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Old 07-12-2014, 19:40   #1
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Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

We spent our lives only being able to cruise 6 months of the year (because the water is hard most of the rest of the time!). We are very comfortable sailing in cooler weather (our boat is heated), and we aren't afraid of a good stiff breeze! We don't mind staying put for a few weeks at a time, or being at the mercy of the weather gods, but we'd really like to avoid being confined to a marina for months on end!

We'll be setting off in May from Tunisia for the first time on our new home/boat (a Catana 50). Our tentative plan for our first year is to head east to Greece and Turkey. We'd always chose to anchor out over a marina.

Our question is; With an ocean capable catamaran and no schedule to adhere to, how feasible is it to keep cruising throughout the winter in the southern Med – particularly Greece and Turkey, but also Spain, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt…? Is anyone out there doing that?

Cheers, and thanks everyone!
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Old 07-12-2014, 19:42   #2
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiesnTequila View Post
We spent our lives only being able to cruise 6 months of the year (because the water is hard most of the rest of the time!). We are very comfortable sailing in cooler weather (our boat is heated), and we aren't afraid of a good stiff breeze! We don't mind staying put for a few weeks at a time, or being at the mercy of the weather gods, but we'd really like to avoid being confined to a marina for months on end!

We'll be setting off in May from Tunisia for the first time on our new home/boat (a Catana 50). Our tentative plan for our first year is to head east to Greece and Turkey. We'd always chose to anchor out over a marina.

Our question is; With an ocean capable catamaran and no schedule to adhere to, how feasible is it to keep cruising throughout the winter in the southern Med – particularly Greece and Turkey, but also Spain, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt…? Is anyone out there doing that?

Cheers, and thanks everyone!
Good question
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Old 07-12-2014, 20:14   #3
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Seems like you might be better off heading over to the Canary Islands for a few months or over to Israel for warmer weather. We tried two separate three week vacations in Menorca two years ago, the weather was miserable from November through April. High winds, rain and damp cold... Not compatible with anchoring out or enjoyment. There's a reason most folks in the Med take their boats out of the water.

There's a marina in Southern Sicily, Marina De Ragusa where many English speakers head to enjoy the winter.
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Old 07-12-2014, 23:00   #4
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

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Originally Posted by CookiesnTequila View Post
We spent our lives only being able to cruise 6 months of the year (because the water is hard most of the rest of the time!). We are very comfortable sailing in cooler weather (our boat is heated), and we aren't afraid of a good stiff breeze! We don't mind staying put for a few weeks at a time, or being at the mercy of the weather gods, but we'd really like to avoid being confined to a marina for months on end!

We'll be setting off in May from Tunisia for the first time on our new home/boat (a Catana 50). Our tentative plan for our first year is to head east to Greece and Turkey. We'd always chose to anchor out over a marina.

Our question is; With an ocean capable catamaran and no schedule to adhere to, how feasible is it to keep cruising throughout the winter in the southern Med – particularly Greece and Turkey, but also Spain, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt…? Is anyone out there doing that?

Forget about it. I met a half dozen boats that tried and gave up. There are a number of fronts each winter in the Med which make even big ships take shelter.
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Old 08-12-2014, 00:50   #5
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiesnTequila View Post
We spent our lives only being able to cruise 6 months of the year (because the water is hard most of the rest of the time!). We are very comfortable sailing in cooler weather (our boat is heated), and we aren't afraid of a good stiff breeze! We don't mind staying put for a few weeks at a time, or being at the mercy of the weather gods, but we'd really like to avoid being confined to a marina for months on end!



We'll be setting off in May from Tunisia for the first time on our new home/boat (a Catana 50). Our tentative plan for our first year is to head east to Greece and Turkey. We'd always chose to anchor out over a marina.



Our question is; With an ocean capable catamaran and no schedule to adhere to, how feasible is it to keep cruising throughout the winter in the southern Med – particularly Greece and Turkey, but also Spain, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt…? Is anyone out there doing that?



Cheers, and thanks everyone!

We are currently in Kalida/Greece on the hard and until now the weather has been acceptable for cruising, but we have to have some work done. If we are still here next year I will give it a try. In this area there are several sheltered anchorages just 10 or 15 miles apart. On shore there are villages and small towns, where life continues, as they do not rely much on tourism. Shops and restaurants are open. January and February are said to be the worst months, but so far I have no experience.
Last winter we left the boat in Marina di Ragusa, good marina, but it is getting extremely boring (for us, but some people might enjoy it). Cruising the South coast of Sicily during winter, I would not recommend. The prevailing wind is from the South and there are no save anchorages. The winter before we left the boat in Tunisia and I would not consider to cruise there during the winter.
Next year we plan to kick-off the season end of March.


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Old 08-12-2014, 02:14   #6
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

you might pm seaworthy lass, she and her husband are anchoring somewhere in the greek isles right now. I believe they have been sailing the med for 5(?) years, mainly on the hook in various spots.

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Old 08-12-2014, 02:49   #7
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

We have spent the last four winters on the hook in Crete. We sail until mid December and try to head off again in March/April. It is possible to keep sailing but you have to be prepared to wait for a decent weather window and have plenty of bolt holes to head to for bad weather. On average over the last four years in Crete we have had two storms of 50+ knots lasting 24 hours+ each year. The weather can be cold and wet but, in our minds, living on the hook is far preferable to a marina.

This year we are in Egypt, still sailing and snorkelling the reefs.
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Old 08-12-2014, 04:24   #8
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

I can't imagine why you could not. I think it's more a question of mentality and attitude than anything else, in my opinion.

I sail year-round at a much higher latitude -- above 50N in the English Channel.

There are regular gales this time of year so you need to plan your movements to have a secure place to ride them out. But they don't appear out of nowhere -- they roll in off the Atlantic and are forecast many days ahead.

It can be cold -- sometimes below freezing -- but when it's really cold you dress appropriately and sail shorter legs.

Obviously in the winter you don't spend much time in the cockpit having sundowners, but so what -- it's incredibly cosy sitting below with the heat going, when a winter gale is blowing outside.

I'm on board now; woke up to find ice on the deck this morning. Got back last night from a gorgeous weekend sailing. Cold and calm and sunny on Saturday -- had a lazy drift down to Yarmouth letting the near-spring tide do the work. Yesterday warmer and windier; had a superb sail DDW to Cowes. Then in the evening back to Hamble, just as a front blew through with 35 knot winds -- a short but exhilarating sail under staysail and deeply reefed main alone, accompanied by an incredible rainbow.

I have not sailed in the Med in the winter time, but I can imagine that there could be many, many joys -- it's the crowds which put me off Med sailing other than in places like the Aegean, and in the winter you won't have this problem. Plus berthing will be available everywhere and at a discount price.

I think you just need really good cold-weather clothing (including full ski masks for really cold days), the right attitude, really good central heat on board plus warm duvets for the bunks, and careful weather planning.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:17   #9
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Southern Med are Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, etc.

What you want is 100% doable but will be only 50% fun. Med winter can be very harsh at times.

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Old 08-12-2014, 08:19   #10
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

You say that you don't mind a cooler weather, high seas and winds.. You have an absolutely seaworthy boat (Catana 50) and have a heating, then, it's absolutely doable. Whether you enjoy or not is another issue; most of restaurants will be closed, sight seeing is limited. So what for ?
Southern Turkey (Fethiye, Kaş, etc.) is milder. Excellent protection in Üçağız (sunken city)
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:08   #11
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Hi,
We spent two years in the Eastern Med and it is frigid in winter. We tried Israel (not vouluntarily but after being ordered, on the high sea, to go there by the Israeli Navy) and it was often freezing cold and pretty expensive. We were in Ashkolon.
Personally, we found Turkey far, far better - more afordable, better shops and friendlier people. Turkey also has excellent chandlers, especially in Maramaris. Additionally, buses and taxis are priced more attractively when you need to use them and in the supermarkets you can get what you need rather than what they decide you need. Eating out can also be affordable. There were no great discounts to be had whilst we were there. Places like Kekova Roads are simply stunning and have incredible walks. Kekova roads is a very pretty place to anchor and also quite sheltered. Our cat drew 1.3m and we anchored in 2.5m with good holding. There were no security issues, either. Some of the local cafes were open all winter and the food was excellent and very cheap. Some of the marina's are not too expensive, either. We bought a diesel powered heater for winter No. 2 and ran it 24/7 for a couple of months as it was so cold. We found ourselves a popular boat in the evenings as other yotties came to us to warm up. However, it was certainly worth while, and we would do it again as long as we had a heater. Don't forget the hot water bottles!! Good luck.
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:15   #12
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CookiesnTequila View Post
Our question is; With an ocean capable catamaran and no schedule to adhere to, how feasible is it to keep cruising throughout the winter in the southern Med – particularly Greece and Turkey, but also Spain, Sicily, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt…? Is anyone out there doing that?

Cheers, and thanks everyone!
Hi
This is our 8th winter at anchor in the Med (3 of these have been partially spent back in Australia when we have hauled out to antifoul). We love wintering out, but many people consider it unsafe and you need to take that view into account.

A few tips:
- The key is having no set schedule. You can be holed up in one spot for a couple of weeks quite easily.
- The wind can flip 180° suddenly from force 7 in one direction to force 7 in the other (it seems this always happens at 2am ) so you need to find anchorages with 360° protection or alternative anchorages very close by.
- It is warmer and drier the further south you head (although I have heard southern Turkey can be wet).
- Good anchoring gear is essential.

It is a beautiful time of year and we seemingly have to Med to ourselves. The Aegean islands are a sheer joy to explore at this time of year.

Whenever southerlies blow, the weather is warm (16-19° C). With northerlies top temps may only be 8-14°C (8 infrequent). Warm or cold it is often sunny. We have no heating on board and cope, although heating would be wonderful. Pure goosedown duvets and pillows mean we stay toastie warm sleeping. We snuggle down on the settees with single ones plus hot water bottles to have dinner and watch movies and it is very pleasant. Mornings are really the only time I suffer a bit when we have cold snaps.

We have seen only one other yacht in the last six weeks .
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:34   #13
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

i would agree with what everyone has said. Good ground tackle and short wet days in Jan - Feb. Winter rates for marinas in the Med are substantially cheaper and part of the magic are all the places to see on shore so leaving your boat for even a day or two with storms howling thru to explore becomes an issue. Ucagiz in Kekova Roads is a great protected harbor. Syracusa in Sicily is also a fantastic big protected anchorage with the best fish markets and lots to see. A little further north is the Bay of Olbia in Sardinia and Porto Ferraio on Elba is a great protected anchorage. I mention protected much in my note as it does blow and blow.Fair winds Jim
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Old 08-12-2014, 10:29   #14
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

Great great responses!! Thank you all.

It confirms what I suspected - and Dockhead seems to have summed it up - "...it's more a question of mentality and attitude than anything else..." And I might add it doesn't hurt growing up in Canada - we all seem to have a little antifreeze in our veins!!!

We have diesel heating throughout. We have very good (and will have even better) ground tackle, we would much rather anchor out, which translates to less crowds/tourists and more natural local state of being that we're sure winter affords, and it was -10 degrees last night (-19 with wind-chill) - so anything north of +8 sounds absolutely wonderful!! We are now looking much more forward to next winter - our first full winter in the Med!!

Seaworthy Lass, barnaclejim, Bulawayo. yeloya, NornaBiron - and anyone else out there that is doing or has done this - we would love hear more about the anchorages that you've found along the way - both winter and summer anchorages. ....I may have to start another thread for that!
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Old 08-12-2014, 11:05   #15
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Re: Cruising in the winter in the Southern Med – Doable or not?

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Hi
This is our 8th winter at anchor in the Med ....

....We have seen only one other yacht in the last six weeks .
Awesome! How far are you from a town with provisions, a restaurant or two etc.? It seems like you could never be more than a manageable dinghy ride away in the Med.

Also - we'd intend to go into a marina for a week or three at a time when we plan on being away, and have no problem being in one if it's calling for real nasty weather - we just don't want to have to be in a marina for 3 months - or more - if it's not necessary!

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