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Old 07-05-2014, 19:56   #1
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Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Hello, and sorry for somewhat of a repeat... I posted a similar question recently...

I'm leading an inexperienced group on a three boat sailing trip in Greece in early September.
We have 1 week. Depart and return (hopefully) from/to Lavrion.

Our ideal plan included making it to Mikonos before heading back. I've been reading the Greek Pilot book and reading a lot of forums out there.

It sounds like the Meltemis peak during August, but since we're going in early September, I assume that we can expect them to still blow quite hard...

What is the safest passage for a round trip from Lavrion to Mikonos and back with well protected harbors along the way? (if there is such a thing)
I assume that I need to leave an extra day or two in case we get stuck in one place due to bad weather...

How predictable are the weather forecasts and can strong winds be forecast more than a day in advance?

Does a trip like this even make sense - considering that the crew is very inexperienced, no one has sailed in that area before, and I would ideally prefer to keep our daily hops to no more than 30 miles and prefer not to sail in more than 25 knots of wind...

Does it help if we sail early in the mornings?

Basically, trying to figure out if there is a relatively safe strategy to head to Mikonos, or if we should just go to the Saronic Gulf side instead...

Thanks a lot!
-ilya
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Old 07-05-2014, 21:36   #2
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

How inexperienced and how much do you want to sail per day?

I haven't been in a Meltemi yet but had two Bora's last year. Most Meltemi's are 20 to 25 knots - not out of control. But if you are on your very first, or maybe second, bareboat, I'd be careful. Your base manager is probably the best to ask this question of. You always have the Saronic gulf and islands. Aegina looks very nice, Hydra, Poros.
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:13   #3
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Hello,

I've sailed in Croatia last September and while it was a very light wind adventure - we motored more than 50% of the time, we experienced Bora for one day… (I think it was Bora - coming from the North at about 25 knots)
it was not too bad and we were able to find a great shelter within a couple of hours…
I have some experience sailing in the Med, in Thailand and in California, but the rest of the crew, including the other skippers, are not experienced at all - doing their first charter…
I think, if the winds stay within 20-25, we should be able to handle them. We sail in 20-25 in California all the time. Above 25, it starts to get a little testy and rough for my cruising preference - depending on the wind angle, of course… so I would prefer not to go out in more than 20-25, and would prefer to sail no more than 5 hours a day… I have considered the Saronic gulf, but hear that it may still be very crowded with boats in early September.
Thank you!
-ilya
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:31   #4
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Thumbs up Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Several years back we did a 3-week charter in the Cyclades. It is very easy to day sail from island to island, and the boats will hopefully have Navtex receivers so you will easily be able to get marine weather forecasts.

The problem with a 1-week charter is that you have to turn around at probably day 3 and start heading back to you home base. The charter company is likely to insist that you do so, so as to not inconvenience them in quickly renting the boat to someone else. So if Mikonos is the goal, head down there as quickly as possible, then visit other islands as time and weather permit. Each of these islands has its attractions, not least of which is the taverna typically across the street from your med-moored boat! Have fun. Try the barbequed octopus.
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Old 08-05-2014, 11:50   #5
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Why Mikonos? You'll have a hell of a time finding a place there that you could actually rest at. Its a tourist area and to be honest depending on what you hope to see and do on your charter there may be better choices but we are all different in what we are looking for and I understand that.
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:30   #6
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Having never been to the Greek islands, I only go by what I heard from others and was able to read so far...
We have an international group of friends on average in their 30's and were hoping to get a wide range of islands... to be able to mix of some quieter more secluded islands, with small local villages and historic destinations, as well as to experience a little bit of night life.

I've heard a lot about Mikonos (a lot of good, some - not so good) and wanted to give it a try...
The biggest hurdle is figuring out a way of getting there and back with the minimal risk of getting hit by some rough conditions... Is there a good route? is it typically milder sailing conditions in the mornings?

Perhaps, there are better choices in the Cyclades. Am I correct in thinking that the farther East you go, the windier it gets? Would it be more prudent to stick to the Western Cyclades? Going South from Lavrion would probably not be a problem, but coming back might be... Perhaps, the Saronic gulf is the answer

thanks a lot!
-ilya
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:38   #7
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Ilya,
What I'd suggest is to head to Kythnos the first night. There is a very sheltered bay on the northwest side. Then head to Syros on the second day. From there, direct to Delos and anchor in one of the bays hear the ruins. You have several good overnight anchorages near there. On the forth day go to Mykonos and anchor on the south of the island near any of the three beaches. You can anchor and stern tie in the first, Ornos. Or you can go to the marina. On the 5th day, head to Tinos. for the 6th, Kea, so you are close to the base. None of these are very far apart. Also, it would give you, anchor, quay, anchor, quay, quay, anchor, return.

Since you have Med moored before, I would suggest you go first to the quay, then get in your dingy in order to assist the rest of your group. A gentle nudge to keep them in line will help a lot with their first few attempts.

I'll be doing a similar route in June and if there is anything I notice, I'll give you a heads up.
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:48   #8
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Thank you!!

I was hoping to do more anchoring and not have to do much med mooring (does med mooring mean strictly stern-to-quay, or is it considered med mooring when you anchor and tie your stern to a tree or a rock?) i was also hoping not to have to anchor all three boats all the time... but might have to help, obviously. I've been reading the Greek Waters Pilot already and noting all the best harbors. Have you sailed in Greece before? Have you used Rod Heikell's Book? I've read that it's pretty much the bible for that area...

thanks!
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:49   #9
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

The Cyclades. Islands are great, but thy are more suited to group of keen sailors than an inexperienced crew during the Meltimi season.
Strong wind can blow in the same direction for entire charter if you are unlucky.

Even professional skippers can struggle in these conditions.
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Old 08-05-2014, 12:53   #10
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

I see... So early September is still considered the Meltemi season, right?

I know it's a silly question, but what are the wind strengths that you typically encounter? Is above 30 knots common? Can these winds be predicted a couple of days in advance so if they come, we have enough time to get out of the way?


Thank you,

-ilya
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Old 08-05-2014, 13:36   #11
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

July, August, and early September are the peak of the Meltimi season. The winds are variable from season to season, but 20-25 knots is typical during the peak season, but stronger or lighter winds can blow for days at a time.

I took the photograph anchored at ikaria which is actually just outside the Cyclades. It was blowing 45 knots and this lasted a few days. The ferry made a mess up of anchoring ( it was very difficult conditions, they almost destroyed the jetty). The ferry decided to untangle the mess just off our stern (unfortunatly after 2 hours of hard struggle they did not succeed).

The weather for any particular week is impossible to predict so far ahead. 20-25 knots would be typical, but a week of 35 knots is not uncommon. If you are unlucky, this is too much for inexperienced sailors when coming back into wind. The crew will not appreciate your planning efforts if this happens. (Think lynched, or keel hauled )
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Old 08-05-2014, 13:40   #12
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Wow!

Agree with what you're saying. Can winds pick up without a warning? Or do we get a chance to get out if we do a good job watching the weather?

Do you have any experience with the Saronic Gulf area? I know that sailing conditions are much milder... but it can also be more crowded.

thanks!
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Old 08-05-2014, 13:50   #13
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

The weather is reasonably accurate during Meltimi season and is available up to a week ahead.

I prefer the deserted areas, so sorry no experience with the Saronic gulf, it is still (from what I heard) a great crusing ground despite being closer to Athens.
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Old 08-05-2014, 13:54   #14
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Last season, we had 2 weeks of 35 - 45 knot winds out of Mykonos. If the winds are up, avoid the marina as its very difficult to get out of those pens in a cross wind (We got pinned to a wall). Choose the harbour to the south, much more pleasant in meltemi conditions.

We also hit 50 knots and a very confused steep chop in the lee of Ikaria.

Point is, the meltemi is unpredictable, and if you don't want to sail in it, the only option is to sit it out and wait. We sat in Lavrion for weeks until imminent visa expiry made us exit.

Kythonos and Syros were okay crossings, but Mykonos is right in the middle of the meltemi 'race track'. Why not stick closer to the Saronic Gulf if there's a forecast for strong meltemi winds, its pretty sheltered in there. Epidavrous and Methene were lovely spots.

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Old 08-05-2014, 16:40   #15
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Re: Cyclades: Safest round trip passage from Lavrion to Mikanos

Thank you Steve.

Given that we only have 7 days, is it realistic to cover both - some of the Eastern Cyclades, AND the Saronic gulf islands?
For example - we could begin by heading south to Kythos and Serifos, and then, if the forecast calls for strong winds, head west to Hydra and spend the rest of the time in the Saronic gulf? How tough and long would the Serifos to Hydra crossing be?
Or should we just pick one or the other - Cyclades or Saronic...?
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