Preparing For Your First Sailing Trip With Friends

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This week we are happy to introduce our newest guest blogger and fellow sailor, Genevieve, of the popular sailing blog, It’s a Necessity: Travelling With Two In Tow. Genevieve and her husband are avid travellers who have spent the past several years sailing in the Caribbean with their two young girls. The Stolz crew live aboard, Orient Pearl, a lovely 100ft Classic sailboat. When not sailing the beautiful Caribbean Sea or building their eco home in Canada, Genevieve can be found writing about the Stolz crew adventures and life at sea. In her debut article on the Zizoo Sailing Magazine, Genevieve shares some tips for preparing for your first sailing trip with friends. Read more from Genevieve on her blog and stay tuned next week for another post.  

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Every Guest Should Read Before Visiting

If you’re going to spend your R&R time with some liveaboards, but have never done such a thing before, and maybe feel in over your head, don’t fret. Take a deep breath, read on, and know that soon enough you will be rocking with the waves of the ocean and sipping on sundowners.

Before taking off on your well-deserved vacation, here are a few things that you can expect may happen and things that will be appreciated by your hosts.

First things first, your luggage. Large, hard-case suitcases should be completely banned from any sailboat. No one has room for that, unless you don’t mind having it as your bunk mate. “Confined quarters” means there is room for you, and some of your stuff, not for luggage the size of a secondary small human. We HIGHLY recommend you pack your things in duffel bags, or any soft material bag that you can roll up and stow somewhere once you have unpacked the excessive (see below) amount of stuff you brought.

sailing trip with friendsExcessive packing will most likely happen. Like on any vacation, you always feel you need all of your stuff. Go through your things and ask yourself, “will I really need this for a week long vacation?” Chances are, weather permitting, you are going to spend most of your time in a bathing suit, so pack a couple of those, mostly everything else can be purged from your luggage. A couple shirts, a couple shorts, one pair of pants, a dress, and sunscreen (don’t forget the sunscreen). Outside of your daily necessities you will probably find that you gravitate to the same clothes everyday and will most likely head home at the end of your trip not having worn half the stuff you brought. It’s a vacation, de-clutter your mind, your luggage, and give yourself some breathing space in your berth.

sailing trip with friends
You don’t want your berth to look like this because you packed too much!

Most boats run off of 12volt power, supplied by solar, wind gens, and sometimes an extra boost from a generator. There will be ways to power your electronics, if you feel you really need to bring them. Keep in mind the salt water environment, you may want waterproof cases for your things; accidents do happen, especially when you up your time around water. You can also leave all that stuff behind, drop off the face of the online world for a little bit, and truly disconnect for your vacation. If an emergency arises, or you really need to check your facebook, your hosts most likely have a phone (with internet) they can lend you…how do you think they got ahold of you to plan this vacation?!

If you get motion sick/seasick and have meds that you have tried and/or prefer, bring them. If not, your hosts probably have some on hand or can recommend some to you. Don’t feel ashamed about it or let it put a halt to your ocean adventures. Even the saltiest salts get bouts of seasickness and there are plenty of tricks and meds that can make the trip absolutely delightful.

sailing trip with friends
Seasick all around while crossing the Mona Passage.

Tied to the above topic of seasickness, far from the glamorized idea of sailing, you most likely won’t be out on the open ocean doing long passages with no land in sight…unless that’s what you signed up for! Liveaboards’ boats are their home. They usually aren’t out there, healing to 45+ degrees, racing to the next spot. Au contraire, we enjoy taking the boat from point A to point B, where it sits while we live on it, enjoying a new location. Most sailors seek out bays that are known for calm waters and good protection, and although this cannot be guaranteed, it is definitely what everyone is looking for for a good night’s sleep for the guests and themselves. Day trips, and bay hopping, are most likely on your vacation itinerary, and no matter the sailor, no one enjoys sailing in bad weather, and so if that is forecasted you most likely will not find yourself out in the middle of it. Forget everything you saw on The White Squall, your hosts don’t want to put you, or themselves, through anything of the sorts.

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Calm nights make for happy sailors.

When you arrive, if the boat is on a dock then it will be an easy hop aboard. However, this may not necessarily be the case. Enter the dinghyA dinghy is a smaller boat that will take you to the bigger boat. Think of it as a sailor’s car. Depending on the dinghy and the weather, this trip could either feel like you are in a convertible on the autobahn on a nice summer day, or it could feel like you are stuck in a rainstorm and the roof won’t close up. You may get splashed a little. If this is a concern, it shouldn’t be, it’s part of boating. Just don’t be dressed to the nines, and maybe cover up your bag with something (a garbage bag works just fine) to avoid having all of the contents getting wet.

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Your chariot awaits.

Trying to visualize what the inside of the boat may look and feel like? Pictures never really do it justice. The easiest way to explain it to first time visitors is that it is quite similar to an RV. Living spaces are tight but comfortable. Kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, running water, it’s all there, just in smaller format than in a house. There is not a whole lot of personal space, but that is half the fun of it. However long your vacation is, it will be filled with friends, fun, and new experiences. You will not be a guest, you will become “one of us”, part of the sailing family. Hopefully you will go home remembering how the smaller space brought everyone closer together, rather than hating that you did not have enough room for the 4 pairs of shoes you brought. Reference back to the “Excessive Packing Paragraph”. Because of the space and the additional bodies, one VERY important thing to remember (which your hosts will love you for), is to not leave your things laying around everywhere. You’d be surprised how little time it takes for a boat to feel overwhelmingly cluttered with stuff. Everything has it’s spot, and should be returned there after you are done using it.

sailing trip with friendsIf you are not an early riser, or if your hosts have kids, earplugs may be your favourite sailing item. Just saying.

Toilets, each boat has its own way of doing things when it comes to this, and most are fairly different from any land toilet you have experienced before. We’re talking about composting toilets, or electric toilets, or levers, switches, pumps and manual force, toilet paper in, toilet paper out, the options seem endless. The boat toilet (better know as “the head”) will be thoroughly explained to you when you arrive. If you forget what to do, or all the steps feel confusing, don’t be shy, ask again. Your hosts will gladly go through it all with you again, and again, and again. Because explaining the toilet process repeatedly is way easier than having to change out a broken “head”.

Wether or not a boat has a water-maker, it is always nice to watch your water consumption. Not to the point of restricting the amount that you drink, but those half-hour showers should be nixed. Instead, enjoy nature and take a few more refreshing plunges into the ocean. However, if you can’t do without your shampoo, conditioner, rinse, repeat routine, then get ready to sweat for that extended shower. Filling up a boat’s water tanks can sometimes be a strenuous activity involving many trips to shore, water jugs, and heavy lifting. All that sweat will defeat the purpose of the original lengthy wash. A “navy shower” could just save you a lot of sweat and effort.

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When you spend your day in the water, super long showers aren’t as needed.

Lastly, leave room in your luggage for your hosts! You will get used as a pack mule, guaranteed. About a month before your expected vacation you will start receiving packages at your place. These are shipments of things that are not accessible in the boat’s current location. You can expect to receive anything from boat parts, to clothing, and every knick knack in between. And you’ll also end up with a shopping list for non-shippable things such as Nutella. This is one huge way you can help your hosts and thank them for your stay, by lugging all of these online shopping goods to their boat.

With the broad strokes made, you should be able to pack up, fly out, and enjoy your time on a live aboard boat. The finer details will come into focus once you are there and enjoying your time aboard, sipping rum cocktails and watching the sun set over the ocean. At that point, all of the pre-stress will feel ridiculous as you will just be enjoying life.

 

Travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by Boat

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As the warm weather starts to fade and the days get shorter in North America, the “snowbirds” start making their annual journey south. For sailors and boat enthusiasts, Florida and the Bahamas are ideal destinations for escaping the cold northern air. Enjoy the warm waters that surround the southern tip of the US and the Caribbean whether it be just for the weekend or an extended voyage aboard your own yacht. Sound like a dream? We can make it a reality. Here’s our guide to travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat.

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

The Bahamas are made up of 700 gorgeous islands located only 50 miles off the coast of Florida. With its crystal clear water, phenomenal white sandy beaches and warm climate, the Bahamas are an oasis for sailors. The tropical archipelago is the perfect place for an island hopping adventure and also has plenty of great options for anchorages, including 32 ports of entry.

Only a few hours from southern Florida, you’ll find yourself immersed in the sights and sounds of the Caribbean. Leaving from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale you’ll be riding the Gulf Stream as you make your way to Cat Cay or Bimini, the closest islands of the Bahamas. In order to avoid hurricane season and enjoy the warm Caribbean breeze while the cold winds hit the East Coast, it is recommended that November is the best time to start your sailing trip to the Caribbean.

Here are just a few of the fantastic islands within easy reach when travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat.

Bimini (50 miles)

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

Known as the Gateway to the Bahamas, Bimini is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway from southern Florida. Known for big game fishing, Bimini is also significant historically and has attracted many famous travellers including Christopher Columbus and Ernest Hemingway. It is also believed that Bimini holds many secrets and is connected to legends of The Lost City of Atlantis and the Fountain of Youth. Given the Bimini Islands’ convenient location in close proximity to Florida, they are often quite crowded on the weekends so keep this mind if you are looking for a more tranquil retreat. 

Abacos (50-70 miles)

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

The Abacos offer some of the best sailing areas in the Bahamas and have been commonly referred to as the “boating capital” since colonial times. One of the major draws of the Abacos is the Sea of Abaco, an incredible lagoon with crystal clear waters. The Sea of Abaco also borders the famous Great Abaco Barrier Reef, home to some of the most beautiful tropical fish and corals. The protected waters are the perfect place for snorkeling whereas this area’s sheltered conditions make it an ideal spot for novice sailors.

Grand Bahama Island (55 miles from Palm Beach)

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

 

The stunning waters that surround the island of Grand Bahama and its close proximity to Florida, make it one of the most popular charter destinations. You’ll find many well-equipped and modern docking facilities, including the harbour located at the luxury resort, Old Bahama Bay. The beaches of Grand Bahama will surely not disappoint. In Freeport, the second largest city in the Bahamas, you will find many fantastic day and nighttime activities from golf courses to vibrant nightclubs.

Berry Islands (126 miles)

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

 

The serene Berry Islands are made up of several beautiful cays and make an ideal place to spend the night if sailing to Nassau from Florida. This gorgeous archipelago is surrounded by spectacular sky and electric blue waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling or fishing. Many of the cays that surround the Berry Islands are uninhabited and you will often find yourself a secluded beach. It’s the perfect destination if you are looking for a peaceful retreat on your own private little piece of paradise.

Nassau (180 miles)

travelling from Florida to the Bahamas by boat

Nassau is the capital and largest city of the Bahamas and is a common ending spot for a weeklong voyage to the Caribbean from Florida. Nassau and the nearby Paradise Island offer some of the most pristine and picturesque beaches in the entire Caribbean – so perfect that they have been used as backdrops for movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Casino Royal. The coral reefs that surround the shores of Nassau are also perfect for snorkelers looking for some of the Caribbean’s most diverse marine life. When not taking a swim or lounging on the powder white beaches, you’ll find many activities for the whole family on the mainland. From the Adventure Water Park at the Atlantis Resort to the charming market and shops on Nassau, you’ll find something for everyone. You may even want to try your luck at the largest casino in the Caribbean located on Paradise Island. Nassau is the perfect last stop before making your way back to the Florida.

 

Guest Post: Chartering vs Owning a Boat

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When debating whether or not you want to charter or own your own boat, you should not only consider the financial costs, but also also time and flexibility. Our featured guest blogger Louise of the popular sailing blog Sandy Toes and Writer Woes shares her thoughts on chartering vs owning a boat. 

Chartering vs owning a boat

There are many benefits to chartering instead of owning your own boat. Primarily, you don’t have to deal with the unexpected B.O.A.T. (Break out another thousand!)

Owning a boat is a huge financial commitment. Every year there are costs that are expected and there are always a few unforeseen extra costs to cover, mainly thanks to breakages or wear and tear. The boat gets hauled out of the water once a year at considerable expense and the maintenance is a frequent drain on funds. Boat owners also have to consider the best insurance for their needs  and keep the resale value in mind, if they intend on selling their boat one day.

chartering vs owning a boat

Owning a boat gives you the opportunity to invest time and love into it. You can maintain and customise the boat, which is both satisfying and enjoyable for some people. There’s also the possibility of living aboard if you want to and you’re not restricted to time constraints. The freedom of being on anchor in your own boat, with the option to change your plans at a moments notice is wonderful. You can really have individuality with your own boat and of course you have the ability to leave things behind so you don’t have to keep packing and unpacking.

chartering vs owning a boat

On the flip side however, chartering a boat is more cost effective than owning a boat, unless you have three months available to make use of the boat. It’s also a lot less of a commitment and nowhere near as time consuming. If you try one size or style of boat and you like it then fantastic, but if your needs or tastes change frequently then chartering gives you the opportunity to change boats each time you set sail. If there’s just a couple of you, a single cabin boat is perfect, if you have children or you’re sailing as a group, something bigger with more cabins would be more comfortable and offer more privacy. The ability to choose different sized boats each trip is a luxury that boat owners just don’t have.

Chartering also gives you lots of flexibility on location. You don’t have to move your boat to another country or continent you can simply charter somewhere else. Again, this is both cost effective and saves a lot of time.

chartering vs owning a boat

As a boat owner who loves her boat, I enjoy being a live aboard sailor, but it’s certainly not for everyone. That being said, I would love to charter a boat in far flung places. Logistically we can’t sail outside of Europe yet due to work commitments, so for a week or two chartering would be the perfect way to go somewhere new and satisfy our love of exploring by boat.

Chartering is hassle free; you don’t need to worry about maintenance or mooring fees. The safety equipment is provided and up to date and the best part is, you’ll receive great customer service from

Greek Island Hopping Holidays

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Greece just might have it all. Gorgeous beaches, inspiring landscapes, an incredible history, fantastic cuisine – and that’s only the beginning. In addition to its sure beauty and ideal climate, Greece remains one of the top destinations for sailing because of its many diverse island regions. Here our some of our favourite destinations for Greek island hopping holidays

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Greek Island Hopping Holidays in Greece – Your Route

It is advisable to begin planning your route well before your departure, which is why we created a Guide to the Greek Islands to give you some inspiration and practical information. Whether you choose to sail around the Aegean or the Ionian Sea, you will be sure to encounter some of the most beautiful beaches and most striking landscapes in the world. Let us help you find the perfect route for your own personal Greek island cruise.

Island hopping in the Cyclades

greek island hopping holidaysThe Cyclades are the most popular and most visited islands in Greece. The group consists of 56 islands, including the well-known islands of Ios, Mykonos and Santorini – and the smaller Cyclades including Naxos, Donousa, Irakleia, Koufonisia and Schinoussa. This island region is especially well known for its whitewashed houses with vibrant colored blue roofs and its volcanic beaches. If you are looking for a place to party or a romantic getaway, then Mykonos and Santorini are the islands for you.

But if you are looking for something a bit different, we recommend spending your Greek holiday island hopping around the smaller Cyclades. Though located within a short distance from the busy islands of Santorini and Mykonos, the smaller Cyclades remain a peaceful oasis with secluded beaches and a truly authentic feel. From Mykonos, head south to take a tour of the islands of Naxos, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Keros and Amorgos.

If you want to sail around the Cyclades, please note that this is not protected against from strong winds. Start your tour around the Cyclades from one of our many boats in Mykonos.

The northeastern Aegean islands

greek island hopping holidays

Another option for those seeking a bit more seclusion for your sailing holiday would be the northeastern Aegean islands. This picturesque archipelago is located at the northern end of the mainland and includes some of the more remote and larger Greek islands of Ikaria, Samos, Lemnos, Lesvos and Chios. From the rich history of Samos to the magical waters of Fourni and the therapeutic hot springs of Ikaria, this group of islands are sure to make your island hopping trip in Greece one to remember. Get started by checking in to your boat in Chios and get ready for a holiday of a lifetime.

The Sporades

greek island hopping holidays

The Sporades are ideal for island hopping in Greece. The name of these islands can be translated as “those scattered”. Located close to Athens, the Sporades are an ideal destination for a weekend getaway for many residents as well as visitors to the capital. The 24 islands that make up this region are full of stunning natural scenery: dense forests, rocky landscapes and striking bays. Start your trip in Skiathos and explore the other islands from there.

Enjoy the pleasure of discovering the Greek islands at your own pace on your own private boat. An experience not easily achieved when going on an organized Greek island hopping tour.

Sailing in Sardinia: A 7-Day Dream Route for Food and Wine Lovers

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Famed for its stunning natural beauty, rich culture and glamorous resorts and clubs, Sardinia is one of the most unique and dazzling destinations to visit in the Mediterranean. With over 1.100 km of spectacular coastline, amazing beaches and calm seas to the east, Sardinia is also a natural magnet for sailors from across the globe. When sailing around Sardinia, one should not miss out on trying the island’s many special delicacies, which is why we’ve created a 7-day sailing route along the island’s east coast featuring three terrific food and wine tours offered by the winerist.

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Why you should be sailing in Sardinia:

  • Ideal winds: Known as the place “Where the Wind Lives”, Sardinia offers sailors an excellent location for sailing. Thanks to the strong main winds that blow across the coasts, Sardinia boasts some of the best conditions for sailing.
  • Great climate: The island boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine per year and a typical warm Mediterranean climate.
  • Pristine beaches: One of the island’s major draws is its rugged and unspoiled coastlines that feature some of the Mediterranean’s best beaches.
  • Rich cultural offerings: Sardinia is full of many historical wonders and charming towns.
  • Incredible cuisine:  It is clear that Sardinians take pride in their rich gastronomic heritage. From the well-known pecorino cheese to the tantalizing liqueur called Mirto, Sardinia’s food culture has been influenced and developed through a merge of several different cultures over the course of centuries.

Sailing from Olbia to Cagliari- a Food and Wine Lover’s Dream Route

Starting from the dynamic province of Olbia-Tempio, you will begin to discover the breathtaking beauty and phenomenal gastronomy of Sardinia as you start a 7-day, one-way sailing trip down the coast towards Cagliari on your own private yacht.

Days 1-2: Olbia-Tempio

Covering the Northeast area of Sardinia, Olbia-Tempio attracts nature lovers, sun worshippers, celebrities and, of course, food and wine enthusiasts who flock to the gorgeous beaches and resorts along Costa Smeralda, the Maddalena Archipelago and San Teodoro. In addition to its natural beauty, this area has many fantastic cultural offerings, including impressive archaeological remains and the famous Carnival parade “Carrasciali Timpiesu”.

sailing in sardiniaThe province of Olbia-Tempio also produces many gastronomic delights. One of the best ways to discover this area’s cultural heritage is by taking part in a Full-day Vermentino Wine Tour. Sample Sardinia’s distinctive wines, mainly the Vermentino di Gallura, a unique DOCG wine and enjoy a lovely lunch as you learn more about the island’s vast history and cultural heritage. The tour also includes a visit to a notable archaeological sight and provides many opportunities to take pictures from spectacular panoramic points. It is the perfect way to relax and take in the scenery before starting your journey by sea.

sailing in sardiniaAnd if you’re looking for vibrant nightlife and world-famous clubs, head to Porto Cervo. Originally established by Prince Karim Aga Khan as an exclusive retreat for the rich and famous, Porto Cervo still attracts celebrities and VIPs who can be found in clubs like Billionaire. It is definitely worth checking out the superyachts docked at Porto Cervo’s marina.

Check into your private boat in one the famous marinas of Portisco or Porto Rotondo and get ready for an incredible trip along Sardinia’s east coast.

Day #3: San Teodoro

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Only about 30 km down the coast you’ll find San Teodoro, a trendy seaside resort town with many great bars, restaurants, clubs and of course, phenomenal beaches. Relax on the sandy white beaches and take a dip in the crystal clear waters that surround San Teodoro or take a hike in the mountains further inland and spend a relaxing evening moored in Marina di Puntaldia. 

Day #4: Golfo di Orisei

sailing in sardiniaNo sailing trip around Sardinia is complete without a stop in Golfo di Orisei. With about 30 km of breathtaking beaches, alluring grottos and a coastline that is strikingly contrasted by steep cliffs, Golfo di Orisei is one of the most enchanting places in the entire Mediterranean. Here you’ll find the Parco Nazionale del Golfo di Orosei e del Gennargentu, Sardina’s largest national park. This astounding protected area is home to a wide diversity of flora and fauna, pristine beaches and dynamic landscapes distinguished by lovely valleys and canyons, towering mountains and staggering cliffs.

sailing in sardiniaOne of the best ways of getting better acquainted with your surroundings is by joining a tour of Atha Ruja Vineyard. Learn about and taste this region’s wines and olive oils while exploring this lovely, family-owned winery that is located in the ancient valley of Oddone.

Day #5: Marina di Gairo and Porto Corallo 

sailing in sardiniaAs you continue down the coast, we suggest a stop in Marina di Gairo, a charming seaside village that is surrounded by some of Sardinia’s best beaches. Distinguished by its characteristic red rock formations (porphyry) and pebble beaches, Marina di Gairo is a great place for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. The wind blows stronger here, making it a great spot for surfing. Further inland, you will find some great hiking trails including the trail around Monte Ferru.

From Marina di Gairo make your way to Villaputzu for a pleasant evening in Porto Corallo. Located on the southeastern coast, Villaputzu is a charming resort village offering some terrific beaches. It’s the perfect place to go for a morning dip after spending a night in the modern harbour of Porto Corallo.

Day #6: Villasimius

sailing in sardiniaAs you make your way to Villasimius by boat, you’ll have the perfect view of some of the island’s most spectacular beaches and bays. Make a stop in Capo Carbonara to enjoy the strikingly white beaches and crystal clear water. This area is marked by fantastic natural heritage from grand cliffs to enchanting bays and coves that are lovingly protected as part of a larger conservation area. The beaches around the southeastern tip Sardinia also offer great opportunities for snorkeling, kayaking and surfing.

In the surrounding area will you also have an opportunity to visit the archaeological remains of Phoenician and Roman culture. The small town of Villasimius is also quite well known for its nightlife. Enjoy the sunset and spectacular views as your toast to the evening in one of the seaside bars.

Day #7: Cagliari

sailing in sardiniaCagliari, Sardinia’s capital city, is abundant in history, culture and fantastic beaches. It is the perfect place to end your journey along the island’s eastern coast The city’s diverse history is evident in its architecture, language and culinary traditions which can be experienced in the winerist’s Half-day Cagliari Wine, Food and Culture Tour. The private tour begins at the heart of Cagliari’s food and wine scene, the San Benedetto Municipal market, which is the largest covered market in the country where you’ll find a varied selection of gastronomic products from the land and sea. You’ll then be led around the city center and drive out to the countryside for a food and wine tasting.

After diving into the cultural scene of Cagliari, spend the rest of your day stretched out on one of the many stunning beaches that surround the city. From the long sandy white beach of Poretto to the lovely bays and coves (calas) that are best reached by boat, the southern coast of Sardinia is full of natural beauty and the perfect place to end your sailing holiday on this magical island.

sailing in sardinia