Answers to all your questions

… and some you probably hadn’t even thought of yet!

Sailboat trips can inspire, relax, create the closest of friendships very quickly…. for some people.

But sailing doesn’t float everyone’s boat. Hence our very extensive FAQs – we want be sure that everyone knows exactly what to expect, and their idea of vacation-heaven-on-a-stick is along the same lines as their boatmates!

General Questions

Notes for Newbies

Never been on sailboat in your life? Don’t worry, you won’t be our first guest whose prior experience has been paddling round a duckpond.

If you love the water, being outdoors, getting away from the crazy crowds – chances are you’ll take to sailing like a duck to….um, a duckpond!

If you have a gregarious, team-spirited nature – you’ll love the social aspect of our shareboats. Our sailors often go from initial strangers to friends-for-life.

Please make sure that you are fully aware of the “cosy” space on sailboats. If you’ve never been aboard a yacht before, look closely at some interior photos of boats – and not ones taken with a super wide-angle lens!

Do be aware also that although you don’t need to be an athlete – sailboats need a reasonable level of physical agility. You need to be able to climb in and out of dinghies, navigate often narrow gangplanks, etc.

In short, if you thrive on adventurous new experiences, would prefer a family-owned pension to the Hilton, love the sun and the sea – you’re at great risk of falling in love with sailing. We feel it is only fair to issue a warning: Sailboat addiction is a chronic, incurable condition. You’ll never get over it.

What level of physical fitness is needed ?

You don’t need to be an athlete or a yogi to enjoy our trips. We’re very laid-back and cruise-y; we’re not out to win races nor battle 30 knot blows.

But you do need the balance and agility to climb in and out of a dinghy; on our Med trips – you’ll need to cross from the boat to the shore via a fairly narrow gangplank.

If you’re super-keen but not sure on this score – don’t be overly intimidated, just chat to us about it. We’ve had people onboard with conditions one would think a definite sailing no-no – and they have been wonderful!

A quick note on CPAP machines – these can be a challenge to a sailboat’s electrical supply; pls be sure to talk to us about this if it’s an essential for you.

What other costs should I expect?

Very few! That’s our whole philosophy of “No Surprise Extras”. In general, if it’s on the boat – it’s included. If it’s ashore – it’s not.

In the Med, our trips are mostly skipper-only – so we provide the provisions for breakfasts & lunches, and everyone pitches in to help. Dinners are always ashore in little local tavernas. A cook/first mate is sometimes available; this is at an extra cost.

In Thailand & the Philippines – we have amazing cooks onboard; they take care of all breakfasts & lunches. Dinners are usually half the time on the boat, half the time ashore. All meals on the boat can also be arranged.

The only other spending money you’ll need is for land activities; eg in the Med, you might rent scooters, jeeps, do some of the guided historic tours, etc. In Thailand, how could anyone resist those massages-on-the-beach! These costs are still all very reasonable, however.

Of course, if you decide to go hit the town and get into expensive cocktails, this will clock up a few extra $$s. Though all things are relative: you probably couldn’t spend as much on a night on the town as you would at home, even if you tried!

Note: There are a few dangerously enticing shopping spots; eg, Turkish bazaars, Thai markets… even those who claim to “hate shopping” have been known to sneak back to the boat with armfuls of goodies. You have been warned.

Can we bring the kids?

We don’t take kids on our shareboat trips. Sorry, parents – but an onboard mix of supposed grown-ups being “big kids” and the real variety don’t mix 🙂 We also get a lot of folks who’ve deliberately left their kids home for a break, who would be mightily unimpressed to find others on the boat.

However – if you charter one of our boats for your own family – no problem! As a private charter, we can create a totally “kid-friendly” itinerary. We do advise against bringing younger kids (under 5/6 or so) – it won’t be exactly a relaxing vacation for mom & dad unless the kids are already “boat trained”.

If you’d really like to bring your kid(s) with you and love the social aspect of shareboating – we are often able match up compatible families to share one of our bigger boats. Or perhaps you are travelling as a solo parent travelling with your kids/teens and would like everyone to have some more varied age interaction. Just drop us a line, we might know a perfectly matched family out there who’d love to share the adventure with you!

Is there an age limit?

On a sailboat, attitude comes before age. One recent 73yr-old newbie sailor was helming in 25 knots within a couple of days and having an absolute blast!

We do need to emphasize the physical agility aspect here (but that’s not necessarily age-related!).  See the FAQ note on “physical fitness”. If you’re a sailboat newbie and unsure, just talk to us!

Flights, hotels and other “getting to” info

We at SeaScape do not arrange flights ourselves. To get the best deals requires full-time attention to the airlines, and that’s not our area of specialisation. Of course, we are always here for advice on the best route to research, local connections/ferries etc.

Transfers
We can always help with arranging taxi rides at the end of a trip – we have lots of great local contacts for this. Meeting arrival flights – it depends on which destination. We have detailed notes on all this.

Hotels
We have several which have been longtime favourites with our SeaScapers; more notes available on this. We don’t book these directly, but we can certainly point you in the right direction!


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Life on a sailboat

Itineraries

Have a browse through the awesome photos and descriptions of our favourite spots – and then pack it away!

One of the best things about life on a sailboat is it’s flexibility; if a general consensus is to do something different, we’ll always go-with-the-flow, as long as it is logistically possible.

Sometimes Poseidon will decide for us – and there’s no point in arguing with the wind gods! There are times when it’s prudent to change our itinerary for safety or comfort reasons; your skipper will have your back on that one!

For our sailing newbies – please be aware that we will sail whenever it is sensibly possible; eg, tacking directly into the wind when we’ve still got 20 miles to go will turn a 4 hour trip into twice that time – and there will go someone’s much anticpated beach massage the other end or whatever!

Sailing seasons – when is the best time to sail?

As a brief summary – the sailing season in the Med runs from around mid/late May to end of Oct. Generally, Turkey is warmer early and late season than Greece; and there is even a small difference between eg, our Dodecanese islands and the more northern Greek island groups.

The winds roughly follow the pattern of the temperature; they are strongest when the season is at it’s hottest; late july/Aug.

In SE Asia – the best time to be in our cruising grounds (Phuket, the Philippines) is the northern hemisphere winter. From late Nov to late May is the dry season in Phuket; in the Philippines, their sailing season lasts a little longer. It IS possible to sail in both places in the “shoulder” season, before the main monsoon rains set in; be prepared for short, sharp downpours; but it can still be lovely sunny and warm weather inbetween.

Do I need to know how to sail ?

Not at all ! We get a huge range of experience onboard – from old salts who’ve been sailing for decades, to people whose closest experience has been floating a rubber duckie in their bathtub.

Total newbies – if you’d like to learn – great !!  We love when people are enthusiastic to get into sailing. But if chilling on the foredeck with a good book is more your plan, that’s fine too.   However, we do expect that if you’ve chosen an active trip like this, that you’ll get involved in the pitch-in, team spirit onboard.  If chilling and doing absolutely nothing is your idea of vacation heaven – you’d be much happier on a cruise ship.

For you guys & gals who are experienced sailors already – our skippers are MORE than happy to let you take the helm and tweak the sails as much as you like ! And perhaps pass on some tips like how the infamous “Med mooring” works….so you too can look cool as a cucumber as you glide in stern-to, whilst total pandemonium breaks out elsewhere :).

Basically, if you come packing a sense of adventure, humour, and team spirit –  yay!  You’ve found the right page.

The sailing life – practicalities of living onboard

Experienced sailors, you can skip this bit!  You already know the pros and cons of living aboard. For our newbies – think of a sailboat as a floating RV home.  Basic resources like water and electricity must be used conservatively; storage space is at a premium. Someone once described sailboat toilets as “upright coffins” – yep, that’s about right!

So even though our 50-55′ yachts are big in cruising yacht terms, they are still a “cosy” shared space, where consideration for others is paramount. For those with an easy-going and gregarious nature, the way that group dynamics develop so fast on a sailboat is a wonderful experience; people often go home with friends-for-life.  If you are someone who needs a lot of their own “space”  (physically and/or mentally) – this may not be the trip for you.

Our favourite description of sailing comes from one of our guests: “It’s like camping on the water”.  Very upmarket camping for sure; but if this concept appeals to you, rather than the comforts of a plush hotel – you’ll be around like-minded people who love nature, adventure, and the team spirit that grows from such an environment.

Accommodation on board

With space being at a premium, most sailboats are configured with double cabins. Some are double beds, some can be bunkbeds or twins.

Some cabins have en suite heads (= toilet/shower), some are shared facilities.

Our shareboat prices are based on 2 people sharing a double cabin; single occupancy is sometimes available at 1.5 times the regular price.

If you are chartering the boat with your own group – it’s totally up to you how you sort out cabin arrangements!

I’m concerned that I’ll get seasick

Yes, it happens sometimes. If you know that you are susceptible to motion sickness, we can give you plenty of tips on getting around this. Meclazine, scop patches, wrist bands, ginger… different remedies work for different people.  The most effective sea-sickness cure is getting on the helm. Seriously!

For some people, it’s smart to stay up on deck for the first day; after that, we find that the vast majority of people acclimatise and are just fine. If you get sick on planes, trains, automobiles and said duckponds… it might not be your best choice.

Happy Hours onboard

We provide a “starter supply” of drinks to kick off the first couple of evenings’ Happy Hours – beer, wine, a few rounds of gin n’ tonics, etc.  After that, it’s up to you to BYO whatever you’d like to drink onboard.  There’s plenty of opportunities to grab stuff in Leros before we leave, or during the trip on the bigger islands. We’ll also have a supply onboard which you can buy from us at cost price.

Are we going to sail today?

A question which frequently has our skippers grinding their teeth! :).  We will always sail when it is logistically possible; it’s what we love too, after all.

But at times, when sitting in a calm harbour, it’s hard to tell what the conditions are like outside; so sometimes, we just plain don’t know until we get out there.

There are other factors which influence the decision too; eg, if the wind happens to be coming from exactly where we want to go….. it could take an age to get there, tacking backwards and forwards.  If there’s no time constraints, and the distance isn’t too long – then sure, let’s get that team-tacking on!  But if, for example, someone is getting miserably seasick – we’re not hanging around taking twice the time to get there; we’ll motor-sail as the fastest way to get to port.

Luckily, that’s actually rare; what is common however, is that we DO need to get a good dock space at our next destination. In most places, it’s first-come, first-served; there’s no reserving spaces.  With just a few little spots, where the local families have say over who gets space on their dock / buoy; they’ll keep us space.  But in most places, docks are public property and if we want to be sure of a spot, we can’t arrive too late.

Plus – this isn’t a full-on sail training trip; it’s a vacation where people also want to explore the islands, to experience the culture and meet the locals. If you’re a die-hard sailor who wants to sail from dawn till dusk, we’re not the right outfit for you. We keep the best balance we can with what each group /individual wants to do – our itineraries are not set in stone, and our skippers always go with the flow of what suits the group best.  We sail when it’s practical and fun to do so; when other factors kick in, then sometimes we’ll need to motor.

 

 

 

 

What to bring….and what to leave behind!

We have a detailed “suggested packing list” in the longer, PDF form of these FAQs; but basically – as little as possible!   Sailboat life is very clothing-casual; shorts, t-shirts, swimsuits are what you’ll mostly be living in.  In early/late season, some long pants and a jacket for the evenings at times.

There are some specific suggestions, like waterproof protection for expensive devices – much as we like to appease Poseidon, we don’t want to offer him too many digital sacrifices.

One item NOT to bring – any huge, hard-sided luggage. Everything you bring goes in your cabin, so unless you want to share your bed with said suitcase, bring something squish-able. For trips starting and ending in our home bases, we can store extra luggage at our house.

Sailing itineraries

Our “sample itineraries” here on the website are just that – please don’t get too attached to them, like a train schedule!

One of the greatest things about being on a sailboat is the flexibility to change our minds and our route to suit personal preferences, prevailing wind conditions, etc. The start and finish points are fixed, of course – but all else is changeable according to the whims of the wind gods and those on board!

Shareboat

What if they’re all weirdos?

A good point!  A 50’+ boat is still a very small space if you don’t get on with your crewmates. But — the fact is that 95% of the time, everyone on board gets on just great, and ends up really good friends. How come??

1) A very effective self-selection process! By definition, anyone who would choose an adventure vacation like this generally is an independent, flexible type, with a sociable spirit. In our experience, anyone who reads these notes and thinks “Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun!” usually turns out to be a pretty cool person themselves…

2) Just to be QUITE sure – not only do we have these very in-depth notes, but we also chat to all our potential sailors on email and/or on the phone before they book. We DO tell anyone who we don’t think is really suited that they should reconsider. We’re not doing anyone any favours by not being totally candid about this.

Obviously, we can’t make any guarantees you’ll love all your crewmates, but our success rate is pretty amazingly high  (check in with TripAdvisor and Facebook reviews from our previous shareboaters !).

Crew “match-making”

We know extremely well how important group dynamics are, and we always try to create compatible groups.  For instance, we would not put a group of partying 20-30yrs olds together with eg, a 60yr old couple celebrating an anniversary trip.

We care about this a whole lot, ‘cos as most of our boats are owner/skippered, we’re there onboard with you!

Being a small, personal company, we are able to get to know most of our sailors individually – you are never “just one more number on a booking form” to us.

What’s this “Mostly Singles” all about?

Firstly, what it’s emphatically NOT about is any kind of “dating deal”.  Our mostly singles groups are aimed at people who eg, are travelling solo or with a friend, and want to share the adventure with others who are keen to connect socially.

When we say “mostly” singles…. sometimes we get couples who also want to be with a very sociable group – even they don’t want to be all “couple-y”! So they are still a great match for the active dynamics of these groups.

 

When are your Mostly Singles trips?

Sometimes, in the early planning stages of a season’s schedule, we will nominate certain dates within a season to be “Mostly Singles”.

But actually more often, groups will develop their own momentum. All it takes is say, a couple of solo travellers to book early on a shareboat, and then of course, we’ll be sure to highlight these dates to other interested solo travellers with whom we are talking.

These trips often go from one boat with just those first few to jump in the deep end, and expand to 2 or 3 boat “sail in company” trips – cos now everyone who wants a lively, active trip will jump right on board too!

 

 

I’m travelling solo, but don’t want to end up a “third wheel”

That’s what our crew “match-making” is all about! We’ll always give you the lowdown on the current guest composition of a trip, so you won’t ever end up unknowingly as the odd-one-out with eg, a family & kids!

We also send out “group intros” to our shareboat groups, so that everyone can introduce themselves and share a little of their background before the trip – a great ice-breaker when you’re travelling solo.

It’s also a chance to team up with other travellers before the trip – eg, to share taxis rides, swap info on hotels, or just have a pre-trip beer with some crewmates-to-be.

Is there a single supplement ?

Our shareboat prices are based on two people sharing a cabin; and no, there is no single supplement in this case.

Because of the necessarily compact design of sailboats, most cabins are doubles. Some are double beds, some are bunk beds or twin singles. We get lots of solo travellers, and most are happy to have a cabin-mate (don’t worry, we won’t put you “in the same bed” with someone of the opposite sex 🙂

If you’d really prefer to have a cabin to yourself – on most trips, we are able to offer that option, at a cost of 1.5x the regular price.

There are some trips (especially our “one-off” exploratory trips, where we rent boats from other owners) when we’re not able to offer this option.

Just check in with us for any particular trip you’re interested in, and we can give you the options.

How safe is this for solo women travellers?

It doesn’t get much safer!

First of all, you get an instant friend-group to explore new places and experiences with. If you want to go off on your own, that’s fine too –  if you get lost or whatever, the locals know us so well, they’ll  take you home to the boat 🙂

Secondly, our skippers are not there just to sail the boat. They are your go-to people for everything – whether it’s keeping an eye on boat dynamics (is that guy bugging you?) to “What’s appropriate to wear to the monastry / the beach bar / the Turkish baths, etc?”

We advise the usual caution when transiting through the bigger cities;   keep your street-smarts about you there. But in general, the places we have chosen as our favourite cruising grounds are very low-risk for solo women travellers. Sure, the Greek & Turkish guys may well try to chat you up; but if you make it clear you’re not interested – they’re fine and still totally friendly.  All of us female SeaScape team members feel a whole lot “safer” here than we would in our home “First World” countries!

 

Private Charter

Customised private charters

Want to bring your own group of friends or family? Great !  We can customise a trip for you which suits your pace and places you’d like to go.

That’s within logistical reason, of course – sailing from Athens to Crete to Istanbul in one week isn’t going to happen! When you are looking at distances, allow around 5 knots as an average sailboat speed. (Although not strictly accurate, think of a knot as “a mile per hour”).

In the Med, our usual trip duration is a week; for Greece AND Turkey, we really need around 10 days to make it worthwhile with the extra paperwork and distances.  Sometimes we are able to offer shorter trips (only within Greece).

In SE Asia, our trip duration is more flexible. Eg, our shareboat trips in Thailand are 8 days; and this is our favourite timeframe, to fit in all the best spots. But if you’d like something different – just drop us a line and ask!

 

Sailing with kids

Kids on board on a private charter?  No problem!  It can be a great learning experience for the whole family.  But we would recommend a minimum age of around 5-6 yrs old unless your kid(s) – and you – are already used to sailboat life.  Otherwise, it’s unlikely to be exactly a “relaxing” vacation for the parents…

Greece & Turkey

What is the sailing season in the Med?

The best time to sail in Greece and Turkey is between late May and late Oct.

Earlier in the season is possible, but those glorious sunny-all-day Med conditions are not guaranteed; we can still get some dodgy weather early in May.  The Turkish season tends to extend a little later than Greece; it stays warm and calm longer, the “lights-off” time for most tourist businesses in Turkey is Oct 30.  In Greece, conditions can be a little unpredictable late in Oct (but it can still be a great time to sail, for those who hate crowds!)

Winds – the typical meltemi pattern of summer winds tends to follow the temperature.  It blows the strongest in mid-summer, and is calmer in early and late season.  In some parts of Greece (notably the Ionian), it’s a nice, predictable afternoon breeze; anywhere mid-Aegean or further east, forget any such reliability – the meltemi will blow when it feels like it!

 

Do I need a visa for Greece or Turkey?

For Greece,  most nationalities do not need a visa.  One notable exception is South Africa, where you must apply in advance. If you at all in doubt, pls check with your local Greek embassy.  Most non-EU residents get an automatic 3 month visa-on-entry.

Turkey – most nationalities do need a visa, but it is a very simple online process.  The cost varies according which nationality you are, usually from around 15 euros to sometimes up to 50 euros.  The most common is around 20 euros.

Please note, your passport must be valid for 6 months AFTER your overseas travel is completed.

Greece-and-Turkey “combo” trips

One of our reasons for choosing the Dodecanese as our home base is that we get Turkey as our next door neighbour.  So we get to sail in both countries,  a wonderful variety!

However, just because we are so geographically close does not mean that we can simply zig-zag between countries (if only!). One still has to go through customs procedures, and this can only be done at certain Ports of Entry.  Still, it’s a whole lot easier to take our own floating home between countries, rather than messing around with bags, queues and customs officials, as you would on a ferry.

However, it still takes our skippers time to deal with paperwork, hence our usual suggestion of 10 days or so as an ideal timeframe.  (Two weeks is even nicer, if you have the vacation time !).

Most of our “combo” trips start and end in Greece, cruising the Turkish coastline in the middle of the itinerary.

How long do we sail each day ? (Greece & Turkey)

Our trips are meant as vacations, not sail-training 🙂 – so we do our best to balance out about half a day on the water, half a day with time to explore ashore.

In the Med, the distances tend to be shorter; 3-4 hrs sailing time would be an average. We generally get up and out early in the morning, giving us plenty of time to sail – then time ashore later in the day. When it gets busy, it’s a great policy to be “out first, in first” – to get the best spots on the dock!

In SE Asia, the distances are sometimes longer – there will be some days when we might sail 5-6 hours to get to somewhere particularly spectacular. Most of our boats here are wide, spacious catamarans, with plenty of shaded space to spread out – so the extra time on the water isn’t exactly hard to take :).

Shore excursions & hiring vehicles

Int’l driving licences

motorbikes licences

Is there wifi available ?

How can I charge my gadgets?

What’s the power supply onboard ?

12v unless we are on shore power

What’s this ‘Med Mooring’ I keep hearing about?

Great question! We’ll go through that when you get here, but for now it’s enough to know that it gets exciting at times, especially when the crosswind gets up. It’s worth it in the end though, and we always celebrate with something cold when we’re done!



How much should I budget for dinner?

25 euros per dinner will get you a ton of food, and about as much wine as it’s possible to drink.


What’s included (Greece & Turkey)?

We have a whole section on that right here!

But basically, if it’s on the boat – it’s covered; if it’s ashore – it’s up to you.

How much should I budget for dinner?

25 euros per dinner will get you a ton of food, and about as much wine as it’s possible to drink.

Thailand

Do I need a visa for Thailand?

For most countries, you can get a visa-on-entry which is valid for 30 days.  If you wish to stay longer, you can extend this visa by another 30 days by visiting a local immigration office, and paying 1900 baht (plus often half a day of your time).

If you want to stay longer, you can apply from your home country and get a 60 day tourist visa.  This can then be extended for another 30 days (with ditto time & money involved as above).

Please note, your passport must be valid for 6 months AFTER your overseas travel is completed.

Happy Hours onboard – SE Asia

The crewed yachts on our site have a very relaxed drinks policy. A few even throw in a starter Happy Hour on the first night, to get everyone thoroughly into Holiday Mode! After that, you are welcome to BYO drink onboard, or else buy supplies from the boat.

A few boats have “honesty bars”; with others, you can order your favourite tipple in advance, and if it’s available – it will be waiting for you onboard. The price of drinks purchased onboard is NOT “loaded”, as with some boats where your wonderfully relaxed holiday ends with a sour note at an unexpectedy huge bar bill!

It’s our No Surprises policy; we want you to eat, drink and be merry without worrying what the final “damage” will be!

Is there wifi available (Thailand) ?

Thailand is very advanced in it’s adoption of mobile technology. Around our usual itinerary – even the very small islands – there is wifi coverage in 95% of places. It’s super-easy to buy a local SIM package when you arrive at the airport (either Bangkok or Phuket); there are little booths there with very efficient, smiling staff to get you connected to the local network in a jiffy! (A very cheap jiffy too).

The other option is to check with your home service provider and see if they offer an international roaming package. This can have the advantage that you keep your own phone number, no need to swap SIM cards for a local one.

Ashore – just about everyone and their monkey have wifi in bars, restaurants, etc! Speeds are usually pretty reasonable too.

What to bring….what NOT to bring !

Philippines

Happy Hours onboard – SE Asia

The crewed yachts on our site have a very relaxed drinks policy. A few even throw in a starter Happy Hour on the first night, to get everyone thoroughly into Holiday Mode! After that, you are welcome to BYO drink onboard, or else buy supplies from the boat.

A few boats have “honesty bars”; with others, you can order your favourite tipple in advance, and if it’s available – it will be waiting for you onboard. The price of drinks purchased onboard is NOT “loaded”, as with some boats where your wonderfully relaxed holiday ends with a sour note at an unexpectedy huge bar bill!

It’s our No Surprises policy; we want you to eat, drink and be merry without worrying what the final “damage” will be!

What to bring….what NOT to bring !

Is there wifi available (Philippines) ?

What’s included – Philippines

Just about everything !

Photo Workshops

I’m not into photography, my partner is – can I still come on the trip?

Of course! You don’t need to be in to photography to come sailing with us, and there’s plenty of activities for you to enjoy while the class do their thing.

Sail & Yoga trips

Sounds intriguing, but I’m just not that flexible / I’m too old…

We have an answer to that too; definitely “hogwash” !! 🙂 Purely the physical side of yoga has been proven to be an amazingly effective form of physiotherapy, for even serious injuries, strokes, etc. As for the mental & spiritual component – yes, it IS as intriguing as it sounds. Give it a go…