Sunday, July 7, 2013

From Otranto to Ancona

On Monday night we passed the gulf under the "heel" of Italian boot. We were a bit nervous about it, we had fresh experience of crossing large bays (gulf of Caghliari), but it wasn't bad and this time weather forecast was accurate. Night was calm, we motored most of the time.

In the evening there was a beautiful sunset.

Sailing through Otranto Strait was difficult, there were 20 knots of wind (true wind) directly on our nose, and we tried tacking against it for some time, but with short steep waves and the current against us we were making little progress. We checked three different forecasts, they all said it should be no more than 7 knots of wind. So we turned on the engine, and captain was sad, as he always is when we motor in lots of wind.

The "heel" of Italy offers some great sights.

 In early afternoon we sailed by Capo d'Otranto and entered into Adriatic sea. To the East we could see Albanian mountains in the distance.

We made a stop in a pretty and calm bay just behind Capo d'Otranto for the night. We were lazying around, resting, had a good meal (BBQ) and good and long night sleep.

Next morning we were on our way early. We passed city of Otranto.

Wind was weak the whole day, so we motored a lot, and when we were sailing, it was rather slow, but the sea was calm and it was rather pleasant ride. We saw a couple of dolphins, but they were more interested in fishing trawler's net than in us. In the evening there was incredibly red sunset. I thought immediately: red dawn at night, sailor's delight.

Night was calm, we were motoring all the time. I had a bit of the shock, when at 2.00 in the night a speedboat without any lights came from the darkness, shone a big light on us, passed by, but after a minute turned and started following us at high speed. I woke the captain, and when the boat came along us, we saw that it was Guardia Financia. They just wanted to know where we came from and where we're going and they sped away.

 Morning was also red: red dawn at morning, sailor take warning.

And so it was. Day started off cloudy, and after a couple of hours we had 25 knots of true wind again, and again it was almost on the nose, and short and steep waves. It all came in a matter of minutes and I am still amazed, how such small waves, they were no more than 1 - 1,5 m high, can stop the boat so efficiently. It was a rough ride, Heron was pounding into the waves and we were all suffering - the boat and the crew.

Although our destination for the day was Vieste at the "spur" of the Italian boot, we decided that staying on the S side would be better. We found this pretty bay for the night in Golfo of Manfredonia near the place called Mattinatella.

There were great cliffs surrounding it ...

... and the water was calm and green. It even got warmer, or maybe it only felt so, after the cold and strong wind we had in the afternoon.

We had some problems anchoring, the sea bed was all rocks, but we set up an anchor alarm and still had a good and calm night.

Next morning captain got up early and sailed (really sailed, not motored) around the corner pass the town of Vieste. It looked pretty and inviting, and we'll have to return at some other time.

We motored a bit after passing Vieste, but around noon we were able to sail again. We passed the islands of Tremiti in early afternoon.

Wind was getting stronger and the waves nastier. We steered towards the shore in hope to have calmer sea there. The boat was pounding into the waves terribly again.

We reached 20 m water depth and turned towards N. Wind was again directly on the nose, the waves as well, and almost 2 knots of current also. It was frustrating. We were making very little progress and the ride was terribly uncomfortable, captain didn't get much sleep. We motor sailed until 2.00, then I was able to sail for couple of hours. It was one of the worst nights we had.

In the morning we were motor sailing again, trying to keep near the shore, since there was no current there. But we were constantly avoiding buoys, fish farms and pipelines.

In the morning wind got even stronger and the waves more annoying. It was a hard day again, and we were getting fed up with this weather. We even considered waiting out a couple of days, but who knows what the weather will be then. With the accuracy of weather reports obviously nobody knows.

It was a bit better in the afternoon, but we were really tired by the time we made a stop in a bay a bit S of Ancona. It was very rolly and we hoped we wold be able to get some sleep.

We decided to continue sailing along Italian coast. We will probably get to Trieste gulf on Tuesday.

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