We took a ‘slightly’ different approach this time. We participated in an offshore cruising trip, organised by Ultra Sailing. The trip brought us from Split (Croatia) via various Italian harbours to La Valletta on Malta (and back). The distance covered was over 1.100 nautical miles in all, 2.000 kilometres.
Sailing the high seas requires a different ship. Our choice was a Bénéteau 50. A good and stable ship, with all the facilities required for a trip like this. Our route can be found here. We had a crew of 9, including a professional skipper with experience on this route. Myself, I was one of the watch leaders. The trip took 2 weeks to complete.
We took hundreds of photos during this trip. It takes me some time to sort them out. For this first version of the story I have just selected a few, more will follow!
A beautiful sailing day. We had the morning watch, 0400 – 0600. First, that brought us the remainders of a beautiful starry night with a very clear Milky Way. Then daybreak, and then sunrise. A glimpse of Etna volcano (including smoke plume) on the horizon. And during all this we were under sail (with small reefs on the genua) in 30 knots of wind from the north-north-west. Course 040, boat speed 8 knots. And again, dolphins are swimming around the boat. Life does not get much better than this!
However, the Mediterranean Sea and the Adriatic Sea have some things in common. Conditions can change rapidly here. Around 1100 the wind turns again to the north-east (15 knots), straight on our bow. Again, we need our engine.
By now, we sail under the coast of Calabria, the southern region of Italy. We have covered 160 nautical miles since leaving Valletta.
By 1130 we receive a new weather forecast. It does not look good for us. The wind will increase further, and a storm is predicted for the Gulf of Taranto, that we need to pass. We decide to aim for the small yacht harbour at Roccella Ionica, a small town further down the coast.
Around 1500 we arrive in this harbour. Due to the strong winds, it takes some effort to moor the boat. By now, there is a full storm outside. Every couple of hours we check the weather maps. We now also see a storm developing in the Adriatic Sea, which we need to cross on our way back to Croatia. All we can do now is sit and wait, which is made easier by a far better than expected dinner at the small restaurant near the harbour (the only restaurant, we find out…). You order pizza per half meter…
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