Five expert tips for boating trips at the beginning of the season
The opening of the season is just around the corner and inevitably the question of "where to" will be raised. The experts Michael Amme and Sönke Roever from the professional cruising magazine BLAUWASSER.DE, who run the Charter Semniar at boot Düsseldorf every January, will provide five valuable tips on areas that are worth a trip this spring.
From the Baltic Sea to the English Channel Islands and from the Azores to the western as well as eastern Mediterranean, they present destinantions which are great for boating early in the season. Let yourself be inspired and cast off as soon as the boats are back in the water!
The Danish South SeasA Dream for all Sailors in the Baltic Sea
All sailors of the Baltic Sea have a deep longing for the so-called Danish South Seas. Year after year countless yachts set sail for this cosy destination. They come from the nearby charter bases and home ports at the German Baltic coast and swarm out into this world of small and very small islands, to Ærø for example or to Bågø. Attracted by many fine sandy beaches, green meadows on shore, water shimmering turquoise-green and this typical Danish way of life.
The Danish South Seas, an ideal area for beginners by the way, consists of a multitude of inhabited and uninhabited islands and islets, and most of them are well worth a trip. Lyø, Avernakø, Bågø or Arø are particularly popular. Here you can moor in small harbours, as almost everywhere in the area. A real insider tip is the idyllic island of Birkholm with its just 22 houses (note the depth of the water in the harbour entrance).
If you like it a little more urban, you should visit the island of Ærø, Marstal (interesting maritime museum) and Ærøskøbing, or Fåborg on Funen. These interesting and picturesque small towns even boast large harbours. Depending on the wind direction, you can anchor well off Arø, Bågø, Lyø and Avernakø.
English Channel IslandsApplied tidal navigation at its best
Those who would like to put their theoretical knowledge of navigation into practice while learning for a boating licence are well-advised to travel to the Channel Islands and the coast of neighbouring northern Brittany. Here, in the bay of St. Malo, the highest tidal differences in Europe can be found with up to twelve metres of tidal range. In addition, currents in bottlenecks such as the Race of Alderney can reach double-digit speeds.
If these sensational statistics make your forehead sweat with fear, let me tell you: It's not that bad, at all! But of course, the departure and arrival times here depend exclusively on the calendar of tides and currents. But sailing around the Channel Islands is a wonderful experience - because the currents help to make trips fast and the islands themselves are a real experience.
Despite their proximity to France, these islands are British in character. The inhabitants speak English, drive on the left and enjoy their beer in pubs. The islands Guernsey and Jersey are waiting with beautiful harbour areas right in the centre of the main towns where life is colourful and varied. On Alderney, on the other hand, moorings are protected by a gigantic pier and the harbour master takes over the shuttle service to the shore if required.
Only on Herm and Sark do you have to anchor freely - as everywhere in the area, almost always in front of a dramatically beautiful landscape of finest sandy beaches, wild rock formations and dense greenery - a backdrop reminiscent of the films by Rosamunde Pilcher. Conclusion: The Channel Islands are a destination for ambitious sailors who want to experience great landscapes as well as British pub and tea house culture in addition to wind and weather.
In the middle of the Atlantic lies the archipelago of the Azores, which is a classic sailing destination of cross Atlantic and blue water sailors. But for some years now, it has also been possible for general holiday cruise sailors to sail the nine islands on their own keel: A small fleet of charter yachts in Horta on the island of Faial makes it possible. But what exactly awaits you in the Azores?
After the hand-over of the yacht, there will definitely be an evening at Café Sport, probably the most famous sailing pub in the world. All famous cross Atlantic sailors have quenched their thirst here under a sea of pennants and flags. But what comes after that when you go out on the water? The good thing is that the central group of the Azores - the five islands Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Terceira and Praia - are all very close together. Destinations can be reached in relaxed daily stages, even if you occasionally have to sail up to 50 nautical miles.
However, a cruise around these islands with their wild greenery and rugged coasts is by no means comparable to any Mediterranean cruise. There are no landing places: There are almost no anchor bays, and each island has no more than one or two harbours to offer. Is that a problem? No, the character of cruising is simply different here. After a day of Atlantic sailing with whales, dolphins and large predatory fish on the trolling, there is usually a day with an in-land excursion. In every harbour, relatively cheap rental cars are available, which allow you to tour the serpentine roads that are lined with hydrangea bushes for miles.
And what about the weather? The famous Azores high pressure area usually provides wonderful holiday weather with moderate winds in the summer. In spring, the wind is still a bit stronger. In fact, here - in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - you always have to be prepared for the fact that the swell can be higher and the wind stronger than in the Mediterranean. Conclusion: The Azores are a destination for explorers and individualists who enjoy grandiose nature and the challenge of the Atlantic.
Mallorca is a surprise bag. Whether it's a party cruise, a cultural trip or a relaxed stroll through the bays under sail - on the German's favourite island, a trip of any desired character can be realised. The least known is probably the fact that you can also sail through lonely and beautiful bays. For this you simply have to head for the wild northwest coast of the island in calm weather (which is quite often the case here in the season). With the right guide on the navigation table (by Kinzelmann & Synge) you can discover more than two dozen anchorages far away from mass tourism. Simply a dream.
Those who plan a circumnavigation of the island will automatically be offered all other facets of Mallorca as well. You can celebrate in the trendy nightclubs in Cala Ratjada. Or relax, bathe and sunbathe on the south-east coast in wonderful bays with fine sand. And finally, a visit to the nature conservation island Cabrera is a must. All this can be experienced on a round trip of about 160 nautical miles, which is not a Herculean task, not even in a week.
Here are a few helpful tips for planning: Around the island there are a handful of buoy fields and a few communal harbours with cheap berthing (both bookable at portsib.es). Otherwise you may anchor anywhere around the island, but the anchor must never fall into a field of seagrass. This is currently heavily under control and penalties are high! To moor at one of the 50 moorings on Cabrera, a permit must be obtained in advance (usually arranged by the charter company).
This realm of islands in northern Greece is one of the most pristine regions in the Aegean. On land as well as on the water the atmosphere is wonderfully relaxed, even during the main season. There is no mass tourism as you know it from Santorini or Mykonos. The water is of a deep blue and absolutely clear, and several of the large islands have attractive anchor bays as well as city harbours where you can moor surrounded by rustic taverns.
Highlights of the area: The small harbour of Agia Kyriaki (avoid with southern winds) has nice taverns with a view over the Aegean Sea. Especially nice are the bays of Agnontas on Skopelos (dinner can be taken on the beach), Koukounariés on Skiathos (beautiful beach) and Staphylos in the south of Skopelos (great for snorkeling - here you get a Caribbean feeling). A real insider tip is the anchorage in the south of the island of Peristera. The island is uninhabited and you will find peace and quiet here, and, thanks to the lack of light pollution, a great starry sky above the ship awaits you on clear nights.
If you do not arrive on board your own boat, you will find charter bases on Skiathos and Skopelos. The only problem in this beautiful area is that in summer it happens regularly that the wind dies down - another reason ro sail here outside the main season.
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