I was talking the other day to an experienced and worldly-wise yachtsman who has just taken delivery of his new custom-built 44-footer...

I was talking the other day to an experienced and worldly-wise yachtsman who has just taken delivery of his new custom-built 44-footer. Knowing his habit of disappearing off to the Caribbean at the drop of a hat, I had assumed that he planned to keep the boat there. After all where better to take advantage of the reliable sunshine and turquoise anchorages that are increasingly the norm for the affluent cruising family – especially now that direct flights are going up in frequency and down in price?

But he surprised me. His boat is not destined to be a regular in English Harbour, or Tortola, or any of those other fabled haunts of high-class yachting that have scattered themselves so incongruously about the Caribbean. No – he’s going to keep it in Palma, Mallorca.

And he was quite clear about why. In between expensive trans-Atlantic jaunts he has kept himself up to date with the alternatives closer to home, and has become, without my realising it, a zealous convert to Mediterranean boating. He cited not just the convenience and low cost of the new no-frills airlines, but also the variety of available cruising, the choice of high-quality boating bases and the attendant professional care available for any boat that you entrust to them. He talked enthusiastically about the cultural heritage, which as he rightly pointed out is pretty much guaranteed to deliver, whether you want to cruise in the wake of Odysseus, Nelson or Onassis. Finally, and least surprisingly, he became quite voluble on the subject of food and drink, particularly in the western Med: Spain, France, and Italy.

No argument there. Palma it is. Which was odd, because that was exactly where I was going to suggest – and I was expecting him to argue.