Captains Blog 32 – Captain Vic, The Frustrated Brit

Our break out from the harbour at Licata had succeeded. We sailed 30 miles along the coast and anchored below the Turkish Steps expecting a calm, peaceful night. It wasn’t. We pitched uncomfortably from side to side but lasted until 6:30 before lifting the hook.

The plan was to reach Masala and anchor, though after the previous night and the predicted direction of swell we decided to keep on to Trapani. It rained until midday then it was clear and sunny as we sailed on with a following sea.

We received a message from Champagne telling us they were having problems entering Trapani harbour. They’d been left waiting outside the harbour for 2 hours and Captain Vic was not a happy chappie. Port authorities were now the recipients of a full-on verbal assault by Vic after which he mentioned that it may be prudent to give the harbour a miss next time they were passing.

We changed plan again and diverted towards Favignana, a small island off the west coast. After 71 miles, we reached a small cove on the north of the island and dropped anchor. We were alone but for one other boat, happy days!

Next morning, I looked across to our neighbours. They were flying a red ensign but I couldn’t make out the name. I wondered where they’d come from and what plans. Two minutes later the phone rang, it was Vic and the boat next to us was Champagne. I must get an eye test next time we’re home.

We were aware that another escapee from Licata was on the island. Koru, with Fou and Rea had left at first light the previous morning and pushed right through to a small bay on the south west of Favignana. After checking weather predictions both Champagne and ourselves decided to move to the same bay. Koru’s crew were thrilled and delighted to awaken to the sight of Gianti and Champagne moored next door. Well! I assume they were. Though their expressions might not have been overwhelmingly joyous I’m sure I noted a half smile. Either that or an irritated twitch.

We had a cracking few days with our partners in crime and before long were discussing crossing to Sardinia. There’s something very re-assuring about reaching the same conclusion as other sailors when passage planning and we all agreed the we’d leave Sicily the day before Sardinia opened.

This wasn’t without risk. Different regions across Italy had different ideas of what was acceptable regarding easing of lockdown restrictions and at this stage there was no guarantee that we’d be accepted into Sardinia.

At 5 am on 3rd June 2020, we were all ready to leave. Champagne was first off the blocks followed closely by Gianti then Koru. It wasn’t long before engines were off and sails took over. After just over 2 hours good sailing the wind faded and engines were on. So much for the forecast wind.

The sea became flat calm, the wind amounting to nothing over a fairy’s fart. Gorgeous flat blue sea blending seamlessly into gorgeous flat blue sky without any real sense of depth.

There was a upside to this calm. Turtles, lots and lots of turtles. We’d only ever seen one turtle before and that was on the crossing from Menorca to Sardinia the previous year. I needed to capture these epic moments with my newly acquired GoPro. I snapped away and couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a large turtle just off the bow, surrounded by its fish entourage. I pushed the button to capture the moment and couldn’t believe how close we got before it turned and dived away.

I couldn’t wait to show the first mate my footage and she was a little underwhelmed at the pitch-black screen she saw when I pressed play. A perfect example of why technology and the good captain are sworn enemies.

By 8pm the winds had built and we set the sails. We made good progress and all three vessels remained in sight throughout the night. Daylight broke and we were still under sail and stayed like that until a few miles from Villasimius on the South East of Sardinia. We all anchored in a lovely bay to relax for a few hours after the 153 nautical mile crossing.

The wind started building, it was time to move on. Champagne decided to head towards Cagliari, while Koru planned to head to the other side of the peninsula. We opted to go straight into the marina to take on water and clean down Gianti.

Just as we began to moor the winds whipped into a frenzy. Koru had entered the marina to get fuel but ended up mooring next to us having decided not to risk moving until the following day.

The next morning, I cleaned the boat, replenished water and we were heading out with Koru before midday. The plan was to relocate around the headland where we hoped to get some protection from the building winds.

The selected spot was not good as we sat at anchor with up to 35 knots so we decided to head for somewhere better sheltered. The headsail was out and we flew along in ever building winds until it started gusting in the mid 50’s. We stowed the headsail and motored at a snail pace to the anchorage, spending a very rolly night before moving on the next day.

I wished I’d not bothered washing down the boat the previous day. Salt caked everything and Gianti glistened as though covered in frost. We pushed on to a small bay just south of Arbatax where all three boats met up again over a few drinks.

We needed a few provisions so the next day went across to the beach at Arbatax, in the dinghy. While ashore we received a message from Fou that the anchorage was becoming untenable as big swell started to enter. We watched Koru sail round the headland as we walked back to the dinghy.

The beach was now completely empty and the waves rolled in with increasing force. “First mate, we need to strip off. We’ll get drenched heading past the waves.” We stripped to the minimum required to maintain dignity and started pushing the dinghy out. Waves crashed over us as we tried to get out enough to jump in and row. First mate jumped in followed by me. I needed to row us quickly out of the breaking waves before we were capsized. I took one stroke and snapped the rowlock! We’d be flooded or rolled if we didn’t get out quickly. Thankfully we managed to co-ordinate paddling efforts. Anyone watching would’ve assumed that we were professional dragon boat racers as we fought through the monster swell in Hawaii 50 fashion to reach Gianti. We were completely soaked, but safe.

After anchoring overnight, we opted to head into the marina, get fuel and wash the salt off the boat. Why I even bother is beyond me!

I’ve had enough of writing this tosh so I’m off for a swim.

Captain Mac

5 Replies to “Captains Blog 32 – Captain Vic, The Frustrated Brit”

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