Discovering Greece: Sailing Through the Water

Discovering Greece: Sailing Through the Water

With distinct navigation zones, Greece offers an exceptional coastline, the longest in Europe (Greece 13,650 km, United Kingdom 12,430 km, Italy 7,600 km, France 3,427 km). The Greek Islands are my playground in a way.

Cyclades Area: Weather and Navigation Conditions

Area bounded by the Gulf of Athens (Argo Saronic) to the west and the Dodecanese to the east. This acceleration corridor between Greece and Turkey is during the summer an area with a strong pressure gradient between the West Mediterranean anticyclone and the low pressure in Asia, hence the Meltem (summer wind from the North). In winter it is the southerly winds that predominate and we often have nasty shots of tobacco. For Sailing around the Greek islands you need to know the following:

Regarding the scarecrow that is the Meltem. Without it (it rarely reaches force 8), the heat can quickly become scorching in summer. What you need to know is that a week can go by with a good moderate wind followed by several days with very little wind or not at all. A strong wind lasts 3 to 4 days maximum, which a competent skipper can anticipate, in particular by observing the state of the western anticyclone.

When sailing in the Cyclades, it is above all necessary to avoid the traps in which too often fall the amateurs who know little or not at all the acceleration zones and trace overly ambitious routes. The islands being arranged in a circle (hence their name) and the winds being NE in the West of the islands and NW in the eastern part of the archipelago, one can carry out a circular navigation, from island to island, without having practically to draw edges.


A chain of 12 islands along the Turkish coast, this archipelago has long shone with its cultural richness and its proximity to Anatolian sources of raw materials.

Weather and Navigation Conditions

The Meltem blows mainly from the NW sector tilting towards the West in the afternoon near Turkey. The trend is reversed at night with a switch to the NE. Overall it is towards the Turkish coasts that the thermal influence is the most important. Be careful not to lose sight of the fact that the Meltem blows very strongly to the west of the large islands and more particularly in the Rhodes-Karpathos and Samos-Ikaria channel (to the north). In spring and autumn, the approach of a depression in the Balkans will cause SE winds which will tend to accelerate sharply between the islands and the mainland. You can choose the Vernicos Yachts in this case.

When cruising, the great difficulty is to go up from Rhodes to Kos, the journey being in the axis of the wind. The solution consists in sailing in the morning towards the West, when the wind is in the North and in the afternoon favoring the edge towards the North, when the wind is rather in the West. With the wind deflections due to the topography, it is not always easy but still doable.

The great attraction of the Dodecanese is its international airports near the Turkish coast with its marinas and countless sheltered anchorages. Keep in mind, however, that with the Schengen agreements, the Greek islands are an EU border with a non-member country and zigzagging on either side of this border without valid documents is hardly possible.

Bonnie Baldwin