The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, otherwise completely surrounded by land. While it’s sometimes thought of as part of the Atlantic, it was actually cut off by violent geological activity almost six million years ago, and spent just over half a million years as a dry, arid basin before being refilled by the massive ‘Zanclean flood’ over 5 million years ago.
The ancient flood created an epic-sized waterfall with a flow a thousand times bigger than Niagra falls. This violent cataclysm took a few hundred years to create something very like the Mediterranean we know and love, although fossils reveal the area originally had a humid subtropical climate. The climate only went ‘Mediterranean’ within the last three million years.
These days the Med is one of the world’s most popular seagoing playgrounds. What awaits you if you’ve decided to pin your colours on boat share, Mediterranean style? As it turns out the balmy Med offers yacht share experiences in a total of twenty three different countries, each with its own unique culture, cuisine, music and social scene.
Yachting the Med – Depths and distances
965,000 square miles of beautiful seas are yours for the taking on the lovely blue Med, connected to the Atlantic Ocean by a slim band of water less than nine miles wide, the Strait of Gibraltar.
The Mediterranean averages 1500 metres deep, 4,900 feet in old money. At its deepest it plummets to just over seventeen thousand feet, in a mysterious area called the Calypso Deep set in the Ionian Sea, bordered to the north by Europe, the east by Asia, and the south by Africa.
On the Med you’ll find yourself sailing between 30° and 46° N latitude and 6° W and 36° E longitude. If you want to make your way from the western to the eastern coast, you’ll travel 2500 miles, around 4000km. Sail north to south and you’re looking at around 800km, 500 miles. The total area of water is an awesome 2,510,000 square km including the Sea of Marmara, in other words not far short of ten million square miles. And that’s what we call an awful lot of potential for adventure!
Every year a metre in depth of water is lost right across the Med thanks to evaporation caused by the gorgeous, balmy climate and the fact that it’s a relatively small sea bounded by land. But the salts in the water don’t evaporate, which leaves the sea saltier than most and both you and your yacht much more buoyant. In fact there’s roughly 38 grams of salt per litre in the Mediterranean and just under 35 in the Atlantic.
How come the Mediterranean doesn’t eventually dry up altogether? A small amount of water arrives thanks to rivers and rain. A tiny amount flows in from the Black Sea. But most of it comes from the mighty Atlantic via the Strait of Gibraltar, where there’s an incredibly strong current flowing from the Atlantic into the Med, something to watch out for on your voyages.
The Marmara, Aegean and Black Seas
For extra adventures, you can head off into the fascinating Sea of Marmara, an extension of the Mediterranean separating Asian Turkey from the European part. This in turn connects to the Aegean Sea via the Dardanelles Strait, and to the Black Sea through the Bosporus Strait.
The Sea of Marmara, also called the Marble Sea, is named after the ancient marble quarries found on Marble Island. This area is where you’ll discover the magic of the exotic city of Bursa, once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, perched on top of a mountain. Known for its stunning ancient mosques, silks, fruits and camel skin shadow puppets, it’s close to the town of Cekirge, which is famed for its ancient hot mineral baths.
Canakkale has a magnificent fortress that once protected the Dardanelles, a good base if you want to visit Gallipoli and the ruins of Troy. Edirne has a great bazaar as well as many beautiful old mosques, including the Selimiye, built by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Gallipoli itself is a national park studded with war graves, and Nicaea – also called Iznik – features glorious Roman walls, more lovely mosques, and a gorgeous lake.
The Aegean Sea is home to more than 1400 islands including Crete, Rhodes, Karpathos, and Kasos, Crete being the largest. The Island of Santorini is in the southern Aegean Sea, one of the best-loved tourist destinations in the world, loved for its fine beaches, white buildings and pretty villages.
The South Aegean Volcanic Arc is quite something, a chain of volcanic islands created by violent plate tectonics. The Kolumbo, Nisyros, and Santorini volcanoes have all been active during the last century. The volcanic soil on some of the islands is superb, perfect for growing figs, olives, vegetables and grapes. This is probably where the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, placed his fictional island of Atlantis, and the region is studded with ports. The Port of Thessaloniki, Port of Piraeus, Port of Heraklion, Port of Chania, Port of Volos, İzmir Harbor, and Güllük Port are just a few of them. Wonderful food, gorgeous weather and lovely blue waters await you.
The Black Sea is also known as the Euxine Sea, once viewed with suspicion and fear by mariners thanks to the savage tribes surrounding it, the unusually low-oxygen waters, and rumours about sea monsters. These waters preserve all sorts of things in horribly good condition, including bodies, so there’s no wonder it comes with a spooky history. Marine geologists say the Black Sea was a freshwater lake around 7,000 years ago. The flood that filled it and joined it to the Med is thought, by some, to be the same flood mentioned in Noah’s Ark story.
There’s less life in this sea than many thanks to the fact there’s no oxygen at all below 200m down, leaving just 10% or so of the surface habitable by marine life. And this place is stuffed full of amazing shipwrecks, some dating as far back as the 3rd century BC, preserved beautifully in the oxygen-poor waters. Weirdest of all there are no tides on the Black Sea. This makes the surface unusually placid and a delight to sail on.
Countries accessible via the Mediterranean
One of the best things about the Med is the fact that it borders so many different countries. Here’s a list of the 23 amazing nations you can sail or motor to on your Mediterranean boat share adventures.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- The Gaza Strip
The best luxury marinas on the Mediterranean
The Med is no stranger to superb marinas, luxurious places where you’ll spot some of the world’s most expensive and exclusive yachts, complete with the celebrities who own them. Marina Port Vell in Barcelona is one of them, perfect for sailing breaks in Spain with awe-inspiring views of the city, the centre of which is within walking distance. And Karpaz Gate Marina in Karpaz is another, a treat for you in one of northern Cyprus’s most unspoiled, prettiest regions. You might also want to try:
- Marina Ibiza in Ibiza, one of the best Marinas in the Balearics, perfect for luxury yachts
- Marina di San Lorenzo in San Lorenzo al Mare – one of Italy’s most popular superyacht marinas
- Port of Cannes in Cannes, a delight to visit en France
- Marina di Varazze in Varazze, a luxury marina near Genoa in Italy
- Port Adriano in El Toro Mallorca, another luxury superyacht marina on the Med
Heavenly Mediterranean yachting destinations
Where to visit? We have some great recommendations for you. One of the Med’s most popular yachting spots is Croatia, with its stunning Adriatic coastline, many smart anchorages, and beautiful harbours. The Greek islands are another, and the south coast of Italy is enjoying a yachting boom. France’s glittering Côte d’Azur is always a pleasure, complete with Antibes and Cannes, as is the island of Corfu. And Athens makes an exceptional point to begin an adventure to the Saronic Gulf.
Spain’s Costa Brava is always a popular destination, and Naples, on the dramatic Amalfi coast, leads you onwards, going south, to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, then further southwards to the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comina.
Spain’s Balearic Islands are ideal for the clubbers amongst you, with longer voyages including the long, open-water passages to Ibiza and Menorca. The islands of Corsica and Sardinia, with their powerful summer winds, are either a challenge or great fun, depending how much yachting experience you have or how experienced your crew. And there’s a huge treat waiting for you in between mainland Greece and the Turkish coast, in the shape of the deliciously pretty Cyclades, Aegean, and Sporades island groups.
Want to get the Mediterranean yacht share ball rolling?
Maybe you’ve been meaning to explore the potential of boat share for ages. Perhaps you’ve only just found out about it. Whatever your motivations and inspiration, whatever your plans, we’re the perfect people to help you out. Will you enjoy your first yacht share experience in the glorious Mediterranean region?