Wintering in the Med

5 December 2011 By Claire Griffiths

You’re not likely able to choose which marina you’ll mooch around at during the winter months, but they’ve all got something to savor. While the old-time harbors such as Antibes, Monaco, Viareggio and Palma — with their home-from-home haunts to spend a happy hour do feel cozy — the Med has loads of other “marina life” to uncover.

It doesn’t slip off the tongue as the most obvious marina to winter in in the Mediterranean, but Port Tarraco in the Spanish region of Tarragona believes it has what it takes to keep crew from going ‘loco’ during the shorter days and the dark nights. “It’s particularly good for crew and captains because it’s quiet, safe and secure with excellent communications, facilities and the supplies you’d expect at a world-class marina,” says the Marina PR Chrissie Williams. The marina also organizes excursions, cultural events, ski trips to the mountains  — all you have to do is ask. And, it’s Spanish — the historic city of Tarragona, formerly the capital of the Roman Empire — is steeped knee-deep in history, atmospheric cobbled streets, traditional Catalan dishes, long, bustling “ramblas” full of bars and shops. Heading out of town you can walk, hike, canyon, rock climb, kayak, mountain bike or horse ride across the mountains and ravines and through the olive groves then haste ye back to savor the delights of Catalan cooking like bleeding milk caps (mushrooms), cargols (snails) or the traditional Catalan Christmas lunch “Escudella de carn d’olla” — a rich soupy stew of chicken, ham, goose and black pudding. You won’t be able to move for months.

Barcelona’s Vilanova Grand Marina strides ahead in a quest to lure captains and crew to tie up and take advantage of the services and facilities offered by this super yacht marina. Aside from its location close to one of Europe’s most exciting cities, the port recently has increased the number of storerooms with the completion of a building with sixteen 17 square meter storerooms that also can be used as private covered car parks. A 2000 square meter “play area” for exclusive use by captains and crew is not far from completion and will house a gym, changing rooms, a leisure area and an outdoor garden with barbecue facilities — just for you. Plans are afoot for another crew ski weekend in the Pyrenees in February 2012 and you can expect barbecues and Spanish “food fests” on the marina premises throughout the winter months.

English-speaking, with 5000 years of maritime history and one of the oldest golf courses outside the UK (Royal Malta Golf Club), Camper and Nicholson’s Grand Harbour Marina scores high as a winter wonderland for crew. For a start, its warm (ish) with average winter temperatures ranging for 15 to 20 C and it “never” snows. Table tennis and snooker championships form part of the winter timetable and go-karting, paint balling, tennis, football, Segway tours, film production and wine tastings are all up for grabs when you’ve done exploring the history, architecture and countryside walks inland. The international airport can whisk you away to Europe’s capital cities for quick weekends away.

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