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Corfu is an Ionian island with a unique culture that is a mixture of Italian, Greek and British.
Just off the coast from the border of Greece and Albania, you will find Corfu island has lots to offer from ancient ruins to modern day fun. Wander the narrow streets of Corfu Town and see the colonial mansions and old churches.
Corfu as an island has a unique cuisine - a mixture of pasta, fresh fish, meats and and herbs, you will find nothing quite like it in the rest of Greece.
On a Corfu yacht charter holiday you will almost certainly spend time in the holiday resort of Gouvia, a village that has grown into a large town on the east coast thanks to its beautiful beaches and large marina.
The beaches are among the best in Greece, and you don't have to look very hard to find one that isn't very crowded in summer. The popular sandy beaches such as Dassia, Paleokastritsa, and Glyfada are good - but a short sail down the coast and you may well find somewhere to yourself. The nightlife is some of the best in the region too!
A little bit of world history? Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was born in Corfu. Possibly the most famous person to have spent time there (even more famous than author and naturalist Gerald Durrell!).
Corfu is one of the Heptanese Islands - 'Seven Islands' - that we know as the seven main Ionian Islands. Each main island is actually an archipelago in its own right with smaller islands and islets just off their coasts.
On a Corfu yacht charter, whether bareboat charter or skippered, you have the opportunity to head south to the next islands of the Ionian Sea. Perhaps pausing at Parga on mainland Greece on the way south, visit Paxos (with the smaller Paxi nearby) Lefkada, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Kithra.
Each island in the chain has its own unique way of life thanks to the size of them - most of them have several thousand residents who have lineage for many generations on the islands. Common to most are the olive groves, excellent beaches and secluded bays of the islands. You will find old towns with narrow streets and a variety of gems such as palaces, mansions and castles.
The Heptanese Islands have only been under Greek rule for 150 years or so. They were run from Venice for many centuries until they were relinquished to Greece. Venice was a major regional empire and ruled as far north as modern day Croatia so those travelling the area - by bareboat yacht charter or crewed yacht charter - will find elements of the way of life that resonate with much of the Adriatic to the north. This is what makes the region so special - at once part of Greece yet quite separate in other ways.
This is one of the busiest holiday airports in Greece, with a large number of airlines serving it from across Europe and some countries beyond.
Corfu's main marina at Gouvia is just 9km away and will cost around €11 by taxi or €2 by bus. The bus takes 15 minutes and the taxi around ten.
There are around seven marinas in Corfu taking a variety of sizes and shapes of boats. Most of them are tiny except of Gouvia Marina (over 1200 berths) and Limin Kerkyra (100 berths - not huge but significant). Yacht charter companies working into the two have catamaran charter, motor yacht, sailing boat and luxury yacht charter. You can even call in on a mega yacht.
Among the smaller ones is Kassiopi Marina with 20 berths and a maximum vessel size of 16m - good for a charter yacht on a tour of the island.
Max Length 80m (262.4 Feet)
Max Draught 5.5m (18 Feet)
List of additional services: Shore power, water, WiFi, showers, toilets, bar, restaurant, ship repair, fuel station, market, waste collection and ATM.
Limin Kerkyra Marina:
Max Length 20m (65.6 Feet)
Max Draught 3m (9.8 Feet)
List of additional services: Water, dressing rooms, market, bar, restaurant, ship repair
The most northern of the North Ionian Islands, a Corfu yacht charter is an opportunity to explore all to the south. It helps that the Bora wind is from the south so you go uphill for the first half of the sailing holiday and then downhill for the second.
7 days - Corfu, Lefkas, Kefalonia: Perhaps spending a day at the beautiful mainland hillside port of Parga on the way down, head to Lefkada with its interesting culture and beautiful beaches. Kefalonia was made famous in the movie, Captain Corelli's Mandolin thanks to its scenery and old fishing villages. Return north to explore the west coast of Corfu.
14 days - Heptanese Islands and Crete: Crete is almost as unique within Greece for its culture as Corfu. A large island off the south of the Peloponnese peninsula on the Greek mainland, you will soon find yourself awed at its mountainous terrain and beautiful villages. The island is large enough to be an island nation in its own right, and has peculiarities that you will remember forever. On the way out, explore Kithra in the south Ionian - a very different island to the North Ionian Islands again.
The sailing season runs from late April to October with July and August being the busiest months for yacht charter. Unlike the Aegean, the Ionian Sea is dominated by the Bora - the same wind that affects nearby Croatia. In summer this is far more benign and far more sailing friendly than the often beefy Meltemi. Building to a fun F5-6 in the afternoon from a zephyr in the morning, you can almost time your daily sailing by it.
The sea is cooler at the beginning of the sailing season but there is rainfall in Spring. As the days lengthen you will still see green fields and flowers in May and the winds can be quite benign too. Combined with the crowds being smaller, this suggests that May to early June are the sweet spot for an Ionian boat rental.
Come September and October the seas are still like a warm bath. With the wetter climate than the Aegean this is less of a problem so with the warm seas could be at least as good as the earlier months of the year.
April to mid June: There is rainfall and the temperatures build steadily from the mid-teens to the mid 20 degree C range. There are sometimes cooler northerly winds, though the southerly Bora kicks in in around early May. There is more rainfall here than on Aegean Greece but you will soon find that a blessed relief from the heat!
Late June-August: You'll be unlucky if you see any rain, though it could be welcome in the summer heat. Temperatures are from 30s with recent hot days exceeding 40 - often hotter than the Aegean. The Bora often adds to the heat with its tropical origins.
September-October: The seas remain warm, as does the air. These months can be the best time of year to sailas the temperatures are often in the comfortable low to mid 20s though can touch 30C from time to time.
The main points to consider are what is your budget, have you got the necessary sailing experience and qualifications to manage the boat if it's not going to have a skipper, whom you are taking sailing, where exactly you wish to go and what will the weather be like on the proposed dates of your trip.
The two main marinas are Gouvia Marina (with over 1,200 berths) and the much smaller Limin Kerkyra Marina with 100.
September and October are still warm months in Corfu and with the regular rains offsetting the heat you will also find that there are few water shortages if ever unlike other Greek islands. The water is at its warmest too.
You will typically pay 50% up front on booking the yacht hire and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance. In some cases (such as the recent Covid situation) charter companies may be more flexible but this depends on the individual charter companies themselves.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16 or ring the coast guard on your phone if you have reception. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to or are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the boat charter company.
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the yacht charter or boat hire before you book and where do you want to go along with what the weather will be like. Bring warm weather and cool weather clothing if it looks like the weather can be cool as well as warm and remember at sea it can be cool on most evenings.
If you want to sail without a skipper then you will need relevant qualifications like RYA Day Skipper/International Certificate of Competence (ICC)/ASA 104 Bareboat certificate or the US Sailing Certificate. For small 'day boats' or if you choose to have a skippered on board your yacht charter you typically don't require licences.
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