Nine destinations to sail to at least once in a lifetime

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Tired of the usual navigation areas? Do you want to try something different? There are places that, for sailing enthusiasts, have something magical about them.

Some taste of extreme adventure, such as the Antarctic Peninsula, others harken back to the great Made-in-U.S. tradition, such as Marblehead, and still others taste of music and cocktails, such as Ilha Grande in Brazil. But there is one thing they all have in common. It is those places where you have to be able to navigate at least once in your life.

Why? Because each of them, in its own way, is able to give special emotions. In these pages we have chosen nine, located somewhat around the world, from faraway Thailand (increasingly a favorite winter charter destination) to cold Alaska to the crowded bays of Hong Kong and San Francisco, from cold Alaska to poetic Scotland. Problems of budget or time? Don’t worry, we’ve also looked a little in our dear old Mediterranean and bring you to the Dodecanese: don’t be fooled by the name, there are many but many more islands. So many, that each time will be a completely new navigation!

Andaman sea-thailandANDAMAN SEA – THAILAND – 10°28′ N 95°41′ E
The Andaman Sea is one of those places that, once visited, leaves one with a terrible desire to return as soon as possible. The climate is exceptional, as are the people you will meet, plus everything, starting with the food, is cheap. You will hardly find “traffic” by sea, and you will constantly have the feeling that you are the only visitor, with the advantage of easy navigation, suitable even for the inexperienced. Starting from the island of Phuket, where it is easy to find a charter boat in the southern port of the island, you can choose at your leisure whether to head north or south. In the first case you will be immersed in Phang-Nga National Park, a marine reserve consisting of one hundred and twenty atolls that will make you feel like you are part of a Peter Jackson (the director of the Lord of the Rings saga) movie. The islands are full of caves and waterfalls to visit, and 007 fans can dock at Khao Tapoo Island, also renamed James Bond Island where the legendary film “The Man with the Golden Gun” was filmed. The water is glow-in-the-dark and you should definitely not miss a night sailing with a bath, you will get back on the boat full of light. To the south, however, do not miss the Krabi Peninsula with its beaches.

Directions:
To navigate, one generally starts from the island
of Phuket via Bangkok
When to go:
November to March
Ports and marinas:
Yacht Haven Marina Phuket
(www.yacht-haven-phuket.com)

Resurrection Bay, AlaskaRESURRECTION BAY – ALASKA – 59° 97′ N – 149° 38′ W
An auspicious name given by Governor Alexandr Baranov (1746-1819), who took shelter here during a fierce storm. An almost pristine location, where the opening scenes of the great classic “Hunt for Red October” were also filmed.. A true sailor’s paradise, where the wind blows regularly between 15 and 20 knots, from the north in the morning, then rotating south in the afternoon. Perfect for sailing almost always to the carriers, if you decide in the day to leave and then return to Seward, the only significant population center in the area and with a well-equipped and modernized marina a few years ago. But Resurrection Bay’s richness also lies in the large number of fjords and bays and sheer ice walls (such as those at Harding and Grewingk-Yalik), interspersed with steep stretches of forest. A not-to-be-missed anchorage is Thumb Cove, about seven miles from Seward, where you can give anchorage in complete safety and enjoy the spectacular scenery around you, especially in summer, when the sun does not decide to cross the horizon line. If you go ashore with the tender, however, beware of bears, which are very present in the area…

Directions:
By plane you land at
Anchorage, then you can
rent a car
or take the train
When to go:
May to August
Ports and marinas:
Seward Small Boat Harbour
(www.cityofseward.us)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFIRTH OF CLYDE – SCOTLAND – 55° 40′ N – 5° 00′ W
One of the finest seafaring books (albeit masquerading as a thriller) is Bjorn Larsson’s “The Celtic Circle,” which devotes splendid and thrilling lines to an adventurous sail right in the Firth of Clyde. A quintessential Scottish magical place, rich in remnants of the Celtic era, this long inlet, about 20 miles wide at its mouth and 50 miles deep, is home to a large number of islands: a must stop must be made by mooring at Arran, called “Scotland in miniature” for being divided into “high lands” and “low lands.” Not to be missed is Brodick Castle, a landmark of the island still inhabited by the Dukes of Hamilton. For whiskey lovers, the nearby beautiful island of Islay (called the Queen of the Hebrides) is for you: indeed, the headquarters of some of the world’s most famous single malt brands are located here. It is not the easiest of sailing, those in the Firth of Clyde, mainly because of the currents that form and can take away as much as two knots of speed from the boats. Routes should therefore always be carefully plotted, and calculating tide times becomes crucial. Ultimately, it is the ideal place for those who, in addition to sailing, like to launch themselves into the discovery of history and culture.

Directions:
Land in Glasgow: they are
several airlines,
also low cost, which here
do service
When to go:
May to August
Ports and marinas:
Find the main Scottish marinas at www.sailscotland.co.uk

antarctic_sailingANTARCTIC PENINSULA – ANTARCTICA – 69° 30′ S – 65° 00′ W
We are at the northern end of the Antarctic continent, just across from the coast of South America, this long strip of land and ice has predominantly mountainous terrain, with peaks exceeding 2,800 meters. Reaching these shores is obviously not within everyone’s reach: the nearest safe harbor is Puerto Williams, Chile, on the opposite side of the Drake Strait… Here the weather changes often and also rather quickly, but if you are looking for contact with the wildest nature, this is the place to be: among whales, seals and penguins, you will find yourself in one of the few unspoiled paradises on earth. Mark these coordinates by the way: 64°52′ S and 62° 53′ W. Here you will find Paradise Bay, one of the most spectacular anchorages on the entire continent. Don’t expect to encounter comfort on this trip-at most you may make the acquaintance of a few researchers at one of the international bases scattered along the peninsula. You can then retrace in part the mythical voyage of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who just 100 years ago succeeded in the desperate feat of rescuing his crew, traveling 800 miles in a lifeboat only seven meters long (see GdV December/January 2013 p. 56).

Directions:
It usually starts
From Puerto Williams (Chile),
accessible by air from
Santiago, with stopover
in Punta Arenas
When to go:
December to March
Ports and marinas:
The nearest place to find assistance is Puerto Williams,
in Chile(www.ptowilliams.cl)

brasilILHA GRANDE – BRAZIL – 23° 09′ S – 44° 14′ W
Among the many incredible beauties of Brazil celebrated around the world, one is undoubtedly missing, Ilha Grande. Located about 100 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, this island is the main one of the 360 that dot the bay of the same name. An ancient base for pirates who plundered Spanish galleons laden with gold, this bay is also nicknamed “The Caribe of Brazil.” The vegetation is lush to say the least, dominated by a tropical forest, even reminiscent of the Amazon (we are, after all, not that far away…). For diving enthusiasts, it is a magical place because of the many varieties of fish that reside here. In addition to the many dreamy bays, and clear beaches, among the many curiosities for boaters are the floating restaurants, such as Barco Bar and Jango’s, near a beautiful spot (in jargon, a windsurfer-friendly place) called Dentist’s Beach. You can order your food directly via the onboard VHF, or someone directly from the restaurant will come on board to take your orders. Similarly, you can eat sitting at a table on the floating platforms or receive food directly “at your doorstep.”

Directions:
From Rio de Janeiro, by plane,
ferry or sailing
When to go:
All year round, but it is best to avoid
December to March for the rains
Ports and marinas:
For information, www.ilhagrande.org

6243953MARBLEHEAD – UNITED STATES – 42° 30′ N – 70° 51′ E
It is one of the meccas of sailing along the East Coast of the United States. Not as elegant as Newport or as sporty as Annapolis, but Marblehead, Massachusetts, located only 40 miles north of Boston, is the ideal place to learn or enjoy sailing in total comfort. Its peninsula lies within Massachusetts Bay, with Salem Bay (yes, the famous witch country!) to the north. There are plenty of yacht clubs based here, some dating as far back as the mid-1800s, still very active today with a busy regatta calendar suitable for all levels. Prominent among these is Marblehead Race Week, held annually in late July. Inaugurated back in 1889, it is one of the East Coast’s must-see events: so many boats participate that the bay seems to turn into one big harbor. But Marblehead, itself a very attractive small town with its colorful houses, is also a great starting point for quiet cruises: if you are looking for a day trip, the advice is to aim for the Manchester-by-the-Sea; if you have a few days, you can also head to Provincetown or Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Directions:
By plane to Boston, only 40 kilometers away
When to go:
June to September
Ports and marinas:
Northeast Mooring and Salvage
www.northeastmooring.com

Hong-KongHONG KONG – CHINA – 22° 11′ N – 114° 08′ E
Okay, this is not the place to be if what you are looking for is unspoiled nature and tranquility. But the allure of navigating the skyscrapers of one of the most vibrant cities in the entire East is undeniable. It will be easy to run into one of the many regattas organized by the fierce Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, which especially fill the stretch of water on Sunday afternoons. You will then have to pay attention to the hundreds of junks that the inhabitants use as actual means of transportation. If you wish to get away from the city a bit, there are also several islands in this region where you can take shelter. Toward the southeast, find Po Toi Island, an ideal destination for many weekend sailors. If, on the other hand, you throw your bow eastward, much of the coastline welcomes a park, which provides an effective contrast to the skyscrapers of the Asian metropolis. Then in the evening, an unforgettable spectacle, drop anchor in Vistoria Harbour and enjoy “The Symphony of Lights”: weather permitting, every day around eight o’clock the large buildings on either side of the body of water are flooded with lights and lasers synchronized to the rhythm of a real soundtrack that is played for about ten minutes.

Directions:
By plane from all over the world
When to go:
In the winter months,
To avoid the monsoon period
Ports and marinas:
There are several ports, including the Discover Bay Marina
(www.dbyc.net)

dodecaneseDODECANESE – GREECE – 36° 26′ N – 28° 13′ E
A more classic and closer destination, but not unworthy of entering this selection. The Greek archipelago between Turkey, the island of Crete to the south, the Cyclades to the west and the island of Samos to the north is a true paradise for sailors of all ages: while Rhodes is the main island, you can find an endless number of landings here. Don’t be fooled by the name, there are well over twelve islands that comprise it: from Kos to Simi, via Patmos, Arki, Leros, Kalimnos and Alimia, to name a few. Compared to the neighboring Cyclades, here the meltemi blows predominantly from the west-northwest and is not found every day. By rnorma, however, when it comes, it remains constant for about a week and hardly exceeds strength 7. Among the not-to-be-missed bays in Simi is Ay Emilianos (36° 36′ N – 27° 46′ E), well protected from the meltemi and fairy-tale-like, thanks to the monastery that gives it its name. Another little-known stop is the small fishing port of Lipsos (37° 17′ N – 26° 45′ E), with its white houses and pretty little square, where you can find numerous taverns, cafes, and restaurants. Compared to the past, we also find a good number of equipped ports in this archipelago, ensuring supplies and assistance.

Directions:
Direct flights or by doing
stopover in Athens reach
the main islands
When to go:
late April to early October
Ports and marinas:
All contacts can be found at www.xo.gr

san franciscoSAN FRANCISCO – UNITED STATES – 37° 46′ N – 122° 26′ O
Do not think that because you are in a bay, the body of water in front of San Francisco is an indication of super-easy navigation. In fact, very strong winds often blow in the bay (in summer, the average is about 25 knots of air), the currents are no joke (they can reach seven knots on a waning tide), and there is considerable maritime traffic. Of course hoisting the spi and passing under the Golden Gate Bridge is a unique thrill. If you also count nearby Suisun Bay, San Pablo Bay and other waters of the Sacramento Delta, we are moreover talking about 1,600 square miles. The bay has four main islands: Angel Island, Yerba Buena, Treasure Island and the infamous Alcatraz, in front of which the super-tech giants of the last America’s Cup competed. But the bay (or rather, the bays, to be more correct) is also an ideal place for a cruise, thanks to the large number of sheltered landings and marinas scattered along the coast. A stop around Fisherman’s Wharf to see sea lions at Pier Thirty-Nine is not to be missed. In a few hours of sailing, different views alternate: from the skyscrapers of San Francisco to the vibrant nature of Angel Island.

Directions:
San Francisco, but also nearby Oakland and San Jose are served by major airlines
When to go:
all year round
Ports and marinas:
Over 40 ports in the bay.
For info www.boatingsf.com


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