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A time to enjoy the Accessible Sailing in the Aegean Sea now a reality

Updated: 7 days ago

Sailing in Greece is a richly rewarding experience. A trip on the calm Greek waters, on your own or on a chartered yacht, offers you the possibility to float among some beautiful groups of islands, anchor in protected bays, visit inaccessible beaches, and swim in clear, clean, and transparent waters. 

The chance to appreciate the beauty of stunning seascapes, picturesque villages, indispensable archaeological sites, and striking landscapes, is not to be missed. In the serene atmosphere of the islands, the opportunity to enjoy authentic Greece in tavérnas and in “kafeneía”, and become part of the true “Island culture”. 

Accessible sailing is now possible in Greece?

I traveled to the port of Karavos on the island of Evia to meet Captain Antonis and his wife, where I heard the incredible story of a unique sailing experience while enjoying the beauty of the island and taking in my surroundings.

After driving for about 1,5 hours from the airport of Athens, I reached the small village of Aliveri. From the main road, I directed myself to the waterfront and only after a short drive,I arrived at the picturesque port of Karavos. As my eyes wandered along the pier and I was trying to define which boat belonged to  Captain Antonis, a waving hand with a big smile surprised me from one of the boats. I was spotted by the captain as soon as I arrived at the port.

The Dufour 49 was located only a short walk from the main part of the port. Just a few other sailing boats were at the pier. The other boats seem to belong to the local fisherman. The port radiated authenticity and was a hidden gem of the Greek experience. A warm welcome was awaiting me from the captain and his wife Eliza once I set foot in the sailing boat I found entering it was very easy with a 1-meter wide ramp placed between the pier and the boat. 

As always, once we settled down comfortably and started our chat, I was very curious to find out the “story behind” Captain Antonis’ adapted boat. Since all commercial boats and sailing companies in mass are to be found along the peninsula of Attiki close to Athens, I traveled for over one hour to reach the port in Evia. This prompted me to one of the first questions I wanted to ask Antonis, the reason he had chosen this port as his base. 

“Athens is big, crowded, expensive, fast, and commercial”, he quickly responded, “so my wife and I decided to bring the boat and start our tours from here as Evia offers not only the authentic experience but also is an undiscovered treasure of authenticity and has so much to explore by land and sea”. And after my drive here, I couldn't agree more with his opinion and the idea of starting a perfect sailing experience.

My curiosity list did not stop of course there and it was time to hear the story from the beginning….The first idea of making the boat accessible was Mr. Antonis' dog and dearest friend, who, due to an injury, could only walk with difficulties. To make it comfortable and easy for him and to be able to take him on the boat, Antonis ordered the ramp and installed it on the boat. He then realized that it was not only more comfortable and safer for the dog to reach the boat but also for all of the passengers. The ramp was an inspiring starting point and shortly after his wheelchair-bound friend experienced it and declared proudly that from now on he could be a visitor on this boat as well. 

This is where the real co-creating era started. Tables were made removable, and a prototype of the lift into the lower deck was created and tested along with a wheelchair aisle similar to the ones used on the plane. The toilets were equipped with handrails and a bigger sleeping area was created. “We have learned with every traveler we have had on board, and we continue learning. But of course, a certain level of flexibility and acceptance is needed for all of us. This specifies the boat life and being a sailor. ” 

One of the most remarkable statements was made after I had asked Antonis how he could make sure that everyone would be able to enjoy the sailing experience. “The sailing boat is a perfect environment to create inclusion. It is unstable and it wobbles, therefore everyone needs the help of the handles and rails to hold onto, regardless of whether you can walk or not. The ramp that leads onto the boat is also a perfect ramp for getting into the water thanks to a height adjustment system. So we all use the same access to the water when going swimming. And when arriving at the port, we are all at the mercy of the same, mostly limited, infrastructure of the ports and enjoy the local conditions together.”

And with his strong tenor voice, he said: “ I am only the captain. 

It is my wife Eliza, who is the soul and the heart of the boat. She is the one with whom all guests, without exception, fall in love. Just as she has always looked after our 5 children, she does the same with the guests."

As my sailing experiences are very limited, I wanted to know for whom this can be a great experience and where to go. Surely sailing is a very specific activity. There are experienced sailors as well as persons who have never been on a sailing boat. Once the guests have designer-to-tray sailing and include it in their holiday, the different options on offer range from one-day sailing experience up to a week-long sailing tour adapted to the needs and preferences of the travelers. As we can imagine, sailing is always about weather. Therefore the routes and ideas are given, where to go and what to experience, but the final travel plan is made each day, by carefully observing the weather forecast and together with the captain to decide the daily route and stops.

Meeting Captain Antonis is a great start to a unique product that offers the experience to those who always have sailing dreams, want to explore the Greek seas, and be captured by the inclusion of sailing boats.

For Careundersun it is a great start for co-creating experiences combining our range of activities on land with added days on a sailing boat, providing accessible transportation as well as lengthening programs on Evia or other parts of Greece. We are looking forward to welcoming all sailors and non-sailors for the unique experience. 

Sabine Switalla

CareunderSun Accessible Travel Expert & Consultant

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