Black Sea

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An online cruising guide for yachts sailing in the Black Sea.

Aegean SeaSea of MarmaraTurkeyIstanbulZonguldakSamsunTrabzonBulgariaBurgas or BurgazVarnaRomaniaConstanta (Port Tomis)UkraineOdessaSevastopolYaltaKerchRussiaRostov-on-DonNovorossiyskSochiGeorgiaBatumi
Black Sea Map.pngAbout this image
Map of the Black Sea - For details click on a name or an area

The Black Sea (Greek: Μαύρη Θάλασσα or Εύξινος Πόντος, Turkish: Karadeniz) is an inland sea between southeastern Europe and the Anatolian peninsula Turkey and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and various straits. The Bosporus Strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and then the long island-bound strait of the Dardanelles connects it to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters separate eastern Europe and western Asia. The Black Sea also connects to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch. The Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km² (168,495 sq mi), and a maximum depth of 2,200 m (7,200 ft).

In his wonderful book Neal Ascherson describes the unusual conditions of the Black Sea. The Black Sea receives the waters of five major rivers: the Kuban, the Don, the Dnieper, the Dniester and above all the Danube. These rivers deposit a tremendous amount of organic matter. Over thousands of years the bacteria feeding on this matter exhausted the oxygen at the lower depths of the Black Sea, creating a condition known as anoxia. In its stead, the oxygen has been replaced by the deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S). So, today the Black Sea consists of two layers separated by a well-defined boundary called haloclyne or oxyclyne. This boundary is at a depth of about 200 m, below which the water is infused by H2S and is totally devoid of life. Above the oxyclyne however, the surface layer of the Black Sea is teaming with life and fish. This abundance of fish has made the coastal area very wealthy. There are many dolphins in the Black Sea which delight the sailor.

The Black Sea basin was colonized by the Greeks as early as the Bronze age. The legend of the Argonauts in search for the Golden Fleece originates from that period. Mycenaean anchors have been found all along the coast of the Black Sea. Later in the antiquity many Greek coastal colonies had been established around the sea trading with their founding mother cities dried fish and later wheat and timber. The Greek presence in the Black Sea, or the Pontos, continued until the early part of this century.

Recent theories have linked the formation of the Black Sea with the biblical legend of the Flood. According to this theory the Black Sea was originally a fresh water lake. Then, 7,600 years ago, the melting of the glaciers flooded the Mediterranean. This extra water, eventually cut a narrow channel, the Bosphorus, and salt water flowed into the Black Sea at the rate of 10 cubic miles per day for two years. This deluge caused the waters in the Black Sea to rise at the rate of six inches per day and covered all the coastal human habitations. Robert D. Ballard, the discoverer of the Titanic, is leading an expedition, based in Sinop, to investigate this theory. The Institute of Nautical Archaeology, under the leadershp of the pioneering underwater archaeologist George Bass, is also interested in future work in the Black Sea waters.


2214 The Euxine or Black Sea
55100 Western Part of the Black Sea
55105 Eastern Part of the Black Sea
10A Western Blacksea
10B Eastern Blacksea


The Black Sea has more extremes and is more humid with the most rain than the Mediterranean. The local Turkish saying is that the Black Sea has four good harbors: Samsun, Trabzon, July and August! In addition, since it the Black Sea is a large body of water with very few islands, the waves are more ocean-like than in the Mediterranean, there almost a constant large swell even when there is no wind.

Weather Forecasts for the Black Sea

3 Maps to choose from - Wind Direction and Speed, Wave Direction and Height, Wave Period.
This map is produced by the Turkish State Meteorological Service which also produces maps for the whole Black Sea and Mediterranean. Map of Regions

Currents & Tides


List popular passages/routes, timing, etc.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


The only entry to the Black sea is via the Bosporus Strait for details see Navigation Notes.

Countries, Ports, Anchorages, and Islands

Key to symbols: || Island icon — Island || Port entry icon — Port of entry || Harbour icon — Harbor || Marina icon — Marina || Anchorage icon — Anchorage || Waterway-canal icon — Waterway or Canal || Needs data icon — Needs data ||

Turkey Bulgaria Romania
West to East
South to North
South to North
Ukraine Russia Georgia
West to East
North to South
North to South


1NOT a Port of Entry
2Rumoured Port of entry
3as at July 2011 NOT a Port of Entry
4Very little information for this port
5Unofficial Port of Entry; Ana Yacht Club marina can arrange for officials to come from Constanta to handle entry or exit

Trans-Europe Canals/Rivers from the Black Sea

Possible cross-Europe transits between the Black Sea and the North Sea


The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal (German - Rhein-Main-Donau-Kanal), connects the Main and the Danube rivers across the European Watershed. It runs from Bamberg via Nuremberg to Kelheim. The canal connects the North Sea to the Black Sea, providing a navigable artery between the Rhine delta (at Rotterdam in the Netherlands) and the Danube Delta in eastern Romania. The canal was completed in 1992 and is 171 km long.

The cross-section of the waterway is mainly trapezoidal, with 31 meters width at the bottom, 55 meters wide at the water surface, 4 meters of water depth, and a side gradient of 1:3. The channel is a European Waterway Class Vb; the largest authorised vessels are 190 m in length and 11.45 m wide. The channel in the Kelheim-bound Bamberg lock has a depth of 2.70 m. In the few sections with a rectangular profile, the width is usually 43 m.

The canal is the easy bit of the trip between the North Sea and the Black Sea. The rivers can both be very fast flowing, particularly the Danube which also forms the border between Serbia and Romania and later Bulgaria and Romania. The Bulgaria-Romania border bit should not be a problem as both are EU countries so the free passage of people, goods, services and money is guaranteed by the treaties of Rome and Maastrecht. The Serbian border, on the other hand, might be a bit of a trouble spot. If doing the trip one must follow the inland waterway rules but I would recommend not berthing on the Serbian side of the river.

Given the strength of the flow of the Danube, It is recommended to sail from west to east and return via the Mediterranean.

Anyone making this trip will be required to hold an International Certificate of Competence with a CEVNI endorsement. At a practical level, you should have someone on board who can speak German.


The Volga-Baltic Waterway or, as it used to be called and is probably better known, the Mariinsk Canal System. (expand this)


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


References & Publications

Books and Guides

  • David Read Barker and Lisa Borre, Black Sea Cruising Guide, RCC Pilotage Foundation, 2011, ISBN 9781846234125
  • Doreen and Archie Annan, Cruise the Black Sea, Atakoy Marina, Istanbul Turkey, ISBN Unknown
(Out of print as at June 2011)
(in Greek)

Note: The RCC Pilotage Foundation is now involved with both the Black Sea Cruising Guide (David Read Barker and Lisa Borre) & Cruise the Black Sea.

Websites that List Available Guides & Books

  • RCC Pilotage Foundation, Passage Planning Map based index to RCC Crusing Guide Books & Passage Planning Guides.
  • Imray produce many Cruising Guides for Many areas of the world, [1]
  • Conference of Yacht Cruising Clubs (UK), Sailing Directions published by CYCC members
  • Ocean Cruising Club, Cruising Areas This website contains information for a large number of cruing areas including brief information about each area and a list of guide books as well as a Google map of the locations in the reports.


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