Detailed instructions from an experienced skipper, so that the sailing trip from heaven doesn’t turn in a weeklong hostage situation
Hidden beaches and crystal clear seas, authentic huts in which you can try fresh fish specialties, sunsets like the most heartbreaking Hollywood ones – are all reasons that are making me contemplate a sailing trip for a while now. But, to be honest, I can also picture the boat rocking and seasickness attacks from boarding till abandoning the boat, as well as storms with unthinkable outcomes. The adventure is to great to just abandon the idea of my fairytale, and one of the first steps in breaking this stigma and thought process of a split personality disorder is to get reassured by a person who is professional, experienced and trustworthy. And I found him, a skipper named Jovan Crnogorac, part of the 4 Me Sailing, who has been sailing for twelve years, as a skipper since 2013, and as a steersman on his own competitive sailboat who has won multiple trophies in over 60 regattas. Jovan earned his skipper license Yaht Master in Belgrade, and his training in AJK Beograd. Besides for sailing, Jovan enjoys running, biking, swimming (triatalon coach), diving (instructor), sowboarding (instructor), Alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. During the winter he works at Kopaonik, as a snowboarding instructor, and during the summer he sails. You must agree that he’s the perfect person to talk to about a short sailing guide and survival equipment, pardon me, complete enjoyment in the adventure called sailing.
When you decide to go sailing for the first time, which destination should you choose, and how do you prepare yourself for this endeavor?
For your first sailing, or sail boat experience you should pick a tour that doesn’t involve long sailing trips and revolves in an aquatorium abundant in smaller or bigger islands. This is important so that the skipper could move the ship from strong wind or waves in time. Of course both the wind and waves are a crucial aspect of sailing, but for first timers it can seem like an unexpected situation.
What is the thing you simply cannot forget to bring on the trip?
I usually advise travelers to bring regular vacation wear as well as some warmer clothing (a sweatshirt, sweatpants and a thin waterresistant jacket). Mornings and evenings can be chilly inside bays, as well as in the wind if the sun is hidden. Out of technical equipment, you should bring a mobile phone charger that operates on 12V (like ones you use in a car), as well as a ‘large’ enough memory card.
Should a conformist dare to go on this adventure?
Depending on a definition of a conformist, I will give two answers. A conformist as a person that doesn’t like surprises and leaving his/her comfort zone can go on a sailing trip because that’s how the tours are imagined. It is because of different sensibilities and needs of different clients, that there are different types of tours. Touristy, beach-restaurant ones, where clients get to check out top beaches and restaurants (also the most common), followed by touristy adventurist ones where clients get do discover and visit new places, so far unseen or undiscovered, sailing week party – a trip with a nightlife theme, visiting clubs at night and famous beaches during daytime, extreme tours with sailing at any cost theme – in all conditions, where clients are experienced, as well as regatta tours. On the other hand, if a conformist is someone who needs more intimacy and space, organization of space and usage of resources on the boat, the answer is: The sailboat is comfortable for a set number of passengers, every additional passenger will affect the comfort level of trip. In most cases, a six person boat will be leased by four people, or a 10 passenger boat will be leased by 4-6 people. When it comes to sharing resources, water and electricity, it is common that travelers don’t think about those ‘trivial’things which aren’t abundant on a boat, thus leaving the tap open while brushing their teeth or washing their hands. Normally, the skipper will organize a meeting, as soon as all the passengers have boarded the ship, and will point out the organizational structure and code of conduct. The cabins are smaller than a hotel room, as well as the bathroom, there are no such luxuries as a Jacuzzi… but you also can’t jump out of a hotel room or a restaurant, straight into the turquoise and cristal clear waters, and each time in a different place, bay, beach, island.
The worst thing that can happen is staying in one of the ports a day longer
Which stigmas fall after the first day spent sailing?
Firstly the stigmas about a confined space, and then about the sailboat rocking. The space is smaller that in apartments and condos, but is also maximally practical and put to use. Everything has its place and is optimized for and adapted to living on water. Ships without sails are the ones that rock more on waves, thus creating discomfort for passengers. A sailboat with sails just tilts a bit and doesn’t rock because the wind pushes and fixates it.
Beautiful beaches and hidden bays, fresh fish and authentic huts are what most think of when it comes to sailing? What else is there to expect?
Waking up, each time on a new island, coffee with a view of a sunrise, wind on your skin and in your hair, starry skies that can be experienced nowhere else but on a deserted island, away from the light pollution.
And which are the less comfortable things?
Bad weather, which you can’t influence, even when you organize everything in order to avoid the island, with scooters and quads.
What is your biggest problem on these trips?
I don’t have one.
One person can do everything on the boat, but because of the excessive amount of free time I give the crew some simple tasks
Many fear an unknown crew. Spending a week in a confined space with people that irritate you?! Did you ever have to stop in order for someone to leave the boat?
That has never happened… I simply follow the crew rhythm, jump in when necessary and stop any kind of misbalance. Most of the crews are people that already know each other, ones that are solo; I fit into a crew of similar habits and sensibilities.
How much work is there on a sailboat? What kind of help is expected from the passengers?
One person can do everything on the boat, but because of the excessive amount of free time I give the crew some simple tasks. It makes the experience more interesting, and they get to learn something new.
Croatia or Greek islands – what is the difference when sailing?
When it comes to sailing, some destinations in Greece are more demanding (for example the Cyclades) due to high wind exposure and large waves. Other destinations and tours are easier, and can be adapted to the weather, both in Greece and in Croatia. Croatian islands are closer to each other and the sailing trips are shorter. Due to the fact that this country is the leader in charter flights in the Mediterranean, during the season the ports and bays are crowded. Croatia is also more expensive, when it comes to marines and restaurants, but also provides better services. In Greece, such crowds can be expected in the Ionian Sea as well as the south Aegean (South Sporades and Cyclades). There are much less sailboats in the north Sporades.
Which is the ideal time of the year for this adventure?
It’s best to avoid the period starting from the beginning of July, and up to mid August, because then you can’t find a spot in the marines, which is important for filling the water and food supplies, which needs to be done at least 3 times during the trip. It’s ideal to sail during May, June, September and October, as well as the end of August.
Storms in the open sea are something that everyone fears. Did you experience sudden storms and panic?
There is no room for panic because all situations can be solved. Bad weather doesn’t come all of the sudden, the weather forecast is monitored constantly, literally each hour, based on what I can plan which marine to go to. The worst thing that can happen is staying in one of the ports for a dal longer. It’s usually a larger city, with interesting sights. In those cases we usually rent scooters and quads and go on a trip around the island.
What do first timers say, how bothered are they by the rocking and how to overcome the sensation?
As I previously stated, rocking is just one of the stigmas. Seasickness mostly occurs due to overeating and overdrinking during the trip. Sensitive people should bring some sort of medicine.
What are the best moments you experienced on these travels?
Unforgettable moments would be encounters with dolphins, swimming and jumping from under the boar, especially during the night under the moonlight; sunrises and sundowns in the wilderness surrounded by turquoise and crystal clear waters; the quiet in a starry night that is disturbed only by the sound of small waves breaking against the side of the boat and the quiet sount of the warm wind around the sails and strings
Which destination would you choose for a sailing trip from your dreams?
Thailand, Andaman Sea.
Your favorite places?
There are many beautiful places, I will pick only a few… islands Paxos and Anti-paxos in the Ionian sea, Alonisos in the Aegean, Vis and Lastovo in the Adriatic.
What are the craziest demands you got from passengers?
I often got requests for exact timing of arrival to certain islands because the guests books a table for dinner, which is practically impossible, the speed of sailing can’t be precisely predicted. There are many elements that influence the trip, such as the weather, wind, waves, currents finding a spot in the marine that was full since the afternoon. Guests should understand that everything is relatively planned, and is prone to changes on the go, in synch with the weather and sailing conditions.
Did you ever have solo passengers that wanted the experience only for themselves?
I once had a passenger from France, who demanded to be alone on the boat for seven days.
What should one bring on a sailing trip?
You should keep in mind the fact that the luggage you will bring with you will depend on the period you’re spending on the boat, as well as the region you’re visiting. In the following text I’ll provide a list of things necessary for a seven day sailing trip in Greece during the summer months on July, August or September.
Layering clothes plays an important role in sailing. Pack a jacket/wind runner, long sleeve shirt, even a warmer sweater. The temperature can drastically fall during evening hours and rapidly increase with the first sunlight. Take in consideration the fact that you’ll be wet while sailing.
Other that the standard equipment of a summertime tourist (flip-flops, slippers, sneakers), when sailing you should bring one piece of footwear that won’t leave marks on the deck. Sneakers with a white sole or converse are ideal. Avoid walking barefoot, at least for the first few days, until you get accustomed to the way the boat is organized, in order to avoid injuries.
The bags you pack everything in should be easily bendable, in order to fit into asymmetrical storage units. If you bring a suitcase you will have to leave it in the car, and take your clothes only to the boat.
When it comes to personal hygiene bring what you normally use at home. You should bring towels, while the bed sheets will be provided.
Water and electricity are expendable sources on the boat. There are around 300 liters of water, and if everyone on boar is conscious a stop to the marine every two days will suffice. The electricity is 12V and for your phone charger bring one you would use in your car. If the engine is on, it can charge a laptop over the inverter at 220V. A blow dryer or hair straightener can be plugged in only when in the marine.
When it comes to medicine you should bring seasickness tablets, diarrhea medicine and adequate medicine for allergies if you have any. A light sleeper should also pack earplugs. The wind can create noise, and also, sometimes other passengers snore.