Why the Ionian?

Why wait? Now is the perfect time to plan and book your summer holiday in the Ionian

 

It’s not just the outrageously good Greek food and ice-cold Mythos beer that make the Southern Ionian one of the most popular sailing areas around the world…

For those recently qualified skippers looking to take their first sailing charter holiday, the area surrounding Lefkada, Kefalonia and Ithaca provides an ideal playground. According to Sail Ionian, it’s a mixture of predictable katabatic winds, glorious sunshine, turquoise shallow bays and most certainly the beautiful harbours to moor in each evening that together provide a recipe for a fantastic holiday that you’ll be wanting to relive year after year – much like Sail Ionian’s impressive record of returning guests. Although the devilishly tasty saganaki and calamari – along with a helping of garlicky tzatziki – certainly help.

Sail Ionian are a family owned and run yacht charter company based in the small fishing village of Vliho on the East coast of Lefkada. Considered as the Caribbean of Greece, Lefkada – or Lefkas as it is known to the English – wows its visitors with its exotic blue coves and luscious green forested land. The welcoming sea breeze makes sitting on deck a pleasure.

Agiofili Bay

Sounds delightful doesn’t it? So with your newly acquired RYA ticket, enthusiastic crew and snorkel in hand, what are you waiting for?

Sail Ionian understand that it is a big responsibility for a family to take charge of a yacht for a week and bring it back unscathed which is why each and every customer, old or new, receives not only a full route plan of the area and a comprehensive handover personalised to each yacht, but also a one-to-one Mediterranean mooring clinic on the first day of the holiday. This will ensure you are not the subject of the infamous ‘harbour cinema’ that so many have experienced in the busy harbours during the summer peak months. It’s also why Sail Ionian decided to come up with their informal flotilla option. It’s certainly not like your traditional flotilla. It is very relaxed, you can join in and opt out when you feel like it, and our crew will find you a safe, sensible space in harbour – or long lined outside of harbour – whether you like to be in by mid-afternoon to find the cocktail bar for a refreshing mojito or whether you prefer to adopt the Greek way of ‘siga siga’ (slowly slowly) and cruise into port early evening as the sun is descending.

When you arrive at Sail Ionian, you will be shown to your yacht to familiarise yourself with everything on board. One of the Sail Ionian skippers will give you time to relax before coming over to give you a full briefing on the yacht and its systems. After all, not all yachts are the same and with some of the Sail Ionian yachts now boast generators, air conditioning, solar panels and even dishwashers, it’s important that these are explained, of course along with a tour round the boat exploring where the safety equipment is stored and a run through of the sails if needed.

Guests are invited to head over to a neighbouring taverna to talk through their route plan for the week. Whether you wish to join the flotilla, fancy getting off the beaten track to the likes of Kastos, Polis and Pera Pighadi or head for the most talked about places like Kioni, Vasiliki and Fiscardo there is an option for you.

Route planning in the Quay Café

The small port of Spilia beneath the town of Spartahori on Meganisi island is a favourite amongst Sail Ionian guests and a regular haunt on the Sunday arrival day as it’s a mere hour over there by yacht. The guys running the taverna on the beach will direct you in and the helpful Sail Ionian skippers will be there to catch lines and even jump on the yacht with you to make sure that first nerve-racking park goes smoothly.

If it’s peace and quiet you’re after for your first night after travelling then it’s a great idea to head over to Meganisi, a small traditional Greek island. If you are prepared to take the incline up to Spartahori town, you’ll be stunned by the incredible views north towards the mainland. Sunrise is the best time to go.

You will wake up on Monday morning feeling far from how you usually feel on a Monday morning! The sun beats down in to the bay and the water is so still, it’s like a mirror. Once you’ve pinched yourselves and realised that no, this isn’t a dream, it’s a fantastic idea to join our Mediterranean style mooring clinic in neighbouring Vathi harbour. The 15-minute yacht journey round there gives you time to admire the morning haze across the mountains, and to finish off your breakfast.

In Vathi, skippers await to train you the Sail Ionian med mooring technique of stern-to parking with a lazy line and with an anchor – both popular ways to moor up in a harbour around the Ionian. Without this training, and unless you’ve done your RYA training in the Med, you’ll be a little stuck so it’s best to get this covered at the beginning of your holiday to avoid drama through the week. Mooring should not be dreaded at the end of the day! The skippers will even show you how to anchor properly – important if you want uninterrupted sunbathing time, and longlining – perfect for overnighting in bays under the stars.

Monday evening the Sail Ionian team rendezvous in the natural harbour of Sivota on Lefkas island. It’s a short hop from Spartahori but offers a number of bays en route, an exhilarating sail in the afternoon wind down the Meganisi channel and even some caves to have a snorkel in.

The team are on hand to catch lines, offer advice and hear about your amazing day out sailing. Yanni’s Ionion Taverna in the corner of the bay offers a peaceful retreat from the main town and the hospitality is second to none.

A typical morning tends to be spent first popping to the bakery to get some fresh bread for lunch (and maybe a sweet treat like baklava too for afters) before heading off to find an idyllic bay, preferably with only space for 1 yacht – with all this sea, who needs neighbours! Although Greece is known for lacking sea life, it certainly makes up for it with crystal clear waters that get up to bath temperature during the height of summer. There are certain snorkelling spots in the area where you will find pipe fish, octopus, moray eel and thousands of gavros (small fish). The colours can be sensational, and visibility is usually an impressive 20 metres.

The thrilling afternoon breeze kicks in just after lunch time, perfect timing to hoist those sails propelling you towards your next evening’s destination. You will always know what the weather is doing when you receive your daily text from our office detailing the forecast and advice on where to go. The great thing about the Ionian Sea is that the harbours are generally in line of sight which means easy navigation and short passages, but for those looking for longer sails, a suitable route plan can provide a perfect opportunity to build your miles.

Sailing in the afternoon breeze

It’s down to personal preference where you choose to spend your evenings. Whether you wish to step off the back of your boat onto a town quay, or you wish to jump off the back of the boat in a secluded bay into sparkling swimming-pool like water, there really is something for everyone. And if you’re ever not sure about where to moor, what the weather is doing or something on the boat, the team are on call 24hrs a day to assist.

One thing that Sail Ionian is sure about, there is nothing like too much support for those first-timers. From the moment you make your first enquiry, to arriving in Greece, to leaving the following week, the whole Sail Ionian team are there to help.

Sail Ionian offer bareboat or skippered yacht charter holidays in the Southern Ionian from mid-April to October. 7 day, 10 day, 14 day and longer charters available with or without flights. Call the office to discuss your first sailing holiday with Sail Ionian.

This post was written by admin