Consider these facts: Greece has 6,000 islands. Turkey has more than 8,000 kilometres of coastline. Cyprus is split into manifestly different security and visa zones. The upshot? If you fail to provision at one of the 50 major marinas in the Eastern Mediterranean, or ignore the highly localised advice offered at each, your expedition is sunk.
Now the good news: the Eastern Mediterranean has a million square kilometres of UNESCO heritage sites, Roman ruins and Byzantine city-states. Expect to see peregrine falcons, bottlenose dolphins and breaching fin whales. Plus unnamed islets, mountain-to-beach skydives and scuba spots where you’ll be the only yacht for miles around. The marinas are pretty awesome too.
Greece has the most epically located. Athens Marina can welcome 130 yachts of up to 130 metres, and it’s an e-bike ride away from the Acropolis. Sixty minutes in the other direction sits Aegina. Humankind has been nibbling olives on this sandy island for 5,000 years. With five significant marinas in the Athens area – including Zea, which can host 670 yachts up to 150 metres – there’s no reason to stop now. Greece’s most spellbinding harbour? Check your pulse at Marina Agios Nikolaos in Crete. It’s ringed by a green amphitheatre of hills riven by hiking trails, lonely monasteries and 24 write-home-about beaches.
Turkey has marinas on two continents. D-Marin boasts first-class facilities. Try their superyacht ports in Bodrum (Turkey’s St Tropez), Göcek (the key yachting hub) and Didim (beside the Temple of Apollo, an Indiana Jones experience shaded by carob trees). D-Marin also operates top-drawer marinas on the Greek islands of Corfu and Lefkas.
Nowhere is Turkey’s east-meets-west cliché truer than Istanbul. There are marinas dedicated to bunkering, wintering and repair (West Istanbul Marina). Ones located alongside historical sights (Atakoy Marina). Ones anchored midway up the Bosphorus Straits in the beating heart of a city of 15 million souls (Istmarin). Channelling Jason and the Argonauts? Push on through Bosphorus, the waterway which divides Europe from Asia, to Black Sea marinas in Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. Like Marina Dinevi at Sveti Vlas, where guests from 250 yachts can indulge in Bulgarian wine, birdwatching tours and 4x4 off-road adventures.
Egypt and Israel beckon an overnight sail south. These disparate nations share millennia of history, 16 UNESCO sites and amazingly good cuisine. The sandy allure of Egypt’s 1,000-kilometre Mediterranean shoreline would be impossible without advice from Marassi Marina near El Alamein. The same goes for camel treks, oasis drives and battlefield tours in the Northern Egyptian hinterland. Israel’s top two marinas, Herzliya and Ashkelon, are but a stone’s throw from two fascinating National Parks: Apollonia, with its rich pickings archaeological remains; and Ashkelon, which is like Israel in miniature – a historic legacy built by Philistines, Persians, Greeks, Byzantines and more. Now it’s your turn.