Anchor chain in the Med. is metric. So if your winch is fitted with a gypsy for American sizes, make sure that you will not have to replace a chain during your trip. For the same reason, you should have a good selection of bolts, screws and tools on board to be able to repair non-metric equipment and spares for items not marketed outside the States. Be careful even with world brand names - we have been told of outboard engines being made in different series for Europe or for the States and the parts not compatible!
An excellent anchor that has come onto the market in the last few years
is the roll-over anchor shown in the photograph. It was developed and patented
under the name "Bügelanker" by a German who sails in the Med. and
is widely acclaimed by everyone who has ever used one. It digs itself in
in a very short distance no matter which way up it initially lands. It
even goes in very well in thickly matted weed, piercing its way between
the roots with its narrow point and setting before it can choke itself
with weed as many anchors will do. It has excellent holding power and after
extensive tests the German lifeboat association has started to equip its
fleet with this anchor. Its only snag at the moment is that it is only
available in Germany and Turkey. This may change of course and anybody
interested in the anchor could have it sent. Apply to the inventor at the
address you will find in the annex.
Electricity is 230V everywhere. The sockets are not uniform although a blue European CEE standard socket is becoming more widespread. Be prepared to have to change the plug as necessary. If you are used to relying on shore power and have a lot of 110V household equipment and tools then it is worth looking at the transformer market. On a cruising boat you will probably be independent and produce the power you need yourself, but it is convenient (and quieter) if you can just plug in.
In time you will have a collection of different adapters for connecting the water hose to the faucet. A useful adapter is a rubber nozzle which can be tightened with a clamp, as this will at least fit several sizes. Nevertheless all sorts of couplings can be found apart from the usual inch threads such as bayonet fittings. Marinas with unusual connections usually sell or loan suitable adapters.
If you cook with liquid gas instead of kerosene, you will find that the bottles are different wherever you go. We have met inventive yachtsmen who have made adapters so that they can refill their own bottle and bring back the unwanted bottle immediately. This is not legal and is done at the yachtieís risk. You must also ascertain whether you are using and getting propane or butane. These gases are quite different and are stored at different pressures, so propane should on no account be filled into a butane bottle.
As already mentioned, a gangway is a useful addition to the boat for the Mediterranean. A simple board will do, but ideally it should have wheels on the pier end, so that it can move without wearing out when other boats cause a swell. Alternatively the end can be supported by a spare halyard, so that it can be drawn up like a drawbridge except when required. Our multi-purpose gangway proved invaluable over the years. It is made from a ladder that can be folded completely in half for storage or fixed at an angle for use as a pair of steps. On one side we have mounted boards so that we can use it as a gangway. It is usually used board-side up, but if the pier is very low or very high we use it ladder side up as it affords better grip. In harbors with high commercial walls it has been reconverted to a ladder and every year when the boat is hauled out for a new coat of bottom paint it serves as ladder or steps. At the top end we have added a welded attachment made of pipes at cross angles. One pipe slots over the end of the stored stern anchor, while the other pivots around an axle, providing a secure yet flexible means of fixing the gangway to the boat.
Loran C is a suitable back-up for the GPS Navigator as almost the entire Mediterranean is covered by the network. However at present (2000) the station in Turkey is not working, so there is no coverage in the Adriatic. If your equipment has only pre-set notch filters, these will have to be altered professionally to eliminate the disturbing frequencies used by the military and the Decca Chain transmitters in the Med. in the range of 60 -140 KHz. State of the art equipment such as Furuno LC 90 copes well without changes in the hardware on both sides of the Atlantic.
Navtex works on 518 KHz, giving navigational warnings, gale warnings, forecasts, electronic navigational aids warnings, initial distress messages etc. Receiver can be set to give either all areas or specific areas.
If you plan to have a TV on board that you wish to use as more than just a video monitor, be aware that you should have one that will take all systems. North America has the color system NTSC, whereas most of Europe has PAL and France has SECAM. Even countries using PAL are not always compatible as Britain for instance has the sound on a different frequency. In Europe there are more and more suitable TVs on the market that take all systems, even for use with 12V, catering for RVs and boats, so if you cannot find anything suitable on the North American market, wait until you arrive in Europe. Similarly if you purchase videos as souvenirs of your trip make sure that you buy an NTSC version so that it will work with your NTSC video recorder when you go home.
A short wave transmitter is a nice piece of equipment for every cruiser. Whether you choose a Ham radio or a ship station, you can keep in touch with other similarly equipped boats you have met en route and exchange information. If you decide on a ship station then you can call home via a US coastal station, although this feature is not so important in the Med. as you can call home from any public phone. Here phones are not only coin-operated but take telephone cards purchased at the nearest newspaper kiosk. So instead of staggering to the phone laden with quarters as a foreigner in the States has to do, you can simply dial through. These days e-mail exchange is possible via short-wave radio.
One purchase that we made en route that has never been regretted was our laptop computer and bubble jet printer. What better way to cope with all the mail for the friends and relatives sharing your trip through your letters! And with the relevant software and the short wave radio you can receive weather faxes into the computer, a much better way to receive fax than with a weather fax printer. Better for several reasons. Firstly the transmitters, whether Norfolk Va, Bracknell GB or ROTA Spain, are often late with the chart you want to receive. Unaware of the delay, the fax printer will churn out unwanted paper, maybe even the expensive thermo paper, whereas with the computer you simply delete the unwanted image. Secondly, the software permits improvements and enlargements, making sense out of a disturbed transmission. Thirdly you can show several charts or satellite images in a loop, giving an impression of weather development.
Internet cafés are not as widespread as in the USA but TransOcean (the German equivalent of the Seven Seas Association) has a list of Internet cafés on the internet: www.trans-ocean.org/cybercafes.
A small but recommendable accessory is a solar shower, which is a black bag that heats water for a shower during the day if laid on the deck in the sun.
Something you might not think of until itís too late, is a photograph album of your home area and your family. Just as you are interested in meeting people and seeing new places, so will people be interested in where you come from too. Particularly in places where language makes communication difficult, photos can say a lot.
Have a rubber stamp made with the name and a logo of your boat, perhaps with the international call sign on it too. It is a nice addition to your signature in other peoplesí visitors books and looks impressive on your crew lists for the authorities. Which brings me to another point: Make sure that your papers are in order before you leave. The papers and qualifications required in your own country will be recognized elsewhere too, so for instance the radio license issued in the USA is valid wherever you go, but you will be required to show it and the details on it may well be transferred to the cruising permit that you get in the foreign country. Declare everything that is asked of you. Every country will want to know what radio transmitters you have on board and many may be interested in anything from outboards to inboard engines, video equipment, stereo equipment, electronic navigational equipment - and everyone is interested in weapons and drugs.
Just donít get involved in drugs, there is no other decision to be made.
As far as weapons are concerned, we initially planned to carry a shotgun
and a pistol. My husband had the permits required in Germany, but when
we started to inquire about the regulations we would be facing in other
countries, from double mortise safes (for both ammunition and guns) to
handing them over to the local police for the duration of the stay (with
the inevitable problem of leaving the country from the same harbor to be
able to get them back) we decided against carrying the weapons at all.
A flare pistol, which also has to be declared but which is accepted as
a necessary piece of safety equipment, is also a weapon in an emergency,
that can inflict terrible or even fatal injuries. We did not consider carrying
the weapons illegally, as in the event that they might be found, it could
lead to confiscation of the boat. Moreover, they would have to be hidden
so well, that they would not be at hand if required. We did not miss them
during our five years cruise and so never regretted the decision to leave
them at home.