15 June, 2010

Sardinia Crossing

While cruising in the Med there are always a few wide open spaces, blue in the charts that have to be crossed.  From Greece to Sicily and now from Italy to Sardinia.  As always it involves a night passage.  Fortunately it is no more than a day or two so a good watch system does not have to be set up just choose your weather.
We left the mainland of Italy, that is to say the Island of Capri to sail to wards Pnza a small island off the coast as a stageing post.  We had visisted it in 2007 so knew the anchorage and the facilities.  It is beautiful, the supplies adequate and the most important the holding is good.  Of course the wind was from the wrong direction and chose to blow into the protected anchorage but it was from the South East.  The right wind for the crossing.
We downloaded the GRIB files and studied the strength and direction then chose two days hence to leave at a respectable time to arrive at our destination during the day.
On checking the newer files at sunset the day before the situation had changed.  The final stages of the crossing were going to be windy.  Solution leave early.
Up at first light.  No wind so we motored out of Ponza and continued that way till well into the afternoon when a reasonable breeze came through aft of the beam.
Up with the reacher -  the large blue and white sail that billows out front pulling us along and a great speed.  Denny and I settled down to a lovely sail as the sun set.  It was going so well be started  dinner.
After only a few hours and right when one reaches the last and best part of any meal the wind died and I had to rush forward and snuff the big ballooner.  Oh well there will be another day.
Back to motoring into the clouded sky and black of the night.
Denny called me at 2:00 am asking to analyse the many spots on the radar.  Three vessels all seemed to be converging with one astern in a rain squall.  No risk but an experience shared not stood alone at the helm.
At 4:00 just as it was getting light – I cant say the sun was rising because we have not seen the sun all day since.  The rain came down and the ferries and cruise ships came at us from all sides.  As is the case with all landfall this season the wind rose.  Fortunately from astern but at 30 knots I thought is prudent to take a reef in.  Well not one but two.  It went well and I was concentrating on the job at hand and did not notice the large ferry not half a mile away.  I must say I was pleased with the speed of Malua through the water, down wind as I put distance between us only to be confronted by another ferry off the starboard bow.  I switched on the motor to get us above 8.5 knots to pass infront of their bow.
The prospect of a secure anchorage looked good as we sailed into Porto Rotondo and dropped the anchor along side a few 70 ft yachts.
Another crossing another experience.  Great.

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