How to prepare for your sailing trip
1. Pack light
Even the largest and most comfortable sailing yachts have limited space. Of course, there are closets, shelves, racks in every cabin, as well as compartments under the beds and additional storage areas under the floor, but usually these come at compact sizes and shapes. Ideally, you should pack enough stuff to fit in a mid-size luggage. Most importantly, avoid rigid and bulky luggage.
The Greek climate is Mediterranean, meaning that it is dry and warm during the day, while it gets cooler in the evening.
April: 15 °C
May: 21.4 °C
June: 27.8 °C
July: 28.7 °C
August: 27.2 °C
September: 24.2 °C
October: 16.8 °C
These are temperatures for Athens. In July and August it is common to get heat waves with temperatures raising over 38 °C. We are fortunate to be on the sea however, able to jump in the water to cool off.
For the islands it is slightly different. The Cyclades are windy, which brings down the temperature quite a bit. It is even convenient to have some clothing with long-sleeves for the evenings. That should be enough. The islands of the Argosaronic Gulf (Spetses, Hydra, Poros ect.) are just as hot as Athens, or even hotter.
Rain is rare during the summer. In spring and autumn, these is a small chance of precipitation, but it doesn't last for more than a few hours.
The water temperature is excellent during the summer months (22°C to 25°C), as well as September and October that it is still heated up by the summer sun. In April and early May, the first few seconds in the water can feel a bit chilly however, even if our body quickly adjusts.
These being said, you need to dress light. Typically, you do not need a raincoat, even though one would be nice to have just in case. A windproof jacket can be helpful as well, but not necessary.
It is essential to have the right sunscreen, some light clothes that can cover up your skin for protection, a hat, and lip-balm.
Typically, every charterer offers a cleaning package for a small fee (100-160 euros). This includes the end cleaning of the boat, linen, blankets, and two towels. You do not need to pack towels for your showers, but bring along one for the beach.
Finally, do not worry about cleaning your clothes. Most islands have cleaning services that are meant to serve the yachting crews and have very good delivery times. So if you need to wash your clothes and you are not in the mood to do it by hand, just talk with your skipper and he can take care of it.
You can see some images on the slideshow below of what people typically wear on sailing trips.
All yachts have at least a gas stove with oven and a refrigerator. Some have a freezer as well. This means that you can cook anything you wish. They also have all the cooking tools you need: peelers, coffee pots, bottle openers, lemon squeezers... everything.
The limitation would be some kitchen appliances that work with electricity. Unless the boat is plugged in to 220V shore supply, most of these won't work, so you'll be chopping onions by hand. Another limitation is that the refrigerator is usually not so strong as the one in our homes, and it is not recommended to store meat and fish for more than a couple of days.
What I usually tell my crews when they do shopping is to get the basics in Athens that has better prices, and then do the shopping for fresh vegetables, meat, fish, and fruit at the islands. We stop every day at a different island that has at least one small mini-market to replenish our supplies.
A good tip is to buy some ice. This helps retain the temperature of the refrigerator and the ice cubes make a big different in the enjoyment of a cocktail.
Regarding water, estimate to have enough for each person for the first two days. I would say a couple of big bottles per person. Buying all the water from the beginning of the trip could create storage issues.
Then, there are a lot of basic supplies needed for the trip. Paper towels, toilet paper, soaps, sponges, tin-foil... basically all these things you need at your home.
As far as medical and safety supplies and equipment, you do not need to worry any of it. Every licensed yacht is fully equipped.
Finally, I usually recommend my crews to have the shopping done before embarkation. The boat is typically delivered to the crew at 17:30. If we have to do the shopping at that time, we would be departing too late to reach our next destination with daylight. Another suggestion is to communicate prior to arrival with your skipper or chartering company to do the shopping for you and you reimburse them later. There are a lot of markets that can deliver your shopping at your yacht.
5. Trust your skipper
This is a delicate but crucial topic. I do not suggest that your skipper can be untrustworthy. Every professional tries every week to provide the most for his or her crew. If not, sooner or later the word gets out and it is not so easy to find another job.
What you need to trust is that your skipper is aware of the limitations inherent on a sailing trip. Yes, I can take you straight to Mykonos, but if I've checked the weather forecast and seen 7 Beaufort then you will surely regret it. Likewise, we can go from island X to island Z, but if we do, you will spend 7 hours sailing, you will get very tired, probably bored, and we won't be able to stop for swimming in the middle of the Aegean because if we do we will arrive night at the next harbor. In truth, it would be irresponsible of me to agree to such plans.
Your skipper is responsible for your safety and welfare. We know the best places that are accessible by boat, we know what time we need to be at a certain harbor so that we find a spot, and we can prepare a route that will protect you from the weather and will allow you to see the most of Greece during your stay. We have learned all these not by reading a book on the dangers of the sea, but by trial and error.
I understand that it is very difficult for someone who hasn't had the experience of 4 meter waves for 3 hours on the bow to realize how uncomfortable this can be. I also understand that people have high expectations for their vacations and they want to meet them. But if we do not take into account the sea, then the result will be less than expected.
Do do not forget... your skipper is your on-board concierge. The best reward for me is if a crew member tells me that the week we spent together was the best vacation he or she ever had. It is much easier for me to accomplish this, if I have a clean plate as far as expectations go. I take into account the desires of the crew and the weather and create the best possible route.
Thank you all!