Friday, June 28, 2013

From Sardinia to Sicily

We left Sardinia early on Tuesday morning. This was our bay for the night.

Wind was "up" early too.

Guys started sailing while I was still in warm bed. It was warm because of three blankets, it was really a cold night.

The wind was almost from behind, it made quite big waves that were rolling Heron to the sides. The ride was not very pleasant. It was cold, and it even got colder in the evening. Wind got weaker in the night, but the waves were still there, and we even had to motor for 2 hours. Towards the morning wind came back and sailing was more pleasant again.

At around 9 in the morning we sailed to island of Lavanzo, one of the island in Egadi group on the W side of Sicily. We were greeted by nicest arrival committee of all - a group of Bottlenose Dolphins came to play around our boat for quite a while.

Levanzo looks very much like Eolean islands, lots of rocks and little of everything else. With a nice small village here and there. Why can't Spanish learn from Italians when it comes to architecture...

We anchored in a nice bay next to the town. This is how it looked before hordes of tourists came in on boats in the afternoon.

The rest of the day we lazied around, read books, swam, and guys slept in the afternoon to make up for the night shifts.

Next day we sailed towards Trapani on Sicily after breakfast. It was a nice and short trip with enough wind from behind to fly only the genoa. We passed a small island of Formica.

We anchored behind a wave breaker with a fortress on it ...

... and with a marina behind us.

We took a stroll through the town. It was nice to see and meet many nice people - they are feeding the cats, putting out the water for stray dogs on the streets, oh, and they are nice to tourists too, almost everybody tried to speak English with us and be helpful. I really liked Sicily two years ago when we were here for the first time, and I'm still liking it very much. We have to come back some day and spend more time here.

The town of Trapani is also full of beautiful historical buildings, palaces and churches.

We even walked to the town beach.

We managed to sort out everything we wanted to,  from Internet to bus ticket to the airport, and we bought some provisions for next days. It will be just captain and myself from here on, but we'll try to sail home as fast as we could and who knows when we'll stop again.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From Alicante to Sardinia

Finally on Internet again!

On Wednesday we had a great evening in Alicante, we had a couple of drinks on the club terrace, and afterwards very good dinner with jamon, local rice dishes and local wine. 

Next morning we topped our fuel tank (we didn't have to, but fuel in Spain is much cheaper than in Italy or in Slovenia), and we sailed off a bit after noon. After checking the latest weather forecast we decided to pass Ibiza and Mallorca and sail straight to Sardinia. After a bit of motoring the wind picked up and we sailed nicely on almost flat sea. It was especially nice in the night with almost full moon.

Towards the morning wind died and we motored to Ibiza. The plan was to stop and have a swim, but there were many jelly fish so we moved on. We were able to sail for couple of hours, but in the afternoon we had to motor again. Sea was flat and we saw many turtles in on area, where the water was the warmest. I would do the same thing if I were them.

A large group of dolphins came by to play around Heron and it was so great to watch them in calm clear water.

There is a reflection of the boat in the water, and my shadow is right on the dolphin.

 In late afternoon Mallorca and a bit later Cabrera came in view. Before dinner we stopped for skinny dipping in the warm sea.

Evening was calm, I was even able to sail nicely on my night watch. Afterwards Tomaz motored for a while, and towards morning wind grew stronger and unfortunately so did the waves. Mare caught a big tuna at dawn.

 Heron was rocking and rolling wildly on the waves until noon, but at least we were sailing and the sun was shining. Wind died and sea calmed down a bit early in the afternoon, and we had breakfast.

Evening was calm, we ate "catch of the day" for dinner of course. There was a beautiful sunset again, with a real green flash. After the dinner we were able to sail again, wind grew strong enough for good sailing speed, and we had a hope again to reach Sardinia next day, Sunday, in the evening.

In the night we motored again for a while, but towards morning wind was back and we sailed with good speed. Morning was nice and sunny and we saw the firs sailboat since Spanish coast.

During the day wind stayed pleasant with moderate waves and we had a nice sail. Ship traffic grew heavier. We tried to pull up the gennacker to gain a knot or two, but the lines got tangled again and after three tries we were fed up and rolled the genoa back out.

In the afternoon wind grew stronger, and so did the waves. At points wind speed reached over 30 knots, and we reefed sails a lot. But we quickly made up for the lost speed for when we were trying to hoist the gennacker.

At 21.00 we anchored in a pretty and calm bay behind Capo de Malfantano in SW of Sardinia, after being on the sea for 81 hours and making 460 miles with average speed of 5,7 knots.

We even had a swim before going to bed. And afterwards we had a good, calm, long night, despite the full moon.

 Our anchorage

Next morning we left the anchorage with the plan to sail to Bay of Carbonara on SE point of Sardinia. Wind was quite strong and we sailed fast on genoa alone.

After a while wind died and we had to motor. But in the afternoon wind was back, with full force. It grew stronger and stronger and we were reefing and reefing, until there was only a piece of genoa out. With the wind the waves grew higher and higher also. They were the biggest when we were crossing the Bay of Cagliari, 2 meters on average with a bigger one every now and then. I was amazed, how wind can produce such waves in only 12 miles fetch. But wind was really strong, constantly at about 30 knots, going to 35, and it came from the side, so we got the full force of it. When we reached the W side of the bay, the waves got a bit smaller, but wind grew even stronger. Wind gage registered F9 and 47,4 knot, but there were short gusts that were even stronger. It was not pleasant, although the skies were blue and the sun was shining. For me it was the most wind I had out on the sea sailing. And I only had more wind once, in Faro in Portugal, when we were on anchor. But luckily Heron and the crew managed the conditions well, and at the afternoon we anchored behind W edge of Carbonara bay.

This was taken when all the "fun" was almost over, we were already in Carbonara bay.

After our stomachs calmed down, we ate late dinner and went to bed.

In the morning we moved the boat E in front of Villasimius harbor and boys rowed the dinghy in and got some bread and mobile Internet. Wind was growing again, so we moved the boat back to the W side of the bay. We are anchored in front of the nice sand beach in clear green water. Strong wind and cold water (today it only had 19 deg C) make it hard to go into the water, but brave ones of us still did (me, me, me :-).

We checked the weather and decided to sail to Sicily early tomorrow morning. First we'll make a stop on Egadi islands, and then we'll sail to Trapani. The Mistral is still blowing, and will be for next day and a half, but I hope it doesn't freak out like it did yesterday.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Via Inmarsat:

Yesterday evening we landed in SW Sardinia after 3 days and 3 nights of
sailing. We all are ok. We caught a big tuna.

Please note your reply is limited to 160 Latin characters or approximately 135 for non-Latin characters.

Sent via Inmarsat. The mobile satellite company

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From Gibraltar to Alicante

We left Gibraltar on Saturday at noon. It was getting too expensive there, we were in chandlery every day. Before leaving we ate English breakfast for lunch, the way I like it.

We had a plan to sail for a day and a night and go to Almerimar marina the next day, on Sunday. We were motoring the whole day, there was no wind, but it was great to watch dolphins, fish, etc.

The view towards Africa

The Rock from the East

Dolphins waiting for Heron

At the sunset it was still calm, during the night wind came up so we were able to sail. There was a great play of bioluminescence in the night after the moon set. I even saw a couple of dolphins, or rather the water glowing around them, as they swam to our boat and played and jumped around, at 3.00 in the morning. It was unbelieveble.

Next day we passed Almerimar and sailed further, and before anchoring in the east corner of bay of Almeria, some Bottlenose Dolphins swam to our boat and delivered a great show.

We had a great luck with the weather, we swam in the late afternoon and had a peaceful night. Next day we sailed the most of the day and stopped in a bay next to Aguilas for the night. It wasn't pretty, therefor no photos, but the night was quiet. Next day we sailed on, we planned to stop in Mar Minor, but after motoring in the morning, the wind picked up and sailing was quick and good, so we sailed on to Torrevieja. We anchored behind a wave breaker, got free internet for 10 minutes and had a good and peaceful night. Not bad!

Today we started early, motored most of the way, but managed to do a lot of things like cleaning, washing, etc. The highlight was a whale we saw shortly after leaving the harbor. Don't know what kind it was, but I'm always so happy to see one, especially in water 40m deep.

We tied Heron in Club Real de Regatas Alicante at 13.00. We did some shopping in the afternoon, and in late afternoon Mare, Tomaz's brother, came. We plan to leave tomorrow for Balearic islands, probably to Mallorca. Hope we have some luck with the weather, not like it was these first days in Mediterranean sea.

Friday, June 14, 2013


 We left Barbate on Tuesday morning, after thoroughly washing the salt off the boat with the hose. There is nothing much in Barbate except expensive marina (compared to other Spanish marina, not Slovenian, those are really expensive), so we didn't see any reason for staying.

Day was just made for sailing, sunny and warm with light breeze. We put away the bimmini to enjoy the sun.

We were sailing along nicely, boys thought, there could be more wind to sail faster. I guess they are spoiled from our passage. We were flying both birds, gennacker and the main.

I manage to convince them to sail almost to the middle of the Strait, in hope to see some whales, that are migrating through in summer. It was only 30 miles to Gibraltar, so we could afford it. We saw hundreds of cargo ships, but no whales. But we saw a turtle and the best thing was we saw an Ocean Sunfish (Mola Mola) that swam 20m from the boat. Just the back fin stuck out of the water, but we could clearly see the outline of the strangely shaped body in the water and it's funny movement.


Nearing Gibraltar

Heron tied in Queensway Quay Marina

After a long and peaceful night we wanted to explore a little. Tomaz and myself have already been to The Rock, but I wanted to go up there again. I like riding the cable car.

From the cable car there was a good view to Marina. Heron is  in left lower corner, the one with the blue bimmini.

The views from the top were breathtaking, weather and visibility were much better that when we were here for the first time. This is the view to the North, over the airstrip to Spanish town La Linea.

This monkey family was strategically placed right at the entrance.

He, too, wanted to be photographed

Tomaz listening to audio guide, on his right there is already the Mediterranean

Just couldn't stop taking photos of monkeys

Boys looking to the South with Africa in the background

Some more monkeys

We walked down, first half of the way was many steep steps

The second half was along the road, where there were remains of the history on every step - like this hole from where the Brits tried the new way of firing big guns - unsuccessfully

And there were some cute flowers too

The fort at the NW point, already at the bottom of the hill

With shortage of space one has to be inventive - I newer saw a road going over the airstrip, with cars and people traveling on it. They just close it for traffic when an airplane is landing or taking off.

Another baby monkey eating a watermelon

We walked around the town some more, and we had a snack in one of the restaurants in pedestrian area. Next we went to the chandlery (of course :-), boys wanted to see the boats in the other Gibraltar marina, but I decided to have a rest in one of the waterfront bars. This tasted even better than it looked - mango&passion sorbet at the bottom, and on the top raspberry and lemon&lime sorbet.

Tadej flew home yesterday. We're staying in the marina till Saturday, the weather will be more suitable for going Eats then. We'll sail to Alicante in first leg, and then to Balearic islands (Ibiza and maybe Cabrera), South of Sardinia and North of Sicily. Since we crossed the Atlantic in such a short time (I'm sure this was a world record - for Herons), we'll try to bring Heron home. If only the weather is as good to us as it was in past four weeks.