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The Med Set A Few Cruiser Profiles

By Feel Free - Published April 01, 2009 - Viewed 1843 times

 By Liz Tosoni

One thing we love about sailing to distant shores is meeting cruisers of all stripes and walks of life, from different countries, who journey in all manner of boat – from plodding vintage cruiser to tricked out go-faster racing machine – with all varieties of budgets, philosophies, goals and dreams. The cruiser crowd is a cornucopia of personality types, backgrounds, and experiences, and there’s no end to their stories.

Malta, that diminutive island country, smack in the center of the Mediterranean Sea just south of Sicily and north of Africa, with heaps of historical, cultural and artistic appeal, has a mild winter climate, an international airport, is relatively inexpensive compared to other European countries, and thus is an ideal “wintering over” spot. While here, we’re meeting the full range of cruising types.

Last year, Liz and Tom wintered in Turkey. This year, Msida Marina in Malta, home to about 800 boats, is their “wintering over” home base. Feel Free sits peacefully on a mooring in historic Kalkara Bay, just a few miles from the marina, on New Year’s Day. At 35N, Malta has a mild winter climate and you can sail year round. However, you do need to watch out for unstable winter weather patterns.

It would be impossible for you to meet all of them. But come along and let me introduce you to just a few of this interesting cast of characters.

Celtic Dream

Cheoy Lee Midshipman 40
Roger and Pauline Morgan
Swansea, Wales 

Roger and Pauline were among the first cruisers we met in Malta. Not only were they familiar with Malta itself, they’d been cruising in the Med for 10 years, having bought their boat in Spain after taking early retirement. Immediately after meeting us, they began sharing their invaluable information and experience. Roger generously explained that they’re sailing in the Med, not for the history and architecture, but for the sheer love of sailing “in comfort” – that is, in T-shirts.
“In the UK, the weather is often miserable and that’s not fun.” They had a plan to sail into the Red Sea and then on to Thailand but that changed because of the political instability and piracy concerns in that part of the world. It’s not a problem, though, as they believe there’s a lifetime of cruising right here: “You could spend five to 10 years in the islands of Croatia alone,” enthused Roger. They may still head to the Red Sea in the future if things become safer. A tighter couple it would be difficult to find.

“For nearly 40 years, we’ve done everything together,” they told us. Recently, Pauline had to spend time back home on her own, taking care of medical matters. They realized it was the first time in 10 years, since they began cruising, that they had spent even one day apart! Among their favorite cruising areas are Turkey and the Balearics of Spain, and Tunisia for wintering over.

 

Grand Jete

Tayana 47
Mark and Winnie First
Newport Rhode Island

In their pre-cruising lives, Mark was a lawyer and Winnie was a mergers and acquisitions manager, as well as a dancer in the New York City Ballet among other companies. While still pursuing their careers in the U.S., this dynamic duo bought their boat in San Diego and had it delivered to Panama. Later, in two separate legs, they did their “shakedown cruise,” sailing her north, first to Florida and then to the Chesapeake and finally Rhode Island.

Two years after that, they performed their “grand jete” (the French ballet term meaning “big leap”) and headed for warmer climes, spending a year and a half in the Caribbean before crossing the Atlantic. They’ve spent the past 6 ½ years cruising and touring by land all of the Mediterranean countries except Morocco, Tunisia, and Libya. Their favorite wintering over spot has been Barcelona, Spain, for the arts, the history, the culture, and the dancing. This couple is a dream to watch on the dance floor by the way. Any tips from them on sailing in the Med?

 “Be prepared to motor,” says Mark, “or be prepared to wait for your wind. You need patience.” They’re not sure of their future plans and that’s the way they like it as it’s the opposite of the way they lived their lives b.c. (before cruising). Mark says he used to plan every detail but the last few years have taught them to mellow out.

 

Hitrapia

Warrior 35
Wayne and Angie Attwood
Plymouth, England 

Being “30 somethings,” Wayne and Angie are known affectionately by many of the Med set as “the kids.” Back home, they were designers. Angie was self-employed and Wayne was an owner of a fast growing partnership company employing 70, when they bought their boat (in Norway), sold out, completely refurbished the boat, and dropped the lines for the sailing life. That was four years ago, and since then they’ve put a fair few sea miles under the keel from England to Turkey and back to Malta. They even did an Atlantic crossing as crew on their friends’ boat, to get long-distance experience.

The biggest surprise for them about cruising has been that it’s a lot more difficult than they thought it would be. “The worst thing about the Med is the sailing,” says Wayne. “You either have too much wind or not enough wind,” adds Angie. They are history aficionados and steep themselves in the history of every place they visit. They love that aspect of cruising and also, the chance to explore new cultures. However, while in Malta, they’ve been at a bit of a crossroads trying to map out the next chapter of their lives – to set up shop and work in Malta, to sail further afield outside Europe, or to swallow the anchor. These are the questions they’ve been pondering. They recently accepted jobs in Malta, to beef up the cruising kitty. Tom and I know only too well the importance not only of keeping the income flowing, but also, of adding variety to the lifestyle, so we applaud their decision and wish them every success.

 

 

Johanna

Jarl Lindblom 35
Eero and Pirjo Ranta
Hanko, Finland 

Our neighbors in the marina, Eero and Pirjo, boat builder and carpenter respectively, are on a one-year sailing sabbatical from their jobs back home. In fact, they need to be back in Finland  by June 1, as Eero has a 35-foot boat to build and he plans to do it in one year’s time, not the one and a half years usually taken for that type of project. Before leaving Finland, they completely refurbished their classic, 74-year-old sailboat with a fascinating history, transforming her into the elegant beauty she is today.

The winds typically blow at 35 knots in their area of Finland, so Johanna and her crew are of hardy stock. With Eero and Pirjo, we explored the hiking paths of Malta, walked the ancient cobbled streets, shared meals and even a few drinks. Tom and I enjoyed their humor and were in awe of their entertaining and guiding skills as they hosted a string of family and friends while in Malta, 30 in all, going out for daysails regularly. We joked that they should be on salary with the Malta Chamber of Commerce. Their return route will find them sailing to the Italian island of Pantelleria, then Tunisia, Sardinia, and the French Canals. Their hope is to head off again in 10 years time, for a longer, much more leisurely sailing sabbatical, perhaps aboard a larger boat.

 

                                                                                          

 

Rhumb Line

Whitby 42
Ted and Trish Mead 
Burlington, Vermont

Ted, a retired engineer, and Trish, a sailmaker, swimmer, and hiker extraordinaire, are no strangers to cruising, having visited just about every Mediterranean country on the chart, as well as the Caribbean, eastern U.S., and Canada. When asked what his favorite cruising grounds were, Ted unhesitatingly replied, “the east coast of Maine. It’s just beautiful and never crowded. A close second would be Scotland.” 

Trish likes every place, but the Bahamas and the Peloponnese of Greece stand out. You see them zooming around on their bicycles and it’s not hard to believe that they’ve done a lot of skiing, camping, and general adventuring in the past. They simply glow with joie de vivre but after four years in the Caribbean and 12 in the Mediterranean, this energetic pair, who carry their years (81 and 65) with aplomb, have decided to put their boat on the market. They’re not certain what they’ll do or where they’ll settle if and when their well-found, lovely boat sells, but they’re thinking about Mexico (among other locations). Sounds like a good plan to us as Mexico is one of our favorite places. In the meantime, springtime will find them exploring Tunisia.

A Gallery Of Friends

Here are a few more smiling faces from the family of Malta cruisers, taken over the winter of 2009. Enjoy…

Angelique: George and Bernadette (Australia and Germany) Aquatint: John and Carol (UK) Aurora: Rusty and Jean (UK)
 
Bonus: John and Barbara (UK)   Cantana: Goran and Aylin (Sweden and Turkey)
DeepBlue: Chris and Sandra (UK) Buruda: Mike and Pat (Malta)  Makka: Mark and Maxine (Malta)
 
Penguin: Phil and Maria (Australia)   Quintessence: Jim and Daphne (UK)
Sea Fox: Phil and Wendy (UK) Diatonic: Tony and Di (UK) Ymer: Lars and Carin (Sweden)

 





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