Who sees pictures of people on sailing yachts smiling like all the time?! That would be me so when asked if I wanted to take part in an interactive sailing trip, I jumped at the chance to hoist my sails.
Latchi Watersports have started running group interactive sailing trips around the Akamas Coastline lasting 3 hours from 10am to 1pm. It’s a great idea, especially for someone who has never tried sailing before (ie me) or someone who might not have sailed in a while. The point is to learn some new skills and have some fun whilst sailing in breath taking views. Sailing in Cyprus can sometimes be tricky. We have deliciously calm seas most of the year (it has its moments; check out the article Latchi in January) but most of the summer season there is little wind (especially in the mornings). Meltemi (Summer wind) does blow but a lot of days are a flat calm hence why water activities are so popular (and Latchi Watersports offers everything!). The season of not summer has a majority of south easterly or south westerly winds of up to 25 knotts which is about 46kmph! That is some fast water running!
So why the Akamas coastline? Well one, it’s the most beautiful coastline in Cyprus (no I’m not biased). Forest and trees and hills give way to crystal clear waters. Two, the boats are harboured at Latchi Marina. Three, there isn’t much going the other way apart from a teeny tiny fishing harbour at Pomos and then the Turkish side of Cyprus. Whereas going this way has multiple points of interest such as the sea caves, Plaji bay which was an ancient natural harbour, the Blue lagoon, Fontana Amarosa and more! If you are lucky, you will see turtles, dolphins and even monk seals (I have actually seen one and they are really rare. It was a wonderful experience!).
Apparently all boats are female and our beauty today was a Bavaria Cruiser 41 called Blow Me Away (and she did, she is gorgeous). A lovely 40ft sailing yacht made from fiberglass with wood paneling. There are three cabins, each big enough for two people; a compact kitchen area with an oven, fridge and table area; two bathrooms (one ensuite) and at least one has a shower! It’s surprising how much you can fit in a boat! Below deck, there is a little fridge (the kind you access from above so helps to be tall ha) and a good sized galley (see, thanks to the experience, I’m picking up on the lingo!) where you won’t all be falling over each other! There are plenty of windows below deck so it is light and airy. She will fit 10 (or the equivalent) people (including a skipper so I worked it out as the them, me, a friend and all my luggage! You can also charter her for trips and she fits a max of 10 people (for this contact Latchi Watersports). She really is built for the relaxing sailing experience!
Now I have never been sailing before, I barely know my port from my starboard…(port is left and starboard is right when looking at the bow – that’s the front of the boat for those in the know). I don’t know how to rig a sail, change direction and use the wind as power…normally I’m the one aprés sailing (like aprés skiing but on a boat ha). I also get sea sick! I was however excited and we really had a beaut of a day for sailing. It was clear and sunny with barely a cloud in the sky and there was definitely a breeze! It made it good for learning how to manoeuvre the yacht although it did make it nippy out at sea.
Before we left, we had a tour and a run through of everything on the yacht. I asked a lot of questions and it was nice that I wasn’t made to feel stupid. The electronic elements of the boat were also explained although we didn’t use them much during our trip out…we knew where we were going. Dave made sure that everyone had equal opportunity at sailing the boat at the helm, tacking and gybing to travel in the desired direction and relaxing and taking in the scenery (the most important part). We were a team from leaving the harbour…we were working not just sitting looking pretty ha! One person took charge of the helm, with another two of us taking in the fenders and getting ready to unleash the sails to their full potential (ok that was me). As soon as we were out of the harbour, the sails were up and we were sailing off towards the Akamas peninsular.
So let me show off a bit…when tacking you are turning so the bow goes into the wind. You can then switch the sails and the boom from Port to Starboard in a zig-zag fashion. It’s done so the boat can change course whilst losing as little speed as possible. You need a person each side, one will loosen the rope (the person the current sail side) and the other will pull the rope through so the sail changes sides. Let me tell you, letting go of the rope is a lot easier! Gybing is exactly the same premise but the stern goes into the wind. I’ve also learnt how to properly secure the rope and knot a rope too in a bowline knot (only one type, let’s not get ahead of ourselves!). The rest was sitting on my throne sorry, sat the helm. The top of the sail has a handy little contraption so you can check that you are steering correctly and going in the direction you should be. The helm also has little tape pieces which tells you the centre point so when you turn, you know the point to go back to. We were taught to turn the helm and then when you start to feel the boat turn, turn the wheel back to the centre point. It was very easy just sat there making adjustments when needed, feeling the breeze on your face, smelling the salt in the air – epitome of relaxation!
I really do recommend this trip, maybe more so if you have never been sailing or have only been a couple times. It would also be fun if a small group of experienced sailors went out together. It was great how my questions were answered and how I was part of the crew and did get to do a lot of the work (as well as sitting on my throne). no one was left just sitting there the entire time but you also had time to relax. I feel that I could maybe hold my own in a conversation about sailing…I have learnt what tacking is (sailing upwind) and gybing (sailing downwind) and have seen it in action. I would definitely recommend sunglasses, comfy shoes and layers…it was chilly was sure out there and I found it really hard to get warm. You didn’t want to miss the action so didn’t want to sit down below deck! Latchi Watersports will be running another trip really soon so keep your eye out or pop in in Latchi and get your name down!