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Sailing Restrictions in Covid times


February 14, 2021

Sailing Restrictions in Covid times

We spend pretty much most of our year planning the “perfect trip”. For us that are hooked with boats, there is no better place to be except the tranquil crystal waters somewhere, in some bay of a tiny Greek Island.
But what is the current legislation and is it possible to enjoy the phenomenally good weather of Greece during the lock down?
The ongoing lockdown has restricted movement and boats are not allowed to sail for any recreational purposes. For this reason, instructions have also been released that apply in all cases. Here are some very important details:

  1. Boats are not allowed to sail for ANY recreational purposes. This means that boats are allowed to sail for maintenance reasons, sea trials, or relocate to another marina, in or outside of Greece. Before moving anywhere, a guest-free sailing permit must be acquired from the
    local port police, and the port police of the destination area must also be notified. A crew list, a valid insurance cover translated in the Greek language and a declaration that the yacht is sailing for a non recreational purpose are required. Boats that sail without having cleared with
    the port police are subject to a 5,000€ fine and a 300€ per person on board.
  2. 50% of the boats total capacity and by no means no more than 3 passengers for non permanent crewed vessels are allowed at any given time. Example. A 15-meter chase boat is relocating in order to be lifted out of the water. No more then 3 crew are allowed to assist
    moving the boat, even though the boat has a total pax capacity of 10.
  3. Boats are not allowed to enter Greece. To be more accurate, there is a temporary restriction of the arrival of private pleasure crafts, commercial tourist ships and cruise ships, regardless of
    flag, in the Greek Seas, coming from any geographical destination abroad, as well as the disembarkation of passengers from these ships in any way. Also, If the ships are empty of passengers and do not come from countries for which special restrictive measures apply, it is
    allowed, with the permission of the competent Port Authority, their arrival exclusively:
    (I) In ports and marinas of mainland Greece, if it is not cruise ships and in the ports of Rhodes, Heraklion and Corfu. That means that boats are not allowed to sail to Marinas on any Greek Island with an operational Marina unless there is a predated contract proving that the yacht was already based there.
    (II) In shipyards of mainland Greece, as justified by appropriate certificates of the shipyard.
    After the completion of any works, the departure of the ship, empty of passengers, is allowed for a port or marina of mainland Greece, if it is not a cruise ship, and for the ports of Rhodes, Heraklion and Corfu.
    (III) After the arrival of the ships in the port or in the marina, according to the provisions of cases 1) and 2), their movement within the Greek State is prohibited. Masters / Captains, shipowners or Ship Managers or Shipping Agents, as well as any other responsible parties, are required to comply with the instructions of the health authorities and ship operators who remain in berths in ports during the COVID ‐ 19 pandemic
    (IV) The Crew of private pleasure boats and commercial tourist ships, immediately after their initial arrival in a port or marina of the country, remain in a mandatory limit of seven (7) days inside the boat / ship and are subject at their own expense to a laboratory medical
    examination for Precautionary reasons for protecting public health from the further spread of coronavirus COVID ‐ 19 in the Greek Territory.
    (V) Boats are not allowed to enter Greece UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES from Turkey. If a Greek flag boat visits Turkey, it will not be allowed to sail back into Greece, regardless the circumstances. This stands for all boats and not only for Greek or Turkish flag boats. So if you plan to visit Greece and your boat is based or even passed through Turkey, we
    strongly advise to visit another country first. Montenegro and Croatia could be the alternative if your boat has the range to reach from Turkey directly there.
  4. Boats that are sailing within Greece but do not have a permanent marina berth somewhere. These boats are not allowed to sail. They should relocate and base themselves in a marina or port until the lock down measures are lifted. In the meantime, if they will need provisions such
    as fuel, water or groceries, they are not allowed to leave their boat, and all items should be delivered on board. Before sailing in of course, they must inform the port authorities and the harbour master in order to receive clearance and permission to enter.

I believe that most of the above measures will be lifted sometime in May 2021.

Boats will be allowed to sail freely around Greece and by July 2021 Greece should open up the connection with Turkey again. Until then, boats can relocate for maintenance or return to base, but only in Mainland Greece. Do not forget to get permission from the local port police and make sure that there are no guests on board.

All Marinas in Greece are obliged to have an Action Plan regarding spread of Covid 19 and this should be online on their websites. An example can be found here.

More detailed information can be found, in Greek, in the website of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs here.

This year, we have the experience of the first post – lockdown season. 2020, started late, and with uncertainty. Beginning of July. It gave us a scare but in the end, all of those who decided to implement the best form of social distancing by being on a yacht, where rewarded with an
unimaginable experience.
Empty bays, crystal clear and transparent waters, unthinkable opportunities to go alongside in the tiniest of fishing villages or really high demand destinations with only a fraction of the normal fleet of yachts in the harbour. It was the boater’s dream. Yachts where chartered at a great discount, due to the travel difficulties or restrictions world wide. The US market unanimously postponed or cancelled their vacation, leaving gaps in the calendar. A common sight was yacht owners enjoying their yachts like never before or charterers extending their contracts to stay as much as possible on board.
Lets all plan ahead, in order to enjoy an even better season by making sure our yachts are ready to sail and that we have taken all measures needed to avoid mistakes that could result in stressful situations.

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