Friday, September 28, 2012

Sept. 24, 2012 Sardinia to Sicily: Another Rolly Passage

We have been working our way through southern Sardinia, having stopped at Cagliari for one night to get our smartphone connected, to get provisions and to have dinner at Su Cumbida for their well-known antipasti and suckling pig. Then we sailed to Villasimius, an anchorage at the south-east corner of Sardinia, where we waited for favorable wind to cross over to Sicily, a 165 miles journey to Trapani at the north-western tip of Sicily. The forecast called for 15-20 knots of wind from the south-west, which puts us on a very manageable broad-reach course. The seas were forecasted to be light at less than one meter.
The forecast turned out to be a bit wrong. Once we were out in the open sea, wind steadily increased to 20 knots with gusts of over 30 knots. The sea kept building and was soon at over two meters. It wasn’t dangerous, but the uncertain factor was: will it keep getting worse? After several hours, another boat that was sailing with us decided to turn around and head back to Sardinia. That was a tough decision in itself, as by then it was 15:00 in the afternoon, and turning back to Sardinia meant beating into strong headwind and seas, and arriving at the marina after dark. We decided to tough it out and kept going.

Large breaking waves 

Calmer seas at last, and greeted by friends!

Fortunately the wind leveled out and did not get much worse. However the seas kept building to over 3 meters, the roughest we’ve seen in the Med. The Nauticat handled this condition with no fuss, and despite the heavy seas and wind she held the course well. But occasionally a breaking wave hitting her at the stern pushes her slightly off and quick correction at the helm was needed to avoid broaching. The wind slacked off slightly at about sunset, as if to give us a break so we could have our supper. Soon after, it strengthened to 20+ knots again, howling through the riggings and white caps were breaking all around us. At about mid night we were at mid-way between Sardinia and Sicily, where ship traffic was busiest. We took 1.5 hour shift to manually steer the boat, and in between steering and dodging commercial ships, we had very little rest through the night.  With one particular cargo ship, we could see all the containers with little difficulty!  This 20-hour of excitement went on until 5:00AM, exactly as forecasted, we reached the quiet wind zone off Sicily.  The wind completely died, but the rolly sea continued on.  At daybreak we were greeted by three energetic young dolphins, which swam along the boat for several minutes before disappearing back into the waves. We motored for 6 hours for the rest of the way into the huge port of Trapani, with barely a whisper of wind.

1 comment:

  1. Woah! It was very brave of you. I get sea sick and I don't think I can ever go on such an expedition. Good post nonetheless.