As the Med gets increasingly crowded, and with much attendant hassle in the day to day logistics of operating amidst such overcrowding, more and more large yachts are heading to higher latitudes in the summer season.
Iain Flockhart, a super yacht captain, says, “Alternative summer destinations such as Ireland, Scotland the Faroes, Scandinavia and the far north towards Svalbard offer absolutely stunning cruising. The added benefit of increased amounts of daylight, usually of a beautiful quality of light in itself, add to their cruising potential. There is already an initiative in place to help promote cruising in these higher latitudes called The Cool Route (www.sailcoolroute.eu). It is aimed at smaller craft as well and covers Ireland, Scotland, the Faroes and Norway.
“Many owners are possibly put off by the fact that if their boat is based in the Med then it’s a bit of a hike and will cost them a fair sum in fuel to get further north. Not so relevant however for sailing vessels that can often enjoy exhilarating passages in these higher latitudes with fair winds. One objective for captains can be to consider such cruising grounds in long term planning of the vessel’s schedule and research the best price fuel stops. Another option for sailing and motor yachts, as an offer to owners who have an appetite to explore, is to plan cruising routes of these northern grounds in conjunction with yard time.”
Mr Flockhart points out that many of the world’s finest yachts were born or attend refits in the Netherlands or Germany, with smaller numbers also in the south of England. “So, to plan a high latitude cruising itinerary immediately after initial launch, (subject to proper sea trials and shake down of course), or when finishing a winter refit project or prior to such a winter yard period is very easy to do. You are basically there already at the gate to northern paradise.
“Logistical supply and provisioning is good throughout northern Europe and this starts in the English Channel,” he advises. “If transiting directly to or from the Med pre or post visiting higher latitudes, bunkering of high quality fuel for example can be taken care of by Rubis Channel Islands. Part of the Rubis global group, it has the advantage of a prime location on the yacht transit routes at the western end of the English Channel and offers some of the lowest fuel prices across Europe.
“The destinations themselves are breath-taking and you will experience many more subtle attributes that will enchant you, like the amazing array of wildlife that can be seen off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. The clarity of the waters will astound you and, one of my personal favourite attributes of these amazing cruising grounds, the intoxicating clarity of the air.
“In Scotland, there are stunning sea lochs to explore and extremely good cartography to ensure safe passage, as is the case around most of Scandinavia. Beaches that you could only imagine exist in the South Pacific are in abundance in Scotland, along with amazing history and culture. The countless islands that are dotted around Scandinavia, and the stunning fjords and waterfalls of Norway. Keep going north to the wilderness of Spitzbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway and experience 24 hours of daylight in the summer.”
The opportunities are endless and with improved technology, careful planning and best arrangement of logistics and fuel stops, these beautiful destinations are more than ever in reach for well found yachts with adventurous owners.