Latest Posts


by athens-admin

Hello to all visitors, you have reached the Athens Sailing Academy web page. The school is located in Greece. The summer Headquarters are on the Island of Poros, about 35 miles south of Athens.
Greece is a country in crisis, and has many issues to overcome. Of late the biggest problem are the refugees that are fleeing from the Syrian war. They are seeking a better life in Northern Europe and transit though our country on their way North. Unfortunately countries on their route have decided to block the borders they must cross. Which means that the refugees have become trapped in Greece.

The routes that they use are from the Turkish coastline across the Aegean to the islands of Lesvos, Samos, Kos and Chios. These islands east of Athens, lie in the Dodecanese group, some 350 nautical miles from Athens and 400 miles from Poros. Refugees are processed on these islands and then shipped to Athens, to camps outside Athens, and mainly in the north of Greece. During this time they are under strict supervision. They are not to be found on the Greek islands we visit, nor are they found in the areas that the school operates.
The school operates in the Saronic and Argolis gulfs as well as along the southern Peloponnese coast. A long distance away from Athens. If you have any reservations about coming to Greece because of the current Refugee crisis please contact us and we will be happy to discuss and assure you that your holiday will be safe and a wonderful experience


by athens-admin


ASA Sailing school Greece

In May 2016, on Memorial day weekend the Athens Sailing Academy is hosting an ASA Spring Flotilla that will sail in the Argolis and lower Saronic Gulfs. We are one of premier sailing school Greece, and regularly run Flotilla’s. The yachts will visit the ports, of Ermioni, the port of Astros, the ancient city of Nafplion, the birth place of King Leonidas, Leonidio and the island of Hydra.

The Sailing school is located on the island of Poros, a short ferry ride from Athens (45 mins). Join us as we set off from the island of Poros, on May 28th. We will set off on the first day and sail the Hydra channel before finishing the day in Ermioni. The following day we will head south to the Argolic gulf where the winds are a constant 15-20 knots. Here in the gulf we will visit the village of Astros, before heading the next day to Nafplion and enjoy the scenery and ancient history of the area. Our final port will be Leonidio the birth place of King Leonidas the king of the Spartans.  We have a selection of Jeanneau class yachts, all of which are less than 2 years old. You can charter a small 30 footer for 2 or join a slightly larger yacht and make a mixed group or form your own group and charter one of the brand new 40 footer.  You can reserve a yacht as a whole party, or join a mixed party yacht. We have all sizes available from 32 ft. to 43 ft.



or go to … for details.




Nafplio Bourtzi Island Castle

sailing school Greece

Leonidio port



  • Comments Off on ASA SPRING FLOTILLA….. MAY 28 – JUNE 4
  • Posted in Courses, Cruises


by athens-admin


JULY 15 – 25..


Yacht racing has for a long time been a sport that has challenged the masses. For many years it has been the sport of the rich and famous. However, today it is possible to charter a fully equipped race yacht and go racing. That’s assuming you know all about the racing rules and racing sail techniques , such as spinnaker trimming and head sail changes.
This summer we will be offering the chance to learn all about racing and then to compete in a one week races series around the Greek islands. The Aegean Rally has for many years been the pinnacle of Greek Offshore racing. In 2015 the route of the Rally will comprise two islands, Andros and Skyros with particular emphasis on safe harbour mooring conditions and comfortable accommodation facilities. Local transportation will ensure plenty of oppurtunites to explore the islands after racing.
The organizing committee recognized the problem of uneven racing  of the many different types of vessels participating in the Aegean Rally, so this year classes will take different paths for three categories of vessel( PERFORMANCE , RACING & CRUISER/ RACER ).

 The race schedule includes 3 distance races of 80, 60 and 70 miles plus a day of inshore around the buoys races on Sykros island. On each island there will be opportunities to explore the island as well as attend local events sponsored by the community. The A.S.A along with the Athens Sailing School is offering the opportunity to participate in the event. 10 days, 3 days of training on the race yacht on Poros Island and then 7 days of racing in the Aegean Rally. The berth rate will included, the above plus accommodation ashore when not sailing, all meals on board the yacht while sailing, entry fee, crew uniforms and  Crew passes all Race events. 
If you would like to join the crew please contact us for details and berth rate, advanced booking is required so that we can secure advanced accommodation on the islands.
Copyright © 2014 Athens Sailing Academy, All rights reserved.
Hi, We like to send our Customers News about next seasons Sailing course Dates and new ‘Sailing Adventure Opportunities “, we look forward to seeing you sail with us in the Greek Islands next summer.Our mailing address is:

Athens Sailing Academy

Kallifrona St 60-62


  • Comments Off on AEGEAN RALLY 2015 …JULY 15-25
  • Posted in Courses

2014 Fall Mile Builder review

by athens-admin

Our 2014 Fall Mile Builder was an adventure in Miles and rough weather, Jason and Alex Goldberg offer their review


by athens-admin

I’m 57 years old, and have been sailing for most of my life, Royal navy, Ocean racing, 4 times across the Atlantic under sail, 2 times across the Pacific and once down south as far as 56 degrees south. I’ve only been scared at sea four times. By scared, I mean worried that I wouldn’t see dawn. Three of those episodes involved major gales with opposing ocean currents. The fourth was a different combo — a major storm combined with a jammed sail. We made it through that last one, but it was stressful.

sailing offshore

I’ve been miserable for week-long stretches.
This isn’t to say I haven’t been worried or uncomfortable at other times. I have been, truly. In fact, I’ve been miserable for week-long stretches. But misery is my middle name. Offshore sailors have to be stoic.Suffering is just part of the mix. I like to think of the experience as an organic social strainer that naturally weeds out the bozos, landlubbers, and dirt dwellers who are better off hugging a rock.
The reasons I am not scared offshore are many. One of the chief reasons is that I’m not scared of death. I fear dying in some uncomfortable, prolonged way, true. But everyone dies. It’s part of life. Change is our only constant, and death is the ultimate change. I view death as really just a scheduling conflict: you might want to croak off on a Saturday so you get one more Friday night beer-blast in, but God might send you off on a Wednesday morning. There’s no shame in death; only in not living while alive.
If I knew that sailing offshore would kill me, would I continue?
My life’s goal is freedom. My boat is the ultimate tool to achieving that lofty goal. On the outset of my first circumnavigation, on the lip of the Eastern Pacific, I thought about the 3,200 miles of empty ocean before me. I asked myself: If I knew that sailing offshore would kill me, would I continue? My answer surprised me. It was an unqualified “Yes!”
The life I lead is so intoxicating and riveting and free and fulfilling that I’d gladly sacrifice all my tomorrows for another one or two minutes of today. I’m in the moment, and it is a very, very nice moment.


I do not ‘hope for the best’ and pray I’ll be okay. Instead, I prepare for the worst.
If sin exists, this is it. But the ‘death thingy’ is only a small part of my offshore philosophy. I’m seldom scared at sea because I work hard to be prepared to survive the conditions I’ll encounter. Most disastrous voyages begin at the dock with a lack of foresight and preparation. I do not ‘hope for the best’ and pray I’ll be okay. Instead, I prepare for the worst. This gives me a level of self-confidence and serenity that others may lack.
Let’s take a peek at anchoring, for instance. Anchoring is the bedrock skill of the coastal sailor. I have over $10,000 invested in having my anchor hold. Many people find this amount excessive, while I, frankly, find it paltry. I spend the vast majority of my cruising life “on-the-hook.” What’s more important than having my anchor hold to a person such as myself? That’s why I have five anchors, a 250-foot chain rode, four 200-foot Nylon rodes, an anchor windlass, and various other bits to ensure my vessel stays put. The concept is simple: I should be able to safely and dependably anchor my vessel at will, given a decent bottom (sand or mud) and appropriate depth. If any vessel can hold, I should be able to hold. Thus, I mouse my shackles, rig my chafe gear, and juggle my chain claws with a clear and definable goal — to maintain position while others drag.
Shore is the danger, not the open sea.
Yes, I have three different anchor snubbers aboard. Yes, all this gear costs money and takes up space. But that’s is the price of admission in Minerva Reef, Beveridge Reef, and Chagos, locations where we regularly anchor in horrible weather conditions for months at a time. The other reason I’m not worried at sea is because I’m away from shore. Shore is the danger, not the open sea. I like to think I’m always the first sailor to leave an exposed anchorage before it turns into a lee shore. I’m proactive. I crank up. I move. My job is easier offshore. While sailing in deep ocean, I have many options as a storm approaches. First and foremost, I reduce sail. This is the primary difference between an inshore sailor and an offshore veteran — the seasoned veteran always has the correct amount of canvas up. (Yes, we still say canvas in this Age of Dacron.)
My current vessel, a sturdy 57 foot ketch, is a delight in a blow. As the wind increases, I roll up the genoa while unrolling the storm staysail. Then, as the it increases more, I tuck in a single reef, a double reef, and finally I douse my mainsail, hoisting my storm trysail.
Usually, it isn’t the storm gear that saves a vessel from floundering. It’s the experience of her crew.
With my flat-cut storm staysail, my tiny storm trysail, and a double-reefed mizzen, I can (semi)comfortably and safely sail to windward in 40+ knots. If my course is off the wind and my vessel is experiencing any tendency to round up or brooch, I trail a little something astern. This can be as simple as two fenders on 75 feet of line, or a small ‘gale-rider’ drogue. Anything that creates a mild turbulence will do, and the effect is often dramatic and immediate. A vessel that is wallowing and fighting its helm instantly becomes manageable upon launch of the fenders.
There are times, of course, when the sea and wind builds to such a crescendo that all forward movement is inadvisable. In these conditions, I heave-to.
I’ve never seen God’s face, but the closest I’ve come is aboard a small boat in a large ocean, pirouetting atop a giant wave.
Heaving-to is easy and fast. You merely allow a tiny amount of sail to remain up to steady your vessel’s roll and to keep her positioned approximately 45 degrees off the wind. This usually means I have the extremely rugged storm trysail up — with perhaps a double or triple reefed mizzen — and my helm hard over. Helm hard over? Yes. I leave the helm hard over as if to come about. Since the boat isn’t moving there is no water flow past the rudder, so the rudder doesn’t work and the boat doesn’t come about. But it tries to, and stalls out on repeat. The boat gets a little forward speed, the rudder kicks in — and kills that speed.
If at first she hunts, I micro-adjust my mainsheet, traveler, vang, and helm until she is almost dead in the water. She will sit there for days (I’ve hove-to for 72 hours plus, at times) as pretty as you please. This has worked for 90% of the gales I’ve encountered on my circumnavigations. If you perfect heaving-to to the ultimate degree, your vessel will have zero speed forward and be pushed directly downwind sideways with your keel making considerable turbulence in the water.
This resulting ‘slick’ to windward serves to trip/trick the waves into breaking before they reach you. I’ve made it through major gales with patches of dry deck showing amid huge breakers, all because of this ‘slick’ effect. Remember — losing all forward motion isn’t easy nor quick to accomplish, but it’s well worth the effort. As a test, drop a wet paper towel into the sea to windward. If it appears to be magically sucked up directly to weather, that’s perfect, because it means the boat is drifting directly downwind!
Another option is to ‘run off’ before the wind and breaking seas.
This can be done if the gale isn’t too severe; you have plenty of sea room, and; you’ll be heading fast in the direction you desire.

Winter Sailing

Winter Sailing

One advantage of this method is that it presents your highly buoyant transom to the waves. The downside of this method is that, as the wind and waves increase, your vessel starts sliding down the face of such large seas so fast that her rudder aerates. She can spin out (broach) or tumble end-for-end (pitch-pole) during such conditions. Pitch-poling is nearly always catastrophic to the vessel, and often fatal to the crew. This is where a Jordan Series Drogue is worth its weight in gold. This is basically a long rode (line, Nylon) with (in the case of our 43-foot ketch) 136 small cones or drogues attached.
The advantage is that the series drogue isn’t in one wave while the boat is experiencing a different wave (and the horrible resulting shock load), but rather it is immersed in many waves. Thus, there’s little shock loading (except when a large sea breaks aboard) and the Series Drogue suffers almost no damage even in prolonged hurricanes.
Of course, the boat is oriented transom-to the waves. This makes the rudder vulnerable. So it must be secured amidships. The plus side of this is that 99% of sailboats want to drift nose down, so it is easier to keep them in this attitude than to maintain a ‘head up’ position to the wind and waves. If I don’t want to offer my transom to the waves, I deploy my Paratech sea anchor on 250 feet of stretchy Nylon attached via a shackle to 250 feet of heavy chain. I’m careful to make sure that we’re crest-to-crest. This means that the boat and the parachute anchor crest on the waves at precisely the same moment about 400 to 450 feet apart. This is important. If the boat crests a wave while the parachute is in the trough, they are suddenly 40 to 60 feet different, and the resulting shock load can snap lines, rip off chocks, and decapitate the main bitts. All these tried-and-true options, once mastered, take the sting out of storm strutting. Now, in many ways, I look forward to an approaching gale. I call them to me — not in challenge, but in acknowledgment of their power and beauty and majesty.
I’ve never seen God’s face, but the closest I’ve come is aboard a small boat in a large ocean, pirouetting atop a giant wave.

  • Posted in Cruises


by athens-admin

Winter sailing in Greece  

Its winter and sitting behind the desk in the office made me think about the time a few years back when I took a New J boat from Athens to Paros island. The trip was suppose to be a quick delivery… Mu self and a couple of friends, well add on the owner and his friends and there friends and all of a sudden we had 8+ people…. what follows is the video we took after passing though the Kea- Kithonos Channel, forecast had been for 5-6 out of the North what greeted us after the channel was 8-9 Beaufort rolling seas and a down wind sleigh ride to Paros….. I watch this video and it puts a smile back on my face……

  • Posted in Cruises


by athens-admin

The delivery and advanced ocean passage that the school has just finished has been an interesting experience in different sailing philosophies and safety at sea. The  school in an attempt to broaden its winter income base, has expanded into the yacht restoration business.   We maintain a winter maintenance crew that service our school yachts and also do a certain amount of freelance work. The current Greek crisis has meant the decline in school business has required we diversify into more broad yacht services. Using our highly skilled winter staff to do yacht restoration was a logical step.

sail greece, saling school greece, athens sailing school

Our first client has been an Old school student that bought a used charter yacht and then requested that we renovate it back to its original condition. This included new teak decks, new standing rigging, upgrading of deck gear and replacement of all running rigging. We also installed a fully comprehensive navigation package from Raymarine, that included their new radar/AIS/plotter interfaced computer screen, with all yacht instruments and the auto pilot. A truly one button navigation system. The system is also very addictive, and in my opinion will create some very bad habits, more about this later.

The owner of the yacht required that we deliver the yacht back to Israel once all work was completed. He was going to accompany the delivery crew with his 90 year old father. The crew was to be 6 but was shortened to 5 when a crew decided that the current situation in Tel Aviv made them uncomfortable. Our first leg was to be Athens to the island of Kos, where the yacht would refuel and then continue on to the remote island of Kastellorizo. Here the yacht and crew would check out of the EU and then continue out into international waters.

The trip started with a short shakedown sail to Poros island. It was a good chance to check out the new Raymarine toys and to do a more detailed tuning of the mast and new standing rigging. It was a good 5 hour sail in about 15-20 knts  of breeze that came pretty much from all directions.
The following day was a hive of last minute adjustments, both to the rig and to the safety equipment. The yacht left late that afternoon heading out for the Cyclades  island group and the further island of Kos. As the owner of the yacht was on board, he assumed the role of Captain with my self being more of an advisory role. The other crew members already had there  ASA and RYA licenses, so this was more a mile building exercise as well as offshore experience for them. The first night of any offshore sail is always one that has  sailors getting use to watch systems again as well as finding their sea legs. So a little irregular behavior needs understanding and flexibility. I have always found that a good evening meal on the first night if possible goes along way to ensuring confidence and comfort for the coming nights watch.

sailing in the greek islands, sail lessons

When quizzed about watch our captain was fairly non-committal about what he wanted and said that it was better if everyone did what they felt like. He further went on   to mention that food was not a priority with him and that a little bread and cheese was all he needed.  At first I was very disappointed with his answers, he had been   one of our first students to come though the school, he already had a huge back ground of sailing but no real paperwork when he joined the school course back in  2005. Since then he had completed this very same ‘run’ Greek islands to Israel some 5 times with his and other yachts.. so he was well aware of the changing weather  patterns and changing sea states that one can encounter…
We finally arranged ourselves into 3 watches, 2 hours on and 4 off with the owner and father doing their own thing.. the yacht was extremely comfortable with a huge cockpit and cockpit table in the middle, long side benches that you could lie out on, full dodger and Bimini, and all major control lines lead back to the cockpit  coaming allowing for easy dry access to trim and control the sails. Unfortunately the cockpit was so well sheltered that keeping a ‘good’ watch out at night meant a lot  of craning your head and neck around lots of supports and fabric… which is when the huge computer screen mounted by the helm station became a much more  easier and dryer way of keeping a watch out.

The trip to Kos is about 190 miles as the crow flies, we logged 230nm with a couple of tacks thrown in. As a result it took us over 38 hours. The latter half of the trip  was in heavy rain and limited visibility.  The Raymarine package with its Chartplotter and interfaced AIS+radar was a very nice toy to have, making identifying shipping  and other objects a simple matter. However what it did not see was more troublesome, the local Greek fishing fleet do not carry AIS…. nor do there fishing long line markers or drift nets… making the old skill of looking at the sea and horizon ie:- keeping a watch still the primary skill to learn..

Once in Kos it was a short stop over with the crew taking a break ashore and looking for some breakfast while the owner took charge of refuelling the yacht. Some  supplies where purchased but as the crew had not eaten a “Galley cooked meal’ since the first night and where self-feeding themselves, not much in the way of   immediate supplies had been consumed. The yacht was soon under way again this leg was to take us along the Turkish coast, north past Rhodes island and then to parallel the coast until we arrived at Kastollrozio island.

That evening was a busy time on watch, identifying shipping coming out of Rhodes and other ships heading to Rhodes. The weather again deteriorated to rain and squall fronts rolling off the Turkish coast. The Rhodes channel can at times have a heavy wind driven surface current running east west; this particular night it was  running at least 2-3 knots which made our SOG as little as 3knts at times. This is not a good speed to be trying to avoid shipping traffic, despite the fact we where  motor sailing for most of the time. Again the Raymarine AIS/Plotter package proved its worth, however it was still imperative to keep a physical eyes out over the horizon  watch and not become glued to this very addictive screen like some video game.


The rest of that evening was a mixture of squalls and washing machine like seas that caused the yacht to pound and bounce around the sea slowly on its way to Kastellorizio island.  Up to this point the yacht had been steered almost exclusively by auto pilot, with neither the owner nor our crew steering by hand for more than   30 minutes. I think I had the most time on the wheel with our 12 hours since leaving Athens.

The rest of this delivery continued with little change in the way things operated or the prevailing wind conditions as once the yacht left Kastellorizo for Tel Aviv, we had   to face a remaining 350 nm of pretty much windless sea and intermittent rain. The extra jerry jugs of fuel we carried on deck proved necessary and the yacht finally   made it to Tel Aviv.


  • Posted in Courses


by athens-admin

The world of sailing revolves around the wind. Your boat can’t go anywhere without wind Assessing the wind’s direction is of utmost importance to a sailor. The wind’s direction is a sailor’s North Star, the center of his sailboat’s universe. Where he goes, how he trims his sails, whether the ride is wet or dry, fast or slow — all these depend on the wind and its direction.

The wind changes all the time, and your ability to accurately sense changes in the wind speed and direction is the single most valuable skill you bring aboard a sailboat. Increasing your sensitivity and awareness of the wind is the first step in becoming a sailor.

A sailboat has four basic parts: a hull, an underwater fin, a mast and a sail. We all know that a sail is a piece of fabric that catches the wind and powers the boat. Sailing with the wind makes sense – it’s easy to visualize and understand how it works.
But when a sailor wants to move his craft into the wind, the dynamics get more complex. This brings us to the fourth part of a sailboat: the underwater fin, also called the keel or centerboard.

Hanging underneath the back of the boat is the rudder, which allows for fine-tuned steering of the boat. Also attached to the sailboat’s underside is a second fin, much larger than the rudder, called a keel or centerboard, which runs right down the center of the hull.

The keel serves two purposes. Most of the time, the wind pushing on a sailboat pushes it from its side, from various angles. The keel’s primary purpose is to keep the boat from being pushed sideways from the force of the wind. It’s second purpose is to provide lift, which, in physics terminology, is a force exerted on an airfoil that pushes in a direction perpendicular to the direction of motion.



This diagram helps to visualize how a keel can turn a a force pushing sideways into forward motion, similar to how a plane turns forward motion into lift.

It works on the same principle as an airplane wing. An airplane wing is curved on its upper surface. Air passing over the wing travels over the curved part of the wing at a higher velocity than it travels over the flat part of the wing. This creates lower pressure over the curved part of the wing and lifts the wing. To put it most plainly, the low pressure created by the wind passing over the curve of the wing creates a vacuum that lifts the wing.

A sailboat uses this same principle when sailing into the wind. The sailor turns his sailboat at about a 45 degree angle into the wind, pulls in the sail and fills it with wind. The wind-filled sail creates an airfoil shape, just like an airplane wing; the wind flowing over the backside of the sail moves faster than the air moving across the front (flat) side of the sail. This creates lift, and pushes the boat sideways and forwards. And this is where the keel’s second function comes into play.
Think of the sail, protruding into the sky, as one wing and the keel, hanging in the water, as the second wing. The water flowing over the backside of the keel goes faster than the water passing over the front side, which results in differing water pressures, and that pulls the boat forward and sideways.

But picture the wind hitting a sailboat’s sail. As the wind hits the sail, it tilts it over in that direction. But the sailboat’s two wings (the sail and the keel) pivot on the ship’s hull. This means that beneath the ship the keel is tilting the opposite direction of the sail, which means the keel’s lift is lifting in the opposite direction of the sail’s lift. The two sideways forces cancel each other out and only the forward force remains.

Most modern sailboats can sail about 45 degrees in a windward direction. The trick is to keep enough wind filled in the sail to keep its airfoil shape. If a sailboat tries to sail directly into the wind, the wind moves straight across the sail and it loses the pocket of wind that gives it its airfoil shape and instead the sail flaps like a flag. Once the sail loses its airfoil shape, it loses its forward and sideways energy.

“A sailor can sail to a point that lies directly into the wind, he just can’t steer straight for it,” said Isler. “He must approach it in a zigzag manner, called tacking.”
In steering toward the point that he wants to reach, he comes at it at about a 45 degree angle, then he tacks, or turns his boat about 90 degrees in the other direction, and after traveling in that direction for a ways, he tacks again back to his original angle.



This diagram shows how tracking works, allowing a sailor to move into the wind by zigzagging along.

So what about those ancient multi-masted, multi-sail ships sailed by the likes of Columbus and Magellan? Do they work the same way or does having all those sails confound those principles? For that, I asked Jan Miles, captain of the Pride of Baltimore 2, which is a multi-masted, multi-sail ship. The Pride of Baltimore 2 was built in 1988, and Miles has been its captain from day one. The Pride of Baltimore 2 was built using the same plans as privateer vessels built by the Americans for the War of 1812.

Miles explains that the hydrodynamics and aerodynamics of a square-rigged (they use square sails) tall ship are the same as today’s smaller, single-sail boats. But, while the principles may be the same, the practice is a quite a bit different. The multi-masted ships still form and position their sails into an airfoil shape, they still rely on the keel’s counter force, they just don’t get the same results as today’s modern sailboats.

Ancient mariners had a basic working knowledge of how wind powered their ship and how to position their sail and their ship to best take advantage of it, but they didn’t understand the physics of an airfoil and how it works.

Today’s modern boats are built with airfoil technology maximized into their design. Modern sails are cut to form the most efficient airfoil. Same goes for their keels. Ancient sails and keels were not.

“Modern sailboats can sail into the wind at an angle as close as 45 degrees,” Miles says.

“The old ships could only sail into the wind at about 60 degrees.”

  • Posted in Courses

ASA scotland summer cruise 2013

by athens-admin

The ASA cruise to Scotland, actually started a few days before the guests arrived on June 29th. An advance team left Athens, and flew into Glasgow on the 25th and started checking over the area, talking to the agents in Largs and visiting the yacht club where the opening evenings dinner reception would take place. Capt. Chandler had meetings with the flotilla guide, Muir Anderson. He immediately gave JC the update on problems including the conflicts we would have with the Fife Regatta, when we sailed to Rothesay on the first day. Alternative arrangements have since been made.

What yachts where in harbor have been inspected and checked over, the marina has very good facilities and an excellent yacht club with unbelievable views of the area and surrounding bay… we are almost all set to go… just need our sailors and then we can begin this adventure.


Saturday arrived, and the crew gathered at the Holiday Express Inn. Because of increased airport security we had to abandon the “bus” idea and use smaller private MPV’s (Multi Person Vechiles), that could carry 6 – 8 persons. By 10.30am all crew members had been dispatched to Largs and the adventure was under way. The first day was going to be a list of forms collecting gear, fitting out of foul weather gear and the mandatory check out of the yacht and familiarization of the yacht systems. By late afternoon all crews and skippers where on their yachts and had provisioned and finished all formalities.

Dinner had been arranged for the crews at the local yacht club, so by 5pm everyone was at the club bar meeting and chatting with each other. A beautiful mixed buffet of seafood and cold cuts awaited everyone for dinner which was followed by a brief outline of what was to happen the next day.

The Fife Regatta was due to start there race series the same day we would leave on Sunday. Our flotilla guide suggested that we hang back and watch the start then follow at our own pace. So Sunday started with us watching the start of 100 year old yachts, jousting for position on a start line like Americas cup pro’s…. all very exciting as the weather was starting to freshen and signs of fog and rain appeared from over the hills.


Around  noon was when we slipped our lines in Largs and set off with the rest of the flotilla into a freshen wind, gusting 25 – 27 knots and drizzle. Skipper Charlie called for the first reef and 50% genoa un-furled. We sailed around the bay in front of the marina while the rest of the flotilla came out. Finally we all had our sails sorted and off the group went head for the Port of Bannatyre, just north of Rothesay. Half a beat to the head land of Cumbrae.

The sail was in drizzle and gusting winds with the first half being a tacking exercise. The flotilla had to round the southern part of Cumbrae before heading north to Port Bannatrye. Today was a good chance for everyone to get to know thier yachts, as it was a blustry day and wet. It took us in our little Jeanneau some 4 hours to complete the trip, being rewarded at the end by spectacular sights of the green hills and vistas of the Scottish highlands… the rain soon stopped and by early evening the sun poked it’s head out. Port Bannatrye was a sleepy town on a Sunday evening, not having much in the way of tourist facilities so the crew spent the evening and ate on board.

Day 2 started with wonderful sunshine beaming though the main hatch, today was going to be a sail around the Isle of Bute and on to Lochranza… what no one knew where the special surprises that lay in store along the way.


Firebird and Swift where the first yachts to clear the marina and ambled out to clear water to hoist thier sails, the remainder of the flotilla slowly slipped there lines and joined in the procession up the channel around the Isle of Bute.

The Fife yachts had been moored in Rothesay just south of us. As we started our tacking course we could see the old yachts starting to gain on us. It was not long before “Swift” and our yacht “FireBird” , where in the thick of the Fife Yachts. It seemed that every time we tacked we had another old yacht on our quarter or looking to exercise it’s starboard right of way. It made for some very interesting sailing. All this excitement and the area we where sailing in was spectacular, the sun even shone on us for most of the day.

After rounding the Isle’s we head south for the bay on Lochranza. The Isle of Arran is the home to Arran single Malt Whisky, and still has a very active and modern distillery in the village at Lochranza. First yacht into the Lochranza was “Swift” and they pretty quickly organized themselves, caught the local bus and where just in time to catch the last tour of the day. The rest of the yachts arrived and moored up to buoys set by the locals in the bay. It defiantly was a case of inflate your rubber ducks fellow sailors, as that is the way to get to shore. Most of the crew had not been in a pub now for nearly 36hours and signs of yearning where becoming evident. Rubber ducks where quickly inflated and crews disappeared off to the pub and a good meal.


As things progressed in the evening, locals chatted with sailors, and it was not long before a little live entertainmant was conjured up. Skipper Richard Byrnes plays in a Celtic band on his USN base in Naples, at the pub he found a guitar and played a few songs solo.It was not long before a local couple joined in with thier talents… a celtic fiddle, a penny whistle and some spoons, along with Richards guitar we had all the pub patrons dancing and tapping with thier feet.

The evening drew to a close and by midnight and everyone headed back to there yachts. It had been a magical day, from the outset, starting with glorious sunshine, sailing with the Fife Yachts around the Isle of Bute, arriving in Lochranza and going to a whisky distillery and then finally getting involved with the locals in a Celtic musical jam. Great way to end the second day here in Scotland. Tomorrow is another day and the prospect of seeing Tarbert is exciting.
Day 3
I woke to the sound of a howling wind, the boat was swinging and tugging at her mooring lines. It sounded like a thousand ants where marching on the deck, thankfully it was just hard rain that was pounding the deck….. Good Morning and welcome to Lochranza mooring field. Our little fleet of ASA yachts are all tied nicely in a line in the visitors area. The weather outside suck’s! So this is Scotland in summer….hmmm… remind me next time to read the brochure more closely…. Skippers meeting at 0930.

Well the weather is not about to improve, the pluses are… with this wind its a down wind sleigh ride to Tarbert, the village is only 18 miles away and we have a nice marina with facilities to use after what will be a wet ride there.

General consensus was to use just the foresail to get there as wind speeds had already hit 28knts in the bay and would undoubtedly hit 30 +.

Our intrepid sailors set off one at a time all dressed in full foul weather gear and safety harness visible. It really was not until we had cleared the lee of the island did we start to feel the full force of the winds and see the size of the waves…. these seemed more than normal and often would contribute to an occasional round out.
The trip to Tarbert was quick thankfully, the wind made for high overall boat speeds, which soon brought us to the entrance. The harbour is tucked way inland behind rocks and several significant navigation obstacles.  We found the entrance and followed a fishing vessel into the harbour to be sure.

The village is predominantly a commerical fishing harbour, with most of the catch going to Glasgow…. some of the local restaurants also buy from the fisherman. Returning back to the pub it was evident that the local talent was going to have another sing along in pubs along the harbour.

The sailors retired back to their yacht as it was time to take stock and prepare for the sail down to Campbelltown over 35 miles to run…

Rain and more rain, drizzle the worse kind of rain as it just hangs in the air for you to sail into and get wet, it gets behind the glasses you wear, trickles down your neck….finds it’s way up your selves and just makes things wet, cold and miserable… Oh why do we do this to ourselves? In search of what?….what is worse is that you have half the visibility and can not see much, not even the wonderful landscape that you know is there, expect its blocked by the drizzle of the rain…. thats how we left Tarbert…..
However, if you wait 5 minutes the weather may change for the better…. and guess what it did, the further away we sailed from Tarbert the clearer and better it got. And yes there it was a funny looking yellow thing bright and warmth coming from it…. ‘here comes the sun’…(thank you George for that song) now I can really sing it with meaning.

Things where looking up, the drizzle had faded away, we had a delightful westerly breeze, the boat was making way to Campbelltown, the kettle was on the boil and a hot mug of tea was on the way up to the helmsman… was this what I have been searching for? Maybe.


It was going to be a long day, nothing complicated just pure sailing in what was shaping up to be great conditions. Flat to moderate seas, a steady 15 – 19 knots on the beam and yes the sun, peeking in and out from behind white cotton balls of clouds.

The landscape of Isle of Arran is spectacular, green fields, steep hills rising into small mountains, it looks as if someone has painted the landscape with shades of green and brown and golden yellow. The effect is to make it look like a continual painting as you sail by.

We where half way down to Campbelltown and the day was turning into one of those that you want to keep going forever. What a start we had, now it was all so far gone and forgotten, ahead was a new port, new friends and new adventures. Campbelltown here we come.


Day 5
After a days sailing yesterday that ended with spectacular scenery, as we sailed into Campbelltown, and to be meet by a seal who guided the yachts into thier berths at the floating dock. The Skippers decided on a day to explore the town, and experience a little island life. Crews went in different directions, quite a few headed for the various trails to be explored in the area, including the walk over to the light house island once the tide had gone down.

Others went trekking around the town, exploring the shops and the local distillery at Spring single malt. Torridon’s skipper went in search of bagpipes and found a local fish and chip shop, who’s young son came down and played a medley of tunes for the assorted group. Later the local bagpipe school sent 2 other pipers to play in public outside the local town monument. It was a moving experience to hear the bagpipes played so well.

The rest day was well timed as the weather for the last day was going to be perfect. A southerly and sun was promised..

Homeward bound…..

It was an early start, 0830 we slipped lines at the dock and cleared the sea bouy an hour later. We had 42 miles to sail, with a predicted southerly to arrive. At the moment we where sailing nicely along with a west south west, skirting the southern part of the Isle of Arran before we headed north and set our sights on Largs and home port.


The day developed into the best days run with warm sun heating up the cockpit. Crews where even seen to take off foul weather jackets and pants….now that was a first for the week. The flotilla arrived back in Largs by 4pm that afternoon, and it was a matter of gathering the yachts together on the pontoons and handing them back to the agent. That evening we all gathered at the local pub and had our last evening dinner together. Good byes where said and cries of lets do it again next year.




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by athens-admin

About 2 weeks ago I was sailing in the Greek islands, with JC and several other students who where attending a bare boat skippers course. The sailing school ‘Athens sailing academy’ regularly runs 10 day live aboard sailing courses that cover most licensing requirements. Today’s charter companies require that you have a current  charter skippers license in order to qualify for taking out one of there yachts on a bare boat basis.

Now there are companies that will let you charter with a note from your yacht club etc.. but the more serious companies and the ones with the better yachts want to see a real qualification… after all they are giving you a yacht valued at €150.000 to over €300.000 depending on the size, for you to go and crash around the Greek islands or where ever ? makes sense that they want to see something that indicates you have had some kind of training:


So I enrolled in the 10 day course that the Athens Sailing academy runs. Its a live aboard course, you have your own cabin with head,(bathroom), shower,etc…think of it as luxury camping with high quality linens and towels… the course is based out of Poros Island, and its here that you spend the first 3 days of your time learning about all the basic skills of sailing. JC has a selection of small yachts that are available though his friend Richard of “Greek Sails”. This time we took a nice Jeanneau 32i for 3 days. Every body takes turns working the sails,learning how to tack and gybe the boat in the bay of Poros. A full day just doing that and then the next day its your turn at the wheel to skipper and repeat the first days tasks, the final day is spent practicing motor handling skills and emergency skills.. Man Overboard, Heaving too, stopping the yacht quickly (Crash Stop)…

It was a great 3 days playing around with the little boat I think every bodies confidence levels where boosted 100%… after that first night boarding K3 and looking at the size of everything, the winches are huge, the lines are massive 18mm genoa sheets. I was think to my self how the heck where we going to deal with all this on this monster yacht..
Now it all seems so rudimentary and straight forward, size just means more power, more power is more speed, which is good and like in a car more speed means more respect for the car/yacht and what you are dealing with….No problem..hmm


3 days into the course it’s time for the first exam, ASA 101…. endless definitions , language questions, rules of the road… I found it a breeze mostly because I knew some of the stuff from reading novels about sailing… CS Forester and the Hornblower series, Although it seems the ASA does not use the Cat of Nine tails any more, they just train and hire instructors like JC….(that one will get me in trouble!!)…

So on the morning of the 4th day we weigh anchor (actually slipped mooring lines, but weighed anchor seems more nautical)… and head out to see on K3. The training yacht is a 57ft ketch, fully optimised and ready to ocean race any where… her training sails where a fully battened mainsail with carbon fibre battens, a new hydranet fabric genoa, 135% or No.2… the mizzen and down below a selection of spinnakers and staysails which according to Jc we would be working with when the wind allows.


The plan was to head over to the Cyclades and find wind so that we could continue with sail training. Now that we where away from land it also gave us and opportunity to keep navigation watches and learn ore about the basics of navigation… starting with my easterly DR line and hourly position fixes using nothing more than compass and speed log. Course was set for Kithonos Island and off we went… a good wind out of the NNW had us reaching along under full sail at about 8.75 – 9.35, wind was a steady 18-20 knts with gusts to 22+…

Todays leg was going to be around 50/60 miles, and what you do not realize is that steering a large yacht by hand at speed takes alot of concentration and constant watching by crew members to sail trim and wind speed. In the gusts the K3 liked to lean over slowly and absorb the wind into her forward motion, as it became too much for her she would hint to the helm that she wanted to round up into the wind. The best trim adjustment was to give a little weather helm and easy her genoa first, followed by easing the mainsail traveller, before easing the mainsail.

Result more often than not was a jump in speed of 2-3 knots, all of which was very satisfying.


Our arrival at Loutra in Kithonos was some 6 1/2 hours after leaving Poros, fortunately it was early enough to get a good spot in the tiny harbor here. Later in the afternoon by 1800 the harbor was full, 3 large Lagoon cats doing a very effect job of blocking and filling 6 monohull spots with 3 cats… not what one may call effect use of harbor space..

Our stay in Loutra was short but very enjoyable Micheal from the Sofrano’s “yacht Club” made our stay worthwhile with great draught beer and excellent food, his free wifi also made life easier for those of us wanting to skype home. The next day was going to be more of the same good winds and great sailing, heading down to Paros island and a rest stop as well..

We left the harbor and headed out into the bay to hoist sails, the wind was a clean 18 Tw out of the N-NW, which made it a great opportunity for us to hoist one for Chutes. That morning while waiting in harbor we had folded and tied the red 1.5 Asymmetrical red spinnaker, as well as the 2.2 storm chute and the mizzen spinnaker. Jc had already given us instruction on how to hoist and control the sails, it now remained to see if we could do it ourselves.


Once clear of the island effects on the wind we set course for Paros entrance. Jc called for spin pole to be rigged low and for us to get ‘Big Red’ up on deck and ready for a hoist. Once she was all hooked up, Jc ran K3 off down wind and we hoisted the sail in the shadow of the mainsail. He slowly brought K3 up to course and we trimmed chute so that everything was drawing correctly. Boat speed jumped straight into the low teens, well before we had hoisted the mizzen. Once she was up the boat speed continued to climb, holding steady at 13.3.

Paros is about 45 miles south from Loutra and that morning the wind perfect for some downwind sailing and yacht sailing skills.

The NW had strength and we where now sailing in 25tw, with alot of canvas up and slowing down this wagon train would be a challenge….

End of Part 1

Now it’s not often that a novice sailor find’s himself with a group of like minded individuals, sailing full bore before a big wind on a yacht with all the sail possible hoisted.. folks it is a sight to see, I would have thought that it would have been quiet almost sirene. It’s noisy wind really howling, it whistles around the bar tight lines, the noise of the sea is immense as the yacht surfs and pushes mountians of water out of her
way as she scoots between the waves.

It was not long before the skippers voice was shouting at me, “Tom are you going to star gaze all day or would you like to join us and help sail this bitch…trimmmm.!!

I grabbed the two handed winch and start turning the drum, it was the main spinnaker sheet and fully taught, Vic was pulling at the business end of the line as he watched the main spinnaker leech curl and come back into shape.

JC was behind the wheel now, having replaced Mike who was sitting and looking aft as he watched the waves chase K3, while JC skillfully placed the yacht on each crest to maxize speed and stability… The cry of ‘Trimm” came again from Vic as the main spinnaker started to collapse, the mizzen chute was already soft and had collapsed, glanced down at the boat speed, 15.4,16, 16.6, we had caught a wave and where surfing, it was a big wave as we stayed on it for over 2-3 minutes before we slid off the back of it. All I could feel was my wet feet and the fact the yacht was now at a crazy angle, I was gripping the handle tight and winding like crazy as Vic was endeavoring to control the spinnaker, we had sailed into our own sails basically, and as we slid off the back of the last wave the yacht started to cork screw to windward. JC was fighting the wheel, trying to a-line her stern with the next incoming wave…. it was like a crazy dance, everyone scrambling to hold on as we rolled, others desperately trimming sails to bring
her back under control… all played out in a matter of seconds….

The old girl started to come back under control as JC forced her nose down the next wave, he was screaming to dump the main sail and trim on the chute again… the mizzen crew did the same.. we had both sails spinnakers back under control and off we went again…only this time things seem a little more controlled…I turned again to look at the helm,.. be dammed if the skipper was lighting a cigar, and smiling…

The next few hours saw us knock off miles quickly, we where approaching a critical point where we had to gybe the boat and re set the spinnakers on the opposite side of the yacht. The wind had eased somewhat, but the seas where still up there 2-3 metres… boat speed was still high with spurts of 15-16 but constant 12-14 knts… the crew looked ragged and tired, I could feel my arms ache and I was starting to feel cool, after sweating so much earlier on now we had settled in to a routine with the sails and things seemed more controlled. The coming gybe would I’m sure create a little tension and excitement.

Lex the Crew boss was going around talking with us about what our role would be in the coming manouvre, he went over what would happen and how timing was most important… first things was to take down the mizzen spinnaker and the spinnaker staysail on the foredeck… once those where bagged, JC started to slowly turn the yacht down wind and the main chute was brought back square with the yacht ready for the gybe.

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