The received wisdom for Mediterranean motorboaters is that it's Spanish and French waters or nothing
he received wisdom for Mediterranean motorboaters is that it’s Spanish and French waters or nothing. The boating facilities in the western Med are second to none – marinas, fuel, mechanical support, dealers, brokers, gardiennage – and it has never been easier or cheaper to get there. Leave work Friday lunchtime and you can be on your boat enjoying a chilled cerveza by sunset without breaking the bank.
But the bad news is that French and Spanish Med waters are reaching bursting point. The fabulous weather and those extensive facilities have attracted large numbers of boaters from northern Europe, so finding a berth is becoming increasingly difficult and commensurately expensive. Berths in desirable marinas along the Costas, the Côte d’Azur and in the Balearics now change hands for almost as much as the boats, and marina charges can be eye-wateringly pricey.
Even if you’re lucky enough to get yourself a berth, what hope have you of finding a quiet cala for a chilled afternoon in the sun? By midday many of the best anchorages are thronging with boats, and any hope you had of some peace and quiet is lost amid the rumble of diesels coming and going. Not everywhere is like this, and if you know where to look you’ll find quiet harbours and peaceful anchorages in the western Med, but an increasing number of Med boaters are looking east in the hope of escaping the madding crowd.
That’s what the Spanos family did (see p84). Tiring of the Balearics, they decided to move their motor boat to the Greek islands. “You’re mad!” we said. “There are no facilities for motorboaters, getting there is impossible, and nobody speaks Estuary English like they all do in the Balearics. It’ll be a disaster.” They took no notice and did it anyway. And guess what? They found facilities for motor boats. They found deserted coves, waterside tavernas and unspoiled scenery. They can get there easily and (relatively) cheaply. And the pace of life is gloriously laid-back. In short, they’ve found a little bit of heaven on earth.
I suspect the Spanos family is at the vanguard of a movement east. With stability returning to the Balkans, the cruising grounds of Slovenia and Croatia are becoming increasingly attractive, and the Greeks are gearing up for a huge influx to coincide with the Olympics. I was in Katakolo on the western Peloponnese last summer and the spanking new harbour was probably only 30% full. Relocating somewhere like this would be seriously tempting – I wonder how long it would take to get our Nimbus 300R there. It’s got to be worth thinking about, hasn’t it?