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Benefits of Sailing

Sailing is not only beneficial for the body but for the mind and soul as well. You can achieve an excellent fitness regimen while having a tremendous time under the sun. Here are to mention some of the health advantages of sailing.

1. Physical fitness – The constant task of pulling and hoisting a sail to keep the boat in the right track strengthens and builds muscles of the upper and lower extremities, trunk and abdomen. Agility, flexibility and endurance of the body needed to meet the demands of sailing activities are developed and enhanced.

2. Cardiovascular fitness – Just like all physical activities and sports that keep one healthy, sailing activities can decrease the risk of heart disease and hypertension, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce risk for obesity. And just like all muscles, the heart grows stronger with exercise, so it can pump blood more effectively throughout the arteries and veins of the body and also work at maximum rate with less effort. Those who exercise also have a slower resting heart rate due to less effort needed to pump blood.

3. Psychological – Why are people always in a jolly and pleasant mood while out on the water? Aside from the natural calming effects generated by the sounds of the waves and the wind, the saltiness in the air also contributes to that feeling of euphoria. The various moods of an individual are greatly affected by a neurotransmitter called serotonin, a chemical substance that is known to produce a happy feeling. The saltiness of air is comprised of charged ions which promote oxygen absorption in the body, thereby producing a more balanced serotonin levels. The more balanced the serotonin levels in the body are, the greater the sense of happiness.

4. Relaxation – The sound of the wind and waves, splashing water, the cadenced movement of the boat, and the feel of breeze on your face stimulate the brain wave patterns in ways that promote a relaxing and calming effect to a person. The body and mind are alleviated from stresses and anxiety as one becomes relaxed and focuses on the fun and exciting tasks.

5. Concentration – Concentration skill is developed and enhanced while sailing as sailors need to stay focused and mentally alert to perform the multiple challenging tasks at hand.

In addition to the above health benefits, sailing provides an opportunity for people to socialize and spend time outside with a positive ambiance. Sailors belong to an active, diverse and dynamic enthusiast group. Furthermore, sailing creates a sense of healthy and strong appreciation for nature.

Holidays On Ionian Sea

The Ionian Islands offer perfect sailing conditions with moderate winds that are great for sailing holidays with the family. There are a multitude of cruising grounds for you to choose from. A yacht charter in the Greek Ionian Sea is very affordable. The culture and cuisine are beautiful and there is a vast number of historic sights and things to do. The landscape is much greener and lusher then in the other archipelagos in Greece and the area lies outside the reach of the strong Meltemi winds that occur further to the East. So let us tell you a bit more about this charterer´s paradise in detail.

Why is a yacht charter in the Ionian Sea so popular?

The Ionian Sea contains the seven main islands of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kythira as well as many smaller islands. The six northern ones are located just off the west coast of Greece and Kythira is off the southern tip of the Peloponnese. Although it is listed as one of the Ionian islands it forms part of the region of Attica. The Ionian Sea is bordered by southern Italy and Sicily, southern Albania and the west coast of Greece. There are several ferry connections to the Greek and Italian mainland as well as amongst the islands. Yet, they are very easily accessible by plane and you can fly to the international airports of Corfu, Kefalonia and Zakynthos or to Preveza on the mainland.

The historic area of the Ionian Islands is immensely popular with yacht charterers as well as large cruise liners due to their natural beauty and charm. Yet, they are also greener and more fertile than the other Greek islands to the East or even the adjacent mainland. Another advantage are the mostly moderate winds that are ideally suited for yacht charter holidays with the family. The infrastructure for sailors on the islands in the Ionian Sea is good even though the area is still quite unspoilt. You find the typical authentic Greek tavern with the wonderful Greek food, quaint harbours, amazing historic sites and easy sailing conditions. On top of it, bareboat charter in Greece is much less costly than in other destinations in the western Mediterranean. All this adds up to a wonderful cruising experience.

Some relevant info for an Ionian bareboat charter:

Location: Part of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea

Main Islands: Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Kythira

Main airports: Corfu, Preveza, Kefalonia, Zakynthos

Country code: +30

Climate: Mild, Mediterranean

Which main charter destinations are there in the Ionian?

There are plenty of itineraries and islands to explore on a sailboat charter in the Ionian. If you fly to Corfu, the resort town and harbour of Gouvia constitutes a good charter base from which to move south and explore the other islands. It is situated 6 km from Corfu city and 7 km from the airport and can host up to 1,235 yachts with a length of up to 80 m. It features many services and shops and is often referred to as a natural link from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean Sea.

From Corfu it is only about 8 NM to beautiful Paxos. Right on the northern tip there is the lovely protected bay and town of Lakka with very good restaurants and shops. The main port of the island is Gaios on the east coast. It is a perfect natural harbour due to the islet just off the shore that creates a narrow and very protected channel with ideal mooring conditions. The lovely little town has restaurants, taverns and charming souvenir shops to offer.

Due south of Paxos is the small island of Antipaxos which is perfect for enjoying relaxed Greek island bliss. For instance, anchor and chill at Voutoumi beach with its turquoise water and white sand and find a laidback tavern where you can eat some wonderful Greek food with your feet in the sand. Sail about 25 NM to the South-East and you reach Preveza, another main charter base.

Preveza marina in Preveza town has a very good range of services and 500 moorings for boats up to 20 m. Larger boats can use Cleopatra Marina near Preveza and just 1.5 miles from the town´s airport `Aktion`, also called Lefkada Airport. It offers 100 berths for yachts up to 30 m.

For a road less travelled explore the beautiful estuary of the Ambracian Gulf, due east of Preveza. It is a gorgeous nature reserve with lagoons, marshlands and a lot of special wildlife. You can find good anchorages and there are two little ports named Menidion and Votsina.

Head only about 6 NM south from Preveza and you reach the northernmost beaches of Lefkas. This island has plenty of coves and beaches for you to explore. On the north-east shore you find the town as well as marina of Lefkas, or Lefkada as it is called too. There is a 50 m long bridge connecting Lefkas with the mainland, thus making it easily reachable from the airport. Lefkas Marina has 620 moorings for yachts up to 45 m length and a very good offer of nautical services. It is one of the most modern and superb marinas in Greece and there are supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, a swimming pool and much more.

From Lefkas you have a big choice of sailing territories in the form of a lot of smaller islands within reach as well as the main ones. To name just the big islands, there are Kefalonia and Ithaca, for instance, both just within a 6 NM reach of the southernmost tip of Lefkas.

Ithaca is the smaller one of both and has gorgeous bays to anchor in. The very protected harbour town Vathi is a popular destination and the Odysseas Marina offers 72 berths for boats up to 20 m as well as many services.

Kefalonia with its capital Argostoli has many sandy coves and rugged limestone cliffs. For instance, head to impressive Myrtos beach on the north side with stunning white sand and aquamarine water that is set between two mountains. There is a cave you can visit as well.

You encounter just as breathtakingly beautiful beaches in Zakynthos, or Zante, that lies only approx. 10 NM south of Kefalonia. The so-called Shipwreck Beach on the north-east side has crystal-clear water, a shining white pebble beach and is surrounded by dramatically high rising cliffs. Zakynthos town is big and offers plenty of sights and things to do plus the international airport is near-by, making it easy to stop or start your sailing or motor yacht hire in the Ionian Islands there.

What are the prevailing weather systems for sailing in the Ionian?

A north-westerly sea breeze, the Maestral, moderates temperatures from afternoon till sunset. The area of the Ionian does not have very strong winds which is why it is great for family sailing holidays. Summers are long, hot and dry. July and August have an average of 12 hours of sunshine per day. There are no significant tides.

Summary of the weather conditions for sailing a yacht charter in the Ionian Sea:

Month with highest average temperature: August, 25.5°

Month with lowest average temperature: January, 9°

Month with highest average precipitation: December, 167 mm

Month with lowest average precipitation: August, 7 – 11 mm

Average wind speed in summer: 2 – 5 Bft.

Months with highest average water temperature: July/August, 25°

Month with lowest average water temperature: March, 14°

Main season: May – October

How much is a yacht charter in the Ionian Sea and what are the different charter types?

You can rent a 12 m sailboat, for instance, from about 1,400 € a week. Prices rise according to size, model and equipment of the yacht. Flotilla charter is as popular as ever. You can do bareboat or skippered charter, and choose between catamaran charter and sailboat or motor yacht hire. You could go for a day charter. And another option is luxury boat hire that comes with a lot of extras and a crew according to your specific needs.

What activities besides sailing are there on a bareboat charter in the Ionian?

Visit the Corfu Classic Yacht Race, a two-day regatta in September where you can watch traditional and contemporary classic sailing yachts compete in front of the beautiful city and fortress of Corfu.

If you have time in between sailing trips, check out the historic Old Town of Corfu within its fortifications. It really is a must-see and a maze of magnificent narrow cobblestone streets full of good shops and restaurants. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and has a lot of old Venetian architecture as it was under Venice´s rule for long time. The massive Venetian fortress, or old citadel stands separate on an artificial islet and is wonderful to behold. From there, you have a splendid view over Corfu. Then there is the huge new citadel, of which you can do a tour and pass through the medieval corridors and fortifications. It is situated looming over the north-eastern part of the city and from there you can see far over the sea and watch sailboats and luxury yachts go by. The Spinada square in the centre is one of the largest in Europe and you can stroll along its green spaces and monuments or have dinner in one of the restaurants there. Give the nightlife a try, especially along Gouvia´s coastal road with its many bars and clubs. Alternatively, the towns of Kavos, Sidari, Ipsos and Dassia have good options for going out. The Achilleion palace in Gastouri on the east side built by empress Elizabeth of Austria has a very pretty interior and exterior and is well worth a visit.

Head to the ruins of the ancient city of Nicopolis 7 km north of Preveza. It used to be a splendid town built by emperor Octavian and the impressive remains as the theatre, city gates and thermal baths as well as the museum are highly interesting for anyone who likes history.

Should you not be too tired from your day on the charter yacht, visit Argostoli with many bustling streets and shops as well as the bell tower in the centre.

Do a wine tour in Kefalonia where you are taken around to different wineries and can learn about the different grape varieties and wine making processes.

You could also pay a visit to the wineries in Lefkas. Or visit the largest resort on the island, Nidri – a sheltered port with views across to Skorpios which was formerly owned by Aristotle Onassis. 20 km south there is the windsurfing centre of Vasiliki, and further south is Cape Lefkada, where allegedly the female Greek poet Sappho leapt to her death.

While you are on a boat rental, do water sports like sea kayaking / canoeing, water-ski, wakeboarding, diving, snorkeling, parasailing, fishing and many more.

Go turtle or dolphin watching, for instance on Marathonisi, where there are a lot of amazing loggerhead turtles.

What is the procedure for sailing around the Ionian on a charter yacht?

If you hire a yacht in the Ionian, you either need a skipper´s licence or proof that you have sufficient sailing experience. There are some very professional yacht charter providers specialized in bareboat or crewed yacht charter and motor or sailing boat rental. Browse some of the customer reviews to find out more about Ionian sailing holidays.

Facts About Caribbean Sea

What makes a Caribbean yacht charter vacation so attractive?

The Caribbean Sea is huge – it spans over an area of 2,754,000 km² in the North Atlantic Ocean. There are over 7000 islands to choose from and they all have their individual character. So you are spoilt for choice here!

This big body of water is bordered in the South by Colombia and Venezuela and in the North by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba. To its West lie the Central American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. In the East you find the Lesser Antilles, which are divided in the Leeward Islands in the North and the Windward Islands in the South.

A myriad of gulfs and many reefs are contained in the Caribbean Sea. There is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef which stretches over 1,000 km along the Central American coast and is the 2nd largest barrier reef in the whole world. This is why this sea boasts such fantastic underwater fauna and flora for you to admire and explore. Diving and snorkeling here is absolutely paradisiac. In general, there is a high diversity of geography – there are coral based islands and others of volcanic origin. Depending on the altitude, the landscape can change from jungle to forest and woodland to savannah, mangrove and lagoon vegetation.

In the Caribbean you encounter tropical temperatures moderated by the trade winds. This area is spoilt by year-round sunshine and steady temperatures. The tidal range doesn’t exceed half a metre. This makes sailing and mooring as well as swimming very safe. There are plenty of bays and coves where you can moor your boat, the huge number of islands and islets offers an endless possibility for sailing trips and the prevailing trade winds are predictable in force and timing, almost like clockwork.

In addition, there are many colourful festivals, different cultures and lovely towns with colonial style architecture to explore. You can sample the rich cuisine which consists of a fusion of African, Amerindian, European, East Indian, Arab and Chinese Cuisine.

What cruising grounds are there in the Caribbean?

Head to the Windward Islands like Martinique, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. Saint Lucia offers wonderful long beaches to cruise along and the infrastructure for sailing is superb. Rodney Bay on the north side is a very large bay with only a small opening to the sea, due to which it is completely protected and the waters are calm. Here you can moor up in the prestigious Rodney Bay Marina that offers 253 berths for sailboats and superyachts up to 85 m along with many services. The exclusive marina at Marigot Bay on the west side is equally beautiful and protected. It can host 40 yachts up to 75 m. If you moor up there you get treated as a guest of the 5-star resort adjacent to the marina and can use all of its facilities.

Cruise the Leeward Islands including Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guadeloupe, Saint Barths and Saint Martin. Enjoy some easy island hopping mixed with open-water passages there. Take advantage of the good duty-free shopping and the many resorts. Especially Antigua has a very indented coastline and therefore many protected marinas. Sail the idyllic British Virgin Islands located about 100 km east of Puerto Rico. They include Tortola, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda. This popular charter destination is boasting stunning shorelines with many coral reefs in different colours. For instance, pass by the coral atoll of Anegada, which is the resting point for a lot of sunken ships and perfect for wreck diving. The British Virgin Islands stretch along either side of the approximately 90 km long Sir Francis Drake Channel and are perfectly suited for line-of-sight sailing.

Lap up the old charm of Cuba and sail around the stunning Canarreos Archipelago with the famous Cayo Largoisland south of Cuba. It has about 350 islets and is almost as long as the Florida Keys. There you encounter miles and miles of pristine white sandy beaches and bright turquoise coral reefs. This is a yacht charter in a paradise-like environment.

Which weather systems are important for your bareboat yacht charter in the Caribbean?

The climate here has often been described as “perpetual spring” thanks to the cooling easterly trade winds which create lovely temperatures throughout the year. They are always in the 20s° and 30s° and vary from summer to winter by 2° – 5° in the southern islands and by 10° – 20° in the northern islands.

Rainfall is heavily dependent on altitude and topography and generally the eastern shores, especially Dominica, Martinique and Saint Lucia, receive more rain. The precipitation is very different from island to island and within every island itself. In any case it rains most in the mountains and Mount Pelee in Martinique receives a whopping 6 m per year. The nearby Presqu’ile de la Caravelle on the east coast gets six times less. The driest islands are the Netherland Antilles consisting of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. The winter months have the least rainfall in the Caribbean. This is also the main charter season, when holidaymakers from northern countries try to escape the cold weather.

June to November is hurricane season and September and October run the highest risk for tropical storms. April, June, and July have the best combination of warm temperatures and low rainfall. May brings a small rainy season in many places. From December to February it´s best to stick to southern destinations, like Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbados.

Some figures regarding the sailing weather in the Caribbean:

Hurricane season: June – November

Prevailing winds: North-easterly trade winds, 3 – 5 Bft.

Warmest destinations: Cayman Islands, St. Lucia

Coolest destinations: Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos

Highest annual average daily temperature: 29° – 32°

Lowest annual average daily temperature: 20° – 26°

Annual average water temperature: 27°

Highest total annual rainfall: 2,575 mm, Dominican Republic

Lowest total annual rainfall: 409 mm, Aruba

Which possibilities for yacht charters are there in the Caribbean Islands and what does it cost?

Generally, you can book a 12 m sailing yacht from 2,500 € a week. Depending on the type of yacht, the equipment and the size prizes go up accordingly. You can do a charter on sailboats, motor yachts and catamarans with or without captain up to 20 m length. If you prefer something more exclusive, you can opt for a luxury yacht charter on boats bigger than 20 m with crew. Private boat hire is available in weekly terms or in form of day charter or two to three day packages as well as sunset trips. Day yacht charters for deep sea or sport fishing with power boats are very popular in the Caribbean.

What else is there to do apart from cruising on your Caribbean boat rental?

There is a huge number of islands worth exploring, here we suggest only a few of them:

Cuba is calling with salsa dancing, impressive colonial buildings, friendly locals, vintage cars, rum, cigars and a generally vibrant atmosphere. For sightseeing here visit the Cristobal Colon cemetery with its many beautifully sculpted memorials for example.

The Bahamas with their capital Nassau offer lush wildlife, long beaches, coral reefs and very good shopping. On Paradise Island there are some stunning luxury resorts like the Ocean Club that featured in the James Bond film Casino Royal or the Atlantis that has a 141-acre waterpark. There you can also swim with dolphins, gamble in the casino or play a round of golf. In many towns across the Bahamas the popular Junkanoo festival takes place on Boxing day and New Year´s day. It´s a traditional and colourful street parade with music, dance and costumes. Similarly, lively parades with dance and music take place all throughout the year.

Head to Santo Domingo, the capital of Dominican Republic and UNESCO world heritage site. It is the oldest permanently inhabited European settlement in the Americas and one of the largest cities in the Caribbean.

Check out Saint Martin with its Caribbean, Dutch and French influences, rainforest-like landscape, amazing wildlife, white beaches and lovely towns.

Go see Antigua and its 365 beaches. Attractions there are the main town St. John´s, St. Nelson´s Dockyard, built in the 18th century by the Royal British Navy or the sugar cane plantations and rum distilleries that used to be the foundation of the island´s prosperity.

Visit Fort Christian on Saint Thomas – the oldest standing structure in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It used to be a Dutch stronghold and was much fought over. There is also some great duty free shopping to be done here.

For a good sailing regatta make your way to St. Barths` popular Bucket Race, the Heineken Regatta in Saint Martin, both held in March, or the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta in April. Those events are a great opportunity for yachties from all over the world to get together and party after the races.

Apart from parties like that the nightlife in the Caribbean is characterized by a relaxed atmosphere, good wining and dining, the obligatory rum cocktails and steel drum as well as reggae music. It doesn´t get better than that!

You can also go turtle watching (nesting peaks from April to June and hatchlings emerge a few months later), go deep sea fishing, diving, snorkeling or play any other of the many available water sports.

How to charter a boat in the Caribbean?

For bareboat charter you need a skipper´s licence or provide proof of sufficient sailing experience. Alternatively, you can hire a yacht including a captain. There are hundreds of boats available locally in the range from 6 – 20 m. A lot of bigger luxury yachts are on offer for chartering, too. The main bases for boat hire are the British Virgin Islands, Saint Martin and Martinique as they have the best infrastructure and the most charter companies.

The Experience Sailing to Nusa Lembongan

Holidays are often times when we seek to unwind. If you travel in peak season it can seem like everyone else on the planet has the same idea. That idyllic island getaway can start looking very stressful as the crowds close in.

When you have had enough of the bars and crowds on Bali’s Kuta Beach there are plenty of places to retreat and recharge around the island if you know where to look.

Nothing makes me happier than being near the ocean when I want to think and unwind.

A day trip sailing to Lembongan Island and snorkelling the reefs fits the bill perfectly when I am in Bali. Nusa Lembongan is a very peaceful place away from the bright lights, noise and crowds. It is surrounded by white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters.

If you want the tranquillity to last a little longer there are resorts on the Island where you can extend your stay.

Arriving in Bali

I flew to Bali from Singapore. Direct flights to Bali are available from most airports in Asia and Australia. Most of the budget carriers in the region fly here if you need to keep your holiday costs down.

Depending on your nationality, you may or may not require a visa to enter Bali. Australians will need to apply and pay for a Visa on Arrival at the airport. The fee is payable in USD. Check with the Indonesian consulate web page if you are unsure about needing a visa.

You will need to keep your boarding pass from the plane to show to immigration when you arrive.

The airport is close to Kuta. Many hotels offer a shuttle service for airport arrivals and departures.

Getting to Lembongan Island

There are several operators offering transfers to Lembongan Island. A speed boat will take about 30 minutes from Bali. If you are after a more relaxed journey, sailing takes around hour and a half depending on the wind.

I prefer sailing to speedboats. I find sailing on a fine day more soothing and less jarring than a bumpy ride in a fast speedboat. I find that you see and appreciate more of the scenery around you when you travel slowly. You never know when an inquisitive sea creature may pop up out of the water to look at you!

I booked a sailing day trip with a tour operator who collected me from my hotel in the morning and returned me at the end of the day.

There was a small group of around a dozen people of all ages on the catamaran when we sailed. There was enough space on board for us all to spread out. You could choose to lounge on the deck in the sun or sit in the lounge below in the shade. Plenty of complimentary refreshments were available to keep you hydrated in the heat.

Relaxing

Relaxation was the order of the day. There were plenty of options available from sitting on the beach, taking a glass bottom boat out to the reef, snorkelling, visiting a nearby day spa, or strolling around the quiet streets of a nearby village.

A huge buffet lunch was provided with a variety of local and western style foods. Our group was very sociable and seated themselves around long trestle tables to enjoy lunch and a chat to their companions.

Snorkelling

The water around Lembongan Island is a clear blue green colour from above and a wonderful deep blue below. There is a small coral reef a short boat ride from the beach where we had lunch.

The boat has a glass bottom which enables you to see the marine life below.

This is nothing compared to the experience of getting in the water and snorkelling below the surface. It is like entering an entirely different world away from the noise and people above.

Snorkelling is best on a calm day with very little wind to churn up the sea and sand which can cloud the water.

The reef was marked with a ring of rope and floats to keep boats away from the people in the water.

The area is popular with companies teaching scuba diving. You can watch the students and teachers practising together in pairs beneath the water.

The reef is frequented by loads of colourful tropical fish who seem happy to swim amongst the snorkellers and divers.

If you take a piece of bread with you, you will literally have the fish eating out of your hands.

Seaweed Farming

The locals of Nusa Lembongan rely largely on tourism for their income. Some traditional industries such as seaweed farming still survive. The seaweed beds are laid out in the bay like a chequer board beneath the water.

The weed is harvested at low tide and spread out on mats to dry in the sun.

The seaweed is sold to companies in Japan and China for the production of cosmetics.

Gala-Gala Underground House

Our day trip Lembongan included a tour around a small town on the island. The tour brought us to the unusual structure of Gala-Gala.

The Gala-Gala underground house took one man, 12 years to excavate, using only hand tools.

The house consists of a bedroom, dining room, kitchen, a well, and a meditation room.

Tourists are welcome to climb down and look around the interior of the underground house. Be warned that the steps are steep and the roof is low in places.

The story of the man who excavated the house is told on a billboard as you enter the yard.