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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LOOKING BACK ON SIX YEARS OF LIVING THE DREAM - CRUISING THE MED (Part 3 of 5)

Envoy is currently in Lefkas Marina, Greece, until April,

This is part three of a five part summary of Envoy’s six years Med cruising to date. The full article will shortly be published in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine.

The Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea incorporates the east coast of Sicily (mentioned last posting), the east coast of the “boot” of Italy, the south coast of Albania, the west coast of Greece and the many Ionian Islands. The Gulf of Corinth would also logically be included here.
Time required – one season.

Map of Greek section of Ionian Sea

The Ionian's Italian coastline has little to offer the cruiser with few anchorages and long distances between marinas

Envoy alongside wharf at Chiro, Italian boot

However Gallipoli, in the Gulf of Taranto, is an excellent stopover with its stunning medieval Old Town, and the marina at Santa Maria di Leuca is a safe and strategic stopover when cruising to or from Corfu or her nearby islands.

Gallipoli has a great Old Town

Albania is safe, economical and fascinating to visit with friendly curious people and stunning inland places to visit. Importantly it is also one of the few remaining non-EU countries in the area, and if your boat is not “VAT-paid” you will need to leave the EU once in every 18 month period to avoid paying it.

Envoy (left) alongside Sarande jetty, Albania

The main Ionian islands of Corfu, Paxoi, Levkas, Meganisi, Ithaca, Cephalonia and Zakinthos are all fabulous offering good sheltered anchorages and interesting places ashore to visit.

Envoy anchored in Assos, Cephalonia

The adjacent mainland Greek coast also has some great places to visit such as Mourtos, Parga, Preveza and the Gulf of Amvrakia.
The Gulf of Corinth offers an excellent route to the Aegean via the Corinth Canal and on the way make sure you stop at historic Navpaktos and at Itea for an inland visit to ancient Delphi, regarded in ancient times as the centre of the world.

The medieval walled port of Navpaktos

Ruins of Dephi's gymnasium

The alternate route to the Aegean is slightly longer, but our preferred one of cruising south and then east around the Peloponnisos taking in Pilos, Methoni, Koroni, and the island of Kithera along the way. Interesting inland trips can be made to ancient Olympia and to several historic mountain villages in the area where Spartans formerly roamed.

The Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea incorporates the north-east coast of mainland Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the islands off Croatia, Montenegro and the north coast of Albania.
Time required – at least one season.

Albania is great to visit as already mentioned. Montenegro is also very interesting and can be visited in about two weeks due to its short coastline. Here a cruiser can purchase very cheap tax-free fuel immediately prior to departure.

Stunning Kotor in Montenegro

Croatia will require the longest period of time to explore and can be expensive as many anchorages have been converted to mooring areas where a charge is made to moor or anchor. Nevertheless Croatia is stunning as are her offshore islands; 79 of them have an area over one square kilometre with the most popular ones being Korcula. Hvar, Brac, Vis, Kornati, Cres and Krk. Don’t miss cruising up the Krka River inland waterway to Skradin and the Krka National Park.

Envoy in great anchorage of Zaklopalika in Croatia

Krka National Park, Croatia

Croatia's Konati Islands offer many anchorages

Kortula is one of Croatia's highlights

In the Italian Adriatic a visit to Venice is a must and offers a choice of several marinas. We plan to visit there during 2015.
To the south, the east coast of Italy has little to offer with very few anchorages and the ports mainly industrial in nature. ………… continued next posting

Sunday, January 11, 2015

LOOKING BACK ON SIX YEARS OF LIVING THE DREAM - CRUISING THE MED (Part 2 of 5)

Envoy is currently in Lefkas marina, Greece until April.
This is part two of a five part summary of Envoy’s six years Med cruising to date. The full article will shortly be published in Pacific Motor Yacht magazine.

THE MED’S STUNNING CRUISING AREAS
The Med consists of eight major seas and we’ve extensively cruised four of them on the Med’s eastern side. Although there are many great places to see along the coast it’s important to realise there are many other stunning places to see inland, reached by bus, train or rental car after leaving your boat safely in a marina. Our great places won’t necessarily be yours, so keep an open mind, do your research, talk to other cruisers and explore.
There is also a question of cruising philosophy – do you want to cover a lot of area quickly to get a flavour of each, or do you want to immerse yourself in each area and really experience it? We prefer the latter option and our time recommendations for each area are based on this, including some allowance for cruising to that area from your Med home port.
It’s not within the scope of this article to describe the destinations, and for this you should refer to the cruising guides published by Imray.

The Tyrrhenian Sea incorporates the east coasts of Corsica and Sardinia, the central and south-west coasts of mainland Italy and the north coast of Sicily. In practice most cruisers would include the whole of Corsica (French), Sardinia (Italian) and Sicily (Italian) in their plans.
Time required – at least one season.

The Tyrrhenian Sea is a superb cruising area

Although we haven’t yet cruised in Corsica or Sardinia they are said to be stunning with excellent anchorages.
Cruising down the west coast of Italy there is little of great interest except the islands of Ponza, Ischia and Capri (which are extremely crowded in summer). Naples is far from idyllic but should be visited to see the ruins of Pompeii. Most cruisers would consider an inland trip to Rome a must, possibly from the marina at Ostia. We suggest bypassing Italy’s mainland coast south of Scario and heading directly across to Stromboli, the active volcanic island which is the part of the Aeolian Islands group. Bear in mind Stromboli has no marinas or all weather anchorages.

The Aeolian Islands are stunning and deserve two weeks

Allow a week or two to visit the Aeolian Islands of Salina, Lipari and Vulcano, all of which have both anchorages and marinas.

Envoy anchored off Gelso, Vulcano Island

The north coast of Sicily offers few anchorages sheltered from the prevailing northerly wind but Cefalu’s Porto Nuovo is great and reasonably sheltered with nearby Cefalu’s Old Town being particularly delightful.

Envoy anchored in Porto Nuovo

Sicily's Cefalu is one of our favourite towns

Further east, Castellamare is a truly atmospheric marina while nearby Trapani offers an excellent base to explore the stunning Egadi Islands of Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo off Sicily’s north-east coast. 

A magnificent anchorage at Favignana Island

Sicily’s east coast has some stunning anchorages including historic Syracuse, while the south coast is also interesting making a circumnavigation worthwhile. From Sicily’s south coast many cruisers also make a side trip to Malta.

Waves breaking outside Siracuse harbour

Exploring inland Sicily reveals a treasure trove of sites like the Temple of Concord

Sicily has many amazing mountain villages, natural features and historic sites making some inland travel a must. ………… continued next posting