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First SAILING holiday- Kefalonia in April. Help!

(10 Posts)
NoonarAgain Sun 20-Jan-13 16:04:21

Wel,l we have just booked a week's learn to sail family holiday in Kefalonia at the beginning of April !!!

Very, very exciting although the weather may be distinctly cool/ iffy. We are willing to take that risk as we want to learn to sail and we have got a fantastic deal. (Dh has done his competent crew, btw, but i have never sailed.)

The purpose of this thread is to ask anyone for advice from anyone:
a) who's been on flotilla type holiday
or b) has experience of the Ionian that early in the season.

Firstly, what on earth should we wear/ pack to learn to sail in cooler temperatures? (I think it will be a max of 16-18 degrees) Are jeans a no-no? I was thinking of packing jeans, leggings, shorts and light weight waterproofs just in case. And what about footwear? And lifejackets? (dds are 8 and 11yo)

anyone know if the Ionian is at all swimmable, even for a short dip, in april (with a wetsuit)? Sea temp about 16 degrees, i think. brrrr.

If anyone can help with my questions or offer any top tips of what to take/ how to prepare then i'd be very grateful smile

WorkInProgress Sun 20-Jan-13 17:54:33

We went with Sea Trek in July when it was very hot, so very different, but feel free to pm me and I'll help if I can. We wore deck shoes ( actually I went bare foot in the end, felt more stable but risk of stubbed toe). Children ( 8 and 10 then) did not wear life jackets but they have them available if you want, one child in the group wore one, probably the sensible thing to do !

cavell Mon 28-Jan-13 12:19:49

I worked for Sunsail years ago.

Let's think... lifejackets will be provided. Good idea to wear them, in my opinion.

I have sailed that area at that time of year ... weather can be a bit changeable, from what I recall. Hot and sunny one day, chilly and wet the next. So layers are your friend. A fleece to wear under your waterproof jacket would be good. I usually wore shorts because it is easier to dry off bare legs than a pair of jeans. (Although yachts sound glamorous, they are basically floating caravans, so it isn't necessarily easy to dry off wet gear. And strage space is limited.)

For footwear, I would highly recommend some deck shoes - they are designed to provide grip on wet decks. If you have bare feet, although you'll be able to grip okay I pretty well guarantee you will badly stub your toe -or worse -before the week is out.

I've never been swimming that early in the season (but then I am a bit of a wimp).... I imagine it would be okay with a wetsuit.

suburbandream Mon 28-Jan-13 12:29:37

I've been on a sunsail holiday in April/early May, although dinghy sailing rather than flotilla. Having practised capsize drill I can confirm that a wet suit is a good idea!! although having said that, we sailed in shorts and light windproof jackets too. Shorts and thin trousers that dry quickly are a good idea.

I agree with everything cavell said, weather can be quite changeable - we had lovely sunny days although not baking hot

Also find out before you go when Easter celebrations/bank holidays are - I might be wrong but I think Greek orthodox is later?? There will be lovely festivies but you might also find that everything closes if there is a bank holiday smile

TwelveLeggedWalk Mon 28-Jan-13 12:33:45

OOh, have fun, great age to get the DDs into sailing. Flotilla should be extra fun for them if there are other kids around too.

Clothing wise I would advise shorts and fleeces too. Leggings might be good for the girls - agree jeans can be a nightmare to dry onboard but you'll probably have some meals ashore as a group so save them for then. All very casual though, no need to dress up.
Shoes wise, trainers should be fine (non marking). In fact I would make sur you all have a pair with you just in case it's wet and things get slippy. I haven't worn deck shoes for years - there are lots of sailing-specific trainer styles around but that's probably an unnecessary investment at this stage. Crocs are better on boats than flipflops. Barefeet equal stubbed toes!
Lightweight waterproofs definitely necessary. And hats and sunglasses and lots of high factor waterproof sun cream because it's very easy to burn on a boat.

Lifejackets will be provided, but they tend to be of the Titantic style, and not very easy to move around in. If you want the girls to wear them all the time onboard, which is good practice for youngsters, then you might want to consider buying your own, but go to a shop and ask advice as there are issues with flying with gas canisters.
The alternative is a buoyancy aid - they are not designed for man overboard situations as they won't flip you the right way up (say if you get hit on the head... which won't happen by the way!) but they are much more comfortable to keep on all day (designed for dinghy sailing) and if your girls are reasonable swimmers they might be a compromise.

Who are you going with? Neilson have a forum on their website where guests can swop tips etc.

cavell Mon 28-Jan-13 12:37:23

If you are flotilla sailing, you shoudn't have to worry about capsize drill. You'll probaby just do "man overboard" - but normally you use a fender or soething for that (i.e. no-one gets wet).

One other word of advice - only pack flat shoes. When you are getting on and off yachts, you need footwear suitable for climbing and/or jumping. Heels are a liability.

specialsubject Mon 28-Jan-13 14:19:19

done several of these and they can be magical - and sometimes miserable. :-) At that time of year you will want wetsuits for swimming. If you are doing capsize drill on a yacht something has gone badly wrong. The most you will get is splashed unless someone falls off - and the latter is something you want to avoid at all costs.

packing: as little as possible, not much space on the boat, and pack in soft bags as there is no room to stow suitcases. Jeans are a bad idea; take ages to dry if splashed. Fleeces and a fleece hood, quick dry tops, spray tops. Board shorts are good, generally legs won't get cold. Everything will get salty (although not dirty) so just wear it all repeatedly for the week, wash it when you get home.

Loads of sun cream, good sunglasses tied on and sunhats, also tied on. Forget hairdryers and straighteners, and water on a yacht is very limited - showers should be rinse, water off, a little soap, rinse, water off. No more than two minutes water each, which is perfectly adequate to get clean.

not deck shoes (useless, bizarrely), crocs as mentioned or soft trainers. Not flip flops. Don't pack any heels, you can't get on and off the boat with them and you may be anchored at night which means going to shore in an inflatable.

lifejackets and harnesses should be provided for everybody with the boat. If you want to wear a lifejacket do so, and there are some conditions where you definitely should. If your kids can't swim, teach them before you go.

what are the kids doing while you are learning?

PM me if I can help further.

cavell Mon 28-Jan-13 21:21:02

Surprised you think deck shoes are useless - all the professionals I've ever known wear them. They definitely work in my experience.

Anyway. If you have some, take them. Perhaps not worth buying if you are not sure you'll ever go again - but take something that won't slip in the wet.

specialsubject Tue 29-Jan-13 14:23:51

I always found that my deck shoes did slip in the wet, despite the 'razor-cut' soles; no idea how people walk in them! Also heavy, hot, ugly and gave me blisters. As shoes they were real chocolate fireguards. DH had the same problems.

yes, I've seen yachties wear them. Puzzled!

TwelveLeggedWalk Tue 29-Jan-13 16:23:38

They're fine if you live in them, basically. They need to be properly worn in and kept supple, but they're not that grippy and have no lateral or ankle support - hence the race crews gave up in them years ago and now mostly wear sailing trainers. For a family holiday normal trainers should do the job just fine, just give them a rinse when you get home as saltwater makes shoes STINK!

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