In the second of our MEDYS 2014 series we ask the Greek yachting experts what the benefits are to choosing a luxury crewed superyacht with a Greek national Captain when chartering in the region.
There are many things to consider when booking a luxury charter vacation – what your requirements are and which yacht to choose to accommodate them, where you want to go, what you want to do while you are there – are all obvious aspects to discuss with your charter broker. It is the finer details however that can really make your charter vacation an experience like no other and how well your Captain knows the area in which you are cruising will make a big difference.
At this year’s Mediterranean Yacht Show we asked four of the founding member of the Greek Yachting Association (GYA) what they recommend to their clients in terms of a Greek Captain versus a foreign Captain:
George Pappas, Managing Director of Big Blue Yachting
"Well you have to go with a Greek crew. It is ridiculous not to go with a Greek crew – this is nothing against British Captains, French Captains or Dutch but only a Greek Captain knows the area. A particular French Captain will be more than capable at their job, maybe they even have better sailing skills but they do not have the know-how. They don’t know where to anchor – they don’t Pedro the fisherman who is going to hold on to the 4 and a half kilo fish or a fresh-caught lobster for the client. They just don’t have the ways and means. These Greek Captains, I mean you should see their variable patterns – the way they come and go from the islands! It’s like they are driving a car! They just speed into the docks and then you can be sitting in a café watching these huge ferries trying to get in. So on this one, you must go home-grown."
Spiros Galanakis, Managing Director of Athens Yachts
"I would say that it is very handy to get a yacht with a Greek Captain. Greek Captains have their own connections - they know everyone but it is not as though they will get the priority over any of the other foreign yachts. But they know the places to go, every Captain will have his certain place, his area and this is logical. I think it does depend also on the nationality and individual of each charterer because some people are very demanding. For example, I would propose a Greek Captain to a Greek client – I will give you an example: The Greek client will want to go ashore to the beach and they prefer to be on the beach and feel safe if they are just one metre off. Other clients just don’t want that, Russian clients for example want more privacy so I would steer a Russian client more towards a West Mediterranean crew or maybe perhaps a British Captain. I just feel that it depends on the nationality of the guest."
Stefanos Macrymichalos of Cape4 Yachting
"There are some clients with very specific needs who want to see very specific places so a lot of the time we will put together an itinerary for the client. Once they are on board the yacht they will discuss the itinerary with the Captain in more detail than they would with the broker. Then the Captain will propose ideas – so the big benefit you have when hiring a local yacht with local crew is that the yacht will be better qualified to offer diversity. The Captain knows the waters, knows the territory much better, knows the depths, he knows where to throw his anchor and where to tie his ropes when they are in a remote location, which obviously a foreign yacht does not know as well. So there are constantly new places being discovered by the Captains, and our Captains in particular are very experienced in that sense. They will find that new place that is so remote and has the tiny fishing village with the taverna run by the grandma and grandpa who prepare the fish in a certain way. These things are unique, and I think there are so many places that do not go on the map."
The Captain knows the waters, knows the territory much better, knows the depths, he knows where to throw his anchor and where to tie his ropes when they are in a remote location, which obviously a foreign yacht does not know as well.
Aris Drivas of Aris Drivas Yachting
"All over the world, if you go somewhere by sea, you will prefer to have a local. A Greek Captain here will know the islands, the port. In a country like this with so many islands and so many ports this is very important, you must also know the sea. If you want to see more and visit fantastic bays and beaches, it is better to choose a local who knows….They must know the area, the islands, the best tavernas because the Captain is not only the driver of the boat, the Captain’s main role is to communicate with the clients – to be their guide, know their interests. He can suggest to them to go to a small island where they can get the freshest seafood and the best lobster or to go to a church that is thousands of years old. The Captain has to be everything as well as the rest of the crew."
Amongst other elements such as personality or professionalism, any Captain that holds extensive knowledge and experience of a specific cruising area will be able to ensure you get the most out of your charter itinerary. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a Captain that was born and raised in that particular area but one that has a true understanding and passion for the culture as a whole. With such a huge diversity of islands in Greece, it is important that the Captain and crew are comfortable in seeking out new areas away from the mainstream tourists.