I think you are right in that it would a shame bordering on criminal not to explore the Med for a year or so
We have a 38ft cat in Croatia and its a wonderful cruising area. However, marinas are very expensive on a casual basis but more affordable by the year or season, particularly for wintering, and particularly on the islands. Marina berths on the mainland and nearish to airports are twice the price
of those on the islands. To give you some idea, we pay 5300 Euro for an annual berth in Milna on Brac just a few miles from Split. A 6 month winter berth is less than 50% of that, and very negotiable.
During April through to end October, there are very many safe anchorages you can weather pretty well anything at anchor, you are rarely more than 5 miles from a safe haven, so unless you need to come alongside for water
, you are not forced to. All you need is a really good new generation anchor and ground tackle. You can often anchor within yards of a marina or town quay free of charge to go ashore for provisions. I am sure it is possible to anchor all year round, but there are 2 issues with that. First, when it blows hard, particularly the Bora during late Autumn, Winter and early Spring it can easily reach 50+kts. We have recorded 60+ kts twice in 3 years in a sheltered marina in March. Second, there is not a lot going on in the islands, very few restaurants, lots of unoccupied 2nd homes. For any life at all you need to be adjacent to a community with more than 1000 inhabitants. My personal view would be you have a winter berth from November - March in a very sheltered marina and then go cruising from April - Oct using anchor mainly, and a sprinkling of buoys and town quays as you see fit and can afford. (This has the advantage that in the winter the boat is very safe and you can travel to see friends and family
or living aboard
you can take advantage of the many nice periods during the winter and go for a mini cruise between spells of bad weather.) To give you some idea, for our boat buoys vary from 150-300 kuna, town quays 400-650 kuna and god forbid marinas 700-1000+ kuna. Paying for water
and power alongside can be expensive up to 200 kuna usually on top, but if you can stay at anchor you should and must have ample solar
or other generation means, so you can save there.
As has been said, marinas and town quays are of high quality, the marinas in particular are well maintained and the boats well monitored. The buoys however are more variable, being concessions to private operators and in some cases blocks are too small and header ropes chafed. To be safe in bad weather, you need to snorkel the mooring yourself!
The only 'pilot' we use is 777 Harbours and anchorages, covers Slovenia
, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania and very efficiently covers pretty well every harbour and cove there is. Not much pilotage required as mostly, everything you see is navigable, unlike Brittany or the Channel Isles.
The other thing to be aware of is the weather. Even in summer there can be strong winds and torrential thunderstorms. Typically, every 2 weeks there will be a Yugo SE or less frequently Bora NE winds. They are normally much less strong and of shorter duration than in winter but need to be respected. Fortunately, the Croatian and Italian forecasts are very good and broadcast/web in english