Ouch! I understand people being concerned about your safety
but you've had a bit of a harsh pushback.
Firstly, three fundamentals that folk are right about
1. The Med in winter is no place to learn to sail. You might be fine, but your other half might not have such a good time. The western Med is 10 to 20 degrees Celcius, so not horribly cold, but the winds feel chilly. They certainly did today as I sat doing some cutting and filing on the dockside in Southern Spain
, under grey skies and a 20kn Easterly in 3 layers of clothes.
2. The weather in winter can be quite boisterous. There are the odd week at a time of lovely mild weather, especially by April. Earlier in the year the weather is more boisterous, especially with very cold winds blasting down from the Alps or Atlantic storms funneling through the Straits of Gibraltar
. That said, I go out sailing all winter long from my marina just north of Gibraltar
. Just pick the weather window.
3. The Portugese coast can be a real challenge, especially heading north against the prevailing winds. In strong onshore winds many, sometimes almost all, of the harbours are closed because of breaking seas in the entrances. And Biscay in Winter, Spring and Autumn is fearsome even to very experienced sailors. I've met plenty of inexperienced sailors who crossed it in very settled summer weather ( well, most went the long coastal route
rather than straight across). I've also met one who was capsized and had to abandon her boat
The good news is that there are tons of very cheap
boats in the Med. Most harbours will have three or four boats that have essentally been dumped there by someone who could afford to buy a nice boat but not the fees
and running costs to keep it. Or who got too old to manage the boat. Or had a dream about sailing but changed their minds after the first year. I had a Swedish neighbour who picked up a 30' cruiser for 3000€, spent about the same again on some gear
and basic improvements, and then headed off to the Canaries
in it three months later. It can be done. Maybe you could spend the first few months of your sabbatical on a road trip looking for a half decent boat. That would be a great adventure in itself. Buy a boat cheaply enough and you won't need to worry about getting your money
back at the end of your adventure.
The Western Med in winter and spring isn't crazy expensive.
are mostly under 30€ a night for a 30-35' boat like my current
one, and there are tons of free anchorages
, Sardinia and the Balearics to while away the days once the weather turns warm. People will tell you there aren't, or anchoring
is forbidden, but last summer I anchored for free in 47 bays and harbours on our 5 month cruise
in Southern Spain
and the Balearics, and used only 12 marinas
. Use Navily to do some research
on where you plan to go and be sceptical of internet
is nice but difficult for sailing once you are north of the Algarve. But if you manage that you've got the Galician Rias to look forward to. They are beautiful fjords in Northern Spain. I'd be surprised if you even bother to go further north!
If you buy a boat in the Med, buy one that is registered in The Netherlands
or Belgium. I understand that, like my homeland of Britain, they are exempt from the licensing and qualifications required by other European nations (Spain and Portugal
to my certain knowledge France
too, I think). I know Spanish boat owners that own boats registered elsewhere for that very reason. But do your own research
Apologies for such a long post. I don't disagree with a lot of the cautionary posts you've had, just to say that there's hundreds, if not thousands, of people knocking around that have done what you want to do (usually travelling North to South though). Very few died. Some had horrible experiences that they never want to repeat. The rest of us had, or are still having the adventure of a lifetime. Good luck.