SAIL­ING THE MEDITER­RANEAN

If you’ve never sailed in the Mediter­ranean, a world of de­lights awaits you. The only prob­lem is choos­ing where to go

SAIL - - March 2018 Vol 49, Issue 3 - BY SAIL EDI­TORS

One of the big­gest chal­lenges when sail­ing the Med is try­ing to de­cide where to go

A fter spend­ing so many years sail­ing the Caribbean, I was frankly as­tounded at how much more I en­joy the Mediter­ranean,” says Scott Far­quhar­son of char­ter bro­kers Pro­teus Yacht Char­ters. “The cul­ture, the his­tory, the food, the weather, friendly peo­ple, crys­tal-clear wa­ter— there is just so much more to it.”

He’s right, of course. The Caribbean’s the place to go in win­ter for its sun­shine, great sail­ing breezes and laid-back vibe, but if you truly want a sum­mer sail­ing hol­i­day that takes you into a whole new world of ex­pe­ri­ences, the Med will pro­vide that.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Be­fore you start plan­ning your char­ter, and even be­fore you set­tle on a des­ti­na­tion, you need to get your pa­per­work in or­der. Most Euro­pean Union coun­tries will re­quire the skip­per to have an In­ter­na­tional Cer­tifi­cate of Com­pe­tence (ICC), which can be at­tained through a com­pany such as Nau­ticed (nau­ticed.org), which is af­fil­i­ated with Bri­tain’s Royal Yacht­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (RYA), whose Day Skip­per qual­i­fi­ca­tion is ac­cepted by all char­ter com­pa­nies. You’ll have to take an on­line the­ory course and a prac­ti­cal exam. The ICC on its own will not be enough to con­vince a char­ter com­pany that you know what you’re do­ing; a strong sail­ing re­sume. If you have pro­gressed though the Amer­i­can Sail­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (ASA.com) or US Sail­ing’s (us­sail­ing.org) prac­ti­cal cour­ses up to bare­boat cruis­ing level, you can ap­ply for an In­ter­na­tional Pro­fi­ciency Cer­tifi­cate in lieu of the ICC. But again, you’ll also need to con­vince the char­ter com­pany that you have rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence.

WHERE TO GO

The most pop­u­lar char­ter spots in the Med are Croa­tia, whose lengthy coast­line on the Adri­atic Sea is home to dozens of beauti-

ful an­chor­ages and har­bors, and the Greek is­lands, whose ap­peal re­mains undimmed by their pop­u­lar­ity. The south­ern Ital­ian coast has lately caught on with va­ca­tion­ing sailors, while France’s glit­ter­ing Côte d’Azur has its own charms.

First-timers in the Med will likely want to nar­row down the many tempt­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties to match their skillset. En­try level: Just as the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands re­main the most pop­u­lar Caribbean des­ti­na­tion for first­timers, Croa­tia has ce­mented its rep­u­ta­tion as the go-to des­ti­na­tion in the Med, of­fer­ing easy sail­ing, at­trac­tive weather and a bustling boat­ing scene. Such is the na­ture of the coast that you could sail here for weeks and never an­chor twice in the same place.

A lit­tle far­ther down the same coast, Greece’s Io­nian Sea is not only an ideal en­try into Mediter­ranean sail­ing, but will keeping you com­ing back for more. Start at the beau­ti­ful is­land of Corfu and me­an­der around is­lands redo­lent of his­tory. On the other side, you could start from Athens and ex­plore the Sa­ronic Gulf.

The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, ex­tends from the Ital­ian bor­der to Mar­seille and blends glam­orous hotspots like An­tibes and Cannes with shel­tered coves and is­lands. It’s also pos­si­ble to char­ter a bare­boat on Spain’s Costa Brava. In Italy, the char­ter scene re­ally starts from Naples, on the stun­ning Amalfi coast, south to Si­cily and the Ae­o­lian Is­lands.

A lit­tle south of Si­cily you’ll also find the tiny is­lands of Malta, Gozo and Com­ina, where you can eas­ily spend a week sail­ing on and swim­ming in the clear­est wa­ter you’ll find any­where. For the ad­ven­tur­ous: Spain’s Balearic Is­lands don’t get much press in the United States, but they’re a pop­u­lar char­ter­ing ground for Euro­peans. From char­ter bases in Palma, Mal­lorca, you can ex­plore the rugged coast­line and, on a longer char­ter, per­haps make a cou­ple of open- wa­ter pas­sages to the is­lands of Ibiza and Menorca.

Closer to Italy you’ll find the is­lands of Cor­sica and Sar­dinia, and a smat­ter­ing of smaller is­lands in be­tween, where the sail­ing can be as spec­tac­u­lar as the coast­lines. Sar­dinia es­pe­cially is known for strong sum­mer winds, which can be re­ward­ing or chal­leng­ing, de­pend­ing on your ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­tween the Greek main­land and the Turk­ish coast, the Cy­clades, Aegean and Spo­rades is­land groups of­fer longer pas­sages and sportier sail­ing con­di­tions than the shel­tered Io­nian. That aside, the at­trac­tions are the same: pic­ture-post­card har­bors and vil­lages, sparkling blue wa­ter, excellent seafood and a good smat­ter­ing of his­tory.

Un­til re­cently we would not have clas­si­fied Turkey as a des­ti­na­tion for the ad­ven­tur­ous, but this is how it has turned out. The good news is we are not aware of any in­ci­dents in­volv­ing sailors or, in­deed, tourists in gen­eral. The cruis­ing ar­eas are also well away from Syria and Iraq, while the Turks re­main hos­pitable and friendly, and the coast­line is gor­geous. Although most of the ma­jor char­ter com­pa­nies have left, it’s still pos­si­ble to find the odd bare­boat. s

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