Atlantic Adventure 2020/2021 travel blog

Thoughts from next passage Cagliari - Portugal

Got into Cagliari at 04:45 after a 110 hour passage of which nearly 60% was under sail. Spent 5 days in Sardinia, 3 in the marina (del Sole) where we completed some vital provisioning / projects / cleaning and buying spares. Two days were at anchor (one being at a beautiful anchorage 30mile west of Cagliari and the other off Carloforte).

Underway we had strong winds and pretty short sharp swell. Lots of nose diving for a while. Thankfully we had the bemini up which helped keep us relatively dry. We need to secure things better and with the heeling or sliding down waves things move about a bit. It’s been very wobbly and it is getting much colder at nights now. It’s proving difficult to cook. It’s also very difficult getting to the WC and it’s not that easy to get to sleep. Thankfully we have two settees in the saloon so at least on one tack you can wedge yourself in.

We had pretty good speed at one point registering 10.2 knots (even if it was for only few seconds) but averaging around 6.8 knots.

We had a rouge wave which broke on the aft quarter – water everywhere, dinghy swamped, davits damaged. We needed to secure the dinghy in 3-4m swell. Gen did it somehow. Pretty scary actually. As we secured the dinghy a screw came loose on the arch supporting the solar panels – the arch is now bent under the pressure.

We’ve been testing Weather Routing software which has proved itself very useful.

Over the passage its been interesting watching the wind and swell change over time from feisty, short steep chop, F5/6 wind blowing, nose diving, deck soaked -> down to F4/5 winds, 4m swell but a lot less chop -> down to F3, less swell (still doing 7knts through the water) -> down to F1/2 wind which means ultimately the engine comes on. However, ELZAR sails well and we only need 10knts of wind at 60 degrees to the sail and we make 5 knts, (sometimes more).

Keeping busy for me is a challenge. Gen always has something to do. Our attempts at fishing this time has only yielded plastic, but we will keep trying.

On the way, mid Western Med we saw turtles floating past us. I thought at first it was a big lump of wood but the giant floating walnuts were turtles. Not as big as the luggerheads we see in Greece.

A lot of motoring as there is very little wind – good and bad. Bad mostly as using up diesel. Good as it’s not wobbly so you can completed chores / projects on the way.

I’m getting used to cooking on the way. Good practice and good learning especially regarding provisioning and making fresh produce last and looking for alternatives/substitutes.

Gen’s getting things working e.g. satellite phone, Navtex, SSB radio, and we’re learning /testing new toys he’s bought e.g. radar detector, which has already proved itself useful when completing night passages (picks up beam and lets you know direction it came from – useful when boats not transmitting on AIS).

Not having internet connectivity is interesting. Maybe a good thing not knowing what’s going on in the world: Brexit, Covid, WWII, falling markets etc. Bad thing as can’t communicate with family and friends.

We’ve decided that we will push on rather than stay in Gibraltar for a couple of days – we’ll just pick up diesel. Reason being Covid, even though we have self isolated on the boat, you never know where they might impose lockdown / further restrictions, hence very long passages and very limited time ashore and no socialising. We don’t want to be delayed.

So heading for Portugal where we’ll be for a few days/maybe weeks getting things ready, provisioning etc., and hopefully pick up our deliveries (which hopefully were delivered to Preveza and sent on to Portugal, and hopefully they will get to us before we set off).

We found a small squid on deck, which must have washed on board when we were nose diving the other day. Keeping it to use as a bait when next fishing.

Speaking of fishing – lost our lucky blue squiddy lure to a large fish – when reeling it in it broke our 20kg line and we lost more or less 200m of line.

Saw some dolphins on my night watch – you could see their outline in the luminescence. During the next day we had 3 dolphins played with the bow wave – beautiful.

During the day we saw around 20 Risso dolphins / whales and two came right up to the boat, swam under it and blew bubbles. Took movies which I will need to edit and then upload at a later date.

Had some lovely sunsets and sunrises and wonderful starry skies. Songs running through my head are “Morning has broken” Cat Stevens, “Silvery Moon” Sherbet, “Starman” David Bowie and “Starry Starry Night” Don McLean.

A lot of marine traffic heading to and from Gib. We needed to cross the course the ships were taking to get to the other side for our eventual approach to Gib. Very tricky, these ships do a considerable speed and are not about to slow down or change course. We had to motor pretty hard to get good distance between us. Only one tanker changed course to go behind us – it must have been watching us on radar struggling.

Leaving the Med…..

Unfortunately it was overcast / murky approaching the Rock which is such a shame as it is a beautiful site.

We picked up diesel (600 litres) at 53c/l – which is great (we’d been buying cheap diesel in Preveza at 1.10 Euro/l. Were down to our last 35ish litres, although we do have 2 20 litre jerry cans in reserve.

Wind was pretty strong around Gib and swell growing. At the beginning (end) of Gib Strait we had F6 Easterly with 2m swell. Which, by the time we left the Strait had picked up to F6/7 and 3-4m swell. We basically got “spat” out of the Med doing 8 knots.

ELZAR performed beautifully – had to take in the genoa to a fraction of its size and we were still doing 6-7 knots.

A bit wobbly, too much so to cook, and so much noise as supposedly secured times flew about banging into locker doors (need to do something about that – note to self). Don’t know how many times Gen was on deck, harnessed of course, fixing / securing things.

The wind died down around 4am and then completely changed direction, so then so did we. I was hoping we’d anchor for a few days but not it looks like we might be heading directly for the marina.

Although not pleasant to be in such wind and swell, it has been good for me, feeling stronger and more comfortable with being in such a sea state (if you could call it that), keeping watch at night and generally gaining confidence in myself. I have been trying to do more when at watch like the sails (trying not to wake Gen) which is much easier with the hydraulic winches – YAY!!

We ended up anchoring not far from Faro close to the entrance to Formossa, Portugal.

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