The Internet is a wonderful tool. On board A B Sea we use the Internet on a daily basis for checking wind and weather, uploading our blogs and videos and keeping in touch with family and friends. But one of the main things we use the Internet for is researching all things boat related. Whether it's fixing something, ordering spares and parts, looking for the best places to anchor, finding out where the nearest food, fuel and drinking water are or planning where to go next, all that information and more is available with just a few keyboard strokes and mouse clicks.
We also scour sailing forums for first hand information about destinations we're thinking of visiting; Greece is one of those destinations. The idea of sailing through the Greek islands conjures up an idyllic picture of crystal clear waters, perfect beaches, blue skies and fabulous sunsets. But surely it can't be like that every day? It must rain sometime, storms must occur, the winter must be cold.
Have boat, will travel
So why did we decide to winter in Greece? Before we even bought our boat I'd made a tentative plan to meet up with a friend of mine Pete Forsyth on the Greek island of Kefalonia in September 2018. Yes, we know all about the 'rule' of not planning on being at a certain destination by a certain date when travelling by sail boat. With that being said if we were going to be in that part of the Mediterranean, with winter approaching, why not stay there for the winter months, we surely wouldn't get bored with 3,000 Greek islands to explore. But what about the cold and the wind and rain?
Greece, including all of the islands, in a straight line from north to south is roughly 760 kilometres (472 miles). Of the country's total territory, mainland Greece is 83.33% or 110,496 km2 (42,663 sq miles) and the islands are 16.67% or 21,461 km2 (8,286 sq miles). With all that area Greece can be said to have three main climate classes. A Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. An alpine climate where, according to the Köppen climate classification, no month has a mean temperature higher than 10 °C (50 °F) and a temperate climate characterized by cold, damp winters and hot, dry summers. We'll mostly be sailing in the mild temperate zone so we are expecting a cold, damp winter.
One man's pleasure is another man's pain
How cold and wet will it get? That's one of those 'how long is a piece of string' questions. I have made mention in previous blogs that I am not a fan of cold weather, but my research shows that in January and February, the two coldest months of the year, I can expect night time temperatures to be around 9 °C (48 °F) and day time temperatures to be around 14 °C (57 °F). I can cope with that and when it gets too cold I can bring my wonderfully warm bear suit out of hibernation.
The rains in our planned sailing area are not abundant, since they are generally below 500 millimetres (20 inches) per year and they can occur in the form of either showers or thunderstorms.
Some sailors we've spoken to have told us not to go to Greece for the winter as it's too cold and too wet. Whereas other sailors have said it's a great time to visit Greece as the weather is pleasant and it's nowhere near as crowded as the summer months. The truth is enjoyment or dislike of cold and rain is a personally subjective thing, so I guess we'll find out when we get there.
Turn left at the roundabout
We will be joined on our sail to Greece by our friends Mike and Elaine, both very experienced Mediterranean sailors and Aannsha and I are feeling very fortunate that we'll have this opportunity to do a long passage with their assistance and learn lots along the way.
As you read this blog we should be about half way to Greece, however as I write this blog A B Sea is currently sitting in the marina at the northern tip of the Mar Menor in mainland Spain three days before departure. Our actual route is of course dependent on which way the wind is blowing but there's a rough route plan of departing the marina and heading north east to Mallorca or Menorca before heading east to Sardinia. Depending on the wind we may pass Sardinia to its north or its south and then head for Sicily. Again dependent on the wind we may pass to the south of Sicily or go through the Strait of Messina to the north east. Once through there it should be a straight run east to the Greek island of Kefalonia. It sounds so simple when it's written out like that and deep down inside I'm hoping that in reality it will be as straightforward. I'll let you know how that works out in a future blog.
We've had an offer to do a last minute provisioning shop from Jose's dad Ramon, so this evening we're off to get fresh fruits, vegies and meats, plus beer and wine and anything else that's on our list. I'll precook several hearty meals so that we don't have to cook on a moving boat and we'll get the spare berth looking good for the arrival of our guests. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so right now I'm going to walk to the office of Marina Estrella to pay our latest invoice and say goodbye to the team.