Paul Mason, Principal & Chief Instructor, Sunsail Agana, Croatia Marine Division, believes that autumn is the best time to explore the Med.
As a professional sailor and having worked for several years in the sail training and charter industries, I tend to get ask the same questions by my guests. They are usually something along the lines of ‘’What do you do in the winter?’’ or ‘’When are you going to get a real job?‘’.
My favourite questions are the ones that go something like this: “When should we book our next holiday with you?’’ or ‘’When should we come back?”.
These let us know we have done things right. We get a lot of these and recently they have got me thinking about the best time to go sailing in the Med.
Obviously the high season (June, July and August) is the most popular, but this is probably more to do with tradition and school holidays than anything else. Early and late season (March – April/Sept – October) offer some truly great sailing out here in Croatia, and they are the perfect months to enrol on a sailing course.
However, I believe that the best time for anyone to go sailing in the Med has to be the autumn (September and October). Come September we see a huge decline in the number of tourists. The numbers literally plummet, largely due to the fact that most UK kids are heading back to school.
The inevitable outcome of this is that flight costs and charter fees drop too. There are some excellent deals to be had, especially if you are flexible, but the financial benefits are just the icing on the cake.
For me the real benefit of sailing in the autumn is that the climate is still great, but you get a lot more freedom. The days are still reasonably long and warm, around 18° – 25°C during the day in Croatia. Obviously it is a little cooler at night (12° – 18°C), but I usually find a long sleeve T-shirt warm enough to wear during the evening.
Also, because the water has been heated by the sun all summer long it is still warm enough to swim, kayak and paddle board comfortably.
Those beautiful, deserted anchorages that you see in all the brochures are beautiful and deserted once again, and even if they are not, they will not be full. Plus there is usually a bit more of a breeze around at this time of the year, to carry you off to the next bay, should you wish.
In fact the wind is generally excellent out here in the autumn. The prevailing wind directions do tend to vary a bit more than in the summer but 10 – 20kts and reasonably flat seas are the norm, offering great sailing for all.
Less tourists mean less charter boats, which in turn means that all the exclusive marinas and harbours that usually accommodate hundreds of yachts during the summer now have plenty of space. This negates the need to arrive early for a berth and allows you to make the most of your sailing days and to see places that are nigh on impossible to visit during the summer.
All those fantastic restaurants, cocktail bars and exhibits are all still open as usual, and running on their summer schedule, as are the flights, bus and ferry links.
If you are visiting, say Croatia, a little later in October, it is quieter and cooler, plus you get to really wind down and embrace the local culture with the islanders as their interests turn to harvesting the local grapes and olives. You can experience the freshest and finest local produce around.