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The Love Boat

Nov 19, 2015 · 6 min read

What could be more romantic than a boat for two, bobbing around some of the world’s most beautiful destinations? A sailing holiday is the perfect romantic break, and with a few insider tips you’ll ensure it really is a holiday to remember…for all the right reasons…

You’re going to need a bigger boat…

Space is always at a premium on a boat. So if y o u’re planning a special romantic trip with your partner then it’s worth splashing out for the biggest one you can get just for the two of you. My wife Lorna and I once chartered a 47ft catamaran that actually slept eight around Anguilla , which was a particularly luxurious decision — generally though, due to its configuration, a catamaran, or ‘multihull’, will offer more space than a monohull. Considerations when booking any kind of boat though should be outside space — make sure you have some — and having more than one bathroom or shower. If you do want to sail with other people then think about flotilla sailing, offering more privacy than a group on a single boat. Flotilla sailing is where a group of smaller boats sail together with an experienced lead crew, so you can enjoy together time and a social scene in the evening when you reach your destination. In flotilla sailing, a two-week holiday can often work out as more economical than booking just one…so be prepared to take a longer break to really get a good deal. The hardship of it…

Let somebody else take the strain…

Even if you can sail, think about downing tools and letting someone else take over all the hard work. Ok, in your head you might start out with visions of you both at the helm of a ‘bareboat’ (a boat you hire without crew to sail yourself), cutting through the waves in search of adventure and surviving on one-pot pasta. But in reality the chances are you’re going to want to settle down and sunbathe most days, rounded off by a delicious evening meal prepared by someone else and served to you. They say the art of a good relationship is not looking at each other, but in the same direction. And on a sailing holiday it’s just easier to let the skipper do that. Do make sure that the skipper and any crew sharing your boat are compatible with you though — research, read recommendations and talk to them beforehand. As ever, the rules of small space apply — and you do not get much of it once aboard in which to regret any wrong decisions.

Pick your experience carefully…

Things to consider when you’re planning your destination are what kind of sailing route you want to do — round a particular island (try the Balearic islands of Ibiza and Mallorca in the Med), along a coast (Croatia’s coastline between Pula and Korcula offers beautiful waters and great island hopping ), between islands (Greek islands are particularly good — particularly placid stretches include the Ionian Islands, off northern Greece, offering warm weather sailing into calm harbours at Lefkas and Meganissi and the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece) or even across open water (between some far-spaced Caribbean islands). Classic gentle Caribbean/West Indies sailing routes include the Sir Francis Drake Channel in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) or the Sea of Abaco in the Bahamas. If you want to dive while you’re out at sea find out whether your skipper is a dive master and whether this is an option included in your trip. And importantly, avoid big cruise destinations if you can — these include harbours at key stops such as St Martin/St Maarten and St Thomas, and Nassau in the Bahamas. Nothing ruins the free sailin’ vibe like arriving somewhere with 3000 other people.

Nothing but smooth sailing…

Wherever you go, make sure you have calm seas — unexpected weather aside, you can up the chances of smooth sailing with careful timing. One of the best things about a sailing holiday is the tranquility of bobbing gently on the sea. But if you’ve picked the hurricane season in the Caribbean (June to November) to sail then that might blow that idea apart. Clinging on to the sides of a boat or going green with seasickness are both highly unromantic. For the Caribbean the best sailing times are between December and May. In the Mediterranean, the times to avoid — or consider carefully — are those that coincide with the strong seasonal winds that blow from the land to sea in various parts. These include the Meltemi that can hit the waters of parts of Greece and Turkey (at its strongest in July and August) and the Mistral in southern France, strongest along the Provencal coastline in July. Both are prime yacht charter times though — and one way to deal with this is to choose an experienced skipper who will know how best to negotiate these seasonal challenges.

Boats are confined spaces that traditionally have little storage, but thankfully you will spend most of your time on deck in your swimming costume and barefoot (the accepted dress code for a boat). So don’t pack a lot. You might even want to restrict yourself to a large carry on — pack in soft bags though rather than suitcases as hard cases are more difficult to stow in lockers onboard. Essentials include non-slip shoes, shorts, T-shirts, a jumper, a sarong and some good suntan lotion (lots of UV rays reflecting off the water on a boat). At sea nobody cares what you’re wearing — and your romantic other probably even less so. So embrace the freedom. With the salt wind in your hair and sun on your face you’ve probably never looked better anyway…

On a boat you own your own environment if you don’t like somewhere you can always push off, and if you do you’re free to stay there a bit longer. But don’t just drop anchor in a bay or harbour for the whole week — if you do you’ll be missing out on the most compelling reason for taking a sailing holiday, the freedom it offers to you to explore. There is certainly nothing more romantic than meandering from port to port along a coastline, stopping for lunch and a splash off the side of the boat in the crystal waters of bays along the way. It’s another good reason to get a skipper, as the most you will have to do to move on is give the word. Then you can just open a bottle of rose and sit back and relax. You’re on holiday — and this holiday goes with you, wherever you go. Cheers!

What could be more romantic than a boat for two, bobbing around some of the world’s most beautiful destinations? A sailing holiday is the perfect romantic break, and with a few insider tips you’ll…