04 August, 2010


There are some passages you wished you had never started. Things don't go according to plan. Some the wind turn and comes on the nose so you spend most of the time beating into the wind or at least motoring into some choppy sea while others the wind and sea come up and you feel you should just turn back - you never do.

Our 89nm passage from Elba to La Spezia started just after first light. It is a long distance to travel in a single day. Most people do an overnighter of it or in fact break it into two however with a strong west wind the East coast of Italy in this area is very exposed with few if any places of refuge, so we decided that the wind was from behind and we would sail the full distance on pleasant seas to make a safe landfall in a sheltered bay of La Grazie.

The wind started from the south at about 10 knots which is just beautiful sailing breeze right from behind. The sea was flat and we were rolling along at just over seven knots. Ideal. Then the wind started to increase and the cloud bank ahead of us indicated a cold front approaching. I took the first reef in the main when the apparent wind over the deck was touching 20 knots. Not a minute too soon as I again turned to head north with the wind behind us it reached well over 30 knots true wind but the sea had started to build. We were surfing down the short swell making great time for our destination. Then the front passed over us with the few drops of rain, The wind dropped and then rose again from the west. Still sailing wind from a reasonable direction. One reef and staysail was by now the order for the day however the waves were coming from all directions and Malua was just keeping dry above the confused sea. The waves could not make up its mind which way the swell should roll in from. Not good sailing! A second front approached and passed over us at about 1500 and the wind moderated but we could see the wind in the west.
We finally made it into La Spezia bay as it was getting dark and dropped the anchor in 10m of water in a calm bay of la Grazie. Then the storm really started. From out of the surrounding mountain the lightening and thunder came, followed by a down pore typical of the tropics. Thankfully the wind was only mild and the rain gave Malua a good wash.
That days passage is one I don't wish to repeat soon not for the wind but as always for the swell and rock and roll waves.

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