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Old 08-05-2019, 09:10   #1
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Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

I would appreciate some advice about the Meltemi in July in the Northern Cyclades. We hope to charter a large catamaran out of Lavrion(Athens) and sail to the No. Cyclades. The catch is that we are sailing with another family who has never sailed before and we have 5 kids on the boat. Are the winds always unbearably strong in July? Do you think the winds can be worked around through a careful itinerary?

We can't tell if the winds are occasional or if they blow all the time in July. What is your experience? Every catamaran has already sold out in the Ionian Sea, so it is either Athens/No. Cyclades or maybe Mallorca? Thoughts?

We want to avoid spending our time with seasick kids who really just want to sail to a great beach and play. I'd love to hear your experiences and advice. We are open to any great European/Med. destination.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:01   #2
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

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Originally Posted by Iceberginlondon View Post
I would appreciate some advice about the Meltemi in July in the Northern Cyclades. We hope to charter a large catamaran out of Lavrion(Athens) and sail to the No. Cyclades. The catch is that we are sailing with another family who has never sailed before and we have 5 kids on the boat. Are the winds always unbearably strong in July? Do you think the winds can be worked around through a careful itinerary?

We can't tell if the winds are occasional or if they blow all the time in July. What is your experience? Every catamaran has already sold out in the Ionian Sea, so it is either Athens/No. Cyclades or maybe Mallorca? Thoughts?

We want to avoid spending our time with seasick kids who really just want to sail to a great beach and play. I'd love to hear your experiences and advice. We are open to any great European/Med. destination.
How big a cat? You are smack in the middle of the Meltemi season and to get to the northern cyclades you will probably be on a close reach or best case beam reach. However, although the wind direction doesn't change, the force will, and so far the weather has been weird.. So it might be that the Meltemi will be weaker this year.
You can also discover part of the Peloponnese. Bit more busy, but easy sailing and short hops.
An alternative could be to charter in Turkey. Living costs are dirt cheap with the current exchange rate, beautiful anchorages, great food and very nice people.
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Old 08-05-2019, 20:55   #3
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

The meltemi can blow 3 weeks straight in its peak but also there can be gaps of 4 or 5 days before it gets going again. You might get lucky but in July the odds are stacked against you.

Doesnt really work too well for charters as you are trying to sail set dates rather than work around the weather and could end up having to bash into 30 knots and seas built up over days to get back to lavrion. The gusts off the islands can be plus 50% on the prevailing meltemi too.

Young kids are not going to enjoy that/ novices could end up hating sailing for life.

However you can head west into the saronic gulf from lavrion and thats much more sheltered and nearly as beautiful. More crowded boat wise though.

So its not a deal breaker - i would just let the weather dictate whether i head south west or south east from lavrion with an eye on the return journey north.

You can always do a one way charter too and let a paid crew motor it back to base (at a price of course)
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Old 08-05-2019, 21:29   #4
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

If you wish to sail in the W. Aegean you may consider chartering out of Volos and sailing the Sporades.
Usually the Meltemi will be less strong and waves lower the further north you are.
Then, you still may encounter a nice Meltemi there but as I wrote above, your chances may be better.
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Old 09-05-2019, 06:15   #5
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

I just spent two months sailing in the Bahamas. 50% of the time we had fantastic sailing conditions, 25% of the time we had good sailing but had to work at getting to our destination, and 25% of the time we motored. I don't think there is any place in the world where the sailing can be better than in the Bahamas.

Why do I bring that up? Well, in Greece it's nearly the opposite. You have to motor 50% of the time, 25% of the time you have good sailing conditions but have to work to get to your destination, and 25% (more like 10%) of the time it's great. But I'd take sailing/motoring in Greece any day. It's breathtaking - every day - even the meltemi days.

You have received two good options from Barra and from Meirriba. If your mind is made up to sail out of Lavrion, then I simply wouldn't worry about it until you get there. The safety of the Saronic is right there and it's very nice. If you haven't fully committed to the charter base yet, because this is one of your first sails with the group and with the children, you might consider the Sporades or Ionian's instead. The Ionian's are the easiest to sail and have ton's of bays to anchor in or village walls to tie up to. The wind is very light so usually you will motor often, but it's such a beautiful place that it doesn't bother me. The evergreen trees grow right to the shore and there is a smell of them that will never leave my memory. It's nearly the same with the Sporades. Green hills, nice water, great food, and easier sailing. The Cyclades are very nice also and we spent a majority of our time there, but barely a bush grows on the islands and it is simply more technical for sailing.
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Old 09-05-2019, 07:49   #6
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and advice! I think we have decided against the Cyclades considering everything you have said and are considering trying to charter out of Corfu. That area still seem to have some catamarans and more kid friendly winds.

Another option seems to be Croatia the Kornati Islands. We are looking for more a peaceful trip with less crowds. It looks amazing online. Any advice on sailing the Kornati in July?
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:06   #7
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

In case it helps, I have pasted in links below and listed below our route/times with wife and 3 kids (10, 7, 4) in 2012. Our plan was to west head across to Syros and Mykonos and enjoy the beaches etc but the Meltemi had other ideas and pushed us SW. The good thing about the Meltemi is that once it sets in, the pattern is predictable, check out. Bit I would not like to be sailing in the opposite direction. We stopped longer in Sifnos to order a new anchor and had some fun times, but TBH there was some pretty tough sailing for an inexperienced crew (my background is offshore racing), the wind gusts off the lee side of the islands is disturbing, we found that smaller hills like 50m offered lee protection but larger hills the wind raced down the lee side and slammed us so give them a wide berth, I think there is a technical term in the Greek Islands for this. As others have said, these sort of conditions can be harsh on the kids. You say the other family have not sailed before. Are you expecting the kids to be the crew or are they coming along for the ride? If you want to be able to sail to a great beach and play, then I would plan a trip elsewhere. As De.windhoos says Turkey is fantastic. We spent 5 years on/off after the trip across the Aegean. I recommend Fethiye around to Antalya and back or half way and back depending on your time constraints, the wind much easier to manage and plenty of beaches and land trips, for example Saklıkent National Park is amazing for kids, recommend Kas Marina as a place to stay, there is a natural spring under the Marina. If you are set on Lavrion as your base then you could arrive and see what the wind forecast looks like, then make a decision to head west or south, taking into account you have to get back?

Piraeus/Sounion 10Jun, Kythnos 15Jun, Sifnos 18Jun, Paros 22Jun, Naxos 26Jun, Mersini Schinoussa 27Jun, Amorgos 30Jun, Astipalea 3Jul, Nisyros 6Jul, detour to Mersincik 8 Jul, Kos 10Jul, Bodrum Turkey 12Jul.

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Sailing in Greece | JimB Sail
https://www.sailingissues.com/meltemi.html
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:12   #8
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

Croatia, Kornati:
1. Beautiful cruising area.
2. I suspect it will be crowded in July (but so will be the Ionian/Corfu).
3. Will be more expensive than Greece.

Turkey as suggested (out of Kas, Marmaris or Gocek) will be less windy than the Cyclades.
However, You may consider taking a boat out of Lavrion one way to Rhodos. You will be sailing with the wind on your stern or quarter.
I believe that by now you are confused by too much info��
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:13   #9
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

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Originally Posted by Iceberginlondon View Post
Thank you all for your helpful suggestions and advice! I think we have decided against the Cyclades considering everything you have said and are considering trying to charter out of Corfu. That area still seem to have some catamarans and more kid friendly winds.

Another option seems to be Croatia the Kornati Islands. We are looking for more a peaceful trip with less crowds. It looks amazing online. Any advice on sailing the Kornati in July?
Croatia is nice but IMO Greece is twice as nice. Corfu is kind of out of the way for starting your charter. Lefkas has a good fleet and where I'd go. Meganissi, Lefkas, Ithaka, and Kefalonia are enough to fill a very nice week.
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Old 09-05-2019, 11:48   #10
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

I chartered in the Northern Cyclades last October. The winds were F 5 - 6 most days. But my real reason for posting is this:

I am assuming you won't want to anchor all the time and will want to be in port some of the time. The island ports were really quite small. We were in a 43' Mono. Finding a berth for two decent sized cats would I think be problematic, especially in high season. And manoeuvring a wide boat in a tight space in windy conditions can be challenging, especially for novices.

The other thing you need to bear in mind is that to get to the Islands you'll be crossing shipping lanes on the way down (and back). That requires some care and attention and might be rather worrying for people who have not sailed before.

Lavrion is a better starting point than Alimos which requires a rather longer passage to get to the Islands.
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Old 09-05-2019, 12:07   #11
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

I'd recommend you look at: https://sailingissues.com
IMO, the Ionian, including Corfu gets very crowded although it's safe enough and the winds are not too fierce. When I did the Cyclades (late July) we had Force 7 most of the time, and it would be difficult to get back to Lavron. Also, the distances mean you'd spend quite a lot of the time at sea. There are some real gems, mind (Delos, Milos, Sifnos), but I wouldn't recommend it for beginner sailors. As above, the Saronic is safer and also interesting. The Sporades are the best for beaches, and for remote areas without crowds (it includes a national marine park). Distances are shorter and winds are gentler.
Hope this helps
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Old 10-05-2019, 00:51   #12
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

We have spent most of the last eight years in and near the Cyclades in our 44 ft cat.

The Meltemi can be uncomfortable and frightening for beginners if forced to bash to windward because of a fixed timetable. It's can also be very challenging mooring in small harbours in a gale.

The Turkish coast is much more forgiving in those conditions - perhaps you should consider hiring a cat at Marmaris or Fethiye, or even Kos (Greek near Bodrum.) This deeply indented coast is more sheltered and there are many lovely sheltered bays with crystal clear waters and many interesting historical sites to visit?

We are sailing there ourselves in June. Good luck.
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Old 10-05-2019, 02:12   #13
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

Even if the Meltemi just blows a force 7, in some places it will accelerate to a force 10, for example south of Milos. If you are not prepared, you will take quite a hit.

+1 for Turkey. Probably the best cruising ground in the Med in high season. Not too crowded, good anchorages. Good food. You can anchor smack in the middle of old roman harbours.

The Meltemi is much weaker on the Turkish side.

Clean waters and towns compared to Greece.
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Old 18-05-2019, 23:13   #14
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

The advice of sailing out of Volos is very sound.
The bay of Volos itself has many attractive and protected anchorages.
Leaving the bay E towards the Sporades, or W to the North Evia Coast are all good options.
The Cycladies in July can be VERY windy and HOT. Berthing could be a problem and if you get to far South returning to Lavrio often causes major problems for charter boats.
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Old 18-09-2019, 05:04   #15
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Re: Sailing Northern Cyclades in July (w/kids)?

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Originally Posted by Iceberginlondon View Post
I would appreciate some advice about the Meltemi in July in the Northern Cyclades. We hope to charter a large catamaran out of Lavrion(Athens) and sail to the No. Cyclades. The catch is that we are sailing with another family who has never sailed before and we have 5 kids on the boat. Are the winds always unbearably strong in July? Do you think the winds can be worked around through a careful itinerary?

We can't tell if the winds are occasional or if they blow all the time in July. What is your experience? Every catamaran has already sold out in the Ionian Sea, so it is either Athens/No. Cyclades or maybe Mallorca? Thoughts?

We want to avoid spending our time with seasick kids who really just want to sail to a great beach and play. I'd love to hear your experiences and advice. We are open to any great European/Med. destination.
The Aegean Sea in summer sucks.. and blows. We also have a kid on board and have been sitting in Crete since I bought the boat in August and the number of "fun" days we might have had since then to get out of there I could count with the fingers on my right hand and I would still have some left. Sure.. most days have been around "only" 30 knots but try that with a 2 year old on a monohull. That ain't my idea of family fun.

So yes.. in July-Sept.. I'd say go elsewhere. We are now on land waiting for the windy season to end so we can get out of there in one piece.
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