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…