Notes for Newbies
Not sailed before? Check out these notes before you get too engrossed in the romantic image of ‘Sailing the Greek Islands’ (or any other islands!).
Questions and answers – sailing with Athens Yacht Charters.
For those of you who are not familiar with sailing, these Q&A’s should help give you a picture of what life on a sailboat is really like. Already experienced sailors won’t need all this — but there’s still plenty of other useful details for you too!
We can’t count the number of times people have told us that this was their “best vacation ever”, a “dream come true”, it “totally surpassed expectations”, and other such comments.
But, sailing isn’t for everyone—and maybe the reason why we get so many comments like this is that we are very down-to-earth in setting expectations.
A sailing yacht is not a cruise ship; and if this type of vacation isn’t going to suit you, it’s better realised now — not in the middle of the Aegean with not a hairdryer nor ice cube in sight for miles!
We hope these notes will help…
Q: A comment that we know our sailors get all the time — “Wait a bit. . . you’re going to spend 2 weeks on a boat with a bunch of people who you don’t know real well?”
A: A good point! But—the actual fact is that 95% of the time, everyone on board gets on just great, and ends up good friends. Why?
1. A very effective self-selection process! By definition, anyone who would choose an adventure vacation like this generally is an independent, flexible type, with a sociable nature which enjoys the company of others at close quarters.
2. And just to be quite sure, we go on . . . and on. . . at great length. . . to make sure that everyone who books with us totally understands what life on a sailboat is all about!
We do tell anyone who we don’t think is really suited that they should reconsider. We’re not doing anyone any favours by not being totally honest about this.
Q: So who does come on Athens Yacht Charter sailing trips?
A: A wide age-range, from 18 – 73; though many tend to fall into the 30-to-late 40s bracket. Some very experienced sailors, some who’d literally never set foot on a sailboat before, some folks come with a friend/partner; Some travel solo, some people have travelled/worked all over the world and some had to get their very first passport issued to join us!Q: Is there an age limit?
A: A number of people have emailed us asking what the age limit is. There is no age limit — our Mrs Chandler (senior is 75+ and regularly sails with us) and she’d never sailed before!
However—one important point that we do need to make (and of course, this doesn’t apply just to age), is that a sailboat does need a certain amount of physical mobility. You need to be comfortable climbing over one boat to another to get to dock at times; in and out of inflatable dinghies; across a narrow gangplank from boat to shore, and so forth.
Q: I think I’ll like sailing — but I’ve never sailed/actually lived on board a yacht before, so I’m not totally sure?
A: One of our former clients came up with a perfect description for sailing a few years ago; he said it’s “Like camping on the water”. OK, so a 50′ yacht is pretty luxurious camping, but if this is the sort of back-to-nature experience that you enjoy — you’ll love sailing. If your ideal vacation is being being served cocktails on deck and being pampered in some floating Hilton — then you are on the wrong boat.
Q: I’m definitely an adventurous sort, love the concept so far — but I’m concerned about getting seasick ?
A: If you’ve gotten seasick being out on a boat for an afternoon — don’t worry that doesn’t mean you’ll never make it as a sailor! It takes most of us (yes, including us skippers!) a day or so for the inner ear to adapt to the different motion. The vast majority of people are fine after that.
If you are the type who gets motion sickness on everything: cars, planes, boats. . . bathtub. . . this is the time to wonder if a sailing vacation is for you. If you still really want to give it a go, consider coming early or late season, or to Turkey, where the winds/seas are lower.
Q: So how much sailing experience do I need?
A: Lots of people turn up on our boats never having sailed in their lives before. If you want to learn about sailing, we are delighted to teach you! However, there’s no obligation to pull on ropes if you don’t want to; if you’d rather just hang out on deck and soak up the sun, that’s fine too!
As for you experienced sailors out there who are thinking of sailing with us — don’t think that having a professional skipper on board means that you won’t get to do much of the sailing. You are more than welcome to come and take as active a part as you like…we skippers will be quite happy to sit back and take a break for a change!
Q: What is the usual group composition?
We offer two distinct options:
1. Join a Cabin charter, in which we’ll match you up with other singles/couples. Our Mixed Cabin groups tend to vary a lot in their composition. Some will be primarily couples; some will be more orientated to single travellers. Some will be high energy, get-out-there-and-do-it trips; some will be more laid-back, relaxing, recovering from a hi-stress lifestyle back home. This is why we ask you to give us some personal info on yourself; to help us make suggestions to you on which groups you’d most likely have most fun with. 2. Group and Family Charters still use the same easy-going “adventure sailing” formula. If you can get your own group of friends together, you have the yacht for your exclusive use. This means that you can (within logistical reason!) set your own itinerary, your own schedule. The group rates do offer a significant saving on the individual rate, as of course, you are doing some of the admin work for us, putting the group together!
Q. How many people in a group?
A: The maximum number of people is 8 or 4 couples, per yacht.
Q: You mention ‘singles’ groups: Do you run trips that are specifically designed for ‘singles’?
A: Well, we’re not in the “Dating Yacht” business! We don’t run “singles” groups with any match-making intentions; but on the other hand, we do recognize that being a single around a bunch of couples can be “socially challenging”! Traveling with other singles, you don’t feel “left-out” in a world that’s often primarily couples-orientated. In general, our ‘singles’ groups tend to be fairly high energy, get-up-and-go sort of trips; the group dynamics are usually strong (and very fun!); people tend to get to know each other real well, real fast.
Q: What are the boats like?
A: We currently have 4 yachts in our Yacht Charter program. They are all in the 50′ range They are all about the same age; built in ’91 in Athens. They are designed specifically with Mediterranean sailing conditions in mind; they’re airy, spacious, built-for-comfort yachts. They each have 3/4 double cabins, plus crew cabin(s); the f’ard ones covert to either bunk beds or double beds. Each cabin has an en suite head (bathroom). There’s yet another shower on the aft swimming platform, so having to wait for a bathroom is hardly a problem!
Q: What’s it like to live on board?
A: We’re pretty casual about most things, but there’s a few basic rules that keep life on board happy for everyone.
For instance, keeping the saloon free of personal junk, not partying on till the wee small hours when others are trying to sleep, not using all the precious water to wash your laundry when we’re days away from the next water supply. All these sort of issues are covered in the (even more extensive! ) notes we send out on booking.
Q: What are the sleeping arrangements/cabin assignments?
A: Each yacht sleeps up to six guests in four double cabins. The two aft cabins are double beds, the two f’ard cabins can be either single bunk beds or convert to double beds also. First to book, first to choose is our policy on who gets which cabin.
In mid season, lots of people opt to sleep on deck too, a great feeling, completely clear n’ starry nights… no threat at all of being rained on halfway through the night!
Q: Is there a single supplement?
A: In general, we don’t have a single supplement – most people are quite happy to share a cabin. However, for those who would really prefer a double cabin to themselves, we can sometimes offer this at 1.5 times the regular price.
Q: Is there hot water?
A: We might be out to downplay the facilities and tell you it’s like “camping on the water”— but in fact, it’s really quite civilized ! In fact, many of our guests who are experienced sailors tell us they were surprised at how luxurious the boats are, compared to what they are used to sailing! So, yes there is indeed plenty of hot water, in each of the 4 showers/toilets. We also have two fridges on each boat, a stove w/oven, a great CD collection, novel library, snorkeling gear and all sorts of other toys.