Trip on Aremiti starting 2018-08-24 in BSANov18
Ginny and I were asked by Chris and Julia Wallace whether we would like to help them on their long passage from Sardinia to Spain as it would be useful to have extra people to stand the watches over the 5 or 6 days it should take. I agreed readily but Ginny decided it wasn’t for her. My part in the forthcoming adventure sailing from Cagliari to Spain started not long after we touched down in Cagliari at about 1930 on Friday 24th August. I was last off the plane, but first out as we were bussed the 50 yards to the terminal. Decided to take a taxi, how we didn’t hit anything on the journey into town I don’t know. He was weaving in and out, overtaking on both sides and not once did he touch the horn. Chris by now had texted me the location of the boat and I told the driver. He was very helpful, if he could have managed to park on the pontoon he would have. Suffice to say I got there in one piece and by 2000. Just in time for G and T then supper. Over supper we discussed the plans for the coming days. The winds were going to be NW’ly force 5-6 with a 2 metre swell until about Sunday night then decreasing a bit and then going E’ly not a lot. One constraint on the planning was that I had to get back by about the 3rd or 4th September as Ginny and I were going away for our 25th wedding anniversary. I was also told about the vile passage Chris and Julia had just had from Sicily to Sardinia, thunderstorms all the way without any hope of out running them.
It was already very windy on Saturday morning when we awoke, the wind coming straight into the stern of the boat. I mentioned the pontoon, it reminded me of pallets joined together and was held by chains to the remains of an old stone pier which was now just under water.
At least this pier did stop the waves passing into the marina. The morning was spent victualling the boat, the supermarket said it would deliver the shopping in the afternoon which they duly did. After we had shopped, Chris borrowed the marina’s battered old Fiat and we went off with jerry cans to get diesel to refuel the boat. Garage prices were much cheaper than at the marina. We did 3 trips in all, putting 154 litres on board. Ashore for supper in the very pleasant town, with lots of pedestrianised streets.
We got up early on Sunday and with the wind only about 8knots it was decided to head for an anchorage that Chris and Julia had used before just round the most southerly point of Sardinia at Capo Spartivento – it means divided winds. We sailed under mizzen and reefed genoa in variable winds in force and direction, at one time we were on a broad reach which turned into close hauled in seconds, all without changing course. As we progressed the wind increased touching 30 knots at times and the sea state was also increasing. At about 1400 feeling hungry we decided to head for what looked a sheltered beach just north of Spartivento to have lunch. Just as we were motoring in towards the beach an unattended lilo flew passed us going end over end. This area had good holding, which was reassuring as the wind remained very squally till well after 1800.chor and the passage began. We set off with genoa and mizzen and as we rounded the cape we added the reefed main. Wind was as predicted NW 4 – 5 and the sea state was quite lumpy with a 1.5 – 2 metre swell as well as the waves on top of it. We rolled along merrily at about 5 knots in glorious sunshine keeping ourselves under the beautifully homemade bimini which Julia had created. We hadn’t at this point decided exactly where in Spain we were heading, it was going to be either Cartagena or Almeria. There was only 4 degrees difference in the course between the two, and at 550 miles it didn’t matter too much. One thing we had decided was the night watches. Chris took 2100 – 0100 and I took 0100 – 0500 and Julia took 0500 till Chris got up. Julia didn’t get off lightly at all; she managed to produce excellent meal after excellent meal for the whole trip for which I’m truly grateful. The first supper on passage was fresh Italian sausage and ratatouille, not an easy meal to prepare with the boat bucking about, so we hove to, this made it much easier to both prepare and eat. Us boys then washed up and I got my head down. About 2130 Chris woke me to say that the genoa had fallen into the sea and could I help in retrieving it. We pulled the genoa alongside and lashed it to the guardrail and then attached the inner forestay and hanked on the small jib and we carried on our way again then back to bed.
I took over at 0045 as I hadn’t got back to sleep, it was a full moon and the wind was slowly decreasing by 0300 Chris came up and we put the engine on as we were only doing 2.5 knots. In daylight it was evident that the stitching had come away at the head of the genoa as the webbing was waving in the wind attached to the upper roller at the top of the mast. Chris managed by gently shaking the forestay to entice the drum and webbing back to the deck. Julia started the long process on stitching the webbing back on to the sail and between the 3 of us we got it sewn back on by lunchtime and rehoisted it. It was decided that a couple of rolls were left around the forestay to take any load off the webbing. We motor sailed for the whole day as the wind though still NW was very fluky.
By Wednesday morning the wind had come round to SE and filled in so we were able to sail again and thus it continued for the next couple of days. We had by now decided that we would aim at Almeria though about 100 miles further than Cartagena it was eminently achievable in the time frame we had set. We didn’t see much traffic, 5 or 6 boats on the first day and that was about it until we got nearer to the Spanish coast. Julia had a pod of dolphins keeping her company on an early morning watch.
Chris and Julia suggested that I stood the 2100 watch on Thursday evening so I could look at the stars before the moon came up. It was brilliant, 4 planets – Venus, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, I just needed Holst to keep me company – and the Milky Way was stunning. On my 0100 watch by about 0300 I was able to see Orion appearing over the eastern horizon. Winter on its way.
At 0310 on Friday morning we crossed the Greenwich meridian and by 1800 we had seen the Spanish coast. The last 3 days we had a following wind of E 2-3 and a following sea which made it very rolly and not easy to maintain the wind in the sails. With a preventer on both the main and mizzen, the cruising shute was deployed,
but this kept collapsing so it was reluctantly put away. As we closed the coast the amount of traffic increased and we were joined by more dolphins. We anchored at 0150 in the lee of Capo de Gata in an anchorage Chris and Julia had used before. We celebrated by finishing off the bottle of Limoncello we had started in Cagliari on the first night.
We arose in the morning to another fabulous day with an excellent wind from the NE. After breakfast we set off on the last 18 miles to Almeria. We had a super sail under genoa and mizzen into Almeria harbour. The wind was 20 – 25 knots but we had a calm sea. We tied up at 1200 having completed the 600 miles in just over 5 days.
I hadn’t done a passage of over 2 nights since 1984 and I was a bit apprehensive of the whole thing, but I needn’t have worried. I loved it! My heartfelt thanks to Chris and Julia for giving me the opportunity.