Has it ever occurred to you that we tend to take the Mediterranean for granted? We all know it’s there, we all love its waters, coastlines, islands, hidden coves and beautiful beaches. We wine and dine in its harbour-side cafes, tavernas and lokantas. By turns, as we cruise it in our luxury mega yachts, we find it seductive and sophisticated or wild and beautiful. But how well do we really know it?
So a few basic facts to start with. The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning ‘inland’ or ‘in the middle of the land’ – from medius for middle and terra for land. It covers an approximate area of 2.5 million km² (965,000 sq mi). It has an average depth of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) and the deepest recorded point is 5,267 m (17,280 ft) in the Calypso Deep in the Ionian Sea.
Where it connects to the Atlantic at what Homer knew as ‘The Pillars of Hercules’, but which we now call the Straits of Gibraltar, it is a mere 14kms wide. It is significantly more salty than the Atlantic and other oceans and gets saltier still as you go eastwards and the climate gets hotter. It has virtually no tides.
Those who delight in cruising these beautiful waters should never forget they are following in an ancient seafaring tradition. The Med has been a major highway since time immemorial. Certainly there are records of the Egyptians trading during 3,000 years before the birth of Christ although the Phoenicians were arguably the first great navigators sailing its length and breadth. By the time the legendary ‘Helen’ causes 1,000 ships to be launched in aid of her rescue, people had been cruising Homer’s ‘wine dark sea’ for well over 2,000 years.
The Roman’s, in true possessive fashion called the sea ‘Mare Nostrum’ or ‘Our Sea’. Whether or not Roman General Mark Anthony started the great romantic tradition of cruising when he took to the sea to tryst with Cleopatra it would at least seem quite appropriate. Some claim their meetings took place just off Paleocastritsa in Corfu – where the translucent waters remain drop dead romantic to this very day.
For us the amazing thing is that the appeal of the Med not only endures it keeps on growing. The diversity from West to East is quite remarkable and it would be almost impossible in one holiday lifetime to claim you’d ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ – although if you could you’d need a very large shed for your t-shirt collection.
So never take the Med for granted. We don’t and especially over the coming months which to our minds are the perfect time for cruising as the beach-hungry crowds start to thin out, the waters are at their warmest, and the welcome is warmer than ever. There is still chance to book for 2015 – give us a call.