Whether you are a beginner or experienced sailor, you probably know that the best time to sail is during hot summer months. The most popular sailing weeks of the year fall under the term “high season” or “peak season”, but sailing is prevalent in other, less busy months. The sailing period before the high season is called preseason sailing, and the sailing period after the high season is called postseason sailing.
When Does a Sailing Season Start and End
The opening and closing months are considered the preseason and postseason sailing periods.
The official sailing season in the Mediterranean countries (Croatia, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey…) starts as soon as March and ends in October or November, depending on the destination.
The sailing season in exotic destinations such as the Caribbean, the Seychelles, or Thailand usually runs during the whole calendar year except for the hurricane, cyclone, or monsoon season (July, August, September).
When to Choose Off-Season Sailing
Preseason and postseason sailing is collectively called off-season sailing, low-season sailing, shoulder-season sailing, fringe-season sailing, and middle-season sailing, or mid-season sailing.
Sailing during the off-season helps you escape the crowds, both on the sea and land, since there are much less tourists traveling. The prices of yachts, accommodation, amenities, food, and beverage are lower due to significantly lower tourism. Less tourists means more peace and quiet while still enjoying all the beauty a destination boasts. If you are looking for a vacation that avoids heaps of people on the hot streets and beaches, then you should consider off-season sailing.
That said, even the off-season experiences popular periods; these are spring break (Easter) and Labor Day (1 May).
Yacht Charter Prices and Availabilities During Off-Season
Experienced sailors have been in a situation during a booking procedure when their desired yacht is not available or is too pricy. This can happen during the peak season months – June, July and August in the most popular sailing region, the Mediterranean.
To minimize your costs, opt for less busy months. April and May during preseason, or September and October during postseason offer a wide range of yacht availabilities, be it a sailboat, catamaran, gulet, or motor yacht. Charter companies have recognized the perks of sailing in spring and autumn, and will recommend you the optimal sailing week, yacht, and destination for you, based on your personal preferences and flexibility.
The price difference of the same yacht in the off-season can be significant in a way that you might want to consider sailing twice a year during the low season for the same price of one high-season week.
Choose a Short Sailing Period in Off-Season
Because demand for yachts during the off-season is lower, charter companies can easily recommend a sailing holiday that does not last a full week, but instead 3, 4 or 5 days. This type of charter is called a short period charter.
Sailing Conditions in Low-Season Sailing Months
The high season is so popular because the sailing conditions are close to perfect for numerous weeks. This, though, cannot be said for the low season – the temperatures are lower, there is less sun, the winds are stronger, the rain is more frequent, and the sea gets rough.
Beginner and leisure sailors should aim for sailing weeks closer to the high season, such as early June or mid-September. These periods still fall under the period of nice weather. You might get a little less sunshine, but the sea will still be warm for you to take a pleasant swim. If you do not feel secure enough, think about chartering a yacht with a skipper.
Experienced and advanced sailors looking for more thrill can opt for sailing during the first weeks of the sailing season (early preseason) or the last weeks of the sailing season (late postseason). This completely eliminates crowds as there is only a handful of sailors that spend time on the charter yachts during these periods. It is a fun learning experience that allows them to practice their complex manoeuvring skills.
What to Pack for Sailing in Off-Season
In general, for off-season sailing you should pack the same things that you would pack for sailing during the high season. The main difference is in layered and waterproof/rainproof clothing as you are invited to bring more of those due to a higher possibility of bad weather.