The Balearic Islands of Formentera, Ibiza, and Mallorca had been epic cruising grounds, but it was time to move on.
In case you missed the story from the islands, check it out:
I had a work trip coming up soon and I had to stay in Italy for minimum of 2 weeks before I could travel to Norway.
At this point, Italy was a “Yellow” country and by staying here for a couple of weeks I didn’t have to do quarantine when I got back to Norway.
The combination of sailing in the Mediterranean and working in Norway was getting really hard at this point with all the restrictions and it basically dictated our itinerary.
SAILING TO MENORCA
I wanted to spend some time exploring, but my work situation pushed us to continue towards Italy. This meant that we only anchored up in Menorca for a couple of nights to get ready for our longest passage so far; Menorca to Sardinia.
David on Bobbie G was going to spend a bit of time on the island, before turning around and starting to sail back southwest towards the Canary Islands. He wanted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in December!
It is always sad to say goodbye to good friends. Especially since we spent a winter in COVID lockdown and the first part of the season sailing together. We wished each other fair winds and hoped to meet up again at some point in the Caribbean.
PASSAGE FROM MENORCA TO SARDINIA
The passage was 215,5NM and with an average speed of 5.5kt, it would take us roughly 39 hours. We expected it to take longer as the forecast spoke of little wind for parts of the trip.
We set off at 09:00 in the morning and at 15:00 the lighthouse on the eastern tip of Menorca started to fade behind our stern before it disappeared. All we could see around us was the sea. I always get into this special state when land disappears on the horizon.
Then it is just me, the crew, and Ellidah against nature at full mercy. The rest of the world becomes a blur, almost like it doesn’t exist anymore. It is a wonderful feeling and I always get really excited but calm at the same time.
The time really flies on a passage. It is almost like it works differently when you are out alone at sea.
We spent most of the day relaxing, playing Yahtzee, and talking about sailing and navigation. Before we knew it, the sun was about to set on the horizon and we got a beautiful view at the start of the first night.
Sailing at night is a truly special experience. It can be intimidating the first few times as the darkness surrounding you is total and you can’t really see much around you other than lights from other boats
When you get used to it, however, it is wonderful. If the sky is clear, you get the view of the stars which is amazing. No light pollution gives you a sweet portrait of the cloudy milky way like straight out of a science fiction movie.
To bad, it is hopeless to get a proper picture on a boat that is constantly moving.
If the moon is big, it shines up everything almost like the sun. When your eyes adjust, you can actually see very clearly around you as long as you take care not to disturb your night vision. I use red lights in the cockpit when needed because of this.
DOING NIGHT- WATCH
We had good winds and managed to sail throughout most of the night. It was Filly’s first-night sail and we did three-hour watches where I slept in the cockpit ready if anything had to be done really quickly.
I always stay in the cockpit until my crew is confident to operate Ellidah by themselves. Keeping watch is easy enough, but if something happens, I like to be up there and ready. Especially when sailing in places where there is traffic and there are boats around you.
There have been times where I’ve been caught by surprise before and had to quickly take action. If you have sails up, you can’t just steer the boat wherever you want. The tack of sail and the direction of the wind are important elements.
If you sail downwind and do a maneuver without having control of everything, you can end up gybing the boat and seriously injure yourself or the equipment. If you are close hauled and go too far into the wind, you stop. A boat that isn’t moving can’t steer.
That is why it is important for me to be confident that the crew on night watch knows the basics of sailing, have become familiar with Ellidah’s lines, navigation instruments, how she behaves, and most importantly: – How to de-power the sails in case the wind blows up.
There are however other situations that you can’t plan for. That is exactly what happened the following night!
DAY NUMBER TWO
The night is about to end and I have a big jug of fresh coffee in my hand. The sun is rising and I can feel the warmth flowing back into me as the first sun rays fall over my face. It looks like it will be a warm and beautiful day which is very welcome after a chilly night.
Filly has just woken up and joins me with her own cup of coffee. We are sitting there in silence, just watching the sunrise over the horizon and I can see how proud she is for completing her first night on passage.
The only sound around us is the water sparkling around the bow and the comforting sound of the sails moving in the wind. What a life!
This day was spent similar to the previous. Cooking, playing Yathzee, and having good conversations. We lost the wind for a few hours as expected and ran the engine for a while. Before we knew it, the sun was getting ready to set again.
This time we had dolphins around the bow giving us a special show before the sun disappeared and left us in darkness only lit up by the stars, a big moon, and Ellidah’s navigation lights.
FAILING HALYARD AND ALMOST LOSING OUR MAIN SAIL
It is early night and the wind is about to pick up. We are both still up.
All of a sudden, we hear a snap and the sound of a flopping sail.
What the f…?
We look at each other for a second before I get up to have a look at the rig.
Me: “Shit, the main halyard failed. The sail came down rather fast.”
Filly: “What do we do?”
Her eyes are about the size of full-grown oranges.
Me: “Put your life jacket on and clip in, we’re going on deck to pack it away.”
The two of us get the life jackets on, clip in and get up on deck to get a damage report. Sure enough, the main is down, but it is laying in between the lazy jacks. In other words, easy enough to pack away.
A shackle that attaches the halyard to the mainsail is still on, but the halyard has clearly snapped a few cm above it. The core is exposed and it has probably got weakened by the sun and salt and eventually failed.
Not long after sunrise, we finally got land insight and at 07:30 we arrived on the Island of Carloforte in Sardinia. The passage took us 46,5 hours in total.
ANCHORING UP IN ITALY
We arrived in La Caletta, but found it to be rather exposed to some big swells that came in from the west. We were both ready to get a few hours of proper sleep in a calm place so we decided to continue along the coast and find somewhere more protected.
Only a few hours later, I let the anchor go at 12m depth on a perfect sandy bottom in a spot called Cala di Guidi. It is really in the middle of nowhere, but quiet, beautiful and it was flat calm.
Time to get some sleep, tidy the boat and go for a swim.
Later that day we put Ellie in the water and headed to shore. We then found a little road tavern that served pizza made in a stone oven.
Perfect food to celebrate our arrival in Italy!
We spent a few days in Cala di Guidi. This was where my poor old DJI Mavic drone decided to do aerial stunts by itself, make a backflip and drive full speed into the water.
I managed to pick it up at 12m depth, but that was sadly the end of its life.
Our next destination was Porto Pino on the main island of Sardina which you can read about in the next post here: