Cruising the Med

Weather forecasting in Europe has turned out to be more challenging than in the US.  See below for a discussion of this issue.

cruising europe

After two years of cruising up and down the coast of the USA and Canada, we decided it was time to head east. To read about our passage across the Atlantic, see the Atlantic Crossing section.

Liberty was well-suited to cruising our home waters, but there were a few changes we had to make once we arrived in Europe. To learn about the differences and how we adapted to them, read Modifications.

We made landfall in continental Europe just west of Lisbon in Cascais, Portugal. From there we headed south along the coast toward the Mediterranean. Click here to read about our travels in Portugal and Spain.

From the east coast of Spain we hopped across to the Balearic islands. Read about our visit there and our initial impressions of Italy in Balearics and NW Italy.

The West Coast of Italy and our winter port in Rome are described in the section on Italy.

In the latter part of June we sailed north in the Adriatic to visit Montenegro and Croatia.

Read about our visit to the Greek Ionian Islands in early June and the Aegean in July.

We finished our eastward exploration of the Med with a taste of Turkey.

Weather Forecasting in Europe

Weather forecasting here in Europe has been more challenging than in the US. The National Weather Service products that we are used to on the East Coast are more accurate, timely, and informative than those found in Europe. Ty uses a combination of products, including weatherfax analysis and forecast products from the FWOC in Northwood, UK (sample shown at right); NAVTEX forecasts from the Italian, French, and other national met offices (and NWS/NOAA, for strong lows approaching Europe); VHF radio forecasts (in English as well as the local language); and Internet sources such as Eurometeo.com and windguru.com. But often the most accurate local forecasting comes from traditional wind, cloud and barometer analysis right from the cockpit. Most of our passages are coastal,

samplewx

typically 30-70 nm per day, so that we can arrive at an anchorage or harbor in daylight. Regional forecasts typically cover broad areas, such as the Central Tyrrhenian Sea, east side, or the Ligurian Sea. Conditions in the center of these areas, 50-75 nm from shore, are often very different from those found on short coastal hops between ports. We have seen gale force 7-8 forecasts in areas where coastal winds were only 15-20 kts. Fortunately, met offices tend to forecast on the high side, so you’re not often caught out in a gale or storm when you expected force 4. We highly recommend a dedicated NAVTEX receiver to provide 24 hour weather forecasts and navigational warnings in English throughout Europe. Weatherfax is subject to propagation problems, particularly when you’re anchored in a harbor

Doug and Judy

Doug and Judy Decker from s/v Limerence
(
www.deckersailing.com)

surrounded by mountains, and even our reliable Weatherfax 2000 software and ICOM-710 SSB at times haveproblems pulling in readable images. We have not opted for the cell phone or satphone to internet option, but it is available. NAVTEX has been one of the most reliable pieces of equipment on board, but it is only as reliable as the forecasters ashore. 

MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED is the weather page at www.deckersailing.com. Doug and Judy Decker aboard the Beneteau 375 Limerence have been in the Med for several years, and Doug was famous for his weather reporting in the Caribbean before arriving in Europe. His site has links to multiple weather sources, including US Navy and Air Force text/graphics/satellite views, as well as three day forecasts from Germany, specific country forecasts, etc. We’ve just started using Doug’s site, and it’s a winner! (and Doug and Judy have become great friends)