The Greek Isles are one of the most popular chartering destinations in the world and OCSC has brought flotillas to the islands over 10 times. In September of 2011, seven boats filled with OCSC staff, members and friends cast off from Lavrion, Greece for a two week sailing vacation.
Different boats visited different islands in the archipelago, from Mykonos and Paros in the Cyclades (pronounced Ki klad’ez by Greeks) Islands to Aegina and Hydra in the Saronic Gulf. All crews had the time of their lives and fell in love with Greek culture, archeology, food and weather. In the Saronic Gulf, the islands are closer together and the sailing is milder; in the Cyclades, it is more of a sailing adventure with stronger winds, more open water and less crowded harbors. The boats that went to the Cyclades got the advertised conditions and mainly great sailing, although with strong enough winds to keep them in Mykonos for three days. Some secured their boats and took ferries from a southern island to the Isle of Santorini, an extinct caldera, flooded by the Aegean, that is one of the breathtaking sights of the Mediterranean.
My boat, Mabel, a Moorings 50.5, with six of us aboard, spent her time mainly in the Saronic Gulf. We visited wonderful islands, spending a couple of days at each, exploring ancient archeological sites, sampling wonderful Greek Taverna food and swimming in some wonderful swimming holes we found along the way. Our first night out of the Moorings Base in Lavrion we moored at Vouraki on the island of Kea, right at the boundary between the Saronic Gulf and the open Aegean, where the Cyclades are located. We only spent a night at Vouraki and set sail for Hydra before dawn. This early departure provided us with a wonderfully sublime experience, sailing west, out of the harbor, into a full, setting moon, turned deep orange as it marched toward the horizon. We had 20 knots of breeze on the beam, hot coffee in our hands, and the moon to steer by (as well as the chartplotter, of course!) What a wonderful ride!
We were to Hydra by early afternoon and easily found a spot at the quay. We dropped our anchor out in the middle and backed in, Med Style, to the quay. It’s always easy to find a spot in these busy harbors, if you get in early. However, we got to enjoy a real show as many boats chose to arrive in Hydra at 5PM or later, making for some adventurous maneuvers in Hydra’s harbor. Armed with Gin and Tonics, we sat on our foredeck and took in the show. By 730PM, there were four rows of boats moored out from the quay, bow to stern, probably 40 boats in total! Everyone on the other boats was cheerful and helpful as each boat helped another with her lines. It was so exotic to hear German, French, Norweigian, Danish, Turkish and Russian languages all in play while boats were getting moored. In fact, the entire trip was filled with great conversations with our quay neighbors – luckily for us they all spoke some English, at least.
We saw many wonderful sights while on our trip; A beautiful ancient amphitheater at Epidavros where the acoustics were incredible; a fun and beautiful scooter ride around the entire island of Spetses; and an overland bus trip to Nafplion where we enjoyed three different fortresses, including one on a small island in the harbor. We had a number of beautiful and romantic dinners under the stars, including one on my birthday that included a late, red rise of that full moon……. The Saronic Gulf was a complete blast and I’m so glad we went!
We’ll be back to Greece in two or three years, so stay tuned if you are game for a visit to romantic Greece!