Should you get the boat down to the Mediterranean across the Bay or through the canals?

The question shapes itself in the mind fairly regularly during the season, as you study the drips forming at the seams of the cockpit canopy and ponder the possibilities of drying your deck shoes in conditions of 100% humidity: not whether to get the boat down to the Mediterranean, but how. Across the Bay or through the canals?

If you say the name quickly Biscay doesn’t sound quite so awe-inspiring, and if you’ve got a well-found boat with a reasonable cruising range, there’s a lot to be said for getting the delivery trip over with in days rather than weeks. What you spend on diesel you save in provisions ? assuming you don’t get stuck somewhere waiting for a favourable forecast or a vital spare part.

If you’ve got time, though, the cooking and the countryside are powerful incentives to take the canals instead. France is full of British water gypsies who never quite made it to the Mediterranean, preferring instead to linger in the most thoroughly civilised country on earth with nothing more bothersome to worry about than whether to have the Sancerre or the Pouilly Fumé with lunch. And although the delivery trip through France can seem a hard slog, for boat and crew ? the shortest route involves some 173 locks ? it still has its compensations.

To help you make your mind up, we’ve pooled the talents of two of the most experienced people in the business, and you can read the results of their deliberations.

And having got down there, it’s not uncommon for another question to form itself in the mind: what now? But that’s easy: sit back in the cockpit, bask in that hard-earned sunshine, and toast those of us you’ve left behind with a brimming tumblerful of warm Strega. You deserve it.