Nicole and I have started the first leg on our six-month journey, sailing from Spain to Turkey this spring and summer.
Supporting this trip, I received a contract from Harmony Books (Penguin/RandomHouse) to write another book, The Mediterranean Method, a Plan to Help You Lose Weight, Prevent Heart Disease and Memory Loss, and Support Your Gut. My goal during this trip is to search for local, delicious, and easy-to-prepare recipes and health tips.
Our plan has been to sail north along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, east along the southern coast of France, sail around Corsica, and then down the western coast of Italy. Next, sail across to Greece and on to Turkey. This is truly an amazing trip, something that has been on my bucket list for decades, and I have to pinch myself from time to time to confirm that it is really happening. Next summer we hope to sail the boat from Turkey back to Spain via a different route, and then next winter from Spain to The Caribbean Sea.
Nicole and I spent the first week on the boat cleaning and organizing. We had to re-raise the sails, treat and polish the chrome, wash down the dusty decks, set up all the safety equipment, have the engine overhauled after the winter, swap the filters on the water maker, restock supplies, and make the boat ship shape. We had very busy 10-12 hour days.
We should be used to it by now, but we are still amazed by the quality of the food (and it costs one third to half the price that we pay at home). The seafood is amazingly fresh, the produce is fantastic, the wine is far less expensive, and most of the dairy products are organic. Our boat mechanic arranged for us to tour a greenhouse in the region (this part of Spain produces much of the vegetables and fruits during the winter for all of Europe). During that trip, we received a whole box of the best tomatoes that we have ever tasted, with flavors that literally explode in your mouth. We have been finding new ways to eat tomatoes over the last 10 days.
They have a fantastic offer at local restaurants in this region of Spain (Almeria). Order a glass of wine or a beer and you get a tapa dish for free; tapas, like the rest of Spain, are typically a small plate appetizer. And a good glass of wine here doesn’t cost $6-10 US either—typically it will be about two Euros, which is $2.30 US. Along with all the boat preparation, we went out to eat tapas at least once per day to explore new recipes.
Last week was our planned departure from Almerimar, Spain. There was a front coming in with 30-35 knot winds, so we were trying to get out of Almerimar and get up the coast out of the way of the high winds that can last a week or more, essentially trapping us in port.
We took off early from Almerimar as planned. The forecast was for 15-20 knot wind on our nose, but instead we ended up with 25-30 knot winds start the day and it was a bit pounding, with 1-2 meter seas, not quite what we were hoping for our first day back after six months on land. The boat performed very nicely. We sailed for 11 hours to get far ahead of the coming high winds in the straight, and the next morning we had sunny skies, a trace of breeze, and were moored in a pretty fishing port with fantastic food, called Garrucha.
We spent a couple days in Garrucha riding our bicycles, shopping, and getting some rest. Many restaurants in the town were having a special competition (Who has the best tapa?). Order a glass of wine or a beer, and get a tapa to go with the beverage for 3 Euros, about $3.40 US. I love these wonderful food and drink deals. We floated from restaurant to restaurant, trying various specials.
Then we sailed on to Cartagena. Again, we were expecting 15-20 knots, and we ended up with 25-30+ knot winds with 2-meter seas, this time, fortunately the wind was behind us. The boat performed beautifully, and because we were sailing downwind (actually surfing hitting 9-10 knots), it wasn’t pounding. We were very happy to sail into the harbor and tie up to the dock for the evening.
Cartagena is a beautiful city with inspiring architecture, although it has also been the most touristy city we have visited by boat in Spain, as cruise ships also stop here. We really enjoyed seeing the ancient Roman theatre in the city center, and shopping at the city market here in Cartagena—it is loaded with amazing food options.
We will be spending 3-4 days enjoying the city before we continue north. We’ve picked a couple of days when the wind should be calmer (we are hoping for 8-15 knots this time), so we’ll see.
I feel blessed to be on this adventure and look forward to sharing health tips and recipes with you along the way. I hope that you have a dream trip planned sometime in your future and that someday you’ll make sure it happens.
I wish you the best of health!
Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS
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Thrilling! So happy for you both.
I wrote a memoir cookbook about my Twenty years in Rome and Florence when I was married to a Florentine actor. I learned to cook From my Florentine mother- in-law. All the traditional Tuscan recipes. I translated them to gluten-free and published on Amazon.
The recipes are authentic Hundreds of years old Tuscan. Let me know if you would like to use them, or if I can be a help in your Italian trip in any way.
I am your fan and love your recipes.
Have a wonderful rest of your trip.
Bless for your safety and wellness,
Enjoy every moment, what a wonderful adventure! Enjoying all the writings and photos from your amazing journey in your sailboat! 💖
I read your first two books–the Thirty Day Heart Tuneup helped me immensely. I have had two heart attacks, the second heart attack resulting in quadruple by-pass surgery. I also suffered a mini stroke that effected my speech and my reflexes; I didn’t worry much about my speech as i didn’t have anything really important to say. However, due to the effect on my reflexes, I had to give up my motorcycle riding which was my favorite way to view the country side which is really beautiful here in the Blue ridge mountains of Virginia. Your second book has helped me with myugust diet; my wife and i now very little red meat and very little pork. We mostly eat chicken and fish along with organically grown vegetables–green leaf veggies like turnips, kale and collards, acorn squash, yellow squash, etc.
I smoked cigarettes for approximately 50 years, loved prime rib and strip steaks and all that other not-so-healthy food.
I am now in a cardiac rehab program which I am convinced is helping me stay alive. i will be 74 years old on my next birthday in August. if it hadn’t been for your book the 30 Day Heart Tuneup, I most likely would not have made it this far since your book motivated me to change my lifestyle to a more healthy lifestyle. I Thank you and my family thanks you.
Robert N. Belcher
My Daughter and I did Spain Portugal Morocco and Italy in 2007. WE loved it so much but have not been able to go back. I would love to live in Italy for a few months and eat and drink the entire time. I’m jealous, Ha Enjoy and be safe please!
Having been a military wife for over 20 years I do so very much appreciate your sense of adventure, exploration, and discovery of new places, people, and experiences. As I read your email received today I feel the excitement of your experiences. I sincerely hope that you keep enjoying your experiences, and wish you smooth sailing. With every best wish, Christine
Thank you for all your work to make this trip happen ~ wishing you all the best on your voyage; will look forward to reading your next book!
Steven and Nicole have a wonderful 6 months. Remember to visit Sicily.
This sounds like a beautiful journey. Good for you guys. My husband and I spent a month in Alacante one winter and really enjoyed the food and the people, even though we do not speak Spanish.
I look forward to following you as you go and certainly look forward to the book when it comes out. Safe travels. Cheers, Gail