Scott and Mary Flanders conclude their general series of exploring the Mediterranean with this post on how to get your boat there to start cruising. To read the first two posts, visit http://bit.ly/MedCruising1 and http://bit.ly/MedCruising2.
Enjoy, and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! - BillP
Of course, you have to get from North America to the Med. One option is to run across on your own bottom with the usual stops in Bermuda and the Azores before arriving in Gibraltar at the entrance to the Med. Averaging 6.5 knots, the run from South Florida to Bermuda takes 6 days, from Bermuda to the Azores takes 12 days, and the last leg to Gibraltar takes 8 days.
However, there is an easier way we recommend. Ship the sucker and be done with it.
We looked at shipping our little 28-foot lobster boat to the Med. Basically there are two ways to ship. For smaller boats there are dedicated ships that carry boats on deck, let's say under 50 feet. The other option is the Dockwise Yacht Transport-type ships that carry megayachts to the Med and slide your small boat in between. To get pricing, contact a broker as they can quickly offer generic pricing.
There are deals, however, particularly at the beginning or the end of the season, if you are going the wrong way. The normal schedule is to ship to the Med in the spring and return in the fall. Here’s the trick: Ships generally run dead-head to the Med in the fall and return full and vice versa. To get the best deal, wait and negotiate until the last minute to board as the prices fall even more, but you have to be willing to miss the ship. A good example is a friend with a 55-foot Nordhavn who shipped his boat from Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands (off the coast of Spain) to Ft Lauderdale for $18,000, instead of those giant numbers during prime season.
South Florida to Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic’s represent the most popular shipping to-and-from destinations, and, in my opinion, the best. The availability of these yacht delivery shippers in South Florida, and the central location of Palma de Mallorca, are the reason. From Palma you may run west to the Spanish coast, north to the Balearic island of Mallorca, then north to the south of France, or east to Corsica or Sardinia.
Another valid option is to sell your boat in the EU when you are done. Boat prices in North America are cheaper, compared to the rest of the world. However, to sell your boat in the EU means it has to be titled before March, 1998 to be grandfathered in pre-emission, or be built to later CE certification. As an example, once we decided to sell Egret, while living aboard in Iceland, we had two buyers in Europe willing to pay well more than she ultimately sold for back in the U.S. Even pulling serious strings, it couldn’t happen because she wasn’t built to CE certification. CE certification is something to look into if you are considering a brokerage boat, or a new build, and want to go to the Med. Not being CE certified also basically eliminates the entire European market when it’s time to sell.
Shipping sounds expensive and it is. However, if you look at the big picture and amortize the cost of shipping one way (or both ways) by how many years you plan to spend cruising European waters, the cost is reasonable. The reward is so far beyond the norm, a life’s experience value can’t be attached. Not to mention you don't need the tremendous expense of a boat capable of crossing oceans and all that involves.
As we write about different anchorages and experiences here and there around the Mediterranean, our hope is that it will allow you to dream. Turning dreams into reality is up to you, however. Mary and I worked hard to make it happen and hopefully you will as well.
Those who don’t will always wonder. How sad is that?
Scott and Mary