Sailing and scuba diving in Greece is both exhilarating and fun!
Communicating, even just a little, with the locals can make your experience even more memorable; and the Greeks are always appreciative of anyone who makes an effort. The further afield you go, the more it may be necessary to have a few phrases to communicate with the older generation or the people in more remote areas.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
― Nelson Mandela
The SailnDive crew are fluent in Greek and ready to help you in any situation. Meanwhile, here is a list of the most useful words and phrases for sailing in Greece; the spelling is phonetic:
Greetings and Salutations
1. Yásas/Ya – Hello/Hi and also Goodbye
2. Kaliméra – Good morning
3. Kaliníchta – Good night
4. Kalós Irthaté – Welcome
5. Kaló sas vríkamé – the answer to welcome (we find you well)
6. Ti kaneté? – How are you ?
7. Eimé kalá, Isís ? I’m good , and you?
8. Kalá – Good
9. Endáksi – OK/Fine/Whatever
10. Milaté Angliká – Do you speak English?
11. Télos – It’s done!
12. Pollí Oréa – very nice
13. Pos se léne? – What’s your name?
14. Apo pu eisté – Where are you from?
15. Eimé apó….. – I am from…..
16. Óla Kalá? – Is everything ok? This also an answer. Yes everything is ok
17. Then katalavéno – I don’t understand
18. Neh – Yes
19. Óchi – No (the ‘ch’ is soft as in ‘character’)
20. Efharistó – Thank you
21. Parakaló – Please/It’s a pleasure/Excuse me
22. Signómi – sorry/excuse me
23. Na se kalá – may you be well
24. Sigá sigá – slowly/take it easy/there’s no rush butjust one SIGA! Is Watch Out!
Whether it’s been plain sailing or a little rough out there, once the hard work of reefing, tacking, navigating, and anchoring is over, and you are safely in port or anchored in a quiet bay; do you like to lounge around on deck with a good book?
Here’s our list of just a few of the many good sailing reads, for a variety of tastes.
If you are looking to improve your sailing game, or get technical, these books will help you on your way.
1. Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook: A Compendium for Coastal and Offshore Sailors by Nigel Calder
Nigel Calder is a respected marine author and authority on sailing. This comprehensive book gives solid information about the key technical and practical features of modern cruising systems and equipment. Boat handling skills such as core navigational know-how; anchoring techniques; understanding the weather; heavy weather skills; and specific skills for long-term and long-distance cruising.
2. The Morrow Guide to Knots by Mario Bigon and Guido Reganozzi
Knowing your knots is useful, even for the novice sailor. Also, it’s fun for the kids if you are on a family sailing holiday. This book offers clear and easy-to-follow diagrams of all the knots you’ll ever need.
3. Boat owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual
Boat owner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, also by Nigel Calder, is the maintenance book for those interested in the inner workings of the engine and electrics. Although we’ll have you covered on a SailnDive trip, it’s useful knowledge to have if you want to learn more.
Adventure at Sea
If you prefer to read about intrepid adventurers at sea from the comfort of your fair-weather Greek-island boat charter, then these books will be sure to give you a thrill.
Gypsy Moth Circles the World By Francis Chichester
Francis Chichester was 65 years old and alone when he set sail in his 54-foot ketch to circumnavigate the world. His 28,000-mile voyage, completed in May 1967, comes alive with his skillful writing.
2. Fastnet, Force 10 by John Rousmaniere
A fast-paced true story of the 1979 Fastnet Race, a 600-mile contest off the coast of Ireland in Force 10 conditions. A peek at the unrelenting power of the ocean and the devastation it can wreak.
3. Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft – Thor Heyerdahl
The famous story of some Scandinavians who built a balsa wood raft and sailed it from it 4000 miles from Peru to Tahiti tracing the original expedition. This book will pique the interest of any adventurous soul. A mad adventure of four men on a hand-made raft surviving this epic trip!
4. Circle of Bones by Christine Kling
A modern-day treasure hunt adventure book. A former marine, Maggie Riley, and her 40-foot yacht lead us on an adventure-seeking for a submarine sunk in World War II. An exciting read for adventure lovers.
Humour at Sea
Seeing the funny side of all the possible things that can happen on a sailing trip, here are the books to make you laugh.
Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat by Chris Stewart
Chris Stewart’s hilarious memoir starts off with him landing his dream job as a skipper in the Greek Islands and continues with a number of madcap adventures making up the journey of a lifetime. This zesty book will have you laughing out loud.
2. Quality Time? by Mike Peyton.
Mike Peyton, ‘the world’s greatest yachting cartoonist’ , offers anecdotes of his sailing adventures along with 80 of his cartoons. With 50 years of sailing behind him, this book is as informative as it is funny.
Romance at Sea
For the heady combination of love, romance, and sailing with some grit – try these sailing romances.
1. Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi
Offered a choice between going to college and sailing the world, Tania hopped on a small sailing boat, knowing very little about sailing, and set off to find her destiny. A gripping book about sailing, boats, a young woman’s spiritual quest and finding love.
2. Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
A woman with a fear of water and zero sailing experienced finds herself aboard a small sailing boat with Ivan, a handsome Argentinean man with a dream to set off exploring the world. She gives up her suave city life, faces her fear of water, and joins her lover on a year-long voyage across the Pacific. A true-story memoir about taking a leap for love.
We hope you enjoy our selection of sailing-inspired books for your reading pleasure, as you go out and live your own sailing story.
Do like to read while sailing? Feel free to share some good sailing reads with us in the comments.
Adapted from an article originally written by Merryn for yacht-rent.com
Knowing the right sailing terms to use on board a boat is helpful in communicating while you’re on a sailing holiday. Terms used by sailors for hundreds of years are still used today. They are scattered throughout the English language, some dating back to the16th and 17th century.
Here are some basic nautical terms that every sailor should know as well as some fun sayings that have crept into everyday language, but have their origin in the great sailing tradition.
Let’s start with Sailor’s Slang
Many words and expressions originate from our relationship with the sea. Commonly used words and phrases such as ‘overwhelm’ (from the Middle English word meaning “to capsize”) and “Please stand by” (an expression derived from the command for sailors to be ready). By no means a comprehensive list, here are some of the best:
Don’t rock the boat – Keep things the way they are.
Batten Down the Hatches – Prepare for trouble, take precautionary measures. Coming from the need to close all the hatches when passing through a storm or rough seas – doesn’t happen often when sailing in Greece, but still.
Above board – meaning honest. Pirates would often hide much of the crew below the deck. The ships that showed their crew on the deck were thought to be honest merchant ships known as “above board”.
Caught Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – Caught between significant difficulties.
All hands on deck – everyone help out. A term used to command all seamen to their stations and prepare for action.
High and Dry – Stranded without any hope of recovering with no solution in sight. Highly unlikely under the watch of our Captain and crew.
Bale out – getting out of a situation. To bale out originally meant to remove water from a vessel.
Three Sheets to the Wind – very, very drunk.
Binge – immoderately indulgence. A nautical term for cleaning out something, such as a cask of rum. A sailor who had cleaned out such a rum cask was known to ‘have a binge’.
Carry on – to continue onward or go on with a task. In the days of sail, the officer of the deck kept a constant eye on the change in the wind so that the sails could be adjusted to ensure the fastest headway. Whenever a good breeze came along, the order to “carry on” would be given. It meant to hoist every bit of canvas the yards could carry.
Parts of the boat and useful sailing terms
Port – Port is always the left-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.
Aft or Stern – The back part of a ship.
Bow – The front of the ship is called the bow.
Starboard – Starboard is always the right-hand side of the boat when you are facing the bow.
Deck – the top of the boat which covers the hull.
Boom – The boom is the horizontal pole extending from the bottom of the mast. Adjusting the boom towards the direction of the wind is how the sailboat is able to harness wind power in order to move forward or backwards.
Rudder – a flat piece of wood, fiberglass or metal located beneath the boat, the rudder is used to steer the ship. Bigger sailboats control the rudder via a wheel, while smaller sailboats have a steering mechanism directly aft.
Mainsail – the sail aft of the mast attached to the mast and the boom
Headsail/Jib – the sail between the forestay and the mast
Spinnaker – a large balloon like sail attached to the mast at the front of the boat . Used for sailing downwind.
Halyard – a line used to raise a sail
Sheet – a line used to adjust a sail
Winch – device used to tighten a line
Cleat – a device used to secure a line
Leeward – Also known as lee, leeward is the direction opposite to the way the wind is currently blowing (windward).
Windward – The direction in which the wind is currently blowing. Windward is the opposite of leeward (the opposite direction of the wind). Sailboats tend to move with the wind, making the windward direction an important sailing term to know.
Tacking – this is a basic sailing maneuver and refers to turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side. The boom of a boat will always move from one side to the other when performing a tack.
Jibing – The opposite of, and a less common technique than tacking, this basic sailing maneuver refers to turning the stern of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side.
Ease – to let out the sails
Trim– to pull in the sails for maximum efficiency
Bowline – one of the most useful knots that everyone should know – we can teach you on our SailnDive Trips
Now that you can talk the talk, come sail the sail with us!
Do you have any terms to add? Let us know in the comments
Anyone who suffers from motion sickness will likely feel seasick too. Even the strongest stomachs can turn in rough weather. It’s an unpleasant experience that can detract from the joys of sailing on the open sea, but with a few pre-cautions you can reduce the likelihood and relieve some of the symptoms of seasickness.
When the motion you sense on a boat with your inner ear is different from the motion you can see, it causes motion sickness. It is quite a common condition that happens for some people who travel by car, train, airplane, or boat. The symptoms are : a feeling of uneasiness, dizziness, sweating, nausea and vomiting. Not everyone gets seasick, and you won’t know until you get on a boat. Pregnant women and children are more susceptible to motion sickness than others. Once an underlying ear problem has been ruled out, there are a few tips you can try to reduce the likelihood of feeling sick on a sailing cruise.
choose the right Sailboat
Boat style and size can help a lot to combat motion sickness. The bigger the boat, the more stable it will be on the water and the less likely you will be to get sick. Chartering a Catamaran may be the best choice as they are more stable and don’t keel .
Easy sailing location
Book your sailing holiday, especially if it’s your first, in and easy-sailing destination like Greece. The weather is excellent with enough wind to have a good sail, but without frequent storms in the summer or very rough seas. Also, there is always land in sight and if things get really bad, you can be back in port in a short time. Alternatively, try a day trip first before you book that week long sailing holiday.
Make sure your medical aid kit has anti-seasickness medication. Taking these 15 minutes before you set sail can make all the difference. Over the counter medicine may be sufficient for mild seasickness. See your doctor if you need something for more severe, repeated seasickness or longer trips, though. Patches are also available. Read up on the side effects as some motion sickness medication can cause drowsiness.
Watch what you Eat
Take care about foods, drinks, and alcohol before and during travel. Excessive alcohol and liquids that make you feel too full should be avoided. Rich, spicy, or fatty foods may make it all worse as your stomach battles with the motion confusion and the food or drink. Black or green tea with fresh ginger is really excellent for combatting nausea and settling your stomach.
Open a window or vent, or get outside and feel the wind on your face. This can really help with that bilious vibe. Staying downstairs in the cabin is not the best for seasickness, unless you want to, or can, sleep.
Avoid books and screen altogether as they can make the problem worse. Hanging out on deck and getting actively involved in the sailing may take your mind off it altogether.
Gaze at the Horizon
Looking out over the sea to the horizon can sometimes relieve that queasy feeling. If you can keep your gaze on a fixed point, even better. It’s not recommended to stay below deck, unless you can sleep it off.
What better than gazing over the Aegean Sea from a sailboat to the island on the horizon?
Seasickness can be unpleasant when it is extreme. Milder versions can be easily managed by following the tips above, and the experiences on your sailing holiday in Greece will more than make up for the hassle.
If you are looking for a way to build a cohesive team and a positive company dynamic, why not try taking part in a sailing and diving trip in Greece as a team building activity?
In today’s work environment keeping your employees engaged is key to the success of businesses globally increasing efficiency, productivity, customer retention , and profitability.
According to Gallup, businesses with highly engaged emplyees have:
41% reduction in absenteeism
17% increase in productivity24% less turnover in high-turnover organizations
10% in customer ratings
20% increase in sales
21% greater profitability
There are a number of big and small ways to boost employee moral and team spirit. One of the key ways to build a good team is through active adventure holidays in nature.
Why not book your super sales team on a sail and dive holiday this year?
SailnDive team building holidays
We offer a one week trip sailing and diving trip around the incredible Sporades Islands. The trip is geared for experienced divers with their own equipment but can easily be tailored to corporate team building trip even with no divers onboard. Learn to sail, improve your skills and try scuba diving for the first time on a one week trip.
There will be hard times, problems to overcome and the crews will be pushed out of their comfort zones regularly providing a great test of team strength, leadership abilities, adaptability and cohesiveness. There is also the sheer exhilaration of sailing, a healthy competitive spirit and what’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. The deep bonds between teams member formed on such an adventure will carry over into the real world and help to build a powerful, flexible corporate team who respect each other and the different skills and they bring to the table (or in this case – the boat).
Trying something new together, like Scuba diving, is another excellent activity for your team. Learning a new skill in a group where nobody is an expert leads to greater connection and helps your team get to know each other better. Who knew that Bob from accounts was basically a merman?
Learning the Ropes
We will work with your group and introduce them to the sport of sailing. Fundamental sailing skills are taught including steering the boat, handling the lines and sails and basic navigation under the watchful eye of the skipper. Once the teams have learned the boating basics and got their sea legs – it’s time for some serious sailing!
If there are experienced divers on board with their own equipment, we can take them to the best dive spots in the Sporades including the Underwater Museum in Alonnisos. For everybody else, there will be the opportunity to try Scuba diving for the first time, safely, under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.
How to set up your team building SailnDive experience
With the SailnDive Team by your side, it is easy to organize. We can take up to 8 people on our boat. We can tailor the trip to your needs and provide you a detailed itinerary.
We have made it super easy for you and are here for any questions. Build your dream team in Greece on a SailnDive holiday.
Having done a number of sailing and diving trips myself, and being somewhat of an expert packer, here are my top tips for how to pack for a sailing and diving holiday. There is even a checklist at the end.
Fortunately, boat life lends itself to simple living and there are just a few extra things needed that you might not take on a regular holiday. A duffel bag or backpack is the best bag to pack as it is soft and can be easily stowed onboard. Swim gear and simple clothes are the best whilst sailing and most people say they wear much less than they bring.
what NOT to bring
Although these days with volt inverters available on some boats for electric appliances, you may not want to bother with a hairdryer or hair straighteners. They are a drain on the main battery, so best to be conservative if you must bring them.
Heeled shoes can also be left behind as they damage the deck and also make entry and exit off the boat tricky and not very elegant! Dark-soled shoes can also be left behind, as these mark the deck.
Three pairs of shoes should be enough -a good pair of closed deck shoes, some flip-flops and a nicer pair of flats for dinner on the dock.
Valuables should be considered carefully. Boats tend to be left open in the evening and it is usually safe enough but ‘just in case’ anything happens, we don’t recommend bringing any irreplaceable family heirlooms!
start with the essentials
Important personal documents such as a Valid Passport, Flight tickets and itinerary, Health and Other Insurance Certificates, Driving Licence, and local currency and debit/credit card should be packed first. Zip-lock bags are useful for storing these essentials. Don’t forget the negative PCR test for Covid or proof of vaccine!
Don’t forget your diving certifications and diving insurance papers too. (We recommend DAN)
Toiletries and medicine
Again, think small and convenient. A small, hanging toiletry bag with a built in mirror is useful for sailing trips where space is at a premium. It can be hung on the side of your bunk.
All the usual personal hygiene products should be packed, in small packaging. Natural shampoos, conditioners and shower gels that won’t damage marine life are recommended.
We will have a well-stocked medical aid kit on board, but a basic first-aid kit including is advisable to bring along, especially if you are on an medication.
Sea/travel sickness pills if you are worried about your sea-legs, Insect repellent and Anti-histamine (in case of insect bites/stings) and any regular prescription medicine –as many as you can (make sure they are not contraindicated for scuba diving) . Emergencies arise and you can go to a local chemist, but the language barrier may make things more difficult. Eye drops and lip balm may be useful after being in salt water all day and a sleep aid, if needed. Ear drops are great for any diving related ear issues. Rehydration salts are also recommended for the divers onboard.
Protection from the Elements
One of the first things to think about is your skin. A pair of good Sunglasses (with lanyard to avoid sunglasses overboard), a hat (that won’t blow off), a high factor sun-block and lip-balm and a sarong are musts on a sailing and diving holiday. A day of open-sea sailing, with not much shade, can take its toll on the skin, so an aloe cream or good after-sun in case of sunburn also goes on the list.
Waterproof gear in the event of a summer storm or shower is useful, plus a fleece and warm trousers for cooler evenings on deck.
Earplugs and eye mask may be useful if you are sensitive to sound and light.
Don’t forget your face masks!
Charging phones for all the crew can be tricky. Recommended is an extra phone battery, a 12 volt (car charger) for charging devices on board and, best of all, a solar charger. Power banks are handy too. You wouldn’t want to forget a camera or Waterproof Camera (+ memory card & charger) or iPod or iPhone jack t to play music on board. Also useful is a two pin adaptor to charge batteries in port in the evening.
If you are a bookworm, an e-reader with a waterproof case is a convenient way to read onboard.
Our trips cater for experienced divers with their own equipment, so don’t forget the dive gear. We will have tanks, weights and weight belts onboard. Even if you are a non-diver, fins and masks are a great idea as there is plenty of snorkelling off the sailboat to do.
Keep your scuba diving equipment to a minimum.
The water temperature on our June SailnDive trips are about 21 to 23 Celsius with thermoclines starting at about 10m. A 5mm wetsuit with a hood is recommeneded.
On the September trips, the water will be warmer at 24 to 26 Celsius and the thermoclines starting much deeper at about 25m. A 3mm is recommended.
We dive quite a few wrecks on the trip, so a full body suit and gloves are preferred.
Scuba Equipment Checklist
Mask, Snorkel, Fins and Booties (if using)
Dive computer and extra battery
Surface Marker Bouy
Flashlight with extra batteries
Camera gear: If you’re planning on taking underwater photos, be sure to bring camera gear that is good down to at least 30 meters. You’ll want to make sure you have a couple of extra SD cards as well!
Ready, set, Sail
Remember that space is key and less is more on a boat charter. Sailing and diving holidays are casual and relaxing affairs, so pack accordingly and you with all these bases covered you will be ready to sail away!
Have you ever thought of sailing in Greece in the Spring?
We are cautiously optimistic about our first sailing trip to the Ionian Islands over Greek Easter. Island hopping from Lefkada, home of poets, with its steep white cliffs after which it is named (The White One), to Kefalonia and Ithaca, the mythical island of Odysseus, that ancient sailor. Weather permitting, we will sail over to Zakynthos, known as the flower of the east by the Venetians. Famed for its music, sea-caves, and loggerhead turtles, which are protected in the National Marine Park of Zakynthos. These are the perfect places to explore by sailboat.
Spring Sailing in Greece
Springtime is one of the most delightful times to visit. The countryside is abloom with wildflowers, a multitude of vernal colours scattered through the bright green grass; the blood-red wild poppy beautifying the countryside. This is Greece at its greenest!
You can expect warm balmy days and chilly nights. If you find the sweltering heat of the summer overwhelming, it is ideal. The water is still cold from the melting snow runoff, and you won’t find the locals swimming yet, but swimming and diving is possible and sailing conditions in the Ionian Sea are ideal.
Sailing around the Ionian Islands
Located off the west coast of mainland Greece in the Ionian Sea, the Ionian Islands are a group of seven main islands, and 123 islets and rocky outcroppings. They stand apart from other island groups due to their accessible anchorage spots and easy sailing conditions. Over the centuries, they were occupied by various powers, but it was the Venetians, French, and English who seem to have left a lasting impression; this is apparent in the atmosphere, cuisine, and tastes of these lush isles.
Mostly sheltered from the summer ‘Meltemi’ winds, predictable and ideal sailing conditions make the Ionian Islands a popular destination for sailboats. Ports can get crowded in the summer and pre-Covid there were many flotillas. May to September sees wind from the North-West at Force 2-5. In spring and autumn, the wind is not as strong and usually blows from the South-West. Sailing in the Ionian is recommended for novice to competent sailors and is perfect for sailing with a family.
A well-visited location, there is excellent tourism infrastructure, great hotels, a variety of water sports and full service marinas.
Easter in Greece
The Greek year is a succession of festivities and events some of which are cultural and some of which are religious. By far the most important in the Orthodox calendar is Greek Easter, or Pascha, and if you are in the right place at the right time you will definitely be invited to join in the revelry.
Pascha is a joyous occasion as the emphasis of the celebration is on the Resurrection as opposed to the Crucifixion of Christ. Preparations start the week before with a general hustle and bustle of cleaning, pruning, and painting, baking and cooking in Greek homes across the country. The festival starts on Good Friday with the Perifora Ipotavios when a shrouded bier (representing the funeral bier of Christ) is carried through the streets to the local church and can be witnessed in towns and villages across the country. The religious celebrations culminate in the Resurrection Mass, starting at 11pm on the Saturday night and the climax is when the chief priest brings the ‘holy light’ out into the darkness ( all the lights are switched off ) where the congregation waits; each with their own ornately decorated candle, to receive the light. This symbolizes Christ’s passing through the underworld. The light is passed on from candle to candle until the blackness is banished by the light of a hundred flickering candles. It is a poignant and beautiful ceremony; not to be missed! Everyone then walks home trying to keep the light from their candles burning, to bring the holy light into their houses and prepare to break the Lenten fast with a traditional tripe and herb soup.
Easter Sunday starts off with the cracking of the red Easter eggs which has the children excited to see who has the strongest egg. All over Greece, people can be found cooking whole lamb or goat, sometimes more than one, on a spit in the sunshine, drinking tsipouro and greeting neighbours, friends, and family with “Christos Anesti” (Christ has risen). Preparations occupy everyone and there is a mad rush until all are finally gathered at the table to feast on lamb and seasonal side dishes all washed down with plenty of wine, tsipouro, and beer. Music and dancing and a bit of plate-breaking are the order later on in the day. A real knees-up and a great experience for the passing sailor.
Each area of Greece has a particular way of celebrating with some of the islands having the most interesting and spectacular customs.
Book a sailing holiday in the Ionian
Hopefully, if it’s safe and responsible to travel, we’ll get to see sail these beautiful Ionian isles and witness some of these Greek Easter traditions on our sailing trip at Greek Easter. After so many months in lockdown, a sailing adventure in the Ionian is just the ticket!
To travel, or not to travel in Summer 2020? That is a good question.
With restrictions slowly being lifted across the world, our thoughts turn to the summer and the many places we would like to visit. While anyone in the vulnerable categories should probably avoid travelling this summer, there is hope for the rest of us as long as we follow the guidelines put forward by experts. One thing is for sure – travelling will be different.
Where to go on holiday this summer
Travel to “affected areas” – areas where Corona is still experiencing transmissions of the virus are best avoided and you might not want to go too far off the beaten path to remote areas where there are limited response capacities. Staying fairly close to home is also a good option.
Public transportation, including air travel, is also something to be considered carefully. Being in an enclosed space with other passengers where air circulation is limited may pose a risk of getting infected. Airlines and airports around the world may put in place testing to ensure that all passengers test negatively for corona before being allowed to board planes. Some governments may restrict air travel altogether. This would greatly reduce the risk, but it remains to be seen what will be implemented. Domestic travel is likely to open up before international travel to reduce the risk of re-infection.
It is likely that there will be common health protocol in place across the EU for citizens travelling in Europe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has the latest information here and will update accordingly.
The Situation in Greece
Diving and Sailing activities here in Greece are banned until the 20th of May when we will find out whether we can cautiously start our activities again. Year-round hotels are scheduled to re-open on the 1st of June 2020 and seasonal hotels will remain closed until the 30th of June, as long as the curve remains flat. The government may require testing of all tourists arriving in Greece, whether by plane or car. Greece’s proposal to the EU on safe travel is expected to be announced by 15 May 2020 and more public announcements for the tourist sector are expected on the 18th of May 2020.
At the moment Greece is being promoted as a “safe country” and as a “safe destination” and Greece’s tourist season 2020 is expected to begin on the 1st of July. Greece has had few cases of COVID-19 and, at the time of writing – a week into more relaxed measures – there appears to be no further spread of the virus. It remains to be seen what will happen and each traveler will ultimately decide for themselves, according to the guidelines set out by the authorities.
Those who are ready to venture out will have to navigate the new normal – here are some tips about traveling in the time of COVID-19.
Get tested before you leave home and carry a medical certificate with you. This ensures that you are healthy to travel and won’t transmit or re-introduce the virus where you visit. Another lockdown would devastate many small and medium businesses in tourist areas, so getting tested benefits everyone. Protocol may dictate that you are tested as you arrive at your destination.
Travel by Car
The car may be the safest way to travel. Take a holiday this year somewhere that you can drive to. You and your family can avoid contact with crowds in closed spaces on public transport. Plus roadtrips are fun!
Make sure your travel insurance includes repatriation if you get ill, including private helicopter transport from remote areas. Make sure you know how to get in touch with your embassy while abroad and what services they offer.
Rent an apartment, camp, or charter a skippered sailboat. Make sure that updated corona hygiene standards are being kept. You will have the chance to prepare your own food and drinks too.
When eating out, make sure that the social distancing guidelines are being kept at the restaurant, bar or cafeteria. These local businesses will really need your support, so if you are not comfortable with sitting, at least order a take away or see what other options are available.
Support small, locally owned businesses
Mom and Pop stores are often family run and anyone who is still open for business is in need of your tourist bucks. Please don’t expect low prices as any small business who is open for the season will have spent their reserves setting up shop for the summer. The same goes for small hotels, rental rooms and tourist boats.
Conform to the Guidelines
Keep social distancing regulations, wash your hands regularly and have a supply of masks and anti-septic with you. Cover your nose and mouth with a flexed elbow or paper tissue when coughing or sneezing. Refrain from touching your face as much as possible. The debate about masks rages on with some stating that a medical mask is not required if you are not sick. However, in some cultures, masks may be commonly worn so have a look at what the locals are doing and follow suit. Follow best practice guidelines on how to wear, remove and dispose of them and on hand hygiene after removal.
The Great Outdoors
Being outdoors in the fresh air is a great way to stay away from crowded places and reduce corona-anxiety. If you have always wanted to try camping, sailing, biking, hiking, or a kayaking trip – now is a great chance. If you choose an organized trip, make sure your tour operator complies with the new hygiene standards. Let your kids run on the beach, go canoeing, help reef in the sails, or cycle between villages.
Ultimately, everyone needs to decide for themselves whether to travel and to where. Here in Greece, we have managed to flatten the curve and new infection rates and deaths from COVID-19 are very low. Prudence is always advised, however and we must all do our due diligence during and after this pandemic. Remember that transmission of COVID-19 depends on the time you are exposed and the distance you are from an infected person.
Get in touch with us for an update on the situation in Greece.
Ancient civilizations, intricate myths starring magical beings, sun-drenched islands, shimmering blue seas, and delectable cuisine are, no doubt, the first things that come to mind when thinking of Greece. Anyone who has travelled here will tell you about its outstanding natural beauty, the hospitality of the locals and the easy-going lifestyle apparent everywhere you look. Living in a country other than your own is like a long journey of discovery that, I guess, never ends. Here are just a few of the things I have learned since living in Hellas.
Expressing yourself loudly, with accompanying hand and body movements, is entirely normal and accepted. No one gets offended. Sick of waiting in line at some government office? Say it: loudly and clearly! Chances are, others will chime in and you will have a good complaining session – instant bonding! Think someone’s put on a few kilos? Declare it! Don’t like the food? Don’t just sit there, say something!
I spent the first year thinking that Greeks were a little rude and angry most of the time, until I realised – it’s just their way. Even a normal conversation can sound like an argument for the uninitiated. You can have a blinding argument with someone one minute, next minute it’s all over and you will likely be invited for a coffee or a tsipouro, no grudges. Often the beginning of a lasting friendship starts with a heated exchange. It’s that Mediterranean blood, or something.
Although it does make life rather dramatic, ultimately it’s healthier than bottling it up and I have come to enjoy saying how I really feel, loudly and with the appropriate accompanying hand gesture. Definitely not many stiff upper lips around here!
Table Manners are Overrated
Sitting around a table, with your elbows off it, eating from one plate with a knife and fork and asking politely if someone could pass the salt – it seems so ridiculous when compared with the Greek style of dining. In this food centric society, meals are loud and boisterous, with much use of hands, bread and a single fork held in the right hand. It’s perfectly ok to stretch right across someone to grab something that you want, talk with your mouth full, wipe your hands on the table cloth and eat from all the plates, which are spread in the centre of the table. Once I got over myself and my Anglo-Saxon sensibilities, I realized how much more enjoyable mealtimes could be. Washed down with local wine, beer or tsipouro and plenty of political debate!
Blood is Thicker than Water
Here in Greece, its family first no matter what. Family members may be feuding on day to day bases, but when the chips are down, everyone comes running. You never have to face anything alone in Greece. There is a dependency on the family that is strange to one raised to be so independent; but it’s assuring too. Greek culture tends to concentrate more on the collective than the individual. We live, like so many, in a two storey house with my partner’s parents. Essentially two separate households, our lives are intertwined. Our children are upstairs or downstairs as they please. We have built in babysitters and we will care for them as they age. Financial and practical help, emotional support as well as Yaya’s home cooking, more than makes up for the limited privacy and occasional over involvement.
Slow Down and Live in the Moment
Time in Greece is rather relaxed. Finishing something ‘in-time’ is not something overly worried about and being ‘on-time’, especially for social arrangements, bothers no one. Last minute cancellations are frequent and taken in stride. Masters of the eleventh hour, and incredibly inventive, I am always amazed by how quickly Greeks can pull something together, albeit it in total chaos, when the pressure is on.
The Greeks have been living in the present, long before it was a thing. If you bump into a friend in town, you will simply put off whatever errands you have for the day and immediately go for coffee. If you don’t feel like doing something, don’t; there is always tomorrow. The Greek word for tomorrow αύριο (avrio), was one of the first I learned, having heard it so much. Like most mañana societies this means that a lot doesn’t get done, which can be frustrating; the upside is a relaxed, less-pressured and flexible way of life.
The Greek capacity for enjoyment of life is immediately evident to anyone who has been here and the achievement of κέφι (kefi), or ‘high spirits and relaxation’ important. Socialising is a way of life and at the centre of everything is food. Even in times of hardship, cafes are overflowing, restaurants are full and people are out and about until late. (Well, not in the era of corona….but hopefully soon!)
Health above All
And once you have expressed yourself, eaten from all the plates, been there for the family and learned to relax and enjoy the now; above all, the Greeks say, loudly and demonstratively, is our health. The word for health in Greek, Υγεία (igeia), is used to greet people Γειά σας (Ya sas) (your health), to toast Στην Υγεία Σας/Μας! (to your/our health) and, one of the favourite sayings of all Greeks, Υγεία Πάνω απ’ όλα! (Igeia pano ap ola) Health above All! Something to keep in mind during the lockdown and, perhaps, one of the reasons for Greece’s quick action and compliance in the face of the COVID-19 threat. Let’s hope we’ll all be raising our glasses soon. On the deck. At sundown. After a hard day’s sailing and diving.
With life currently seeming stranger than fiction and full lockdown in place globally, there is not much chance to set sail on the high seas or go diving, unless you are self-isolating on a boat (lucky you!)
With only the memories of balmy summer sailing and diving trips to sustain us and facing the foreseeable future at home, we have to rely on the virtual world to get our kicks and live vicariously through our screens. With this in mind, we have put together a list of our top sailing and diving movies to keep you entertained and inspired for your next SailnDive holiday in Greece.
Top Sailing Movies to watch in Quarantine
Dead Calm (1989) Thriller
An Australian couple takes a sailing holiday on a beautiful 60ft ketch to help them heal after a terrible accident. They come across a man who appears to be the sole survivor of a shipwreck. Starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, and Billy Zane, this thriller will get your blood pounding! Shot in the Whitsundays, Australia almost entirely at sea, its themes of control, resurrection and unbalance make for a terrific thriller.
Between Home (2012) Adventure Documentary
Between Home is a poetic and touching film about amateur first-time sailor Nick Jaffe who attempts a solo oceanic journey from Europe to Australia. Starting out with basic equipment and very little money, the film chronicles his three-year transformation and rite of passage from novice sailor to expert. To follow his dreams he must battle the sea, the weather, total isolation and himself. Directed by Jack Rath this film won several European awards.
Kon-Tiki (2012) Historical Drama
No list of the best sailing films would be complete without Kon-Tiki. This gripping film is based on the story of Norwegian explorer and writer Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki exploration expedition. It was filmed in Malta and follows the story of Thor Heyerdahl, who set out on his epic crossing of the Pacific Ocean to prove that; for South Americans to have settled in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times was a possibility. Heyerdahl builds a balsawood raft using the same techniques utilized 1,500 years ago by the indigenous peoples of the region. With his intrepid crew of five, he sails from the coast of Peru to the Polynesian islands. The dramatic events that follow include storms, sharks, and other perils of the open sea. It was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and starring Pål Sverre Valheim Hagen.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Adventure-Comedy
Directed by Wes Anderson, the Life Aquatic follows the adventures of Steve Zissou, a character adaptation of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the French oceanographer. He sets out on an oceanic expedition to track down the ‘jaguar shark’ that ate his partner, Esteban. It is a witty and animated film with plenty of fun and adventure on the sea. Starring Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe and Cate Blanchet.
Maidentrip (2014) Documentary
Back to solo adventures on the high seas. This time it is 14-year-old Laura Dekker’s immersive first person story. Having won a 10-month court battle to be allowed to do it, she sets out on a two-year voyage to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. A testimonial to the potential of youth and the courage of this young girl, this is an inspiring and heart-warming documentary film directed by Jillian Schlesinger.
Morning Light (2008) Documentary/Biography
The film chronicles a real-life crew training and competing in the 44th Transpacific Yacht Race aboard a TP52 class sailing yacht, Morning Light. It follows the fifteen strong, inexperienced but intrepid crew of men and women, that were given a one-in-a-million chance to sail in one of the world’s elite sailing competitions. It is an exhilarating, emotional adventure, showing a dramatic 2300 mile showdown against the world’s top sailing professionals. Directed by Mark Monroe.
White squall (1996) Coming-of-Age Disaster Drama
White Squall was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Jeff Bridges. A true story, set in the 1960’s, about a group of American teenagers that embark on the voyage of a lifetime with their Captain, whom they call ‘Skipper’. He teaches them about teamwork and discipline on an 8-month voyage aboard the Albatross. When a white squall threatens their ship, the boys try to use what Skipper has taught them to survive the traumatic event. A gripping, but touching movie well worth seeing.
All is Lost (2013) Survival Drama
After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself facing death. As well as there being only one actor in the film, it also has no dialogue, although there are a few spoken lines. This landmark film with its stunning scenes about a man’s will to survive is an epic sailing movie. Directed and written by J.C Chandor and starring Robert Redford as the only cast.
Top Diving movies to Watch during Lockdown
The Abyss (1989) science-fiction adventure
With Jim Cameron working his magic throughout this ocean epic, The Abyss is firm favourite amongst scuba divers. When an American nuclear submarine is attacked during the cold war and crashes, the navy is convinced that it was the work of the Russians. With a storm brewing, they want to salvage as quickly as possible, so recruit the services of oil rig divers nearby. Aliens, Navy Seals, breathtaking underwaterscapes and advanced liquid technology that allows breathing underwater -there is more down there in the deep than they had ever expected. Starring Ed Harris.
The Big Blue (1988) adventure-drama
No list would be complete without this cult classic movie beloved of divers everywhere. Set in beautiful Greece, Director Luc Besson’s Big Blue with its artistic shots and the stunning backdrop is pure pleasure. Narrating the story of friendship and rivalry between two champion free divers, it’s a mesmerizing and dangerous journey into the unknown. Starring Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno, Rosanna Arquette
Sanctum (2011) thriller
This 3-D cave diving movie is full of suspense and not for the claustrophobic. Produced by James Cameron, it’s based, albeit loosely, on a real life experience. The incredible cave diving footage and the play for survival amongst the characters in the film, make this one of our faves. Starring Rhys Wakefield, Allison Cratchley, Christopher James Baker
Men of Honour (2000) social-drama
The true life story of Carl Brashear’s battle against racism to become the first African American diver in the U.S. Navy. Cuba Gooding Jr. Gives a spellbinding performance in this ultimately feel-good film. Starring Robert de Niro too!
Open Water (2004) thriller
Every diver’s worst nightmare unfolds in this small, independent movie that made a splash and terrified many the world over. A couple on a dream holiday in the Caribbean get left behind after a boat dive. (That will never happen on a SailnDive trip – promise!) Sharks cruise about, tension builds, the relationship is tested to the extreme. Worth checking out – but not with new divers!
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) epic-adventure
An oldie but a goodie. Jules Verne classic novel comes to life starring Kirk Douglas and James Mason (as a terrifying and unforgettable Captain Nemo) in the ultimate action-adventure under the ocean.
Fool’s Gold (2008) adventure-romance
An adventure-romance starring the gorgeous Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, both in top form. Diving for treasure, discovering sunken Spanish galleons, gangsters, scuba diving and estranged lovers rekindling the flame. It’s fun, feisty and frivolous if you are in the mood for something light.
Finding Nemo (2003) animated-adventure
Stuck at home with the kids? Homeschooling during the lockdown doesn’t have to be a drag. Get them involved and let this movie homeschool them about the underwater world! The Pixar animation is apparently responsible for the Clownfish becoming the most recognised sea creature in the sea. Starring hammerheads, a great white, jellyfish, turtles and anglerfish – it’s really great family entertainment.
By no means the full list, these are just a few of the must-see nautical and scuba films to keep you entertained as we all make the effort to stay at home and limit the spread of COVID-19. This too shall pass and we look forward to welcoming you on our next trip when it does. Until then – stay safe and watch on!
I’m sitting at my desk, got good coffee, plenty of space, employment – although a little trimmed down right now, a recently upgraded PC, my naughty cat Freddie for company, feeling fit – thanks to regular exercise. I’m grateful. Grateful for all these things, counting my blessings, each one. I feel I should, to maintain a healthy mental perspective, one that will keep me and my loved ones sustained while we hunker down in what feels like WWII bomb shelter style.
Now that my company is working from home, I recently updated my email programme’s background photo with the one attached to this post, to fill the gap when there’s no mail on screen. For the uninitiated, the photo is from our first Sail n Dive trip last August. We had moored in this bay on a small exclusive island off Skiathos where we stopped to relax and film. The next day we filmed a dive right by the small island in the centre and then came back to enjoy a fabulous chicken lunch and laze in the sun. What beautiful memories of calm, fun, friendship, sense of achievement, pranking around trying to do synchronised swimming (see the video on the home page) and of course, delicious cocktails.
Boy do I get lost in this photo! How many times a day I can’t tell you. Given how unreachable this all is now, with Covid-19 cases increasing (even a steady and not accelerating increase is considered a success at the moment) you would think that this photo is the equivalent of rubbing salt in the wound. It doesn’t feel like that though. It’s too good, too real to me, the memories too fresh, too believable that it will shortly be mine again, that we will set sail again in the summer.
Being based in Greece, we are fortunate that Covid-19 cases are much lower proportionally than the rest of the continent. So, at some point in the summer, at least, we in Greece could be able to sail again. International travel will probably lag behind the lifting of internal movement restrictions. If you’re reading this beyond Greece, we will save it for you. Patience is almost always rewarded.
In the last week I have found myself on board, sailing the Aegean twice, in my dreams. I can’t wait to get back out there with you, but wait, patiently with me, will you? One thing is sure, when we get back on board, we’re going to make the most of every single moment we get to explore above and below the sea.
What about those of you who share the same longing? What is your story? I’ll stop writing right here, so you can start!