Our new boats start their life in Port Napoleon, a small marina and boatyard west of Marseille. They arrive wrapped in plastic, without rigging, antifoul or guard rails. Our commissioning crews build the rigs, fit the distinctive frames over the cockpits and check all the engineering systems. All the work is carried out by our own staff, allowing us to train new skippers in maintenance and rigging from the ground up.
Once the yachts are complete, we prepare them for their maiden voyage. With the design of the new 38.1 it was easy to store food, water and fuel for long passages. Our new boats need their engines “run in” so, for the first couple of days, we run the engines at high revs. This gives them the best performance for their lives on flotilla.
The delivery crews are all Sailing Holidays staff, with a mix of seasoned skippers and newer staff. This year three of our boats were skippered by our RYA instructor team, headed by Pete Newman our chief instructor.
The journey started on Tuesday 29 January. Our first leg was a 200nm passage from Port Napoleon to Port-De Macinaggio on the northern tip of Corsica. With strong following winds and some large seas, it was a great chance to test our boats and crews. The new 38.1 has a fantastic touch screen chart plotter in the cockpit along with a strong and accurate auto helm system.
In January the Mediterranean Sea can be fierce. Cold northerly winds and deep areas of low pressure combine to whip up some challenging sailing conditions. We saw this first hand on our next leg.
Aiming to use a gap in the weather, we headed over to the Italian coast near Rome. We pushed through building southerly weather and strong winds all day until a small hitch forced us to change our plan. In the dark and swell one of the boats had run over a thick floating line, the prop wrap stalled the engine and forced us to seek shelter closer than we had aimed.
We made for Porto Stefano on the Argentario peninsula. With no engine the only safe option was to sail onto the quay. As a Yachtmaster instructor, Pete teaches this technique and demonstrated an excellent piece of sailing skill to his crew.
The third leg of our journey followed the coast of Italy south towards the Straights of Messina, between Italy and Sicily. The beautiful town of Tropea lay 320nm to the south and it would take us at least 50 hours to reach.
The first day saw very changeable conditions but constant improvement. However, the first night of the passage proved to be a wild ride. In rain and gale force winds we moved closer to the shore to try and get more shelter.
After a few hours things calmed down and by dawn the storm had broken. We rested in Tropea and waited out the last of the big southerly weather.
The last leg of our journey always feels the best, soon we would be home in Corfu. The first part of the trip also passes through the amazing Messina Straights.
While most of the Med has little to no tide, the narrow straights can cause very strong tidal flow, with spring rates being up to 5knts in either direction. We calculated our arrival time and had a gentle 3 knots of flow behind us.
Dodging ferries and shipping we skirted whirlpools and up flows to finally enter the Ionian Sea. We were then blessed by 24 hours of flat seas and sunsets. We finally arrived home on Saturday 9 February, tired but happy.
Here's a reminder of what to expect from our beautiful new yachts...
Take a look at our new Beneteau 38.1's here. The new layout with extra head is perfect for a larger group or a family!
Which flotillas will these new yachts be sailing on?
Our new 38.1's will be sticking to the Ionian for their first season with us! You'll find them on the following flotillas:
- One Week Ithaka Flotilla
- One Week Corfu & Paxos Area Flotilla
- Two Week Corfu & Paxos Area Flotilla
- Two Week Faraway Islands Flotilla