Sailing around the Mediterranean – The Countdown Begins!

(Please note that the trip has been sadly deferred read about why here)

 

Dear Readers,

I may have mentioned or alluded to this in passing before, but now it’s official: The Montecristo Travels Team will be sailing around the Mediterranean! I know, right? I’m so psyched!

Like so many great adventures, a simple idea is, in fact, something far more complicated to realize. We certainly could go the route of selling everything we own and just jump right in, but we prefer to take off the rose-tinted glasses and learn from the (sometimes hilarious) misadventures of others. In our research, we have learned that those who have not been soured or disappointed by similar dreams are those who planned their journeys carefully. They planned as much as possible; yet, built in flexibility.

Why the Mediterranean?

Really? You really need to ask the question?! Is there any other part of the world that has as much art, architecture and history as well as culinary, not to mention cultural, diversity? The joy of coastal navigation around this sea is likely unparalleled and well worth the hassles that will come with it. If you are sailing purely for the sport, then arguably there are much better winds and waters elsewhere. But, if like us, you also want a variety of experiences that range from fine French cuisine to the markets of Morocco, then the Mediterranean makes perfect sense.

The Mediterranean is also safer. For first timers, it’s reassuring to know that we will not likely encounter pirates. Today, pirates are not something to brush off as silliness. They are a real threat, especially if you are sailing around Somalia, for example.

Sailing around the Mediterranean - The Countdown Begins!

Best place!

Although storms can be intense in the Med, the modern warning systems, large number of ports, larger sailing traffic, radio presence and access to repair shops make the Med a safer alternative to big ocean sailing. In other words, walk before you run.

So it is: the countdown is on. We plan to start our Mediterranean sailing adventure on May 1st 2015 from … well, the port is yet to be determined, so stay tuned!

Two Halves Make a Whole

We are breaking the trip up into two 6-month jaunts instead of a single all-in-one-shot year. The reasons are many.

  1. It turns out that the weather in the Med is so bad from October to April that even the ancient Romans had a ban on sailing during this period. Those unpleasant conditions are something I think I’d like to avoid.
  2. Taking our trip in two 6-month jaunts allows the bipeds to keep our home and the jobs that help make this trip possible. It is far easier to save for six months away and then return for 18 months and save up for another 6 months away than to take on a whole year at once and risk facing the devil with your soul for sale or filing for bankruptcy. Our plan makes sense financially and it keeps the bipeds’ careers from vanishing entirely.
  3. The Med affords different environments for different levels of sailing abilities. You can find waters that are perfect for beginners all the way to more challenging areas best suited for those who are a good deal more experienced. Parts of Asia and Africa, for example, add the challenge of not having many chandleries to help with repairs. So, by the time you sail to those shores, you better know your own sailboat and its weaknesses, know how to fix problems yourself, and have your own spare parts handy.
  4. Sailing is a lot like camping: it’s not the “Life of Riley” many would believe. Coming home to the luxuries of modern living and our family and friends will be wonderful. Plus, being back to “normal” will give us a chance to soak in our memories before we become over-saturated with experiences and our memories start to blur into one another.
  5. Lastly, by breaking our trip up into two parts, if we disliked the first 6 month experience or found 6 months of sailing just enough, we don’t have to go back for the second part.

Just what are we looking at anyway?

The Mediterranean Sea is home to 21 countries. (Check out the map and list of countries I’ve included!) Some countries, like Spain and France, are large, and some, like Malta and Montenegro, are small. Each one is unique with its own culture, cuisine and set of treasures and challenges. Even if we are splitting the year up into two 6-month adventures, it is still a “21 countries in 365 days” scenario. That means that if we were to evenly spread things out, we are looking at a new country every 2-3 weeks. Which, of course, is ridiculous! Some countries can be experienced in a week while others, such as Italy, will require considerably more time.

All that to say that, at first blush, it may seem like we will have all the time in the world, but the truth is, the Mediterranean winds are unpredictable, engines fail, tides (yes the Med does have tides, especially near the Strait of Gibraltar Crossing) can cause trouble if not approached at the perfect time or in the right season. Sails can rip and boat parts may need replacement. Electrical issues could trouble us. Any of this could delay our arrival at our next port of call and throw our schedule out the window … or in this case, the porthole.

Sailing around the Mediterranean - The Countdown Begins!

Let’s go!!

We need to plan carefully and consider so many things. As I mentioned, the Mediterranean is a place of sailing extremes where you all too often end up with too little or too much wind and where temperatures from Europe, Asia and Africa can vary dramatically. Additionally, anchorage during high season (especially in Europe) can be far above our means for a full year.

We also want to allow enough time to enjoy our journey; take the time to fall in love with a tiny town outside of the larger cities; take a bus or hike to some remote ruin on a hill in the distance; swim, fish, or scuba dive and catch our own dinner.

And then there are a thousand skills to acquire. A thousand obstacles to overcome. (The paperwork alone… .) A thousand experiences to include in our plans. (Bouillabaisse in Marseille anyone?) Oh, and there is that tiny little detail of buying a blue water sailboat!

So we are starting our planning now. The adventure will not start on the day we set sail on May 1st 2015; rather, the adventure has already started … 2 years ago in fact when the bipeds learned how to sail in the first place.

Planning, Flexibility, Time … Heck, Greece alone with its 140 or more populated islands would make for 10 islands a day for two weeks. Impossible! 365 days a lot of time? No not really.

And thus begins a new series of Montecristo Travels posts: my diary of the events, thoughts, and preparations leading up to the trip … of course as seen from eight inches off the ground.

Countries are listed in order (clockwise) around the Mediterranean Sea. Later we will provide a tentative time frame for each and invite you to let us know if you would like to join us for a leg (but that is a whole other post).

In Europe:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Monaco
  • Malta
  • Italy
  • Slovania
  • Croatia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Montenegro
  • Albania
  • Greece
  • Turkey

In Asia:

  • Syria
  • Cyprus
  • Lebanon
  • Israel

In Africa:

  • Egypt
  • Lybia
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • Morocco

 

39 Comments on “Sailing around the Mediterranean – The Countdown Begins!

  1. So exciting! Congrats on the announcement! Can’t wait to hear all about the preparations! And perhaps Luna and I can meet up with you somewhere along the way. :)

    • LOL!! Nice to know you subscribe Gigi!! because I had not made the official announcement on FB yet!! Awe … it warms our hearts! Absolutely you will be welcome – both of you – to join. As soon as we have an idea of our itinerary and approximate timeline we will post the chance to “block off” your selected portion. It will be a fabulous time!

  2. This sounds wonderful! We will live vicariously through you on this amazing adventure!!!

    • Let us hope it is a great adventure!! For now it just seems like a lot of work and we are overwhelmed. But, we are so exited … we can’t wait!!

  3. Montelicious!!!
    Awesome news :) We are looking forward to seeing you all in any of the three – B&H, Croatia or Montenegro :) In B&H, of course, you will have to set your happy paws on terra firma, and be our guests.

    Love,
    A & the kitties

    • OH LOVELY!! thank you! We will for sure. I promise! When we get closer to our plans … we will be able to pin down a date and make it happen! That will be wonderful!

  4. Hi Monte, Sonia and Stefan,

    I am soooooo excited for you three to take up this journey! It’s a fantastic idea that takes a lot of….ehm ehm…”kahones” 😀 I will be happy to read your preparation for the journey and everything else. I’m sure you are excited beyond believe :-) Have fun planning it.

    Love,

    Michaela, Oliver & Chloe

  5. WOW!!! no word is “wow” enough to describe my feelings! Absolutely amazing! It is a big decision for sure, but one that you guys won’t regret. Quite the adventure this one will be. Looking forward to reading your weekly blogs during your trip. May 2015 will come faster than you can imagine! All the best… follow your dreams!

  6. Ohhhh so fantabulous… I will be following each nautical mile of the way… so much love packed into one sail boat.. what an awesome lifetime adventure. Blog, book and movie! Much love
    Kiki

    • Awe … thank you Kiki!!! What an absolutely delightful comment! Trip of a lifetime … yes and a change in lifestyle too! Many many sacrifices will have to be made to make this happen but it will be worth it for sure! Maybe you will join us for a leg of the trip!

  7. Adventure – is a wonderful thing. How I love sea travels, they are unforgettable. I can not join you in any way, but my heart is with you, Montecristo Team, but…it’s 2012, mabe some things will change by 2015… and I will meet you – joining your the ship in Valetta, for example!

    • We would LOVE that Val!! I do hope things change and it is made possible for you to join us!! Our first leg is 2015 – but our second trip will be 2017! Maybe by then!

  8. OMG! This is going to be an amazing adventure!!! Good luck with everything! I hope we can meet somewhere in your way! We send you our biggest congratulated for this great initiative Dear Friends!!!

    • Radmila, we would love to have you! Who knows where on the journey but yes, please do come. We will as soon as possible have a list up of where we will be and approximately when. We will invite you to block a space then! Thank you for your kind wishes, means a lot to us.

    • Joan – we will have to see it and try it. So far we have yet to find a life jacket that I will keep on and not absolutely HATE. Maybe you can help us with this! We will keep you posted on our findings. We need to find something that does not retain heat so badly. Especially for the second leg when we hit Africa and Asia.

  9. Monte how very exciting and living up to your namesake too!!! Only your bipeds would think up such a awesome and gutsy plan. I am beyond excited for you all and will follow your progress with planning and making the journey with eager anticipation.

    Much love, Lisa, Biba, Beanie <3, Tottie & Drama

    • Awe Lisa THANK YOU!!! Maybe you will join us for a stretch?? Maybe Spain? We’d love to have you … really we would! What an amazing way to meet that would be!

      As for gutsy … yeah maybe… that or just plain crazy! Either way we are doign this!

  10. I’m sharing your post with a friend who also took two major junks of time off to sail–down the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean in their case. If I remember correctly, they took along a cat. (But, I’m Boomeresque age-wise, so I might not be remembering correctly). Do they have life vests for dogs? They have everything else, so I’m assuming the answer is “yes”.

    • Yes they do! but I have yet to find one I actually like enough to leave on. I find most of them hold the heat too much. It’s a problem. Dogs can’t sweat so it makes maintaining a body temperature that is healthy already a challenge in hot weather – even more so with a life vest that doesn’t breath. Not sure what we will do. We are searching. They also don’t often make them small enough. I would love to hear from your friends! Nice that they did that. I wonder how you go back to “normal” life after.

    • Yes Barb, we will fly out and buy the boat and many of our supplies once in Europe. We are not ready for a cross Atlantic Sail – although we may be by the time the trip is over!

  11. I imagine that Stefan has thoroughly researched this adventure, but may I suggest a couple books: “Dove” by Robin Graham, and “The Voyage of American Promise” by Dodge Morgan. Both books were about solo travelers and these circumnavigations were in open water. I had to mention the Morgan book because he is from Maine (Greater Portland, thank you very much) and I read “Dove” as a teenager. It is about a 16 year-old boy At the very least, you might be able to pick up some tips on outfitting your boat for this trip of a lifetime. I will be following your posts with great anticipation as you prepare for your journey.

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