This is what everyone generally say... but taking in account that in the gulf are the biggest marinas in the med e.g. some of them have 4000+ boats , e.g. all this boats should have fun or else they will not be there.. and reading some sailors books it seems that actually no one has had a bad weather if not crossing directly but doing it cost-hopping style in 2 night 3 days.. I have been looking on my zyGrib app almost daily during the last months and it seems the really bad weather starts about 15-30 miles offshore e.g. close to shore the wind is around force 4 at worst...
btw: I have only 2 reefs on main and no trisail or storm jib.... have been so far up-to force 9-10 (45-56knts) 5-6 times most of them in the Cyclades and once crossing the channel... and it is not a very nice experience but we survived...
seriously thinking about at least some type of storm sail but this sails with 7-8 m2 are tooo big according to my personal experience and if I need storm sail I want something like 2 m2 ... and still thinking to get a jib for a dinghy and use it as a storm sail if needed...
I have done several deliveries from Palma to Sardinia and or Corsica or vice versa and there is either no wind or lots of it. In summer it is more stable, but especially spring time and autumn, it does get rather windy.
Agree on all - the Tramontana and Mistral looks like the problem and all pilot books state that summer is generally no problem, winter is worse and spring/autumn is average...
Generally the plan is to not leave if the forecast is for force >5 ( 20-25knts wind) and it looks like that every 5-10 miles there a large marinas e.g. if I do coastal-hoping all should be fine - generally the worries are for my daughter - she just turned 3 years and still cannot swim
and may be I will need to arrange a third reef just in case
The short coastline, from the Spanish border to Collioure is an extension of the Costa Brava with a rugged shoreline and small harbours nestling in deep valleys. Of the five harbours on this 10nm stretch (Port Bou, Cerbere, Banyuls, Port Vendres and Collioures) only Port Vendres offers the cruising yachtsman reasonable access. Collioures is open to swell and wind from the north but is well worth visiting if the weather serves. Up to map
Golfe du Lion - South (3/10)
The bay between Perpignan and Marseille is nearly 100nm across, split by Cap d'Agde. Scoured by big winds (the westerly tramontana in the south and the northerly mistral around the Rhone), this is quite easily the windiest part of the Mediterranean, especially in winter. Away from the Pyrenees foothills, the coast is low lying, sandy, dotted with numerous large developments and their accessory marinas. There are probably more berths per mile in this southern coast than anywhere else in Mediterranean France. Starting in the south with Port Argelés, S Cyprien, Canet-Plage, the area has endless sandy beaches with man-made etangs behind. Lethal in onshore winds, these beaches give way to natural etangs from Saintes Marie onwards and relatively fewer berths until you get to the volcanic bumps at Cap d'Agde. Inland the area has much rich historical interest, and is very rewarding for those using (or chartering on) the Canal du Midi. The Train Grande Vitesse (TGV) connection from Perpignan either goes up the coast via Béziers, Nimes and the Rhône Valley, or across via Toulouse to the Gironde. International airports serve the area at Girona, Perpignan and Béziers.
Port Leucate provides good quality technical services, over wintering ashore or afloat and is convenient for Perpignan airport, 30 minutes by taxi.>
Cap d'Agde marina provides every service that could be required and is a good alternative for mast raising/lowering for the Canal du Midi. For details of the port and access to the Canal du Midi see Grehan's French waterways site, the Inland France equivalent of this site . While here visit the crag-surmounting Cathar castles, mediaeval monasteries and fortified cities of the area. Béziers (7/10) is one such, while the 19th century reconstruction of a mediaeval town at Carcassone (9/10), commercialised though it is, is not to be missed. Narbonne (6/10) is also very attractive, particularly the canal-side area. Up to map
Golfe de Lion - North (3/10)
Just N of Cap ‘d Agde is the Étang de Thau, the first of a series of lagoons which allow an uninterrupted inland access to the R Rhône via the Canal du Rhône à Sète and to Bordeaux via the Canal du Midi and the Garonne. Besides being the largest the string of Etangs, Thau is the deepest, a centre of oyster culture, fed by hot springs. Towns like Sète and Aigues Mortes lead naturally to Saintes Marie, scene of an annual Gitano festival and the centre of the Camargue, Europe’s largest river delta at 360sq miles, formed by the Rhône, rich in wildlife, famous for wild bulls, horses, gardians (cowboys) and flamingos. Not a comfortable place. On summer evenings mosquitoes are plague. In winter, it's just windy, and very cold when the mistral blows.
Palavas les Flots (6/10) is a most unusual little town, well worth seeing. It lies at the junction of several canals, one of which flows down the main street. Small but relatively cheap berthing.
Port Camargue A massive but surprisingly attractive marina. Tourist area well organised for walking and cycling. Good for live-aboad wintering, and nearby access to the Canal du Midi. See Aigues Mortes or more details.
Port St Louis area (8/10 for being very useful; 3/10 for discomfort) is a small town at the locked entrance between the navigable Rhône and the Mediterranean.Two yards in the area are suitable for layup. The town has reasonably priced pontoon berthing, but lacks toilet facilities and general security. Navy Service is a dry marina on the Canal Lateral, remote and cheap but short on amenities, in an old timber-yard. Port Napoleon is a high quality marina, good local services, with pontoons or dry sailing services. It's in a separate S channel off the Golfe, more remote than Navy Service. Port Louis gives far more detail of these useful facilities, plus all you need to know to travel to and from the Med using the French waterways.
Golfe du Fos is a major petrochemical terminus, where commercial vessels have right-of-way over sail. Port-de-Bouc is a pleasant harbour opposite the entrance to the Canal Lateral, at the mouth of yet another cut (Canal Caronne) into the 15,000ha Étang du Berré . Unfortunately the Canal d’Estaque, leading on to Marseille from the Étang has been blocked by a rock-fall in the underground tunnel. Up to map
Rhone Delta & Marseille (4/10)
Marseille is an industrial area, but a base for exploring inland. Within the 20 nm of coast between the end of the Golfe de Lion and Marseille commercial harbour are two moderately sized marina-ports. They are at Sausset-les-Pins and Carry-le-Rouet. There are also two shallow ports, only suitable for small boats, at La Redonne and Méjean. The major Marseille marina complex at L’Estaque is just W of the commercial port entrance. This is full of local boats and well out of town. The Vielle Port in Marseille, east of the commercial and ferry ports, is central, with a number of berthing-operators. Excepting the two SNM pontoons, security is low. An interesting alternative is the island of Frioul, where visitor berths are more likely to be available. Reach the centre of Marseille by a regular ferry service taking around 20 minutes.
Inland, visit picturesque Avignon (8/10, a lively summer festival, museums, bustling cafés and restaurants) and Aix en Provence (7/10), the beautiful regional capital with a noticeably well dressed population on display among the shops and cafés. In Marseilles, worthy of visits are the Museum of Archaeology, the municipal waterworks and its park, the Museum of Pottery in its park and the Musée Grobit-Labardie. Marseille offers direct 'Train Grand Vitesse' (TGV) from St Charles throughout France, Belgium, Germany and to UK, and internal and international flights from the local airport at Marignan. Up to map
E of Marseilles to San Raphael (6/10)
East of Marseille is something else. Striking scenery all the way, only occasionally marred by overbuilding. Just east of Marseille are the famous "Calanques", fantastic miniature limestone fjords, very nice day anchorages if you can find room but untenable in easterlies. All weather anchorages are the bay of Toulon, the Gulf of St Tropez, and the Île d’Hyères. Add the islands of Porquerolles, Port Cros and Île de Levant, and this pretty area is well worth exploring. Île de Levant is shared by a navy firing range and a nudist colony, some of whose inmates wander out of their reserve. Some brief notes below, with more (but older) detail on MedYacht Charter's site . . .
La Ciotat is a small working town that used to have substantial shipyards, now being re-established as yards for work on super yachts. The town has many good small shops of all forms. Many restaurants and a good one at the Yacht Club in the Vieux Port. For a short stay the very reasonably priced Vieux Port is perfectly adequate and quite possibly gives better shelter for visitors. Both the marina and the Vieux Port are suitable for overwintering or leaving a boat. Good value.
Mouillage de Tarente across the bay from La Ciotat is a sheltered (in most conditions) and attractive anchorage
Sanary-sur-mer is a delightful place but not really geared up for visitors in the marina as they have limited toilet and shower facilities. It is possible to call ahead and reserve a berth but, nominally, only for a two day stay. Good value. There is an excellent daily market and rather limited chandlers.
Île Porquerolles has a marina, not particularly expensive, and good anchorages. Facilities are good and there are adequate provisions, maybe rather more expensive than on the mainland. Plenty of good walks or cycle rides. Take your chance and anchor on either side of the marina if necessary and depending on the wind.
Port Cros has laid moorings, very reasonable charges but arrive early at this popular spot. Beautiful walks ashore.
Bormes-les-Mimosas, is a very well organised marina with good facilities. Limited provisions available but adequate shops in nearby la Favière. Not cheap and less interesting than its near neighbour,
Le Lavandou is a delightful Provençale town with an adequate marina, moderately expensive. Good shopping close by.
Cavalaire-sur-mer is rather touristy, very much a holiday resort. However, it has some of the good traiteurs and other small food shops - demonstrating why France and good food are synonymous. This is a reasonably priced stop, but toilets and showers not in the top rank.
St Raphaël is somewhat a surprise in being moderately priced but a very good marina (near Fréjus). There is a good delicatessen in the supermarket and boulangerie cum pâtisserie both at the marina. These are the main shopping for the nearby well heeled area. There are two basins, if you do not make VHF contact, go in the southern entrance, go ashore and ask. Up to map
We sailed up the coast from Gib to cartagena then across to the Balerics and down to Sardina in August/Spetember 2013.
As said above there are 2 wind condition to much and too little. But the nice thing is the weather forecasts are pretty good. We use a combination of windfinder via the internet if we have it and the grib files from the ssb. We found that over all they were fairly accurate. However, when headed from the Balerics to Sardinia we knew a front was coming and would last for a while and tried to get out in front of it. Unfortunately for us it arrived about 12 hours early just as we were headed down St Pauls Island and then we had to turn across the seas and into the teeth of it to get into Callasetta. To say it was not pleasant is a bit of an understatement. We went from almost no wind to 35k in a matter of a couple of hours and by the time we got to Callasetta it was in the 35+k range. That night it went over 50 and stayed there for a bit.
So doable? Absolutely just watch the weather and run when you can and enjoy the stop when you make one.
just our thoughts and opinions chuck patty and svsoulmates