Mediterranean Cruising Tips.
After last summer’s cruise to Sicily via Sardinia and the Balearics I thought I would share a few tips about preparing for a cruise around the Mediterranean islands. Good preparation will reduce the costs and increase your enjoyment.
Cruising in the Med is quite different from Atlantic cruising. Do not expect constant winds that enable you to stay on the same tack for days on end. Mediterranean winds are fickle and in summer there is often not enough to keep you moving. Prepare, therefore, to do a lot of motoring. Make sure your engine is thoroughly serviced before departure and carry essential spares. Depart with full tanks on every significant passage between the islands and carry additional fuel in jerrycans. Generally fuel is only available at marinas, and the cost of summer berthing will make you want to avoid marinas and spend as much time as possible at anchor.
To be able to spend days on end at anchor you need sound ground tackle. You will also need to be self-sufficient in power. A diesel generator will allow you to run a water-maker and air conditioning (if required). If you don’t have a watermaker then load up with bottled water or water canisters. If you put these in bilge areas that are otherwise unusable you are not “wasting space”. A wind generator will not produce enough power to keep the boat ticking over at anchor. In the Med solar panels are the best choice.
I have already intimated that marina berthing in summer is exorbitant around the most desirable areas. Luckily there are many suitable anchorages where you can lie to your anchor for free. The revelation of last season was a web page called Navily.com. Navily is also a mobile phone app. Given that mobile coverage is good up to 15nM offshore this handy app allows skippers to book their berths in advance of arrival. A really clever and helpful aspect of Navily is that it also shows locations of free public anchorages indicating what winds and seas they offer protection from. You can also preload ship’s papers and insurance details so as to shorten the booking in process at the marinas.
If you plan to control your budget by spending as much time as possible at anchor then a good tender with a reliable outboard will be invaluable. In the Balearics the authorities helpfully mark access channels to landing spots. In Italy it would seem that although landing at beaches is allowed the authorities are less keen on allowing the tenders to be hauled up on the beach. A small folding kedge anchor will allow you to leave the tender at anchor off the beach. It does of course involve an inevitable dip. A waterproof grab bag for a dry clothes change gives you the freedom you’ll need. We carried an inflatable stand up paddle board. This provided endless hours of humour, exercise and an inoffensive mode of arriving at beaches where powered tenders are shunned.
I strongly recommend the Mediterranean islands cruise experience. All the islands are steeped in history. There isn’t an anchorage in the Med that has not already been used by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians or Romans. Follow in their footsteps and imagine how beautiful those spots would have been before someone plonked a beachside hotel in that pristine bay!