For an authentic taste of Greece, sail aboard a supply boat

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Eco-friendly cargo sailing tours in Greece

For a truly authentic Greek experience, consider setting sail on a supply boat instead of the typical cruise ship. When planning her 2020 sailing trip in Greece, Bettina Trittmann, a 57-year-old German mediator, was determined to make a choice that left a smaller carbon footprint. She embarked on a week-long unconventional sailing adventure with Aegean Cargo Sailing, a social cooperative that combines sustainable cargo shipping with cultural tourism.

What sets this experience apart is the chance to join Captain Loucas Gourtsoyannis, a spry 77-year-old, on his deliveries around the Greek archipelago during the summer months. As you journey with him, you’ll not only witness the breathtaking beauty of Greece’s islands but also meet local producers and sample their exceptional products. Picture yourself savoring rare goat cheese, indulging in aromatic island honey, or plucking freshly picked herbs. In between these errands, you’ll have the opportunity to explore museums, hike ancient trails, and take refreshing dips in emerald waters.

Trittmann describes her trip as a deeply personal experience in every sense, so much so that she returned the following year for another adventure. During the summer season, Captain Gourtsoyannis harnesses the power of the meltemi, a strong north wind in the Aegean Sea, to transport both travelers and these precious, rare Greek products to 22 isles of the Greek Cyclades and Dodecanese.

Aegean Cargo Sailing is just one part of a growing movement that champions zero-emission cargo sailing. Other projects like Blue Schooner, Tres Hombres, and Avontuur also aim to reduce the environmental impact of shipping by utilizing traditional sailing methods such as wind and tides, alongside modern innovations like electric or solar-powered motors. These initiatives are vital because cargo ships are responsible for moving around 90 percent of the world’s trade and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Captain Gourtsoyannis sees his work as not just an adventure but also a means of preserving the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. By supporting them, he believes they can safeguard Greek biodiversity and culture. “They will be better, and society will be better,” he notes.

Now, let’s delve into how you, as a traveler, can experience this novel way to explore Greece’s agricultural and gastronomical revival.

Imagine yourself on the island of Kalymnos, framed by mountains lush with thyme, sage, and oregano. Here, the Vathi Valley is renowned for its herbal honey, stunning turquoise fjord, and bountiful citrus groves.

On the nearby island of Kea, a small Cycladic paradise just an hour by ferry from Athens, you’ll find John and Alexandro Mikoniatis. These two brothers have made a remarkable return to their homeland in 2018, determined to expand their parents’ farm. They’ve transformed the milk from their free-range cows, sheep, and goats into exquisite regional cheeses, including malaka, a soft sheep cheese, and kopanisti, a spicy Protected Designation of Origin cheese for the Cycladic Islands. As John puts it, “With such raw material, it’s impossible not to make a good final product.”

These islands, like many others in Greece, have faced economic challenges and a decline in traditional agriculture. Young people left for better opportunities, and once-vibrant agricultural centers like Santorini have dwindled. However, a new generation, represented by the likes of the Mikoniatis brothers, is returning to these forgotten isles to preserve and share the region’s culinary and cultural treasures. With support from organizations like Aegean Cargo Sailing, small-scale farmers are able to showcase their products to restaurants and suppliers across 22 Greek islands. And what’s more, tourists like you are invited to be part of this unique experience.

When you join Captain Gourtsoyannis on his 15-foot-long schooner, you become an integral part of the crew, helping with tasks ranging from pulling ropes to dropping anchor. As Antonis Psaltis, chef of Mikro Karavi restaurant on the island of Tinos, notes, “You have to be a bit crazy to do this.” Living your life at sea isn’t a walk in the park.

During your week-long journey, you might savor wine from Syros, sample yellow flour from Limnos, taste preserved white albacore tuna from Alonnisos, or even participate in the creation of authentic wine and cheese. Between deliveries, you can soak up the sun on one of Paros’ golden-sand beaches, learn about olive oil production at the Cyclades Olive Museum in Andros, or immerse yourself in the folk traditions of Syros at the Ermoupoleia Cultural Festival. The possibilities are as diverse as the islands themselves.

Captain Gourtsoyannis envisions a future where more captains join him in this venture, creating a utopia of cargo sailing boats, slow travel, and thriving small-scale farmers. He believes that in our fast-paced world reliant on rapid transportation, we need to slow down and appreciate the journey.

So, if you’re ready to embark on a truly unique Greek adventure that combines sustainability, culture, and culinary delights, Aegean Cargo Sailing is your ticket. The best time to experience this unforgettable journey is from April to September, with April to June and September being ideal to avoid crowds. All the islands where the tour could begin or end are well-connected to Athens by ferry or airplane. You can book your tour through the Aegean Cargo Sailing website or by email at [email protected]. While sailing trips and excursion dates are set in advance, keep in mind that they may be subject to change depending on wind and weather conditions.

So, why not set sail and explore the hidden gems of Greece while contributing to a more sustainable and culturally rich future for these beautiful islands? It’s an adventure that promises unforgettable memories and a deeper connection to the heart and soul of Greece.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Eco-friendly cargo sailing tours in Greece

What is Aegean Cargo Sailing?

Aegean Cargo Sailing is a social cooperative in Greece that offers eco-friendly cargo sailing tours. These unique tours combine sustainable shipping with cultural tourism, providing travelers with an opportunity to explore Greek islands while supporting small-scale farmers.

How does Aegean Cargo Sailing work?

During the summer season, travelers can join Captain Loucas Gourtsoyannis on his cargo deliveries around the Greek archipelago. Guests become part of the crew, assisting with various tasks. Between deliveries, they can explore islands, sample local products, and participate in cultural experiences.

What can I expect to experience on an Aegean Cargo Sailing tour?

Expect a one-of-a-kind journey where you’ll sample regional delicacies like goat cheese and island honey, explore museums, hike ancient trails, and enjoy the crystal-clear waters of Greece. You’ll also have opportunities to learn about local traditions and support small-scale farmers.

How can I book a tour with Aegean Cargo Sailing?

You can book a tour through the Aegean Cargo Sailing website or by emailing [email protected]. The tours are typically available from April to September.

What are the benefits of choosing Aegean Cargo Sailing over traditional cruises?

Aegean Cargo Sailing offers a more eco-friendly and culturally immersive alternative to traditional cruises. You’ll have a smaller carbon footprint, support local farmers, and experience Greece in a more personal and authentic way.

What is the best time to take an Aegean Cargo Sailing tour?

The best times to experience these tours are from April to June and in September to avoid crowds. However, tours are available from April to September, depending on your preference.

How connected are the islands to Athens?

All islands where the tour could begin or end are well-connected to Athens by ferry or airplane, making it convenient to start your adventure.

More about Eco-friendly cargo sailing tours in Greece

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NatureLover17 September 9, 2023 - 2:04 am

slow travel is the way to go. speedin through life is overrated.

FoodieExplorer September 9, 2023 - 4:12 am

the cheeses and honey must be delish! supportin farmers is so imporntant for the enviroment.

AdventureSeeker55 September 9, 2023 - 10:18 am

love the idea of bein part of the crew. must be a cool experiance.

TravelEnthusiast23 September 9, 2023 - 2:09 pm

wow this sounds like an amazin trip! grece is so beautful. can i book now?

IslandHopper123 September 9, 2023 - 6:53 pm

great to know these islands are well-connected to athens. easy to get there!


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