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September '06: Passages - Greece to the Balearics

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Back in Naxos we headed towards the South Pelepones to Githion with a stop along the way in Milos. We reached Githion in the Gulf of Lakonia mid July after a short passage by full moon. Here we spent some time with friends from Vienna and prepared our boat for our first “longer” passage to Sicily.

It will take us about three to four days for four to five hundred nautical miles. The wind was not with us for the first part of the crossing, more like against us. Therefore we motored… the next morning we were able to set sail. For the next 36 hours we sailed close-hauled towards Sicily. Both of us didn’t feel too good – we felt a little seasick, had not much sleep and didn’t drink and eat much. Then no winds and dead calm sea again so we had to turn on our engine. By sunrise we were able to see Mount Etna in the distance, the Strait of Messina cannot be that far anymore. We still hoped to get some more wind, which we then got through the Strait but all on the nose! And dead calm again after the Strait. Slowly but surely we longed for a good nights rest and deep sleep without the engine noise!

We decided to stop for one night at the marina in Milazzo. The next morning we motored on to Porto Rosa, where we left our boat for a week and travelled together with Marc’s mom, Lis, in her camper van around Sicily. Together we visited Taormina, Syracusa, the Temples Valley near Agrigento and Selinunte. In Trapani we met old sailing friends, Rufus and Maxi from S/Y CORNUCOPIA. We spent the winter together in Brindisi. They waited for a weather window to head on to Tunesia, where they planned to stay and leave the boat during the next winter. From Trapani we went back to our boat in Porto Rosa and said goodbye to Lis for now – we might meet again on Sardinia.

Our next stop was Cefalu. Here we stayed at anchor and later at anchor with a line to the shore and waited for a weather window to cross over to Sardinia. The weather was not very stable at the moment – many cold fronts and thunderstorms were passing. So we waited for the “right” weather. Until then we enjoyed Cefalu’s car free inner city and the beach. After a couple of days we decided to try it, early in the morning we left Cefalu and headed direction Sardinia.

Under the coast we had some good wind but then it died down again – engine on! The sky got more and more overcast and we hardly could see Sicily anymore. The sea got rougher and the wind turned around and was on our nose now. We put up our mainsail to stabilize our boat a little bit. On our starboard side we saw thunderstorm clouds while the sun set. In that funny light with the sun and the heavy clouds we suddenly saw waterspouts! Our hearts just then missed a beat, oh my God – what now?! First we took a deep breath, then we started to watch them closely and prepared our boat for storm situation. With the last bit of daylight we were able to observe that the waterspouts stuck to the thunderstorm clouds – thank God! This meant for us to keep a wide berth around all thunderstorms especially during the night. We had a tense and nerve-racking night out at sea. Watching our radar closely and observing the lightning we tried to avoid the thunderstorms while we fought against wind and waves. Fortunately by sunrise we left the last thunderstorm clouds behind us. During the day we tried to recover as good as possible. This time we drank and ate enough and we were both well – except the sleep of course. By sunset we saw Sardinia at the horizon – another six hours, so we should reach Villasimius Marina around midnight or one o’clock. Ha, would have been great if it worked that way. No! We fought for almost 12 hours against high waves and strong headwinds – we hit the waves so hard that we got the feeling our S/Y MELMAR Y will break apart any minute… but at least no more thunderstorms!

Another long, sleepless and wet night. By sunrise we moored at the outer mole of the marina and waited for the marina staff to give us a berth for a couple of nights. “Well, this is it, I had it!”, Melanie said “I go straight home from here, no more sailing, the sailing project is over!”. At around nine o’clock we were tid up and went to sleep. After a couple of hours of sleep we checked our boat… but besides a leak in the forward cabin everything was in order. We then started to clean the boat and washed everything with freshwater and let it dry out. In the evening Marc’s mom, Lis, joined us for a dinner on board. She arrived by ferry a couple of days earlier from Sicily. We then definitely said goodbye to her here on Sardinia as she returned home to Switzerland via Corsica and Italy. And by now, Melanie recovered well enough to still go on with our sailing.

So we headed towards Menorca. Same game again: first wind, then no wind, then wind and waves on the nose – the engine was our permanent companion. Our anchor fell at three o’clock in the morning in the large natural harbour of Mahon on Menorca. At around nine o’clock we woke up and thought a big ship just overrun us; we anchored that night very close to the ferry passage way… After a lazy breakfast we looked around for a mooring buoy as the weather forecast was not very promising for the coming days. But no luck, so we anchored in the Cala Teulera – still within close reach of Mahon – and put out a second anchor to ensure holding in the strong winds and gusts. Here we stayed for a couple of days and did the usual: sleep in, do some laundry, cleaned the boat, shopping for groceries and got a new Spanish phone number. We also explored Mahon a little and then cruised along the south coast of Menorca from Cala to Cala. In Cala en Porter we visited the Cova d’en Xoroi – a cave within a cliff with beautiful views over the blue sea. It’s a disco at night, a bar and restaurant during the day, great place!

We were already able to see Mallorca, very faint in the distance. There we wanted to stay for about a month and just relax. The crossing from Menorca to Mallorca was absolutely the best so far – great wind and we sailed the whole way and day, yeah! We reached Porto Colom at the East side of Mallorca by sunset and dropped anchor again within a big natural harbour.

pictures to this logbook entry: Italy/Sicily I - Taormina / Riposta Italy/Sicily II - Syracusa / Agrigento Italy/Sicily III - Selinunte / Trapani Passages - Ionian and Thyrrenian Sea

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