Arriving in Greece

We have now been sailing in Greece for more than two months and mostly having a great time. As usual, I have been putting the blog aside when we have other fun things to do, but a few posts should get us up to date now that I have time 😉

We left our winter harbour of Rochella Ionica on the 22nd of April, super happy and excited to be on our way and to be sailing again!

A few other boats left about the same time, most making their way along the coast of Italy. We decided to follow the wind, to sail as much as possible and not to hurry. That meant two days of non stop sailing until we reached Greece.

We didn’t have a specific destination in mind, just thought we would end up where the wind brought us. When we chased the light winds upwind we were first going south-east, then north-east, then had to motor a while and just went straight east. Then we had a weather forecast that showed some increasing northerlies and decided to head north so that when we got them we didn’t have to beat against them.

Ended up in Othonoí, a small island north of Corfu where we stayed in the marina/town quai for free. There was no water or electricity but we didn’t really need that.

The winds around the islands can be difficult to predict. We had quite a bit of increase in wind just as we approached the island and we thought it was going to be less as we entered the “wind shadow”, but a valley on the island funneled the wind even more. Thankfully we did have some wind shadow as we entered the tiny harbour in the dark where things didn’t look exactly as they did on the charts…

The island was peaceful and wild, and didn’t have many inhabitants. We felt it was the perfect welcome to Greece for us.

Next we went to Corfu. We had to get the DEKPA, a sailing permit for Greece, and decided to try in Corfu.

We knew that the winds were usually calmer on the east side of Corfu and we were sailing that way, heading for one of the smaller anchorages. But half way we changed our mind, we could get better sailing yet a calm night according to the prognosis and we turned west again. Spent one night at a very calm anchorage off the beach Ag. Georgios where we were able to take the dinghy in and then hike up to a beautiful view over the double-sided beach called Porto Timoni.

The beach, photo on Instagram

Next stop was Gouvia, where there’s a huge marina. We didn’t get a berth in the marina but were anchored outside, quite far away together with one other boat, Restless Spirit, that we dinghied over to say hello to.

We motored the dinghy in to Gouvia, which still took us a while, and were able to explore some of the surroundings. We stocked up on groceries, snuck in for showers and also went to the port police to get the DEKPA. He told us we had to go to Corfu town to pay and get everything sorted so that’s what we did next.

On the way there we stayed for a hike round Vido island which was nice and wild. We then anchored south of the old fort at Corfu town, outside the yacht club. It was quite convenient because we were able to take the dinghy in and leave it safely inside a narrow canal between the fort and the town, which the fishermen used for their smaller boats.

Our stay in Corfu town turned out to be a little bit longer than we expected. We arrived on a Saturday evening, meaning that getting the DEKPA had to way till Monday. We also wanted to refill our Swedish gas bottles which we heard was possible at a company some way outside the city centre. So on Monday we walked a lot! It took us almost the entire day.

We walked for almost an hour to get to the gas company. They were pretty confident they could get our bottles filled for us to be ready on Wednesday. Tuesday was the 1st of may so everything was closed.

Getting the DEKPA was annoyingly difficult, considering this is something all European ships sailing in Greek waters must have. We spent lots of time waiting at the tax office, to get a piece of paper and and then go to the bank. After paying we got the receipt which we then had to take to the Port Authority/port police that was far away from where we were. Finally that was done!

On Wednesday when we got back to the gas company they hadn’t been able to get them filled, but they promised the next day. We couldn’t stay because bad weather was coming so we said maybe Friday. As we got back to our boat it had already started to get windy and the sea was quite choppy. We took off and headed for a sheltered bay on the mainland.

We spent two nights either very sheltered or the wind didn’t get quite as bad as predicted. Either way we were fine, except that we were very worried about some friends of ours where the captain had taken seriously ill and the boat was left in a bad position during this weather. It turns out he had eaten fresh tuna and gotten infected by a dangerous parasite. Their engine was also malfunctioning so the boat was stuck while he was in hospital. What a nightmare! Thankfully it ended well, the captain could be treated and the boat could be saved.

As we were about to leave our anchorage we too had engine troubles. We realised quickly what was wrong, the cooling system wasn’t functioning properly, and we were in a good position to fix it before it got serious.

As we had picked up our gas bottles in Corfu town (finally) we headed up to Gouvia to see our friends that were now safe in the marina and recovering from the illness. It felt really good to see them again!

Part 2 – Adventure continues

It has been a looong time since our last update, and I figured I would just try to shorten the story and catch up to real time. But as for right now we´re not really having such an adventurous time here (lots of boat projects), so I´ll probably write a long post about the past anyway.

We are currently in Italy, Roccella Ionica, where the boat has spent the winter whereas we have spent it in Sweden.

In the last blog post we had just crossed from Elba to Corsica, which I was really looking forward to. Corsica is a French Island and it consists of large green protected natural reserves, mountains and a wonderful coastline. It was truly beautiful, but unfortunately it was getting late in the season and we started having more severe weather. It felt a little bit like we were just moving around Corsica in a hurry to get to more sheltered anchorages before we were hit by the mistral. I wouldn´t mind going back to Corsica again some time and spend more time inland, because this time we only felt comfortable leaving the boat for a few hours at a time.

We sailed through the Strait of Bonifacio twice. Most days it was really windy so we really had to take our chance when we had a good weather window. The second time we were running from an onsetting mistral which meant superb downwind sailing. The wind also turned around and followed as we entered the Maddalena archipelago of Sardina, giving us good speed running but also a little bit of nerve wrecking situations. There were lots of other boats and we were cutting it very close to cliffs sometimes, to avoid gybeing in the strong downwind. Eventually we found an anchorage south of the Maddalenas (you have to get a permit to anchor in the Maddalenas) but around an hour before the sun was about to set the wind changed direction and we had to move again. We were contacting the marinas in the area and although they had room for us they were all still pretty expensive. We managed to find an ok anchorage close by and though the winds were shifting we didn´t have a problem during the night. The next day we left very early and we were happy because just as we had come out of the area the wind shifted again and started gusting violently. Our sail from there on south was not relaxing at all, we were constantly changing the sails and at one time we had a sudden change of wind that we weren´t prepared for so the mount for the spinnaker pole broke (we were not using the spinnaker but the genoa).

We finally reached the marina in La Caletta and spent a few days there waiting for the strong winds to subside. It was a nice area, we had good pizza and some nice bike rides, until my bike broke and then only had one functioning pedal…

As we left La Caletta we had planned to sail along the Sardinian coast before crossing over to Sicily, but the calm after the storm made for perfect upwind sailing in light winds and that kind of weather forecasted for enough days to make it there, so we decided to just go. We had a little bit of a rough first crossing from Sardinia to Sicily but this time it was perfect! Our boat sails very well in light winds and we were between close hauled and close reach on one side for almost all of the crossing. It felt weird when we tacked after such a long time but we almost started thinking that it wasn´t good for the boat, but I haven´t read anything about that. Does anyone know?

As we got to Sicily, close to San Vito Lo Capo, there was a festival in celebration of Cous Cous, hehe. We didn´t have any cous cous but we did have good gelato 🙂

We stayed for one night and then it started getting windy again. Once more we had a less relaxing sail, with sudden changes of wind direction and intensity, from lots of wind to nothing in a matter of minutes and the other way around. We made our way to a marina a little west of Palermo and stayed for the weekend.

Palermo was nice! Old buildings, statues, fountains and small gardens. It was also clean and tidy, compared to the suburbs where it was definitely not! We were constantly appalled by all the trash everywhere and how the people living in it didn´t seem to mind…

Next night stop was Termini Imerese which was really just an industrial town where we were happy with the good holding at the anchorage. Turns out it was the sewage outlet we were anchored outside…

Then back to Ceafalú again for some more strong winds. Serious turbulence at the anchorage (strong wind swinging quickly in different directions) made us seek refuge at the fuelling pontoon one night and then we spent two days and nights there, being jerked around like crazy from big swell coming in.

We had a good sail after that, a little bit of waves still lingering, but the wind was good most of the time and we anchored on the south side of Vulcano. It was perfectly calm that night and it felt sooo good after the crappy nights we had before.
We had to motor our way towards the Strait of Messina the next day, but it felt good to pass through there on a calm day. We checked the currents so we would enter at the right time, since we heard lots of stories about the Messina. We also learned a valuable lesson in France, to be very careful with the currents. They can really mess up the water! Plus, our boat engine is not that strong…

On our way there we came across a whale! Short clip is on Instagram. Once in the strait we also saw some other type of small whales, a little bigger than dolphins, and one of the famous sword fishing boats of Messina.

Headed for an anchorage close to Taormina, that even though it was a bit touristy was definitely worth the visit! Stayed for two nights before we moved on to Syracusa.

In order to enter the bay at Syracusa you had to radio in to some marine control center even if you only wanted to anchor, but we were allowed in, at least that´s what we think he said 😉
We stayed for two nights and met another Swedish sailor that we did some sightseeing and dinner with. It´s always nice to hear other sailors´ stories and get pointers and new knowledge as well as good company. We left just a few hours after him and his friend, that were in a little bit of a hurry to get to Croatia.
Our plan was to make a night sail and get to Roccella Ionica, our wintering marina, the next morning. The night before we had some lightning but didnt´think that much of it.
As we were sailing we could see the lightning in a distance but we were hoping it would stay at that distance or maybe move on further. We were sailing downwind when we had the fastest change of wind direction we´ve ever had, it turned 180 degrees instantly and quite violently, smashing our sails around. After we made the sail changes we started sailing upwind, but the wind quickly became stronger and stronger and the waves grew bigger. We started to bear off but then eventually turned around completely, deciding we had to go back. The lightning was getting closer and closer and we wanted to sail away from it, hoping to escape and not get caught in it. But we did. It started raining violently and then the wind got way calmer, but the lightning was all around us – we were in the eye of the storm! We realised we were in a really bad situation, everything was wet, lightning was striking all around us and we didn´t have any conductors for leading away a potential strike. As you may have concluded already, we survived!
(None of this was in the regular forecast, so now we learned to look at the lightning maps as well, because these thunderstorms usually brings strong winds too.)

Wind and lightning subsided and we were left with darkness and waves, but already half way towards a marina in Riposto. We were debating whether to stay or turn around again to keep sailing, but finally decided we wanted to rest and get off the boat before continuing and the conditions for sailing weren´t that great anymore.

After one more night in the marina we moved on back to the anchorage outside Taormina, but further south, closer to the town of Giardini where we waited for better conditions to try again.

Three days later we set sail for the last time and ended the first part of our adventure, almost exactly a year after we set sail for the first time from Sweden!

So we left La Vie here and spent the winter in Sweden, working and saving money, but most importantly: spending time with family and friends.
Now we are back in our floating home, preparing her for the next part of our adventure. In a week or so we will hopefully be ready to set sail again, this time our destination is Greece, where we plan to spend 6-7 months sailing. But who knows, our plans are known to be changeable…

Close call

So, in the last blog I ended with us arriving in Gaeta. Because we were expecting bad weather we made a long jump up to Gaeta where we hoped to be sheltered. We arrived about an hour before sunset and had a calm night anchored outside the town marina, fairly sheltered from the north winds and with no swell.

The next day we had checked the weather and it was supposed to be calm until after lunch, then the wind would be southerly or south-east, but we hoped to be sheltered from the waves by some mussel farms and the other side of the bay. We spent the morning exploring the narrow alleys of old town Gaeta and also met up with Christine and Lasse again and had some lunch.

Right after lunch the wind started increasing and we hurried back to the boat, since the wind had turned it was now blowing against shore.

We had a thought about going around to the other side of Gaeta which is located on like a point of land, but we were afraid there was still too much swell from the north-east on that evening and decided to hold on and stay the night.

The wind increased during the evening and it really whipped up a big swell. We were nervous because the swell is more dangerous for the anchor holding than only wind is and because we weren’t sure if the anchor had re-set from the other direction of the wind the night before. The water was all but clear, so this time we didn’t dive to check it.

So we stayed awake, watching the anchor alarm and watching the other boats in the anchorage. And with a gust of increasing wind, we came loose and saw on the anchor alarm how we rapidly moved and didn’t reset. We were already very close to shore so we ran outside and started the engine. At the same time a large motor boat that was next to us had also come loose and was trying to regain control of the boat.

We got the anchor up, very scary because we were also bouncing 1,5-2 m at least up and down and then we tried to re-anchor twice. It was really hard to get the anchor to set, getting chain out fast enough before the wind caught a hold of the boat and also there were other boats anchored close by, not leaving much room for error. Then the waves bounced us too much with too much tension put on the chain and our windlass came loose! It’s not optimally mounted because there is no practical place to put it on our boat, so it’s on kind of a shelf in the anchor box. 

We realised it was just stupid to try and anchor again in that place and we set of against the wind and choppy seas. We did NOT have a good time! But in a little more than an hour we managed to get around to the other side of Gaeta and instantly we were almost completely sheltered from the wind and had totally flat seas! So we anchored there around four at night and got a few hours of sleep. We wanted to go climbing in an area very close by, so we got up rather early to do it. Needless to say, we didn’t climb very well and only had enough energy for a few easy routes. 

Anyway, the wind was going to turn again in the afternoon so we made our way back to the anchorage in Gaeta… It felt kind of weird going back again to where we had such a bad night, but this time we were fine 😊 

That afternoon we said goodbye to Christine and Lasse and then had a good night’s sleep before we left early the next morning.

We did a long sail, sailing two days and one night. Then we slept one night anchored outside Spiaggia Aqcua Dolce and left again for Elba the next morning. We only spent a few days around Elba because we wanted to get to Corsica as soon as possible. Elba was really beautiful though, what we had time to see. Clear water, friendly people, beautiful nature. A little more clean than the rest of Italy, at least from what we could tell. 

Our sail to Corsica was very calm, we could sail when we left Elba and just as we arrived closer to Corsica, but in between it was so calm that the water was completely transparent. We had a dolphin encounter that was truly amazing in that water, it looked as if they were swimming in the air right below us. Insane! The video is on Instagram, check it out if you’ve missed it!

More to come about Corsica and Sardinia in the next blog post!

From Stromboli

We sailed from Stromboli to Tropea on the Italian mainland, and found a nice spot about 1 NM south of the city, where we anchored just before sunset. We have taken to always dive and check our anchor, because as mentioned earlier our anchor doesn´t always end up the right way.
When Joel was diving at the anchor, I was preparing the dinghy to go ashore and it was already very dark. Suddenly a Stingray, about 40-50 cm wide, appeared at the surface right at the boat, as to say hello or check out what I was doing. I tried to get Joels attention as he was swimming towards the boat and as he heard me he shone the light at the ray. It then started moving towards him so he was a bit freaked out and swam away swiftly to the other side of the boat. It didn´t seem aggressive and it didn´t follow him, but it was a Stingray and it was dark. Joel said later he could at first only see the reflections of its big eyes…

The next day we were a bit paralyzed by the heat. We did some snorkelling and swimming, trying to cool off in the crystal clear water. The surfaces on the boat were so hot that we burned our feet and all we could do was to stay still inside or under the shade, and now and then jump in the water. Later in the evening we went on a walk in to the old town. It was still very hot and we were completely covered in sweat even after the sun had gone down. We walked around the town, that I had visitied 5 years earlier with my mother, and it felt a little bit strange to be back there again. Unfortunately we were struck by how much trash there was lying around everywhere. It was almost impossible to find a trashcan and when we did they were filled over the top, with garbage lying all around. It was very sad to see this beautiful old town, so completely covered in litter. I didn´t remember it that way.

The iconic convent if Tropea:

The next day we left quite early, we wanted to reach Cetraro where we could find a sheltered anchorage as we were expecting some stronger winds. As we sailed in we noticed that the boat that just anchored before us was a Swedish boat, so we waved hello. We hadn´t seen many Swedish boats the last couple of weeks, but then we had spotted one off Vulcano, and said hello to one off Pangea, another outside Stromboli and now this one. As we stayed in Cetraro for three nights, we got to know the couple on the Swedish boat Bluesette, Christine and Lasse, and we felt very happy to have met them.

We also spent one of the nights in Cetraro in the marina, because of the heavy swell that came in to the anchorage outside, and got all of our laundry done, had nice hot showers and took two trips to a nearby Lidl for provisioning.

Our next stop after Cetraro was Isola di Dino, which Chistine told us about and it seemed very cool. It was an island very close to shore, with two huge beaches on each side of the mainland. There were lots of boats, mostly small motorboats and the beaches were packed with people. We wanted to go explore the caves and snorkel, but we ended up having to move the boat to the other side of the island instead because of lots of swell coming in. When we had finally anchored (the water was not at all clear, so we had no idea what we were dropping our anchor in and couldn´t get it to set at first) it was almost dark and we noticed our neighbour sailboat was also one of those that had previously anchored outside Cetraro. They rowed by in their dinghy, that was the same as ours which is why we recognized them at first, and said a brief hello.

The next day we got up early to explore the caves in our dinghy before the masses showed up. The caves were cool and you could get quite deep inside with the boat, but we were quite disappointed with the water. There was absolutely no sight so snorkelling was totally not worth it.

Moving on, we sailed to Palinuro, which was also a complex of very popular beaches and some cliffs where we intended to climb. The anchorage was VERY busy! We took the dogs for a walk and checked out the climbing area, then got our gear and had time for a few routes before it was pitch black. Luckily we had the headlight for the last climb!

Next morning our friends in Bluesette had showed up, and we went for a nice walk (well, the company was nice anyway) from the beach and in the surrounding area.
In the afternoon we did some more climbing and felt happy and tired in time for sunset.

The caves in the area where very cool too!

We sailed on the next day, found another place for climbing on the Amalfi coast – Positano, west of the town Amalfi. But as we got closer we saw that there was a lot of swell coming in that direction and didn´t think it was going to be sheltered enough. We continued closer to Amalfi, browsing the possible anchorages while trying to keep track of the hundreds of boats bustling around in every direction. We tried one anchorage, but the water wasn´t so clear and even though we tried twice we couldn´t really get a good hold. We sailed past Amalfi and then suddenly Joel decided ”There! That´s where we´ll anchor!” He spotted the boat that had been anchored in Cetraro and then in front of us at Isola di Dino and also in Positano, that had the same dinghy as us. So having said that we anchored next to them and got good holding.
It was already dark and we had to postpone any exploring to the next day.

In the morning, when taking the dogs in to shore, we rowed past our neighbours to say hello. It turns out they were a french couple almost our age, and we decided to have a coffee together in town. We also went on a walk and in to the town of Amalfi.

They were also planning on going to Positano, so after we got back to our boats we raced them (upwind of course) there. Having found out that they were also climbers, we asked if they wanted to join us which they did. Unfortunately getting to the crag was a little bit too complicated and exhausting in the heat and the routes we could find were a little bit too hard. We had time for one route that me and Joel climbed and Paul and Elsa climbed another one, then it was too dark. We went for dinner in town, which was a quite fancy town so we felt a little odd, and also it was expensive…

The next day we decided to follow the plans of our french friends and sail to Capri. We had been warned that it was extremely busy in high season and that it was very expensive ashore. With a bit of luck maybe, we arrived to the south anchorage, Marina Piccola, about an hour or so before sunset and that´s when many boats that are only making day trips leave. So a spot cleared up quite close to shore and with about 10 m depth so we could anchor. Around many of the italian islands the anchorages are very deep, but we only have 40 m of chain and 40 m rope, which is not really enough to safely anchor in depths much more than 10 m for our peace of mind. Together with Paul and Elsa we walked up to and around Capri town, not returning to our boats until after sunset. We invited them over to our boat and played some cards, a new game to us with special cards, called Scopa. We had a good time and wish them all the best in their coming travels!

Anchored in Capri:

As soon as the sun had come up the next day we sailed straight on to Gaeta, skipping Naples, Vesuvio and Pompeij, because we were expecting some bad weather again…
More about that in the upcoming blog (so you wont get tired from reading too much at once 😉 )

A vision, a project, a dream

As some of you know already, we have decided to go home to our friends and family in Sweden during the winter months.

We love this life with adventure, nature and minimalist living, trying to make our ecological footprint as small as possible while travelling as long as possible. But, we also miss everyone back home and want to spend time with them. We’d rather not fly home, partially because airplanes are a huge source of greenhouse emissions and it also means we’d have to check in the dogs as luggage, which scares me…

We also want to see more than our sailing life usually permits, which is why we want to make our way home through Europe on the road! This seems tricky when trying to travel sustainably…

Travelling by car means a lot of emissions, depending on what car you choose, and a motor home or a camper van emits a lot! It is also quite big, which can make it tricky finding your way through narrow passages or streets.

Our dream scenario would be to find an electric car or a plug-in hybrid car, that is big enough to accommodate the two of us, the dogs and some luggage (a tent for when it’s warm, but then there’s a lot of BnB’s!). But when we look at the pricetag for the plug-in cars, their all out of our price range and so are most of the electric cars. 

People say that it’s impossible to travel through Europe in an electric car, but is it? We’d like to believe it’s not, but the range of the older cars (how far you can drive on one charge) is not very impressive and mostly suitable for going back and forth from work if you live in a city… The newer cars are a little bit better, but the optimal choice would probably be a plug-in, like Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. But it’s too good to be true for us and the amount of money we are able to spend.

So what to do? We’re now looking at cars with a consumption of less than 0,4 liters/10 km, but it just doesn’t feel right…

We would like for our vision, our project, our dream – to come true, and to prove that it’s doable to travel home with as little emissions as possible!

A few windy days and then the Aeolian islands

We stayed two nights anchored off the beach at Mondello, and though the scenery was really nice we didn’t think that much of the beach or the closest surroundings. I guess we could have seen much more in that area but we had to get moving.

A mistral was coming and we wanted to be in what looked like the best place to wait it out. We set sails and continued on towards Cefalu’. On that day of sailing, we had all kinds of wind and sea, quite interesting how it changed during the day. In the evening the swell started increasing, just a little teaser of what was coming.

When we got there the anchorage was already quite full, and as we anchored we couldn’t get it to set properly. We didn’t bother trying twice in the same place, which we have done in case our anchor tries to set upside down or only stays on the side, which it repeatedly does and then just drags 😡. Instead we decided to try our luck just inside the breakwater together with a few other boats, where we unfortunately wouldn’t be very sheltered from winds, but from swell, and the holding was very good! Our anchor set almost immediately and sank deep in the mud!

We went for a walk in to town, which was very cosy, and had dinner at a restaurant for a change. I tried the speciality, cous-cous, with vegetables and mushrooms, very good! 

The next day was quite windy and it was supposed to get worse. We didn’t really want to leave the boat, so we spent time with some projects and planning. The night was calm, with almost no wind.

We expected the worst winds the day after that, but as it was still very calm in the morning we decided to see more of the town and also do some grocery shopping. When we were on our way back we walked on the boardwalk by the beach and were a little stirred by the fact that it had really picked up and the waves were also quite big! We hurried back to find the boat was still there! 😊 The winds continued during the day to blow between 20-34 knots approximately, but everything was fine, our anchor held out. It also calmed down a little bit after nightfall, so we went to bed, re-assured by the weather prognosis that said it was going to calm down around midnight. It didn’t take that long before we suddenly realised the wind was increasing rapidly, and we went out to have a look. It had started to rain and as we stepped out the wind was blowing almost 40 knots and one of our solarpanels was shaking and bending, looking like it was in danger of coming off. A little bit panicked I was holding on to the panel, shouting at Joel “What should we do? What do we do if the anchor doesn’t hold now? Were screwed, the engine won’t get us anywhere! It will be impossible to re-anchor!” The wind was consistent at almost 40 knots for what felt like an eternity and the rain was like the worst thousand needles I have ever felt! We took turns holding on to the panel while looking at our anchorwatch to see if we had started to drag. Thankfully we never did and finally it did calm down, but we were soaked and shaky and very nervous that it would come back with even more force. So now we have a new “worst conditions at anchor”-experience to look back upon with relief!

The next day we set sail towards the Aeolian islands. After these windy days awaited a period of almost no wind, but just enough to get us there by sail that day. Not much of the swell was left and not that much wind either, but as we were crammed in to the super crowded anchorage outside the port of Vulcano in the evening, I still felt a little nervous as the wind reached 14 knots 🙈

We were able to anchor in reasonable depth and had very good holding there, and we stayed the following two days. We went exploring the crater of the volcano at Vulcano, which was impressive and interesting, but the hike was hot! Ice cream was really good afterwards! We also swam through bubbles seeping up from the bottom on towards the naturally warm bubbling sulphur mud baths. It was extremely smelly in the water just outside the mud baths, like rotten eggs, and then the mud had a much stronger smell that stayed on the skin for days! Quite disgusting actually, with all of the people rolling around and putting mud all over themselves… Video is coming of this!

Picture from the edge of the crater, overlooking the anchorage we were at to the right, and then our next anchorage to the left of the next island:

The island of Lipari was next, and we moved just around the corner from our anchorage at Vulcano. The water was really clear and there was a nice beach only accessible by boat. It received some swell from passing ferries and bigger boats and got a little crowded the the next day. 

We moved on and sailed around the west side towards the old Pumice industry on the north-east side. This area was quite crowded when we arrived but we were almost alone at night. After a very rolly night, probably from ferries, the next day we snorkelled around and in close to shore. It was very clear in the water, with light bottom sand striped with black sand. It was very different and had almost no bottom vegetation. We also found some pumice stones floating in the water 😁

We continued on to Lipari town, where we anchored outside a small beach/harbour while we took a walk around town. It has a lot of history and remnants that is interesting, and we also bought some groceries. On all the islands the grocery stores are small, with a limited selection and rather high prices of course.

We moved on again, back to the west side and passed our first anchorage there, so we circumnavigated Lipari 😁 Stayed two nights off a very nice pebble beach, where we met it’s inhabitant Attila and his dog, Attila. At least that’s what we concluded from our strange four-language communication. He invited us to see his house that he had stayed in for seven years, with his semi self-sustainable household. He had solar panels, a well/rain catcher, a small garden for vegetables and a kitchen/bar/patio on which he sometimes had guests that he cooked dinner for. He said he couldn’t fish in the summer, only during the winter, because of all the boats (we think that’s what he meant) but he went into town for some shopping sometimes. He did give us a beer each when we came there, so we already figured he wasn’t completely isolated all the time… 

We also had some of these islands best snorkelling and free diving, around a shallow just a little south of that beach.

Our next stop was Salina, which we think was our favourite island when it comes to surroundings, environment, nature and also people. It was very lush and green and had a relaxed atmosphere, with friendly inhabitants that greeted us when we met them on the streets. We stayed outside the town Lingua but also walked to the main town Santa Marina Salina, which was nice and well taken care of. On Salina we wanted to hike to the top of one of the two inactive volcanoes, but we were hindered by wasps and spiders, and it was very hot! Some pictures are already posted on Instagram.

Sailed to Panarea next and arrived at our planned anchorage in the early afternoon. Again, we had a hard time setting our anchor, but this time it was also due to very hard packed sand that just made our anchor slide on it’s side. Joel had to jump in and turn it just to be able to set it. After this event that took maybe half an hour, we realised we were very close to the boat next to us. As the wind then started turning we were too close and decided something had to be done. We didn’t feel like jumping in and trying to set the anchor again as we could see how someone on the closest boat was using the toilet, making number two without a holding tank…

We left and went to an area with a few tiny, uninhabited islands. It was very nice but crowded, with difficult bottom and we ended up above another boat’s anchor. They said they were not going to stay the night and that meant we would have to move for them to get their anchor up. After we snorkelled for maybe half an hour, we decided we might as well leave before the night. There was no place to go ashore with the dogs and it just didn’t feel right.

Picture is of one of the small islands, we think it was also pumiceous or some sand stone. It smelled a little if sulphur and also had bubbles seeping from some places on the bottom.

Went back to Panarea and to the other side of the crowded anchorage, where we were almost all alone at night. It filled up like crazy during the days though, with lots of small motor boats with crowds of people. Except for that it was really nice, good snorkelling, almost as good as the shallow outside Lipari, and very interesting rock formations. It also had the remnants of a bronze age settlement just above the rocky beach. Tried making a hike during the day but the dogs were very affected by the heat and we were worried about Raska getting a great stroke. So a walk to Panarea town by night was nice 😁

Stromboli was what Joel was mostly looking forward to, and it was magnificent! We sailed there, slowly in the beginning but then whith good wind. Had some mackerel swim around our boat and caught one on the rod. Mackerel from the Mediterranean is not ok to eat really, because it has been fished in a not so sustainable way, depleting the population, but we didn’t know what was biting until it already did. So we rather eat what fish we catch ourselves than eat what we can buy in the store or at the restaurant..

Right after that we saw a pod of dolphins with young ones playing and jumping high out of the water. As the wind died we lingered around the active side of the volcano and saw a spectacular sunset followed by lava eruptions! 

It didn’t feel so good anchoring at night, but we managed to find a pretty good spot with only a few more boats, the only downside was that apparently a nightclub that was located at the beach played loud party music well through the night. And it was rolly… The next day as we had taken the dinghy in to walk the dogs, we saw some small boats circling our boat and also a huge freight ship approaching. We would never have thought it, but it was a water boat that was going to moor right at where our boat was. When we came hurrying back a man told us this and also that if the marine police showed up we would get a fine of €3000 😱😱😱 They had already pulled a mooring line right in front of our boat, in between our boat and our anchor. So as Joel was trying to pull in and up our anchor, by hand because he had just removed our windlass that needed to be fixed, I didn’t dare drive too fast forward in fear of getting stuck on the mooring line. I realised later it probably never would have gone under our keel, but I didn’t want to risk it. We finally got away from there and anchored in the most crowded place… It was crazy how it just kept on filling up with boats during the day!

As the heat of the day subsided, we started walking towards the volcano. We briefly met another Swedish boat in the anchorage that told us about a restaurant with a view of the eruptions, so we walked there. Getting there, all soaked in sweat, they said they were fully booked 😫 but then changed to that if we could leave before ten we could get a table. So we had a pizza each, while looking at the volcanic activity. After dinner we also decided to climb even further along the trails, and got a closer view. It was very exhausting, but so worth it! Amazing!

Right now, we have almost reached the mainland Italy, after a calm day of mostly sailing, but also some motoring as the wind completely died. We have seen a huge pod of dolphins, that briefly came to play at the boat. Love those creatures!

This blog post is very long, but don’t forget to take a look at our Instagram as well!

A rough sail

As we left our anchorage in Villasimius around five in the afternoon, we were aware that a patch of quite rough weather was ahead, but it was followed by no wind at all and in a few days another mistral. Our plan was to leave in time to be able to sail in between the two weather areas. We didn’t want to be in the middle of the bad weather but neither did we want to motor.

The first few hours we did have to motor, we had just the waves from the windy area but not the wind. Eventually it picked up though, quite a lot. We were supposed to have sidewind, but probably because we were on the edge of the weather area, we got the wind more from the front and of course the waves too. That meant the apparent wind got stronger and we had to turn off course to get the wind more from the side. We had between 16-26 knots even then and the waves got quite steep. With our luck it got progressively rougher as it got dark which made it harder to take the waves in a good way, even though it wasn’t that easy when it was light either. I had a little cry about the roughness before I adapted, but I still couldn’t go to sleep until the sun came up the next day and it quickly calmed down so much we had to motor for an hour or so.

After that it started picking up again and we had rough conditions the entire day. Probably the worst we’ve had so far. The waves were very steep and maybe around 2-2,5 meters, but came at a short interval, sometimes breaking onto our boat. Not enough to get into the cockpit more than some splashing though. We had two reefs in the main and let out to minimize the surface that caught wind and we had a small piece of our genua, doing more than 6 knots still. It continued through the night (second night felt better though) varying a little bit in intensity, and finally calmed down around 4 in the morning.

Our boat isn’t that big and it’s quite light, so it rolls easily and moves around a lot. In spite of the initial feelings of insecurity, we are now starting to feel quite secure with her. We understand now the affection sailors feel for their boats, as if she’s taking care of us, bringing us along safely to our destination. Sounds a little corny maybe, and sailing non stop without sufficient sleep might contribute to these thought, but never the less – it somehow makes sense!

We noticed we had been taking in water from the anchor box into the storage, bilge and also onto our bed. It’s not much, but still irritating, wet and salty. Another project…

It was almost impossible to get anything done inside, because of the violent tilting and rocking, and lying down wasn’t so comfortable either. You are constantly tensing your muscles trying to compensate the motion. The last 6-7 hours were calmer but we were still able to sail almost all the way to the anchorage. Now we are anchored outside Mondello, at a large beach but very far out because this place was completely packed with boats! We have finally had a swim and cleaned ourselves up, so we’re starting to feel like humans again. Tomorrow morning we are probably going to try and find a better spot further in, before the wind starts blowing too much.

It felt really good to see land again, beautiful!

Crossing to Sardinia

As we had decided that we needed to hurry up to get to Sardinia before the mistral hit, we left straight from Alcudia, making this crossing our longest one yet.

The weather was supposed to be very calm, and for most of the time, that was correct. We unfortunately ended up motoring quite a lot, where as if we knew we had time we would have been happy just bobbing along. We really wanted to be on the safe side regarding the mistral so…

We had a quite rough couple of hours on the last day, with more than 20 knots of wind almost constant, sidewind, so we tried to avoid it and ended up quite off course. But other than that it was pretty calm.

We were a bit tired and because we had gone so much of course, we decided to stop at Carloforte, on an island just off the south west corner of Sardinia. We had read there was a town quay that you could moor at for free. On our way there the wind changed and it took us a bit longer, getting quite late and dark. As we were approaching around the north west side it was all dark except some moonlight. We could suddenly see that there was something ahead of us in the water and as we shone the light we could see that the area was full of fishing buoys and what looked like tunny nets! The wind also picked up, making it even harder to see if there were any buoys around.

We did see a big fish jumping out off the water, we think it was a tuna, but it might have been something else.

Docked at a free spot on the quay, we walked the dogs and then slept for four hours before continuing on towards Cagliari. The wind had already begun increasing and we had a very fast downwind sail that also turned around the coast and brought us along quite a while.

We sailed around 70 NM that day, and as we reached Cagliari bay the wind just instantly died, only to pick up a lot after around 1,5 hours. Then of course it was right on the nose and whipped up the sea really fast in that shallow area. So we were stomping in the waves, motoring the last 2 hours, only to reach the marina just in time for sunset.

 In Cagliari we stayed in Marina del Sole, which had the lowest rates in the area. When we first arrived and was going to moor, it turned out one of the lines (mooring/anchor lines, not sure what they are called) were broken, so we had to find another spot. Then we were crammed in tight in a narrow berth, but all seemed fine. We soon realised that something was a little off with the mooring lines there too. Either it was shifted or the boat on our port side had picked up the wrong ones, because we were tilted and pressing towards the boat on our starboard side, which in turn was pressing on the boat on that starboard side and so on. As it started getting really windy, the lady on the end was a bit distressed. A guy from the marina came over and tied our boat together with the port one…

The marina staff was very helpful and friendly, but the facilities were quite in need of some renovation unfortunately.

We stayed for five days, first to wait out the mistral and then to wait for Joel to recover. He came down with a high fever and was very under the weather.

We had been doing a lot of boat work the first day and then went out to town for dinner, very good pizza and ice cream!

The next day we took a long walk in the scorching heat, passed salt lakes with pink flamingos and a huge beach where we were in luck and ended up at a dog area, so the dogs could go swimming too. After that, Joel became ill and I did some exploring on my own. It’s just not the same and I was feeling bored and lonely. I started missing my friends and family very much, even though I just visited them, and I felt a longing for a “regular” life. Probably everything felt much worse due to Joel being sick and that there was not much for me to do. The town wasn’t that impressive, even though it had some nice parts, like the old town and the botanical garden.

When Joel was feeling better we moved on towards Villasimius, where we anchored, also just in time before darkness. The sail there was not so comfortable, lots of wind and waves on the nose again, but we did our best…

We stayed in the anchorage, off the beach outside the marina, for three nights and days and it was a lovely place. We couldn’t find a good place for the dinghy except for the marina, so we brought a jerry can each time and got some diesel, like payment for leaving it there for a few hours 😝

The area was much nicer than Cagliari in the sense that we were closer to nature and also maybe it was less run down. Every day we went for long walks, exploring the area. There was a salt lake (like the one in Cagliari but this was smaller and you could see the pink flamingos closer), two huge beaches and many smaller ones, nice sandy (horse) paths and clear water. We did some snorkelling and also went for some climbing that we never found though.

After monitoring the weather, we decided to leave for Sicily on Friday afternoon. 

The last we saw of Mallorca

We stayed in Santa Ponsa for quite some time, before I (Ulrika) left for a trip to Sweden. Then Joel was left on his own, but with the company of the dogs and after a few days also his mother and her partner Björn.

They had some really bad weather during the less than two weeks that I was gone. Joel had a hard time, not getting much sleep in the crowded anchorage of Santa Ponsa. Then as the weather calmed, they sailed to Port de Sòller and remained there except a day trip to San Calobra. In Port de Sòller they experienced a short and intense freak storm that even made the Swedish news!

Shortly after I arrived back in Mallorca, we sailed further south and anchored in Cala Castell. It was another beautiful and secluded place, with high mountains and wild goats surrounding us. The water was clear and full of Posidonia and other aquatic life. We waited out some bad weather, but unfortunately the wind got funnelled from one direction during the night and we had up against 40 knots almost constant for a few hours. There was only one more boat there, but we were dragging a little bit and when we let all our chain out we were a bit too close to them for comfort. We probably had one of the worst conditions at anchor that we’ve ever had…

The next day we left for Alcudia, where we knew there was really good holding and we would be able to get some shopping done before crossing to Sardinia.

We were monitoring the weather and since there was a Mistral coming, we decided to sail straight from Alcudia, without stopping in Menorca. Mallorca and Menorca was going to be hit bad by the Mistral so there was no point in waiting either. We also decided to go the south of Sardinia and wait out the wind there in a marina. 

So the 9th of July we waved goodbye to Mallorca and set sail!

Superboat La Vie

Sailing towards Santa Ponsa, we were flying along in perfect downwind as we heard a Pan-Pan on the VHF-radio. It was a motor boat that had had an engine fire and was now drifting. They got response from the Palma rescue, but as the boat stated their coordinates Palma replied that they weren’t able to get a tow boat to them for at least half an hour.  The motor boat stated that they were heading for the rough coast, towards the rocks and it was deep until very close to shore, so they couldn’t put their anchor down until they might be too close.

We kept listening to the radio and checked their position. We realized we were very close to them and when we started looking we actually had a visual. Another sailboat had just called to them on the radio saying they might be able to reach them before the rescue boat could. When we saw that we were even closer, the closest boat, we called them and said we could reach them and do what we could to help. They replied that they would be very grateful for any help they could get as soon as possible.

When we tacked and sailed towards them, with full sails, flying furiously fast in the strong sidewind and the notion that we were about to attempt a potentially dangerous manoeuvre that we weren’t really sure of – the adrenaline was REALLY pumping! The fact that the boat was 50 + something foot made us a little hesitant whether we would actually be able to tow it with just our old sailboat engine…

In a hurry I tied together two of our longest lines, with a knot that I was fairly confident would stand the pressure. Then we took down the sails and radioed the motor boat, saying how we would pass their bow with our starboard side and try to throw them the line. We actually pulled it off on the first try and they were able to secure it on one of their cleats. We had decided that we would only try to tow them further from shore while awaiting the tow boat. 

Everything started off smoothly and we pulled out some of our genua to aid the engine. Then I saw the knot turning in a weird way and was scared it would come untied, so we radioed them again asking if they could try to take in some line. One line meant we would be very close but we didn’t want to loose them so soon. We slowed down but it just wasn’t possible without the risk of him injuring his hands, because the waves and wind was pulling us even if we had slowed down. He called that we should just go on as long as it would hold and then at least we would have helped a little in moving them off the coast. It turned out there was nothing wrong with the knot and we continued towing them for more than half an hour until the rescue finally arrived and found us. We could actually see the tow boat moving past us and towards the motor boat’s first reported position, even though they had updated them on the current one, very strange! And that they didn’t see us either, even when the motor boat radioed them directly…

We were so happy that we could help, and proud of ourselves and our little La Vie! We hope that someone would do the same for us, if ever in that position, and we would definitely do it again if we need to!

This is what it looked like!