My Fourth Sailing Trip in the Med

If you read this blog regularly, you know I spend two six-week sabbaticals a year sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. This week, I begin my fourth such trip. Let’s dig in.

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Our Journey Thus far

As you can see from the map above, we started back in September of 2022 in Gibraltar. That trip was literally drinking from a big firehose. Meaning that while my wife and I had been training for more than a year, we didn’t know practical things like where or how you entered a Sapnish marina, how you set up reservations, or much else. By the end of the first trip, we had made it to Valencia, Spain, and left the boat for the winter. Upon returning in the spring of 2023, we sailed about 100 nautical miles over to Ibiza and did the Baeleric Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca, and Formentera) with the kids. After all that, the boat was left in Valencia for the summer, and we headed back for trip 3 in the fall of last year. On that trip, we picked our way along the rest of southern Spain to Barcelona and then through the south of France with my brother and his wife. We finally ended up just shy of Genoa in Varazze, where we again left the boat for the winter. Our course thus far is above in yellow.

Pictures from our last trip from Valencia, Spain, to Varazze, Italy, are above.

Our Fourth Journey

We’re no longer drinking from a firehose and are comfortable managing the boat, sailing, docking, and everything else. The green dotted line above is what we have in store for this trip: the coast of northern Italy, Elba, Corsica, and Sardinia. We will finally leave the boat on the island of Elba, where Napoleon was placed for the first time before escaping back to Europe. In the fall, we’ll pick our way back down the coast of central and southern Italy and leave the boat for the winter in Sicily. Next year, we’ll finish the eastern coast of Italy, Venice, and then Croatia before heading to the Greek islands, likely in 2026.

Of note, while we have been in the Mediterranean Sea, we will be in both the Mediterranean and the Tyrrhenian Seas this trip. I guess we were also in the Baeleric Sea at some point last year!

Am I Still Working on the Boat?

Yep, I see telemedicine patients once a week, respond to emails every day, and take a few meetings here and there. I also try to shift into a lower gear.

What’s Our Routine?

We usually sail for 3-5 hours (or motor if the winds aren’t right) along the coast and then head into the next town’s marina. Sometimes, we’ll anchor for the night if the conditions are nice, and sometimes, we’ll also do 6-10 hour passages to cross the bigger distances between the coast and islands. We usually stay in a coastal town for 1-3 days, depending on whether we like it, and eat out every night. That experience varies widely, from your average small-town restaurants to some really special ones here and there. We also have foldable bikes, so we usually ride every day into town, walk quite a bit, or take a hike. From a caloric output standpoint, it’s fantastic because you have to expend calories to do anything. For example, getting food requires a big backpack and my bike, and I usually haul 30-40 pounds of groceries back to the boat. While we could rent cars or get electric scooters or bikes, at our age, it’s “use it or lose it”. We relish the challenge of being physical while living off the grid a bit.

Why Do This Now?

I turned 60 last year, so it’s time to begin to spend some more time away from the office. As I’ve written before, my Mom and Dad had big plans for everything they wanted to do once the kids were in college, but my dad got sick, and not much of that ever happened. In addition, if you have been reading this blog and following all of the physicians and luminaries we’ve lost this past year to illness, if that didn’t motivate me to spend some more time off, not sure what would.

Do You Have a Crew?

Nope, for the most part, it’s the crew of two (my wife and I). I did train my youngest son, who had an interest, and now he’s official having done his own formal ASA training, so when he’s on board, I get a break from being captain for a while. My brother also went to the Naval Academy and has a boat, so he was a big help. But outside of that, there is no “Below Decks” YouTube channel about the antics of our crew, because there ain’t no crew!

Can We See What You’re Up to?

I have an Instagram channel that I only use when I’m on the boat, which is @chriscenteno541.

The upshot? I likely won’t be blogging for the next six weeks while on my sabbatical, but rest assured, I’ll be taking lots of pics. See you all after I have had my fill of sailing!

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