Known for its world-famous cuisine, warm climate, stunning scenery, and relaxed culture – the Mediterranean is one of the most sought-after sailing destinations on earth.
The Mediterranean offers crystal clear waters, perfect for snorkeling and swimming; calm conditions and, occasional winds that make sailing fun for novice and experienced sailors alike.
No other region on earth stacks up to the cultural and geographical diversity of the Mediterranean.
Bounded by Europe, Asia and, Africa, the waters of the Mediterranean – up to three miles deep in places – is frequently disturbed by sudden and surprisingly strong winds that blow from the land towards the center of the sea. Many of these winds have names, including the Scirocco (originating in the Sahara), the Meltemi (Greece and Turkey), the Bora (Croatia) and, the Mistral (southern France). The difference in temperature between the land and sea also creates more localized breezes, which are generally northerly in the morning, variable at midday and, strong southerly in the afternoon. All this can make for extremely fun and challenging sailing.
I couldn’t help but feel very lucky, excited and, a bit nervous – it was the first time that I was getting on board on a sailing adventure.
Thankfully, I was surrounded by an amazing and experienced crew. This incredible adventure was hosted by MT SAIL who made a delivery look like a real dreamy Mediterranean sailing trip.
Professional courses include full sail and power courses from first aid and competent crew, tender driving, day skipper, coastal, offshore and, Yachtmaster preparation and exams. Their aim is to build measured self-confidence in knowledge, skills development, and safety as well as understanding limitations and risks. They offer weekend and modular as well as full week courses.
Our adventure started in Malta:
How to start saying how amazingly beautiful the country is!? Malta lies just 93 km (58 miles) South of Sicily (Italy) in Southern Europe and roughly 300 km (186 miles) North from the North African coast.
Most of the buildings are beige, gray, and/or sand color so the blue water contrasts with the natural colors of the buildings, greenery, and ground.
Throughout Malta and Gozo, Churches, Palazzos, Farm Houses, Villas and even City Walls have all been built from Maltese limestone. In fact, every era throughout Maltese history, no matter when or who was in command, has seen some sort of limestone construction – the likes of which can still be seen today.
I was blown away by Malta’s beauty, diverse history, incredibly tasty cuisine, a multitude of things to do/see, and the incredible kindness of everyone we met.
Historically, Malta is home to some of the oldest ruins, dating back to 3600 BC (that’s 1000 years before Egypt’s first pyramid). There is speculation that that inhabitant lived in caves starting around 7200 BC. The tiny country was ‘ruled’ or invaded by all sorts of nations. Arabs, Knights, Spanish, French, Italian… Then finally the British. Geographically, Malta is a gateway between Africa and Europe. Everyone has wanted her as a stronghold at one time or another. In 1964 they finally became independent from Britain.
The monumentally large fortresses, walled cities, amazing cliffs, Maltese boat-filled harbors and a wide range of palm trees, pink and purple flowers and, rows of huge bulbous cactuses.
After spending the day visiting the city and collecting provisions, we got ready to cast the lines. At 6pm we left Malta in a flat calm waters with an amazingly beautiful sunset.
Sailing at night is a unique experience. Leaving in the evening we watch the sunset out at sea, the colors change and the first stars starting to appear. Eventually, as the night falls all we saw was the lights of Tunisia fading in the distance.
Next stop: the biggest island in the Mediterranean
We took 4 hour solo watches, while the remaining crew slept cozily (or tried to!) in the cabins below. While the helmsman kept an eye on the compass, or navigated with the stars, the crew kept a lookout for other boats, listening to changes in the wind, and trimming or reefing the sails when necessary. You were guaranteed to roll around in your bed with every tack!
Finally, after a night on course, the first colors of dawn appeared on the horizon. We could spot Sicily in the distance, while the first sleepy heads peak out through the companionway. It’s time for a warm cup of tea or coffee, silently watching the sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea.
After 12 hours of overnight sailing, we were surprised by the contrast on the Sicilian coast: smooth beaches instead of rugged cliffs, wide uninhabited hills instead of terraced fields, stucco facades instead of Maltese limestone, pizzerias instead of pastizzerias, and a language more familiar to many of us.
Through the ages, Sicily has been a crossroads and crucible of Mediterranean culture. The island today is a fascinating palimpsest, its history and. abundant natural wonders ensuring that there’s something for everyone: the historic cities of Palermo, Catania and, Siracusa; the Etna region with its volcanic landscapes, fertile wine country and, picture-perfect Taormina; Ragusa, Modica and the other honey-hued Baroque towns of the south; the Greek temples of Agrigento, Selinunte, and Segesta; Roman sites like Piazza Armerina; miles of sandy beaches and secret rocky coves. And don’t get us started on the food, from the couscous of Trapani to the pastries of Noto, it’s a reason to visit in itself.
With parts of the island on the same latitude as the North African coast, Sicily has a mild climate that makes it an attractive destination for much of the year: spring and autumn are a sheer delight, and though high summer (July and August) temperatures do soar, though sea breezes in coastal areas take the edge off the heat.
A quick stop in Sardinia:
Anyone who loves Italy and the sea should take the chance to visit the amazing island Sardinia. This is one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean Sea. Besides its scenic landscape, fabulous cuisine and, remarkable history, Sardinia is also the perfect destination for the actual sailing endeavor. The island’s positions and its favorable weather conditions make it easy to reach by boat. A sailing trip to Sardinia is usually a worry-free experience for amateurs and experts alike.
The mild climate and the strong winds that blow near Sardinia’s coast provide the ideal sailing conditions that will enhance your journey.
Moreover, this island is well-known for its predominantly sunny weather, so you don’t have to worry too much about storms. Remember however to pack an extra sunscreen as you will be tempted to soak up the warm sun for long hours.
Our way to Formentera:
At some point, the sea state started to pick up pretty aggressively.
We found ourselves heading nose-first into waves, which is not pleasant and puts a lot of stress on the boat. This is where I started reflecting on what life is like on a sailing boat when you are away from land for about 2 days.
Formentera a la vista!
The rocky island was a welcome sight. Formentera is one of the most beautiful and un-spoilt islands in Europe, if not the world. The most popular spot for charter clients is Illetes, the closest point of Formentera to Ibiza.
Formentera is the smallest island belonging to the Pityusic archipelago. Despite its reduced size, this island is at least as charming as its bigger sister Ibiza. Most tourists who come to Formentera seek a less-mainstream location and a laid-back atmosphere. To their delight, this is what they find as soon as they dock on Formentera’s shore.
This island is a perfect stop on our seventh day of the cruise because it offers the perfect chance to take a break and recharge your batteries while contemplating beautiful turquoise waters.
Last destination: Denia
Leaving very early in the afternoon we heading off to Denia.
After an 8 hour trip, we got to the picturesque landscape of cloudy mountains covered in white-washed houses.
Overlooking Mount Montgo and the fabulous Castle of Denia, few ports in the Mediterranean are a showcase to such beauty as the Marina de Denia.
This Port, is one of the most important of the east coast, as well as being the link between the mainland and the Balearic Islands, from Marina de Denia depart every summer hundreds of ships heading to the islands, ferry crossings to Ibiza, Formentera, Palma, Ibiza, and San Antonio with a duration of 2h30 to Formentera and almost 8 hours to reach Mallorca.
Later in the afternoon, we docked at one of the most beautiful ports of Spain.
We ended our trip by toasting in Spanish lands, with a bottle of red wine and an incredible sunset, before saying goodbye to most of the crew and making our way back to Barcelona on land.
PRO TIP: Before you go out to sea on your own, you need to know the ropes, such as how to park and anchor a boat and avoid any dangers such as submerged rocks. These skills can be learned by doing a practical training course in MT SAIL.
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