots of questions....some ansers, we sailed there all summer long in 2009:

paros
big supermarket at the harbour, just across the street

channel paros/antiparos: no matter which side you use , E or W of the small island in between the channel you have min 4 meters there if you sail in the middle

schoinoussa: look to theport of myrsini if you dont like it there are two nice anchorages just around the next rock

amorgos: anchor at katapola, from there the bus goes up to the chora as well as to the famous monastery which is a MUST SEE

ios: forget it unless you want to jump into the harbor at 0600am with a bunch of drunken brits

sikinos: NICE - for ferryboat connections use:
Ferries to Greece


santorini: you can use vylchada, rent a car there (about 35 euros/day) to get into the city, ia (yes thats the name of the town) is much better than thira!

meltemi: we had some days with S-wind end of june....whats normal in days like this??!!

see some pic on our blog at www.onotoa.blogspot.com
you can also email me....address is on the blog,
helmut
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Old 07-11-2010, 16:35   #7
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Hello,
enjoyed reading all of the posts on the Cyclades cruising. I too am planning a first time cruise in the Cyclades. I would like to start and end the cruise in the Cyclades and include Santorini in the trip. I am thinking two weeks total and would like to go in Late September. What weather conditions would I expect at this time of year and would the first two weeks of October be better or worse. I will have a mix of experienced sailors and novices on board. I would like to get some advice on where I could charter a nice 50 - 57 ' monohull with a Skipper. I too would appreciate any advice on best route and itinerary with a desire to spend at least half a day on each island and 2 days in Santorini.

Thanks
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Old 09-11-2010, 05:48   #8
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Hello Ricochet

I'm cruising these waters for some twenty years now, but I would no dare to make a strict itinerary for two weeks. Most important thing is, You can not predict the Meltemi.

Last year was almost Meltemiless, but first Maltemi-like blow stroke in Central Cyclades about July 6-th or 7-th. We were bottled in Naussa for four days, waiting for the weather window to sail to Patmos

In last week of june and first week of July You can expect literally everything - winds from south or north, veering through the west or east.
It can blow 6 -7 B sometime, but it can be a week of almost dead calm also.

Anyway - it is impossible to make a planning based on northern wind pattern for this time.

Getting to the Small Cyclades - personally I would go around the northern tip of Paros and through the strait between the Paros and the Naxos. It is much more safe way, and in the case of northern wind may force You to motor for couple of hours against the wind in the morning, but the rest of the way will be nice reaching with ome downwind sailing.

Regarding the Amorgos - it is real gem, and once You get there, You will probably decide to stay longer than one day. For most of my friends rote planning for Cyclades starts from: "O.K., how we get to Amorgos, and for how long we stay there?".
Rent a car, it is cheap there, but rather go for something with 4 wheel drive. Cliffs on southern coast are impressive, road to the eastern tip of island is simply stunning, the monastery is "must see", the wreck of Olympia coaster (site of the "Deep Blue" shooting") interesting. Get a local map from small bookstore in Katapola and go exploring

Regarding the Ios - the harbour is good and well sheltered in any wind. The island itself is worth exploring by car, quad or motorbike. Some "roads" are accesible rather by 4 wheel driven car or quad. There is Homer's tomb there... The downside of the island (not for all) is the nightlife in Hora (main village, above the harbour). The after-party is often held on some boat or boats in the very early morning... so You can be "Sleepless in Ios".
On the other hand Ios is good base for a visit on Thira (Santorini). There is frequent high - speed ferry service and You can leave the boat in Ios harbour safely moored on permanent mooring. Remember only to have a boat as far from the quay as practicable - the wash from the ferries is really great sometime...

If You decide to go to Thira by boat, use the co called "marina" in Vlikhada, but be early there (the places are in high demand), follow the instructions in pilot book to the dot, and penetrate the entrance in slowest practicable revs, as it is silting all time, and the shoal in the entrance is moving. With my boat (2,5 m draft) I sometime use the dinghy for reconnaissance, if I'm not sure about the actual position of shoal, and nobody is present on inner breakwater...

Happy cruise

Thomas
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Old 15-11-2010, 07:10   #9
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hi!you can try visiting Sailing Greece yacht charter, Greek sail yachts charters, bareboat rent or Yacht charter Greece and sailing holidays Greece and Turkey - Marine navigation - Yacht charters Greek islands and Turkish coasts they are both very good sites that can help you decide!!!!
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Old 09-01-2011, 16:26   #10
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Southern Cyclades Notes

I started this thread in the winter of 2010 as I was planning a 8 person, 11 day charter in the Southern Cyclades from about 25 June - 3 July, 2010 (and small world, met Ram, a frequent poster here, in Iraklia in the Little Cyclades). I was in the Southern Cyclades (Paros, Iraklia, Koufunissi, Amorgos and Santorini) on a Beneteau 54.

Since this thread (and others concerning trip planning in the Cyclades) has remained somewhat active, I am going ahead and responding to my own questions now that I have some answers / experience and also try and respond to subsequent questions that have been posted here and in other Cyclades threads. I would also like to thank again Beneteau 500 and Ram, frequent posters on the Cruising Forum and Kevlar16 on Sailing Anarchy who were gracious with their time and spot on with their recommendations. Could not have done it without them.

As you will see in my original post that begins this thread, I wanted to pick up the boat in the Cyclades and not Athens. It is just too far to sail the boat from Athens to Paros, the Little Cyclades and Santorini in 11 days, let alone bring the boat back. And that is if you get lucky with the weather including the Meltemi. It appears that there are two spots where it is feasible -- Syros -- where the former Moorings affiliate was located and Paros. I choose Paros because it was further South and therefore closer to Santorini, which remained a scheduled stop despite repeated warnings from many that I would regret bringing the boat there.

The process of picking the boat became fairly straight forward because of the requirements I had:

1. I wanted to start in the middle of the week (the rest of the two week vacation was spent traveling back and forth from the States, with a side trip to Athens). Many companies would not entertain this request, but more were receptive than I had originally expected. Part of this was due to the time of year I was planning on going -- before the high season of July and August. Also, 2010 was the year the Greek financial crisis was brewing, so some companies were eager to make advanced bookings. Lastly, and I can stress this enough, I asked. Through out the planning of this trip I was told time and again on the interweb something was ďimpossibleĒ or ďjust not done.Ē By asking (politely, of course) for what I wanted, I often got the answer I wanted or an acceptable compromise.

2. I wanted a boat with a fully battened main (not one of those in mast furling mains).

3. I wanted something over 50 feet that would have 4 - 5 cabins and a lot of water on board.

4. I wanted to start in the Cyclades and was not too keen to start in Syros (where the Moorings used to be affiliated with various charter outfits) as I needed to include Santorini as a stop. Syros was not ideal because it would be a long trip uphill in a Northerly.

Which Charter Company? -- Based on all of the above, I ended up with very few choices and ended up going with Easy Sailing http://www.easysailing.gr/ I have no complaints about Easy Sailing. They gave me a good price and delivered on what they promised.

HOWEVER, Easy Sailing is merely a website that brokers boats which are owned by large fleet owners such as Vernicos Yachts (owner of the boat I chartered) and possibly Kiracoulis (another large yacht management company). Bottom line, I could have saved over 500 Euros and gotten the EXACT SAME BOAT if I had charted it from Afros directly. Maybe there were even more savings available if you contacted Vernicos or Kiracoulis directly.
I filled out an inquiry form on a general Greek Charter Website to get a lot of quotes and get the ball rolling. I donít remember which one. http://www.sailing-yacht-charter-greece.com/

http://www.sailgreece.net/BareboatCharterGuide.asp

One more note -- The website, Sailing Issues, while helpful in some regards, is dedicated to sending you to one of the charter companies that is associated with the website. It is not independent and certainly biased.


Parikia -- There is a large rock that is marked by a black and white hazard marker that is past (further into the harbor of Parikia) the ferry dock. The holding ground in Parikia for anchoring in the inner harbor seemed quite good. The marina for cruising boats is filled to the brim with charter boats on Friday - Sunday. During the week if you can get inside, you will roll less at night. However, I did spend my last night Med Moored on the outside wall and donít remember really rolling, I was wedged in very tight by returning charter boats at that point.

If some of your crew wants a night ashore, I recommend the Hotel Paros (youíll see its blue sign from the water, 4 minute walk from the Marina). Nice, extremely well kept and affordable, the proprietors are terrific and will clue you into the Local Scene. It has Wi-Fi (free) and I was even able to email them my sailing CV and they printed it out for me.

Best restaurants are not along the waterfront (although they are good) but within the alleys and along the town square situated behind the ferry dock and windmill.


If there for a couple of days, Iíd rent a car (30 Euros a day) from Athinia Car Rental (along the water, past the Hotel Paros out of town). Naussoua is beautiful (you can also take the boat there, but I didnít) and in the South part of the Island, Aliki Beach and the adjoining town were pretty darn nice (can't really take the boat there).

As for Antiparos, by almost all accounts, you should avoid the channel between Paros and Antiparos (I drew 2.3 meters, so I never really considered it). Actually, if you rent a car from Athinia Car rental, they allow you to take the car over by ferry (there is a small ferry that runs between the islands that leaves from the west coast of Paros). I did not have the chance to do that and I wish I had.

Provisioning and Getting Going

Afros Marine http://www.islandsailing.gr/english/afros.asp is now located right by the Atlantic Super Market (just across the street from the Marina). Afros can arrange for fuel and water. Afros has changed hands in the last few years and the Kiwi who ran it is no longer there. Ask for Graham (a Pommy, but a good bloke nevertheless -- J/K) if you need to trouble shoot anything. He is the most knowledgeable.

Afros did a good job getting the boat ready. However, donít expect a chart briefing. There is none and I got the distinct feeling that they had never even considered the possibility. Ask them questions but most importantly -- Do Your Own Research. (See below). Donít expect Afros to have a huge amount of local knowledge. I asked the owner about where to put the boat in Santorini and her told me he had only been to Santorini once by ferry. (However, they were happy to call down to the Marina in Santorini and get an update on the depth.) I am not knocking Afros in anyway -- they were very helpful and accommodating as to the boat. Just donít expect the hand holding you may have experienced at top tier companies in the Caribbean and possibly elsewhere.

Atlantic is very good for provisioning. There are other supermarkets out of town, but the in-town Atlantic Supermarket has just as good if not a better selection. There are liquor stores right at the Marina and numerous smaller specialty stores. Provisioning is easy and reasonably priced. Just not an issue.

Research

Not a surprise that all research starts with Rob Heikellís Greek Waters Pilot. Very detailed and in some ways a real work of art. Just a couple of comments. There are very few schematics of entire islands so you need either Imray or paper charts (I still use paper) even when you are just trying to figure out where a harbor is located on an island. You will need a supplemental guide for anything related to shoreside activities I used Lonely Planet, but I saw in bookstores in Paros many guides that looked superior to Lonely Planet -- unfortunately I donít remember their names.

Every book spells the names of the smaller islands and the harbors differently. Just one of those things Ö

Lastly, there is an update and errata section on the web for Heikellís book. It can be found via the Imray site. You better look at it. For a really ancient place, things change quickly. Read all of the updates related to the area you are going to visit.

I also posted on this website, SailNet, Sailing Anarchy, Cruising Section and checked out Noonsite. I was sent this helpful site by Beneteau 500 www.agean-marinas.eu

This is a good website as well. http://www.sy-thetis.org/

Most importantly, you have to talk to your neighboring boats to get local knowledge. This means that your research continues during the trip and you may have to be flexible as to your itinerary.

It is almost guaranteed you will have some breeze. Plan lay days for that eventuality. I went in June to avoid the Meltemi and high season crowds. It worked.

Notes on Islands Visited

Paros -- In addition to the above, there is a rock marked by a black and white pole about abeam with the Marina. It is not in the Heikell book.

I sailed around the north end of Paros, between the Paros and Naxos and down to Iraklia the first day. A long day, but wanted to get South and the wind was favorably. Blowing 15 - 18 knts. Perfect day. In the Paros - Naxos channel smooth water and the wind accelerated down the hills of Paros for more pressure. Got to Iraklia in plenty of time to find a spot to put the boat (sort of) Ö

Iraklia -- Iraklia is very small. It ended up being a great first stop. You Med Moor to the ferry dock. The ferry usually pulls in on the side of the quay facing the channel entrance (facing East). This leaves the North side and the West side of the quay to Med Moor. I actually Med Moored where the ferry pulled in as it was empty (and there was no other place to Med Moor) and moved the boat the next morning before the 6:00 am ferry. I anchored off outside the inner harbor on the North side. Never got a good hold, but really didnít try as boats soon were leaving and I brought my boat inside and Med Moored on the West side of the quay near the water taxi. Not a lot of water, but very good holding ground.

Got water from a small hook up in a ground box near the road up from the quay. You have to get the key from the Jefe at the Blue Star office up the hill. I tried very hard to pay him, but he was way too busy being the Jefe. I think since I was from out of town, he did not care. The next guy who got the hose was a local and it was clear to me the Jefe was going to charge him.

Had some Voice and Data reception.

We hiked to the Cave of the Cyclops. It was closed as they are doing some renovations. A long hike without any shade. Wear good shoes and bring lots of water. You have been warned.

After the hike, we went to Livadi Beach, a 20 minute walk from town. There is no Taverna there, but it looked liked something may be opening in the future. Nice beach after a long hot hike.

We ate at two great Tavernas -- one in the little town by the harbor where you pick your own fish, the other is by the ATM just up the hill opposite the quay (not up the hill into town). Proprietor was astoundingly nice, food was terrific and the Mythos and Alfas were cold.

Koufonisia -- Short sail in good breeze (20 knts) to Koufonisia. Great stop.

The Heikell book needs to be updated. There is now a marina that is completely protected near the ferry dock. You Med Moor either with your anchor or if you are there early enough, you pick up one of their Moorings that are already set. The water hook ups were not working yet. The place may be only one year old. Depth was fine for me. A Hanse 470 (proably deeper draft than me) tied next to me, no problem.

The Jefe never charged me and although I looked for an office and asked around, no one wanted my money.

There is a Taverna with WiFi right there. WiFi is on even when Taverna is closed. Beach in town was nice. Rent bikes and rode to an out of town beach, very nice. Had a bar right there.
Ate one night at Captain Nicholasí. Terrific meal again.

Amorgos -- Light Air to Amorgos. Had to motor. Plenty of room for boats in Katapola Harbor. I counted about 30 boats Med Moored. Pretty good holding. Beware there are two ferry docks -- a big one for the Blue Star and a smaller one further downtown for smaller ferries. Take care of where you drop your anchor so as not to impede the smaller ferry.

There is a Port Police Station in Katapola and I checked in and I think I paid a small fee. Usual drill, be respectful, have your papers in order and it will be a breeze.

Spoke to the Man (actually a guy in his late 20ís who introduced himself after we tied up) who sold the water. Topped off my tanks. Also arranged for a diesel delivery via the Man. Got ice at a supermarket just outside of the main town on the road to the smaller enclave on the other side of the harbor. Great WiFi. Spilled right onto the boat from the Tavernas.

We rented Scooters to tour the island. Went to the Monastery. Really worth the trip. Need to wear long pants for the men and long dresses for the women. You can don your clothes at the base of the path to the Monastery.

Rode my Scooter to the other harbor, Aigialli. Less busy but less places to tie up. Nice town beach.

Ate at a Taverna on the road to the other side of the harbor with tables right on the water. Very Nice.

Santorini -- The conventional wisdom is that you should not bring a large charter boat to Santorini because the Marina entrance is too shallow, the caldera is impossible to anchor in and the moorings available in the caldera are large commercial moorings and very rolly.

This is what I posted on SailNet about Santorini in response to a question about it:

ďI was recently (July 1 - 3) in Santorini with a Bareboat Sailing Charter (monohull -- draft: 2.4 meters) and can make the following observations:

Vlikadha is the only real marina on the Island. I did not stay in the marina, but did drive to it in a rental car (actually a Jeep, but 4 wheel drive is not needed) to take a look at it for future trips.

The problems associated with Vlikadha are well documented on the interweb, but to briefly recap:

1. The approach/entrance is a slalom-like course of poles and other markers.
2. The Marina is too shallow.
3. The Marina is too crowded.
4. The Marina is too far away from everything else.
5. The Marina is unappealing.

Here is what I observed/comments as to the above points:

1. Come on -- grow a pair. Itís marked just fine. Get the Heikell book if you havenít already.

2. This is a big one and the reason I did not take my boat there. It has a tendency to shoal up. In late June, a charter boat captain (Ram) I spoke with was reporting the shallowest part at 3 meters. The Heikell Book and the interweb report depths of anywhere between 1.7 meters and 2.4 meters. I donít know if there has been more dredging since I spoke with the charter boat captain, but I seriously doubt you can count on anything more than 2.4 and probably less. I did see a couple of Beneteaus in there from a distance and they looked to be 46 - 51 feet long. However, these models could have drawn as little as 1.7 meters.

3. It was pretty packed in July. I donít know what it will be like in September. If you have some guts and are a good boat handler (and your crew is a good line handling crew) you will be able to work something out. A bow thruster (if on a monohull) would be very nice.

4. The Marina is as far away from everything else as you can possible get. I would not rely on buses. I would rent a car or scooter, probably a car, if you want to get up to Oia, the very picturesque village on the North end of the Island. I believe most car rental agencies will come to the Marina to pick you up at no charge. Fira on scooter is do-able.

5. The pictures of the Marina are misleading. It is not that nice. It was never completed and there are piles of gravel throughout the Marina. The pictures I have seen make it look clean and quaint. It is rough and almost industrial in nature. I had a high maintenance crew and boy am I glad I didnít go there.

As for the main town of Fira, I took a 17 foot motorboat in there. There is no dock whatsoever. There is a seawall with steps. You CANNOT Med Moor to the seawall due to the depth and the constant and tremendous ferry wakes. As you view Fira Harbor from the water, to the right hand side of the harbor, I saw two Beneteau monohulls moored there. There were either on one or two commercial sized moorings. You MUST run lines to shore. Most likely, you will have to launch your dingy and put someone physically on the mooring (they are large cement moorings) to tie on the mooring lines.

I spoke to the guys on Shamrock V who spent one night in Fira Harbor on a mooring (but not the one I am referring to here). They said it was a horrible night; they had to left their launch out of the water due to the constant ferry wakes. They only stayed there one night before moving. If you donít know what Shamrock V is, Google it. If they had a hard time (120 feet -- 120,000 pounds), imagine a smaller boat.

Most advice I got was to leave the boat in Ios and take a ferry. I did not do that. It really depends on what you draw. If you are 2 meters or under, I think that the Marina is OK, but as I said, you'll have to rent a car.

Lastly, one week is not enough time to go from Athens to Santorini and return unless you have near perfect weather and donít mind sailing all day for 2 days down and 2 days back.Ē

The Cyclades are the best place I have ever chartered (including BVI, Grenadines, Leewards, Whitsundays and Bay of Islands). Have fun.
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Old 09-01-2011, 18:38   #11
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Good info post Ricochet- & good to meet you - by the way the depth of Vlikadha as of Oct. of last year stayed at 9 feet so you would have been safe there- the winter tends to shoal it up a bit!
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:52   #12
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To add my two-pennorth...

"Best restaurants are not along the waterfront (although they are good) but within the alleys and along the town square situated behind the ferry dock and windmill."

In my experience, you can apply that statement to any harbour town in the Med (probably the world?). All a harbour-front restaurant needs to do to get customers in is 'be there and look appealing', those one street further back need to be good and competitively priced too if they want to compete.

Visiting Santorini

A hi-speed catamaran day-trip runs from Naxox/Paros, though AFAIK, it doesn't go every day (we went on a Monday). We were moored in Noussua and: got collected by taxi, taken to a small harbour (can't remember the name) at the SE of Paros, fast ferry to Santorini, courtesy bus to Oe for a couple of hours, then on to Thira Town for another two, a tour of the rest of the island, then fast-ferry & taxi back to Noussau; cost was about Ä60/head, but it saves you a day's sailing - at least one of which will be hard work - each way and avoids the aggravation of mooring overnight at Santorini.
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Old 10-01-2011, 13:56   #13
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Sailing from Paros to Santorini "marina" is one of the bes experiences I did in the Aegean sea. It was in May (2002 ?), the sky was cloudy with sometimes a few sun rays, the wind 20/25 knts backward, and we passed the crater, changing the sails (genoa and mainsail) a lot of times ... It was wonderfull... There was someting like a tropical light on Oya... The Imray Pilot Book helped us to enter the marina that was already silted... We rented scooters...

Well, I just want to say that it was also a good time the epocha when you were discovering by yousrself such an island... Internet is very practical and I love crusiersrsforum ... but please don't forget that everything cannot be predicable ... among them : sailing !
(sorry for my bad english langage)
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Old 24-03-2011, 15:59   #14
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Re: Southern Cyclades Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricochet View Post
I started this thread in the winter of 2010 as I was planning a 8 person, 11 day charter in the Southern Cyclades from about 25 June - 3 July, 2010 (and small world, met Ram, a frequent poster here, in Iraklia in the Little Cyclades). I was in the Southern Cyclades (Paros, Iraklia, Koufunissi, Amorgos and Santorini) on a Beneteau 54.

Since this thread (and others concerning trip planning in the Cyclades) has remained somewhat active, I am going ahead and responding to my own questions now that I have some answers / experience and also try and respond to subsequent questions that have been posted here and in other Cyclades threads. I would also like to thank again Beneteau 500 and Ram, frequent posters on the Cruising Forum and Kevlar16 on Sailing Anarchy who were gracious with their time and spot on with their recommendations. Could not have done it without them.

As you will see in my original post that begins this thread, I wanted to pick up the boat in the Cyclades and not Athens. It is just too far to sail the boat from Athens to Paros, the Little Cyclades and Santorini in 11 days, let alone bring the boat back. And that is if you get lucky with the weather including the Meltemi. It appears that there are two spots where it is feasible -- Syros -- where the former Moorings affiliate was located and Paros. I choose Paros because it was further South and therefore closer to Santorini, which remained a scheduled stop despite repeated warnings from many that I would regret bringing the boat there.

The process of picking the boat became fairly straight forward because of the requirements I had:

1. I wanted to start in the middle of the week (the rest of the two week vacation was spent traveling back and forth from the States, with a side trip to Athens). Many companies would not entertain this request, but more were receptive than I had originally expected. Part of this was due to the time of year I was planning on going -- before the high season of July and August. Also, 2010 was the year the Greek financial crisis was brewing, so some companies were eager to make advanced bookings. Lastly, and I can stress this enough, I asked. Through out the planning of this trip I was told time and again on the interweb something was ďimpossibleĒ or ďjust not done.Ē By asking (politely, of course) for what I wanted, I often got the answer I wanted or an acceptable compromise.

2. I wanted a boat with a fully battened main (not one of those in mast furling mains).

3. I wanted something over 50 feet that would have 4 - 5 cabins and a lot of water on board.

4. I wanted to start in the Cyclades and was not too keen to start in Syros (where the Moorings used to be affiliated with various charter outfits) as I needed to include Santorini as a stop. Syros was not ideal because it would be a long trip uphill in a Northerly.

Which Charter Company? -- Based on all of the above, I ended up with very few choices and ended up going with Easy Sailing http://www.easysailing.gr/ I have no complaints about Easy Sailing. They gave me a good price and delivered on what they promised.

HOWEVER, Easy Sailing is merely a website that brokers boats which are owned by large fleet owners such as Vernicos Yachts (owner of the boat I chartered) and possibly Kiracoulis (another large yacht management company). Bottom line, I could have saved over 500 Euros and gotten the EXACT SAME BOAT if I had charted it from Afros directly. Maybe there were even more savings available if you contacted Vernicos or Kiracoulis directly.
I filled out an inquiry form on a general Greek Charter Website to get a lot of quotes and get the ball rolling. I donít remember which one. http://www.sailing-yacht-charter-greece.com/

http://www.sailgreece.net/BareboatCharterGuide.asp

One more note -- The website, Sailing Issues, while helpful in some regards, is dedicated to sending you to one of the charter companies that is associated with the website. It is not independent and certainly biased.


Parikia -- There is a large rock that is marked by a black and white hazard marker that is past (further into the harbor of Parikia) the ferry dock. The holding ground in Parikia for anchoring in the inner harbor seemed quite good. The marina for cruising boats is filled to the brim with charter boats on Friday - Sunday. During the week if you can get inside, you will roll less at night. However, I did spend my last night Med Moored on the outside wall and donít remember really rolling, I was wedged in very tight by returning charter boats at that point.

If some of your crew wants a night ashore, I recommend the Hotel Paros (youíll see its blue sign from the water, 4 minute walk from the Marina). Nice, extremely well kept and affordable, the proprietors are terrific and will clue you into the Local Scene. It has Wi-Fi (free) and I was even able to email them my sailing CV and they printed it out for me.

Best restaurants are not along the waterfront (although they are good) but within the alleys and along the town square situated behind the ferry dock and windmill.


If there for a couple of days, Iíd rent a car (30 Euros a day) from Athinia Car Rental (along the water, past the Hotel Paros out of town). Naussoua is beautiful (you can also take the boat there, but I didnít) and in the South part of the Island, Aliki Beach and the adjoining town were pretty darn nice (can't really take the boat there).

As for Antiparos, by almost all accounts, you should avoid the channel between Paros and Antiparos (I drew 2.3 meters, so I never really considered it). Actually, if you rent a car from Athinia Car rental, they allow you to take the car over by ferry (there is a small ferry that runs between the islands that leaves from the west coast of Paros). I did not have the chance to do that and I wish I had.

Provisioning and Getting Going

Afros Marine http://www.islandsailing.gr/english/afros.asp is now located right by the Atlantic Super Market (just across the street from the Marina). Afros can arrange for fuel and water. Afros has changed hands in the last few years and the Kiwi who ran it is no longer there. Ask for Graham (a Pommy, but a good bloke nevertheless -- J/K) if you need to trouble shoot anything. He is the most knowledgeable.

Afros did a good job getting the boat ready. However, donít expect a chart briefing. There is none and I got the distinct feeling that they had never even considered the possibility. Ask them questions but most importantly -- Do Your Own Research. (See below). Donít expect Afros to have a huge amount of local knowledge. I asked the owner about where to put the boat in Santorini and her told me he had only been to Santorini once by ferry. (However, they were happy to call down to the Marina in Santorini and get an update on the depth.) I am not knocking Afros in anyway -- they were very helpful and accommodating as to the boat. Just donít expect the hand holding you may have experienced at top tier companies in the Caribbean and possibly elsewhere.

Atlantic is very good for provisioning. There are other supermarkets out of town, but the in-town Atlantic Supermarket has just as good if not a better selection. There are liquor stores right at the Marina and numerous smaller specialty stores. Provisioning is easy and reasonably priced. Just not an issue.

Research

Not a surprise that all research starts with Rob Heikellís Greek Waters Pilot. Very detailed and in some ways a real work of art. Just a couple of comments. There are very few schematics of entire islands so you need either Imray or paper charts (I still use paper) even when you are just trying to figure out where a harbor is located on an island. You will need a supplemental guide for anything related to shoreside activities I used Lonely Planet, but I saw in bookstores in Paros many guides that looked superior to Lonely Planet -- unfortunately I donít remember their names.

Every book spells the names of the smaller islands and the harbors differently. Just one of those things Ö

Lastly, there is an update and errata section on the web for Heikellís book. It can be found via the Imray site. You better look at it. For a really ancient place, things change quickly. Read all of the updates related to the area you are going to visit.

I also posted on this website, SailNet, Sailing Anarchy, Cruising Section and checked out Noonsite. I was sent this helpful site by Beneteau 500 www.agean-marinas.eu

This is a good website as well. http://www.sy-thetis.org/

Most importantly, you have to talk to your neighboring boats to get local knowledge. This means that your research continues during the trip and you may have to be flexible as to your itinerary.

It is almost guaranteed you will have some breeze. Plan lay days for that eventuality. I went in June to avoid the Meltemi and high season crowds. It worked.

Notes on Islands Visited

Paros -- In addition to the above, there is a rock marked by a black and white pole about abeam with the Marina. It is not in the Heikell book.

I sailed around the north end of Paros, between the Paros and Naxos and down to Iraklia the first day. A long day, but wanted to get South and the wind was favorably. Blowing 15 - 18 knts. Perfect day. In the Paros - Naxos channel smooth water and the wind accelerated down the hills of Paros for more pressure. Got to Iraklia in plenty of time to find a spot to put the boat (sort of) Ö

Iraklia -- Iraklia is very small. It ended up being a great first stop. You Med Moor to the ferry dock. The ferry usually pulls in on the side of the quay facing the channel entrance (facing East). This leaves the North side and the West side of the quay to Med Moor. I actually Med Moored where the ferry pulled in as it was empty (and there was no other place to Med Moor) and moved the boat the next morning before the 6:00 am ferry. I anchored off outside the inner harbor on the North side. Never got a good hold, but really didnít try as boats soon were leaving and I brought my boat inside and Med Moored on the West side of the quay near the water taxi. Not a lot of water, but very good holding ground.

Got water from a small hook up in a ground box near the road up from the quay. You have to get the key from the Jefe at the Blue Star office up the hill. I tried very hard to pay him, but he was way too busy being the Jefe. I think since I was from out of town, he did not care. The next guy who got the hose was a local and it was clear to me the Jefe was going to charge him.

Had some Voice and Data reception.

We hiked to the Cave of the Cyclops. It was closed as they are doing some renovations. A long hike without any shade. Wear good shoes and bring lots of water. You have been warned.

After the hike, we went to Livadi Beach, a 20 minute walk from town. There is no Taverna there, but it looked liked something may be opening in the future. Nice beach after a long hot hike.

We ate at two great Tavernas -- one in the little town by the harbor where you pick your own fish, the other is by the ATM just up the hill opposite the quay (not up the hill into town). Proprietor was astoundingly nice, food was terrific and the Mythos and Alfas were cold.

Koufonisia -- Short sail in good breeze (20 knts) to Koufonisia. Great stop.

The Heikell book needs to be updated. There is now a marina that is completely protected near the ferry dock. You Med Moor either with your anchor or if you are there early enough, you pick up one of their Moorings that are already set. The water hook ups were not working yet. The place may be only one year old. Depth was fine for me. A Hanse 470 (proably deeper draft than me) tied next to me, no problem.

The Jefe never charged me and although I looked for an office and asked around, no one wanted my money.

There is a Taverna with WiFi right there. WiFi is on even when Taverna is closed. Beach in town was nice. Rent bikes and rode to an out of town beach, very nice. Had a bar right there.
Ate one night at Captain Nicholasí. Terrific meal again.

Amorgos -- Light Air to Amorgos. Had to motor. Plenty of room for boats in Katapola Harbor. I counted about 30 boats Med Moored. Pretty good holding. Beware there are two ferry docks -- a big one for the Blue Star and a smaller one further downtown for smaller ferries. Take care of where you drop your anchor so as not to impede the smaller ferry.

There is a Port Police Station in Katapola and I checked in and I think I paid a small fee. Usual drill, be respectful, have your papers in order and it will be a breeze.

Spoke to the Man (actually a guy in his late 20ís who introduced himself after we tied up) who sold the water. Topped off my tanks. Also arranged for a diesel delivery via the Man. Got ice at a supermarket just outside of the main town on the road to the smaller enclave on the other side of the harbor. Great WiFi. Spilled right onto the boat from the Tavernas.

We rented Scooters to tour the island. Went to the Monastery. Really worth the trip. Need to wear long pants for the men and long dresses for the women. You can don your clothes at the base of the path to the Monastery.

Rode my Scooter to the other harbor, Aigialli. Less busy but less places to tie up. Nice town beach.

Ate at a Taverna on the road to the other side of the harbor with tables right on the water. Very Nice.

Santorini -- The conventional wisdom is that you should not bring a large charter boat to Santorini because the Marina entrance is too shallow, the caldera is impossible to anchor in and the moorings available in the caldera are large commercial moorings and very rolly.

This is what I posted on SailNet about Santorini in response to a question about it:

ďI was recently (July 1 - 3) in Santorini with a Bareboat Sailing Charter (monohull -- draft: 2.4 meters) and can make the following observations:

Vlikadha is the only real marina on the Island. I did not stay in the marina, but did drive to it in a rental car (actually a Jeep, but 4 wheel drive is not needed) to take a look at it for future trips.

The problems associated with Vlikadha are well documented on the interweb, but to briefly recap:

1. The approach/entrance is a slalom-like course of poles and other markers.
2. The Marina is too shallow.
3. The Marina is too crowded.
4. The Marina is too far away from everything else.
5. The Marina is unappealing.

Here is what I observed/comments as to the above points:

1. Come on -- grow a pair. Itís marked just fine. Get the Heikell book if you havenít already.

2. This is a big one and the reason I did not take my boat there. It has a tendency to shoal up. In late June, a charter boat captain (Ram) I spoke with was reporting the shallowest part at 3 meters. The Heikell Book and the interweb report depths of anywhere between 1.7 meters and 2.4 meters. I donít know if there has been more dredging since I spoke with the charter boat captain, but I seriously doubt you can count on anything more than 2.4 and probably less. I did see a couple of Beneteaus in there from a distance and they looked to be 46 - 51 feet long. However, these models could have drawn as little as 1.7 meters.

3. It was pretty packed in July. I donít know what it will be like in September. If you have some guts and are a good boat handler (and your crew is a good line handling crew) you will be able to work something out. A bow thruster (if on a monohull) would be very nice.

4. The Marina is as far away from everything else as you can possible get. I would not rely on buses. I would rent a car or scooter, probably a car, if you want to get up to Oia, the very picturesque village on the North end of the Island. I believe most car rental agencies will come to the Marina to pick you up at no charge. Fira on scooter is do-able.

5. The pictures of the Marina are misleading. It is not that nice. It was never completed and there are piles of gravel throughout the Marina. The pictures I have seen make it look clean and quaint. It is rough and almost industrial in nature. I had a high maintenance crew and boy am I glad I didnít go there.

As for the main town of Fira, I took a 17 foot motorboat in there. There is no dock whatsoever. There is a seawall with steps. You CANNOT Med Moor to the seawall due to the depth and the constant and tremendous ferry wakes. As you view Fira Harbor from the water, to the right hand side of the harbor, I saw two Beneteau monohulls moored there. There were either on one or two commercial sized moorings. You MUST run lines to shore. Most likely, you will have to launch your dingy and put someone physically on the mooring (they are large cement moorings) to tie on the mooring lines.

I spoke to the guys on Shamrock V who spent one night in Fira Harbor on a mooring (but not the one I am referring to here). They said it was a horrible night; they had to left their launch out of the water due to the constant ferry wakes. They only stayed there one night before moving. If you donít know what Shamrock V is, Google it. If they had a hard time (120 feet -- 120,000 pounds), imagine a smaller boat.

Most advice I got was to leave the boat in Ios and take a ferry. I did not do that. It really depends on what you draw. If you are 2 meters or under, I think that the Marina is OK, but as I said, you'll have to rent a car.

Lastly, one week is not enough time to go from Athens to Santorini and return unless you have near perfect weather and donít mind sailing all day for 2 days down and 2 days back.Ē

The Cyclades are the best place I have ever chartered (including BVI, Grenadines, Leewards, Whitsundays and Bay of Islands). Have fun.
Athens to Loutra with one stop enroute we did two stops one was bad anchorage the second Olympic marina (very expensive) 1 day to Syros Hermopouli. Then 1 day to Naxos half day to iraklia 1 day to Amorgos (Aegiali) only 8.5 metres and 2 on board. not much wind mostly engine but a bit of sail in the Naxos Paros channel Originally set sail from Levkas Lefkada
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Old 25-03-2011, 21:36   #15
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Re: Cyclades, Greece Itinerary - Comments and / or Local Knowledge

DoubleWhiskey, You said the Meltemi blows at 6 to 7 beaufort and I cut this from another site:
Usually the wind starts in the early afternoon reaching 4-5 Beaufort and dies out at sun set. However, not uncommonly it reaches 5-7 Bft during the day, perseveres during the night and blows 5-7 Bft again the next day; a pattern which can easily be repeated over many days, sometimes even up to ten days.

So, would a 33 kt. wind be on the very high side? It must be the steepness of the waves that cause the concern? I had expected the Meltemi to blow in the 50 kt range.
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