17 August, 2010

Dark clouds, strong wind and rock n roll

Every sailor enjoys down wind sailing, with the wind slightly behind the beam, true wind of about 10 to 15 knots and a smooth sea. Malua set off from Santa Margherita in overcast weather and little wind. We followed the coast past Portofino and the cove of San Fruttosa and set our course for across the Bay of Genoa. The wind started to come through from 120 from the bow and settled down at about 10 to 14 knots true. We soon had the blue and white reacher up and were sailing along at just over 7 knots. The only sound was the ripple of the wake as we picked up speed to over 7 knots every so often. Ahead was the 52ft catamaran Gone with the Wind who also had their reacher up. For three hour this continued. A sailors dream but ahead the dark storm clouds were building. I expected the wind to increase or drop away altogether and change direction. The boat ahead was a indicator of what we can expect so I was able to keep the reacher flying longer than expected. Eventually the wind died and we had to put the engine on and motor the last few miles to Loano.

With a stern anchor we had a reasonable night but the swell started to build. The forecast indicated a north wind that evening reaching well over 20 knots then swinging to the south with an increase in speed. We only had 15 miles to run so entering the Marina Imperia was an easy decision. The management said take any berth on pier T would be suitable as it was a new marina only opening a few months previously. With only two boats on the dock the choice of 19 others was easy. We had just secured Malua and closed the hatches when the wind started. It continued through the night but in the morning the rain came. A heavy down pour accompanied the wind. It continued all day, rain, rain and more rain. By this time the wind had moved from the north to the west and then to the south, finally to die in the east as the front moved further up the coast. Malua had received the best wash of the season, the dingy was full of water and the water tanks were full of the gift of the gods.
The next day dawned with the wind reaching 20 knots even before the sun was up. It continued all day reaching its peak in the afternoon with a few gusts well over 30 knots. It is at times like these that you are pleased you made the decision to enter the marina no matter the cost. Snug and cosy, secure to a dock and warm in bed at night.
Having spent two days in the marina we decided we should move along further west along the Italian Riviera towards San Remo. The marina was calm and flat but as we put our nose outside the break wall we could feel the effects of the two days of wind. The sea was up and confused. We put Malua's bow into the apparent sea and put the throttle down but we could only make 4.2 knots as the bow would be buried in the back of every second wave. Turning off the wave only increased the rock n roll. After the 12 miles of this sea we were pleased to go stern too at a public quay in San Remo harbour and get out of that unpleasant experience. Enough of this dark clouds and rock n roll.

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