Ed. Note: In July 2004, after crossing the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally (NAR) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Gibraltar, Scott and Mary Flanders on board Egret, spent three seasons cruising the Mediterranean. They visited touristy hot spots as well as lesser explored territories and, along the way, gained a wealth of information about the area. While winding down their warm-up cruise, they put together a three-part Mediterranean cruising guide specifically for participants in Medbound 2007, another rally-like effortwhich will duplicate the NAR’s route. But the Flanderses have agreed to share it with the readers of Voyage of Egret.
Cruising the Coast of Spain
If you arrive Gibraltar from the U.S. via your own bottom, you will be ready for a break. Leave your boat in Gib or close by and rent a car with someone from the crossing. After the Rally, Egret and Envoy traveled to Madrid then on to Grenada (Alhambra tour) on a week or so trip. This gave us a brief but good flavor of SW Spain. If you arrive by carrier like Dock Express, try to ship to Palma de Majorca where you can start your cruise immediately.
The Costa del Sol (south of Spain) is miles of condos (mostly all Brits). The coast is uninteresting and where there are no condos there are hot houses for growing winter crops. Very unattractive. Egret anchored off the beaches along the coast moving quickly to the Isla Baleares. You WILL be boarded by the Costa Guardia at night looking for immigrants but they are apologetic and very nice. No problema and nothing to worry about. We departed the coast from Cartegena (a den of thieves and only three slips for powerboats so had to lay on a wall with throngs passing by. Stargazer (an N46 that participated in the NAR) was boarded there at night by thieves) to Formentara in the Baleares. We felt Formentera and Ibiza were a waste of time. I would go directly to Palma de Majorca for a few days (slips will be available but not later in the season) see Palma, then rent a car and travel the NW coast - spectacular. After Palma travel clockwise around Majorca starting with Andrix and different calas/villages.
Next is Menorca, anchor in Mahon visiting that historic harbor, renting a car then enjoying the different calas around the island. From Menorca cross to the Costa Brava (NE coast) of Spain. Cadaques was our favorite. Afterward, cruise the south of France until sailing to Marina Port Vell in Barcelona for the winter.
During this time you will probably have NO weather except for the seabreezes that come up in the afternoons particularly when anchored in the calas of the Baleares. The holding everywhere except Cadaques on the Spanish coast (rock in places so be careful) and Mahon in Menorca (mud - no problem) is white sand & relatively shallow.
For Marina Port Vell in BCN you MUST campaign, send confirming e-mails making a pest of yourselves, send a deposit and show up on Sept 14th. NOT the 15th. Port Vell is difficult to get into so you must work at it. Satchmo (an N46)and Autumn Wind (an N62) didn't and even though they were there for a week with us they were thrown out. Que Linda (another Rally boat) sent a deposit but cruised too long. QL got their deposit back and sent on their way. Port Olympic is a small marina in Barcelona but away from everything with a big surge with winter winds. Obviously there are other ports along the Spanish coast but none have many liveaboards making for a loooong winter. Barcelona is very social. We made quite a few friends there and traveled inland with some of them.
Starting in October, it is a great time to travel inland Spain/France by rental car. Mary and I have traveled inland in every country we have visited. Some of our favorite memories come from these trips. We visited north of BCN in the mountain park on a number of occasions and traveled thru the Pyrenees to France. Went south of the Pyrenees into France a couple of times, north to visit yachties we met near la Rochelle, etc. Inland travel is really great with few cars on the roads at that time of year and inexpensive room rates. The Spaniards are fun people to be with and forgiving of our lack of Espanol. Even the French were nice and accommodating. Most service people in tourista areas speak some English. Communication anywhere in the Med - including Turkey - is easily accomplished with lots of smiles, hand waving and pantomime. Mary and I took the time to learn basic whatever language and used it (very little Greek -most speak English). The back of the Heikell guides is a good start.
This is a simple, fun itinerary for your abbreviated first summer cruising season. Take your time, slooooow down and relax.