This is a type of holiday that I have wanted to do for a long time and time and opportunity hadn't presented itself until recently. We tried to do it last year but left it too late and couldn't get a space without paying silly money so we decided to bide our time and book about a year and a half in advance.
Experience wise I have done quite a bit of windsurfing over the years but hardly any sailing. Last year I got myself on an RYA level 2 sailing course and then after that took a boat around the local sailing club lake with the family. In addition to this I have done quite a bit of reading but I appreciate there is nothing like experience.
Due to the lack of higher sailing qualifications we looked for a sailing company that did not have such strict requirements and came across sailingholidays.com. A few internet searches later for reviews and facebook comments seemed to suggest it was a great company with some amazing feedback and up to this point with the booking process we have been very impressed.
I'm writing this introduction before we go on the holiday so all of this is my perception of what we are going to experience over the two weeks.
A flotilla is a group of yachts that every day set off from the same place and sail to the same destination with the support of a lead yacht and crew. You have the freedom to take your time and explore the route to the destination and you can mix the amount of sailing using the wind or the motor. My intention is to try and do as much wind sailing as I can and use the motor to fall back if we need it such as at the start as we get our sea legs.
The yacht we have gone for is a beneteau 361. There were some nicer newer yachts but they pushed the price up just a bit too much. This one was the smallest yacht that gave us a decent shower on board.
I think the harbors we use varies depending on conditions but the rough itinerary we have is
Day 1, Flotilla starts in Plateria
Travelling from North to South you begin at the village of Plataria on the Greek Mainland. Here you will be met by our crew who will show you to your boat. After a quick look round it is time to sit down and relax at Olga's taverna, with a cold beer and bite to eat.
From Plataria you will wend your way south via the delightful villages of Lakka and Giaos on Paxos Island. A highlight of the trip is a lunchtime stop (or two) in Emerald Bay on Anti-Paxos Island. Another popular stop in Mongonisi at the Southern tip of Paxos where you can Greek dance the night away...
Days 2 - 5, North Ionian Highlights
A mainland stop in the Greek Town of Parga should not be missed, with its long sandy beach, buzzing promenade and the unbeatable choice of evening entertainment. This is also the home to one of our Shore to Sail options, the Salvator Spa Hotel. As the flotilla heads south, you may be able to enjoy a glorious sunset in the small harbour of Ligia, or a night at anchor in Two Rock Bay.
Historic Vonitsa inside the Gulf of Amvrakia may also be included on this route.
Days 6 - 7, Through the Lefkas Canal
Lefkas town also awaits with its marvellous Greek atmosphere. An evening cappuccino in the square is the perfect way to wind down after a long day. An alternative option to the town quay is an optional stay in Lefkas marina with impressive showers and a pool in which you can cool off (worth it if you don’t mind forking out – this is the only marina on the trip).
A swim stop at Goat Bay is highly recommended on your way south, along with a stop at the Iris Hotel in tranquil Vliho bay where you can relax by the pool and enjoy the unrivaled hospitality of owners Christos and Evanthia.
Days 8 - 13, South Ionian Highlights
In the South Ionian you will visit a few of our old favorites as well as quieter spots (which we love as they remind us of what flotillas used to be like 30 years ago)!
Kastus and Kalamos are two such places that make you feel as if you have stepped back in time. The quaint harbours, with just a couple of tavernas and crystal clear waters make the absence of modern amenities well worth it!
The larger islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca are also on the agenda – and the channel between the two islands offers terrific afternoon breezes for those seeking a little extra wind.
Days 14 - 15, Finishing in Sivota
Your final night stop will be at the charming village of Sivota which nestles in a sheltered natural inlet at the southern end of Lefkas Island.
The lead crew will arrange a final night dinner where you can enjoy the company of your fellow sailors one final time before heading home!