We’ve been pressing onward to Greece with an unwavering sense of purpose and everything else has taken second place. We’ve not been blogging or exploring as much, but we have been doing one hell of a lot of sailing: about six thousand miles or more since we left the Caribbean….
I’ve been having such trouble keeping up with our Blog Posts: when we do arrive somewhere we cram in few boat repairs, try to clean up and do a wee bit of exploring, then we’re off again. I can’t wait to get to Greece to s l o w d o w n.
By the time I post this we will be in Zakinthos off the western coast of Greece, but right now we are half way there (from Italy) having just crossed through the straits of Messina. The weather has FINALLY warmed up. Gibraltar was windy and brisk as was the coast of Spain, even Sardinia wasn’t that warm: The water temperature just broke 70 degrees which is about warm enough for me to dive into and scramble back out. I kept asking myself: why am I here? Why did I EVER leave the Caribbean? Only in the last couple of days (Aeolian islands) has the water temperature started competing with the Caribbean (80+ degrees YAY!)
The winds have been fluky and have not followed the forecasts, we have repeatedly been hit with head winds and calm weather which require us to use the engines, and then gales where none should be: why did I leave the Caribbean where the trade winds are brisk and reliable?
And it is EXPENSIVE! Whereas we used to drop an anchor and dinghy into town (for free), now we are in Europe we find out that all the sheltered anchorages have Marinas and the fees for a 55ft Catamaran are OUTRAGEOUS (high point so far was 270 Euros for one night in Lipari): remind me, why did we leave the Caribbean?
Even the Internet is difficult. We used to have a USB stick with a Digicel card in it from St. Lucia for all-you-can-eat internet for a fixed monthly fee, I know that seems normal to a land lubber, but for us it was a luxury as we are now internet-less, searching incessantly for the wisps of Wi-Fi wherever we stop. Longing for the Caribbean….
But we sure have done a lot of sailing since entering the Mediterranean:
- From Gibraltar, to Nerja, Spain: one overnight sail, one day at anchor in the bay. Then off again in the evening. This part of the Spanish coast has been ruined by over-development anyway so nothing missed here.
Actually, the highlight of the cove was sending Grant up the mast: a new guest “must do” due to my vertigo.
Spinnaker halyard successfully replaced.
- From Nerja to Formentera, Spain (an island just south of Ibiza). Ronan helped steer us there.
We arrived at night, spent the day and left the next evening. I think we would all have liked to stay longer, but we’re on a mission: to get to Greece, and Grant (guest on board) had a choice of hanging here or getting another passage under his belt, so off we went.
A traditional Spanish Gaff-rigged boat.
- From Formentera to Cagliari, Sardinia (Italy),
where we dropped off Grant and picked up our new guests: they are our youngest so far – well they do have parents, but their pic wasn’t this cute!
They bought face paints with them. Here’s what Paloma did to Ronan:
We arrived in the early morning and stayed two nights leaving on the evening of the third day. Probably worth noting that when we arrived, my forecast said wind: 5 knots from the north, but within 30 mins of my watch (3:30am) the winds shot up past 30. Fortunately we’d taken down all of the sails because there was no wind. Go figure.
- From Cagliari, to Ustica, Italy: a small island off the coast of Sicily. Not a lot of wind, in fact, so little that we were able to go swimming in the middle of the ocean. I saw some dolphins, stopped the engine, and jumped in. But I think the dolphins were disappointing with my swimming ability as we didn’t see them again.
- We at mid-day and stayed the night leavning late the next day. What a delightful place. Great snorkeling, and the marina was FREE! I could see coming back here for a vacation once I start working again. Can you spot Ondine in the harbor?
- From Ustica to Stromboli, a volcano off the coast of Italy in the Aeolian island chain. We arrived in the morning and stayed overnight after hiking up the volcano.
We went up this bit (you can just make up the path on the right).
And we came down this part (you can see the diagonal train goin from left to right going d o w n).
A somewhat disappointing hike as we didn’t get to see the volcanic activity due to heavy could cover. But fun nonetheless. We’ve discovered that we rather like hiking (must be getting old).
Ondine off the volcanic beach; only black sand on Stromboli. We were going to stay in Stromboli for another day, but we got woken up at 4am as the winds started to peak and we were forced to leave. One boat that didn’t get up and go got washed ashore.
Just goes to show how much attention you have to pay when sailing. ALL THE TIME.
- From Stromboli to Lipari – another Aeolian island, not originally on the schedule, but I was too tired for another passage having hiked up Stromboli getting back after midnight and then being woken at 4am by 30 knots winds with no protection. We got in at 11am and left the next day at 2pm. Lipari wins the award for most expensive marina (so far). But it was long enough for us to send Manny (father of our cute new guests) up the mast: as I mentioned earlier, a new guest “must do”. He took these pics.
- And from Lipari, we set sail for Zakithos – which I will be when I post this, though right now I’m getting ready for my midnight-3am watch and we are about 100 nautical miles away. We did meet a boat on the way who took these pics of Ondine going nicely in light wind flying the Spinnaker (going at about 8 knots for those of you who care):
To put all of that into perspective, the distance described above is the same length as our Atlantic Crossing (from Bermuda to The Azores) and doesn’t count the bit where we got to Bermuda (800 nautical miles) or that other little stretch where we went from the Azores to the coast of Portugal (another 1,200 miles).
PHEW! I’m tired just thinking about it. And Ronan is too:
No sympathy cards, please.
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