A Four Seasons Yacht Charter in Greece
If you plan to charter a yacht in Greece, and have some choice about which time of year you can go, it is worth considering your options carefully. Each season has advantages and drawbacks for the sailor. Knowing the likely weather and other relevant factors can help you to pick the best time of year for your yacht charter or flotilla holiday. This is a guide to the main differences between the seasons.
Spring Sailing in Greece
Spring is a delightful time of year for yacht charter in Greece. March usually heralds the start of fine, dry weather and brings a breathtaking array of cultivated and wild flowers. In recent years the weather has been unpredictable in early spring but by May temperatures are warm and settled.
Ports and harbours are quiet and pleasant, with no mad jostle for berths at the end of the day. The winds are less fierce than later in the year and it is a good time to visit the Cyclades before the meltemi begins to blow. The warm Greek hospitality is even warmer than normal as taverna and shop owners welcome the new season's tourists into their freshly painted premises.
Charter yachts are in prime condition after their winter maintenance and before the many clients have taken their toll. Yacht charter prices are often at their best during the early months so it is an ideal time for finding a bargain.
The sea will still be a little cool and only those who are fairly hardy choose to swim before late spring.
Summer Sailing in Greece
This is the perfect time for sun lovers! Between June and August temperatures steadily increase and you are virtually guaranteed sunshine every day. There will be little or no rain, the sea is warm, and the skies are blue.
Those who enjoy lively places will find more on offer during the peak summer months.
For many northern Europeans escaping from a cold climate, summer sunshine is what yacht charter in Greece is all about. There is certainly nothing to match the pleasure of anchoring for lunch in a bay and swimming from your yacht.
The heat brings its own problems. Temperatures can get as high as 40°C (104°F) making it hot and sticky in a yacht cabin at night. Few charter yachts in Greece have air-conditioning and a/c will only work when the yacht is attached to shore-power. For many the answer is to sleep on deck.
July and August bring the crowds. Getting a berth in the more popular harbours can be difficult unless you cut short your sailing and head in early. Finding a place to moor in a congested harbour is one of the more stressful aspects of sailing in the generally laid-back atmosphere of Greece.
During the summer the famous meltemi wind blows down through the Aegean. This strong northerly wind makes for challenging sailing and uncomfortable seas in the Cyclades.
It is quite common for yachts to be stormbound in the Cyclades for several days in the summer. The meltemi provides exhilarating sailing for experienced sailors but makes the area unsuitable for novices. Charter companies can advise you if strong meltemi winds are forecast.
The other areas of Greece are less affected by the meltemi. It is unusual for storms to prevent sailing in the Saronic, Ionian, Sporades, or Dodecanese.
Autumn Sailing in Greece
Autumn is my personal favourite time of year. The sea is pleasantly warm in early autumn and often remains so until late October. Those who dislike extreme heat will enjoy the autumn temperatures which are comfortable during both day and night.
The summer crowds of tourists and charterers have disappeared and there are bargains to be had both in yacht charters and the shops. Ports are no longer as busy, allowing you to make a leisurely and late entry at the end of the day - more time for sailing!
Although September can sometimes be as warm as August, it is usually balmy with a little light rain. The main rainy season begins around mid-October bringing cool wet weather, alternating with days of sunshine.
The Ionian has more rainfall than the more eastern and southerly areas.
The meltemi begins to subside but autumnal gales are a possibility. They do not normally last for more than a day. With no meltemi it is less risky to plan a yacht charter holiday in the Cyclades. Some people find these islands too barren after the summer, although others love the brown rock and brilliant white houses. The more northerly sailing areas are greener throughout the year.
Winter Sailing in Greece
You can charter a yacht in Greece all year round although not all companies will have boats available in the winter. Those who sail then are frequently delighted by the weather they find.
You should not expect continuous sunshine and should ensure you bring foul weather clothing and your yacht charter company provides warm bedding on board.
Most rain falls between November and February but there are many sunny days in winter. A heavy overnight rain is often followed by brilliant sunshine next day. Storms are more frequent than in summer and sailing areas with plenty of sheltered ports are to be preferred.
Many of the islands are very seasonal and you will find the majority of shops, tavernas, and hotels closed in some ports. Facilities such as electricity and water can be hard to locate.
Those restaurants and bars that stay open year round often give you special treatment and prices as winter visitors.
Sailing a charter yacht in Greece is an enjoyable holiday for most people and choosing the right season can turn a good experience into a great one!