Directly to the area characteristics
CHARTER Usually start from Athens or Lavrion. The range of charter fleets there is huge. Many small transfer bases on other islands such as Paros, Mykonos or Syros, but getting there is usually complicated. There are practically no direct flights, you have to change trains in Athens or take the ferry, which takes a long time or is even only possible the next day. Oneways are feasible, either to Kos (Dodecanese) or Paros, but relatively expensive (approx. 500 to 750 euros surcharge). With two-week trips, however, the fleet operators are often able to find a solution, especially if the ship is not returned far to the south. Such return trips are often cheaper to get - but they go from south to north against the prevailing wind.
GETTING THERE Flights to Athens from many German airports, prices from around 300 euros. Transfer to Athens or Lavrion approx. 30-40 minutes by taxi. Many of the islands can only be reached with a change in Athens, the flight does not always leave on the same day!
Weather statistics Cyclades
WIND & WEATHER From June the Meltemi on, in July and August it reaches its greatest strength and then subsides again by the end of September. It blows at approx. 80 percent from the northeast in the northern Cyclades and the southwest, in the middle rather from the north. It is fed by the large, stable heat depression over the Turkish mainland and a high western Mediterranean, it is very stable from June to September. Meltemi usually blows at 5 to 6 Beaufort, but sometimes it is much more violent and can hold out for days, even with 8 to 9 winds. Old rule of thumb: If you sail south in the Meltemi period, you should plan two thirds of the sailing time for the return trip! So first big blows to the south, then shorter ones back, more often close-hauled courses.
Beware of Nozzle and cape effects: Between the islands the wind increases by one or two wind strengths, there are also gusts down leeward, your whole series of Cyclades islands are relatively mountainous. Such effects also bring significant wind shifts. Some important Meltemi nozzles are shown on the map. Smart, anticipatory reefing is important there. In the off-season, either a lighter north wind or a southerly sea breeze blows. As a storm it can Scirocco blows strongly from the south, especially in the off-season.
There are good weather and swell forecasts on the website of the Greek weather service Poseidon (www.poseidon.hcmr.gr) and the usual sources like Windy (www.windy.com) or Wind finder (www.windfinder.de) as well as their iOS and Android apps.
PORTS & ANCHORS Mostly simple Municipal ports with piers where you can tie up in front of the bow anchor, sometimes alongside in the off-season. There is often electricity and water, the latter partly by tanker, just like diesel. Often no or only simple sanitary facilities. Help from Marineros with mooring is not a matter of course. It is moored either with bow anchor and stern to the pier or partly mooring lines. Sometimes harbor dues are collected, sometimes not, but Greece is very cheap, around 15 to 30 euros are due for a 43-foot boat. A multitude of very beautiful, well-protected anchor bays, sometimes lonely, sometimes with a bar and tavern on the beach. The selection is huge, and apart from a few hot spots there is almost always enough space and often even lonely places! Land lines are seldom laid out, because low water depths and well-holding ground are not uncommon. No buoy fields to be paid for.
Photo gallery: Cyclades
NAVIGATION & SEAT CREW Meltemi and falling gusts can make harbor maneuvers and anchoring challenging do. Good planning is then the recipe for success. Always put in a lot of chain and pull in the anchor thoroughly and force it through in the harbor so that any Meltemi phases or nocturnal gusts can be safely weathered. In some harbors, stones just before the pier endanger the oars at swell
Navigational the area is relatively easy, even if there is flax that is not as well toned as in the western Mediterranean. In the ports sometimes anchor salad when sailing, when crews have put the chains on top of each other. Tides are negligible, usually no more than 20 to 40 centimeters, except for a lot of wind pressure and very shallow bays.
The Distances between the islands are often larger, around 20 to 25 nautical miles; if the Meltemi blows longer, the swell there can be correspondingly high. As a rule, however, due to the high water depths, it is relatively long, not as short and steep as something in the Adriatic or Baltic Sea and therefore easy to handle, except when storms are strong.
SEA CHARTS & LITERATURE
The best nautical charts are those from the Greek sports boat chart manufacturer Eagle Ray and its British counterpart Imray. The former have very good harbor information as well as photos, the latter are popular because of their clear and proven map image. Revierführer in German: Rod Heikell: Greek Coasts, Edition Maritim. The English version is usually available on charter yachts.
AREA CHARACTERISTICS CYCLADES
Hardly anywhere else in the Mediterranean are the neighboring islands so different and at the same time so charming. Some rise steeply and steeply out of the sea. On their slopes or on top of the mountain ridges, some ancient villages are enthroned, made up of typical whitewashed houses with blue doors and windows. Others are flat islands and attract with idyllic bays and pretty fishing villages. Then there are the hip tourism hot spots such as Mykonos or Ios, notorious for their exuberant party and nightlife. No less popular is Santorini with its spectacular old town on the slope of an old, crescent-shaped volcanic crater. Almost all islands have in common that they are barren and rocky, the dry, constant summer wind Meltemi has literally parched the islands for centuries.
There are also many smaller and mostly lesser-known islands, whose picturesque port towns are also worth seeing: Naouss on Paros, Ermoupolis on Syros or Kamares on Sifnos. Not to mention the many quiet bays, on the banks of which there are usually a few small taverns or a small village and where life is so wonderfully relaxed and easy. This is especially true for the small islands without an airport, such as Sifnos or Kythnos. Nowhere is it so easy to slow down as here.
It is true that the distances between the islands are greater than in the neighboring Dodecanese or even the Ionian Sea. You often have to cover around 20 to 25 nautical miles. But that's not a problem, as there is almost always a good wind for sailing. In the pre- and off-season, when it usually blows moderately with three to four wind strengths or even thermals prevail, the Cyclades are a dream area even for crews who are not in the mood for a strong wind trip. And for midsummer with his Meltemi, the rule of thumb applies to plan two thirds of the charter time for the way back. Those who take this to heart will not run out of time even if one or the other port day has to be inserted.
In general, crews who go on a voyage from mid-July to the end of August, but are in the mood for sporty sailing, and also should not shy away from a wet cross. After all, on deep blue water and in long waves this can be a lot of sailing fun. Last but not least, there is something else that speaks for the Cyclades: The mooring fees are far below the price level in Croatia, Italy or Mallorca. There are no bays with expensive anchor buoys. And restaurant visits often cost only 15 to 20 euros per person. In short, the area is by far the cheapest in the whole of the Mediterranean.