Recently I had the good fortune to read a book set in Greece that reminded me of my first flotilla holiday experience. It was a bit different to the characters in the book as there wasn’t a love triangle involved. Instead my family and I went to Greece a few years’ ago.
A flotilla holiday (with his family) is something that my husband had been wanting to make happen for a long time. He also got prepared by buying a pilot book, not just for the Ionian Sea, which was where we were headed, but for Greece in general. When he first bought the book, I had a feeling that he wanted to plan more than one holiday.
So we took our teen children as we thought the years keep flying by and how much longer will they be willing to join us on family holidays.
So what is a flotilla holiday?
Well it is a sailing holiday where you are part of a flotilla, which means that there is a lead boat with a crew from the company who has organised this holiday who looks after the flotilla. In addition there were four other boats. So five boats in total.
Given that sailing isn’t my favourite leisure activity, this holiday changed my mind. Sure I took seasickness tablets every day, just to make sure that I didn’t feel too green. But I thought it was great. I think one of the main reasons for this was the fact that my husband and our kids were together. It was quality family time for the four of us.
The only disadvantage is sometimes you have short days (even though we went in the height of the summer holidays), since you need to get to the next port in plenty of time to get a space. We saw some rather amusing goings-on in the really busy ports.
Our boat was a Bavaria 39.
I’ve come up with a few tips that we discovered on our holiday.
Tip 1 – take foldable bags
The cabins had adequate storage to unpack your bags if you wanted to. Cross your fingers that you don’t have to carry your bags too far from where you get dropped off to the berth.
Tip 2 – Buy frozen bottles of water
This turned out to be a great tip for keeping the food in the fridge chilled. Some supermarkets will only sell you a limited amount of frozen bottles. We got lucky in one port where the children managed to buy 5 x bottles.
Tip 3 – Try out some of the bread
We bought a couple of types of bread. One of my favourites reminded me of a loaf of bread that we purchased daily in Italy when we lived there. In one town we treated ourselves to some fig biscuits that were very tasty.
Tip 4 – Buy local food
There was no way we were going to purchase digestive biscuits or cheddar cheese. We bought Greek yoghurt which was really tasty. We also found some Greek cheese that worked well in a sandwich and also melted in an omelette.
Tip 5 – Feel grateful for the assistance provided by the host and skipper
Before we left the marina on the first sailing day we were given a briefing of where we were headed. The first one featured a white board and an apt drawing of how we might be mooring that evening. For the rest of the trip there was no white board. Instead we referred to the chart and also the pilot book. We started off with a really large plastic covered pilot book (mostly in Greek) but I did appreciate when we got to borrow an English one to read further details of the places we had been to and were going to.
All in all it was a super family holiday, and one that we will remember for a long time.