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Preparation

Nordhavn owners can - and do - go anywhere in their boats, so finding resources on the best cruising grounds of the Mediterranean was a snap. Of course, to each his own, but the travel primer offered here comes from three Nordhavn 62 owners who have spent considerable time traveling in far off seas – especially that intercontinental waterway between Europe, Asia and Africa.

CRUISING GROUNDS

Croatia topped the list of Mediterranean cruising grounds for Nick Vanoff, current owner of Nordhavn 62#14 Mighty Mouse, who stayed there in 2000-01. Despite the area’s history for being war-torn, there was no evidence of war save for an occasional bombed-out building, and these peaceful, vibrant people loved Americans. Nick, the future owner of the first Nordhavn 72, preferred to anchor instead of dock, but whatever your liking, Croatia has plenty of gorgeous anchorages and pristine marinas. Not-to-miss cruising grounds are along the coast from Dubrovnik to Split, but the rocky shoreline is not ideal for beach lovers. Food in Croatia was mediocre at best, but with plenty of good markets, home cooked meals proved to be a viable option.

Aside from the beauty of the area, the significant history of the towns around Croatia and along the Aegean Sea is what fueled Nick’s passion to explore it. “Few people know that Marco Polo is from what is now present day Croatia,” Nick notes. Other places to see are Hvar, Korcula, Mrjet, and Trigor – each uniquely beautiful and rich in history. While cruising, Nick and his wife Kate met many couples who had spent a decade or more exploring this part of the world, yet still felt as if they were just getting to know it.

Having recently toured the Greek Islands and Croatia, Marty Wilson agrees “Dubrovnik is not to be missed. What a gorgeous city!” In keeping with the Eastern Mediterranean theme is Turkey, another favorite exploratory spot of Marty’s. Turkey is also an area with a currently volatile reputation in the American media, yet it remains one of Marty’s favorite places to see in Eastern Europe. Turkey offers wonderful cruising with its numerous small anchorages from Bodnum to Marmaris, said Wilson, after he stayed there en route to two circumnavigations he took in his sailboat. Wilson is now on his third circumnavigation in his Nordhavn 62, Karma, but opted to cruise the South Pacific first. Since leaving Dana Point on Thanksgiving 2000, he has been traveling non-stop and recently arrived in Istanbul, the only city the world that lies in two different continents – half in Europe and half in Asia.

The Eastern Mediterranean may be a little far for some after an ocean crossing, so Nick Vanoff recommends doing the Western Med the first summer and the Eastern part the following summer. In this case, Southern Italy is a must-see, specifically Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily. The people were friendly and dock space is generally not a problem. Clearing in and out of Italy is also not as challenging as it is in Greece, where although the scenery is gorgeous, state officials can make things tough. In that same vein are bigger tourist areas such as Saint Tropez and the south of France where Nick experienced less-than-friendly locals and near-impossible docking availability. Harbor masters in these marinas have long-term relationships with yacht captains and agents. And as Nick puts bluntly, here – as anywhere within the Med, if you get into trouble, money talks.

The enchanting island of Crete allured Bill and Arline Smith, current owners of Nordhavn 62 Autumn Wind, with its intriguing landscape and genuine people. They particularly recommend the beautiful Harbor off Rethymnon. The couple cruised the area en route around the world in the early 1990s. The Smiths spent a full month in Crete, citing fascinating antiquities as well as breathtaking scenery. The unhurried pace of life and friendly locals make Crete a perfect destination for any cruiser, especially those with a passion for history, Bill said. They cruised the Island in the spring, and while the whether was windy and the water to cold for swimming, he flowers were in full bloom. They do warn however that good anchorages are few and far between, and many places were impossible to enter at all. While the island sits high at the top of their hit list, potential visitors should be aware that the cruising could be a challenge.

The Smiths, whose 62 will serve as one of the NAR’s three escort boats, found the Spanish Riviera both smoggy and underdeveloped, and suggest heading to the island of Ibiza instead. Here cobblestone streets seem to take the visitor back a hundred years. They echo Nick Vanoff’s sentiment for popular French hotspots and their infamously high prices for dockage, opting to explore the medieval settlement of Hyres much more, where the local activity makes for some great people watching.

Another must see according to the Smiths is the Greek city of Delos- also known as the “Holy Island of Greece.” The place is like an open-air museum, with day visits from boats the only possible way to get in. The city is riddled with ruins and marble, and a cruiser could spend an entire day exploring the temples.

The two also spent time in Egypt, which was different from other Mediterranean destinations because of its lack of many beaches and sunny resorts. Most of the country’s rich history lies inland along the Nile, so be prepared to leave the boat in favor of long car trips. Although the authorities seem to love the paperwork, they found the people generally friendly with a “No Problem” attitude.

WEATHER

All cruisers while exploring the Mediterranean need to pay careful attention to the weather. As the crew onboard the Nordhavn 40 Around The World (link to ATW section) during Leg 4 learned, the Med can appear benign only to turn ugly quickly. It is often as flat as a swimming pool but the wind can come from any direction at any time. A cruiser needs to mindful of the African “sirocco”- a hot and dusty wind that blows from the Sahara across North Africa and out into the Med. Equally a nuisance is the dreaded “mistral”- a cold dry wind that roars down from the Rhone. Rain from Africa is also especially annoying. The mud-like drops stick to the boat and need to be hosed off as soon as possible.

TOUR GUIDE

By now Nordhavn owners are experienced at fielding other boater’s inquisitive looks and questions about their boats. But in Europe, where there are very few trawlers, owners should be prepared for non-stop attention.

There will be open houses sponsored by Nordhavn (with the gracious assistance of our owners) in Bermuda and Gibraltar for local mariners to gander a peek. But other than these organized sessions, marina neighbors will want information! For Nick Vanoff, from port to port, the questions about Mighty Mouse never seemed to stop.

FUELING

Fueling in Europe can be expensive so when possible, Marty Wilson recommends filling up in Northern Africa. Currently in Malta, Karma will soon head to Tunisia to fuel before moving on to Europe.

(It should be noted that Gibraltar is known for its economical fuel prices and the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally Committee has secured a very fair rate.)


Regardless of where you plan to go upon completion of the Rally, you will come away with your own thoughts and opinions. The one thing that seems to hold constant amongst all Nordhavn owners is that no matter where they traveled in the Mediterranean, the experience was second to none.

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