Caribbean Sailing Vacations by Ed Hamilton

Greece. The Dodecanese Islands

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yacht charter in Symi, Dodecanese IslandsAs Greek Islands go, the Dodecanese chain is the farthest to the east, so close to Turkey in some cases that the islands are visible from their neighboring country’s mainland. The Dodecanese—which translates literally into “12 islands”—are actually composed of 12 main islands plus dozens of smaller islands. Only two dozen or so of the Dodecanese islands are inhabited, so for the purposes of yacht charter, they tend to be the islands that will be on your itinerary for day trips ashore.

            The biggest and best-known of the Dodecanese islands is Rhodes. Its famous walled city is a World Heritage Site, now filled with shops and restaurants of the modern variety. Still, its imposing architecture looms over the harbor like the island’s history itself. You will approach what Courtyard in town, yacht charter destinationused to be a drawbridge entry after your charter yacht docks in the harbor, just as sailors friendly and hostile alike have done for centuries. And, once inside the walled city, you will literally be walking the same path that generations of people have walked before you. It’s a humbling and fascinating experience.

            Smaller islands in the Dodecanese chain can be just as interesting for charter, as well—especially since many of them are too small to accommodate cruise ships (and their crowds). Symi (sometimes spelled Simi) is a favorite among yacht charter guests because of its picturesque main harbor, surrounded by colorful homes climbing the mountainsides from every angle. As harbors frequented by charter yachts go, Symi’s is arguably as stunning as the more charter yacht in Greek Dodecanese Islandspopular Portofino harbor across the Mediterranean in Italy.

            Also on Symi, you’ll find examples of Byzantine architecture as well as a monastery built in honor of St. Michael, the patron saint of the sea. Countless bottles stuffed with offerings and handwritten notes have washed upon the monastery’s shore for centuries, many of them tossed from passing boats in the same waters where your charter will take place. You can view some of these notes, as well as artifacts from the island and broader Dodecanese region, by taking a tour of the museums housed within the monastery itself.

            If you have more than a week to enjoy a charter in Greece, you also might consider an itinerary that includes the Cyclades chain of Greek islands or the coast of mainland Turkey, which flank the Dodecanese on either side. Ask us for some suggestions! Please give me details of suitable yachts.

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Photo credits for this page: Kim Kavin
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