The day when I came onboard a yacht for the first time is one of the things I will remember forever. The yacht itself was nothing to write home about but that didn't matter at the moment. What mattered was that on her I was about to do something different and exciting, and at a new place, the Ionian Sea.
No matter whether a for couple of hours or for several days, a sailing cruise is a memorable experience. Nothing can compare with it. The freedom to choose every day where to sail, to swim, to sleep and to have a walk, the opportunity to discover hidden beaches and coves, to break away from the constant Internet connection and the rest of the world: even the most luxurious hotel cannot give us all of these. There is an almost mystical connection between human and sea that is felt only when you have left the port and sail the blue waves, when you reflect on the big deep beneath you and all of its secrets and beauty, when the wind caresses your face.
In recent years an increasing number of people discover the joy of holiday on the sea.
Renting a crewed yacht is the easiest option. In it, the only decisions you have to make are from where to start, where do you want to go, how long will your adventure be, what is your budget and – and this is indeed important, with whom do you want to share the experience. The charter company deals with the rest of the details. It chooses a captain and crew, it takes care of the food, the water and the port taxes, and advices you on the activities you can enjoy during your cruise.
Sea provides endless opportunities to discover and rediscover new islands, bays, ports, experiences. Since the 1960s, when sailing vacations started becoming an alternative to traditional holiday, the Greek islands have been the classical choice for a cruise. Scattered among the Mediterranean, they number in the thousands: some are inhabited while others are deserted. Each has its own individuality and allows us to experience newer and newer things: an interesting archaeological site, a cove with crystal water, a port tavern with gorgeous seafood caught the same day. The Ionian Islands are famed for their turquoise bays guarded by imposing grey rocks. The Cyclades are well known with their white houses, windmills, picturesque sunsets and their attractiveness to the international jet set. The Dodecanese and the North Aegean Islands are a mosaic of rich history while Crete is a world of its own, an island with its own identity, history and magic. The Sporades and the Saronic Islands lure with their quiet charm. One can really sail for years there without ever getting bored.
Aurora Yachting: A holiday like nothing else around the Greek islands
Travelling with Aurora Yachting (phone: +359 899 79 00 55, www.aurorayachting.com, FB: Sailing Aurora, Instagram: sailing_aurora2017) is an excellent opportunity to navigate around the Cycladic and the Saronic Islands and to enjoy them in a way that will never be possible from the mainland. The holiday with Aurora Yachting combines the feel of freedom and joy from the simple pleasures of life with a luxury experience on Aurora, a latest model 42 feet sailing yacht by Lagoon. It is the best place to try digital detox but if you discover that life is impossible without Facebook, Instagram and emails, there is wireless internet onboard. The yacht is equipped with a desalination system for clean water saving you the need to stop daily at ports for water for bathing and washing. There are also fully equipped kitchen, AC, diving equipment. The catamaran's capacity is up to 10 guests. If you rent it with a captain, you will get not only a professional who takes care for it and navigates it, but also invaluable pieces of advice about the most interesting sites and the best places for sunbathing, parties and authentic Greek cuisine. Aurora Yachting is a licensed charter operator based at Alimos Marina, near Athens.
Sailing is also an excellent way to see the Bulgarian Black Sea from a new perspective, visiting beloved places like the picturesque Sozopol and Nesebar and fortresses like Kaliakra, but also discovering new favourite spots. Moreover, the Bulgarian Black Sea is closer and this makes it excellent for shorter yacht trips to celebrate a special life occasion or a party.
Black Sea Cat: A luxury yacht for parties and adventures
Luxury yachts are not only an extremely elegant way to spend our vacation. Thanks to Black Sea Cat (Yacht Club Marina Sozopol, 6 Kraybrezhna St, phone: +359 899 868 976, www.blackseacat.com) we can now afford such a holiday without going all the way to Greece. The company manages Medusa, a sailing catamaran. Based in Sozopol, the yacht is at disposal to anyone who wants for a couple of hours or days to immerse in a sea adventure, to celebrate a birthday, a hen party or an anniversary, to organise an unforgettable teambuilding, corporate event or photoshoot. The team Black Sea Cat is aware that sea is full of opportunities and prepares the itineraries so that passengers can experience the best of sea freedom and of the luxury of the elegant marinas and yacht clubs in Sozopol, Nesebar, St Vlas, Varna, Balchik, or in Greece.
An increasing number of people prefer to have full control over their sailing trip, so charter a yacht without a crew or even buy their own vessel. Such way to travel has indisputable advantages as you are the captain and the decisionmaker, and you don't share the limited space of the yacht with strangers.
Karela Sailing School: Take the helm of your holiday
The valid captain license and the experience are crucial when you want to rule your yacht and your holiday. For more than 10 years Karela Sailing Captain School (Sofia, 17 Ilarion Makariopolski St, Stefan Karamanliev: 0888 237 077, Petar Stoimenov: 0887 816 048, FB: KarelaSailing, Instagram: karelasailing, www.karela-sailing.com) offers theoretical and practical training for captains of vessels up to 40gt. The teachers are among the best in their field. Captain Stefan Karamanliev has a Cor Caroli Golden Globe for sailing from Nesebar to Guadeloupe and back while Captain Petar Stoimenov has rich experience in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Karela Sailing courses take place in Sofia, Plovdiv and Nesebar, and practical lessons are in Pancharevo Lake, Iskar Dam and, optionally, the Aegean Sea. Karela Sailing is the first recommended school in the list of the Bulgarian Maritime Administration and also conducts sailing trainings for beginners and advanced students. Karela Sailing will also help you to rent or buy a yacht, to maintain it, to choose equipment.
Choosing a yacht is like choosing a partner in life: there is no one-fits-all solution, and yet there are some core principles that need to be considered in decision-making. In what waters would you like to sail and how big yacht do you want? What is your budget and which amenities do you consider a must? Once you have figured out these, either by yourself or with the help of a consultant, is the time to choose your yacht style – traditional or modern, sailing or motor one.
Hallberg-Rassy 57: A dream yacht
The Hallberg-Rassy 57 of the Swedish company Hallberg-Rassy Varvs AB (www.hallberg-rassy.com) is nominated for European yacht of 2019. The company is among the oldest and most highly recognised manufacturers of cruising sailing yachts in Europe, and this 57-foot sailing yacht is the latest addition to its model fleet. The design is by Germán Frers, who has been designing the company's yachts for several decades. The hull lines and the sail plan combine all contemporary trends for increased volume and comfort while keeping high seaworthiness and most importantly the ability for fast sailing on long transoceanic cruises.
Whatever option for a sailing vacation you choose, it is guaranteed that the memories will be unforgettable, the photos – gorgeous, and your desire to let yourself again on the waves with the breeze, the sun and the dolphins will appear if not immediately after stepping on firm ground then in the second you return to the big city with its stress and congestion.