Having met many North American sailors who have only had a brief look into the Western Mediterranean, or have raced through at top speed from Suez to Gibraltar, we became puzzled as to why they did not spend more time exploring. The answers we received were really quite an eye-opener for us and we felt that most had really missed the chance of a lifetime.
The first answer was "time". For cruisers from North America who only have one year's time, the Med is not the best choice as it requires longer, particularly if two transatlantic passages are to be included as well. The time would be better spent on the western side of the Atlantic where a wide range of cruising grounds from Canada to the Caribbean are available on the doorstep - admittedly with a completely different kind of appeal.
The second answer was "language". We met a cruiser who had never before been confronted with the situation of having to make himself understood in a foreign country and who found the situation frustrating and fled back to the States. We see it as a challenge, it needs further discussion and has a chapter of its own.
The third answer was "overcrowded". Europe is certainly more densely populated than North America, but the Med isn't like the Costa del Sol in August everywhere! That would be like making conclusions about the East coast of the USA after visiting Manhattan.
The fourth answer was "poor sailing conditions". After cruising permanently for 6 years ourselves (not to mention the umpteen sailing holidays), we know that there are only three winds: head winds, calm and gales... Jokes aside, the wind can be as fickle in the Med as anywhere but there are plenty of days of good sailing to be had. The Mediterranean can behave like an ocean or like an inland lake. An eye on the weather is important before making decisions, as this is not like Trade Wind sailing.
For those who stay a while, the Mediterranean
will start to reveal some of its secrets and unravel the complexity of
the many cultures that have surrounded this almost inland sea for centuries.
Suddenly those old boring history lessons are put into perspective and
are seen as the yesterday of modern conflicts or the common bond still
joining unlikely partners. As the western culture spread from here it is
like a return to the basis. Visitors will find reasons for customs back
home that emigrating forebears have nurtured on foreign soil. But the "Old
World" has not remained static, unchanged, old-fashioned. It is a conglomeration
of thriving cultures that all play an important role in the shaping of
our common future. I hope that this little book will help you to enjoy
your trip to the Med. It cannot replace the pilot books, the phrase books,
the field guides and the encyclopaedia, but perhaps it will give some hints
and help at the planning stage.
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