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How to Research Your Next Cruising Destination

What we want to know when we are headed to a new destination are:

  1. What places are worth visiting? i.e. what is interesting to see or do at the destination, or should we just pass by and find a different place to stop. Most of the cruising guides don’t seem to say much about what is worth visiting ashore – although the Caribbean ones are a noticeable exception to that.
  2. Where are good places to anchor?
  3. Where can we get fuel and water if we need them. What shopping is available, and what are ports of entry where we can check in and out of the country.
  4. Any other important information we need to know, including sources of weather info.

We used to use cruising guides to try to find all this out. But recently, particularly through the Med, we have not found them to be very helpful. Mostly they are about the marinas along the way and, since we never stay in Marinas, that isn’t too useful.

So we have developed a new system that seems to work very well:

  1. Go to the internet and do a search for “yacht charter itineraries [destination]” where [destination ] is replaced by the places we want to visit, such as Malta, or Ionian Greece etc.

The logic is that most charter companies will direct their guests to the most enjoyable (albeit popular) places. They will also give descriptions of what you will find there – eg great shopping, snorkeling, a castle, fine dining etc – and whether it is an anchorage or marina.

Once you have looked at a few of these you will start to get a feel of which places you might be interested in visiting yourself.

  1. Go to Noonsite and find the country you will be visiting. From there, on the right, you will find various articles that people have written about the country. Among them you may find some gems, eg describing the anchorages in Malta. Noonsite also provides good information about entry requirements, security issues and so on.
  2. Go to CruisersWiki and do a search for the particular town or marina near to which you will be visiting. Here you will find all the info normally found in the cruising guides – eg little charts of the marinas and so on, plus info about nearby anchorages and facilities.

In addition, you may also find some personal experiences and/or links to personal blogs relating to that destination. These can be real treasures that alert you to cheap car rentals, or inland tours or attractions that shouldn’t be missed. Don’t forget to add your own personal experiences and links to your blog once you have visited the place yourself. the more people that contribute intelligently, the more useful this resource becomes.

  1. If you are looking for info about less popular places, do a search for “[destination] sailed anchored blog” which will, hopefully, bring up some personal blogs about the bay you are interested in. Finding sailing blogs about particular places is often quite hard, but I have found that using those words often brings results.
  2. Finally, of course, don’t forget to talk to other cruisers. Dinghy around to your neighbours, introduce yourself, invite them for drinks, and share stories about great, and not-so-great, places to visit.

That’s it. It seems to work well for us.

Oh, one other tip: If you use Firefox as your browser, you can install an extension called ‘Scrapbook Plus’. This allows you to save a page (including all the images etc) from the internet onto your laptop so that you can view it when you are offline – ie at sea. It works just like bookmarking, but instead of saving a link to the page, it saves the whole page.

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