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Let the adventure begin: we start sailing east…

  • Flavio 

This is the story of our first 2021 “crossing”. But it’s more than just a sailing escapade. It’s the beginning of a project we have been preparing for a very long time.

During the next 6 months we plan to sail around the Med, more precisely the Tyrrhenian Sea. We don’t have a super-defined route yet, as we want to go with the flow (literally) and adapt to the changing conditions that Covid-19 is generating.

Is there another area in the World with such a high concentration of cultures and history like the Tyrrhenian Sea?

All we know is that we will start where we left last year: the island of Mallorca. From there we plan to go to Menorca, which is the closest Spanish island if you want to cross to Sardinia or Sicily.

But let’s first look back at the day before we set sail: we had two damn busy weeks, with a lot of work and boat preparation. Imagine what you normally do when you are packing to go out for a couple of weeks and multiply it by 10. In parallel, to get ourselves a bit more busy, we decided to eliminate all the recurring expenses, to reduce as much as possible cost associated with unneeded stuff. We then withdrew both our boat berth in Barcelona and the car parking slot.

Basically, apart from Bolero, all we “own” now (we actually rent it) is a 3×3 m2 storage room where we put all those belongings that we won’t need while we are sailing.

We decided to leave the week before Easter to avoid potential extra Covid-19 restrictions. We checked the calendar and decided that March 27th (Saturday) would have been the perfect day…if whether and Mother Nature allowed.

The weather forecast showed a nice NE winds, decreasing at night that would have pushed us gently towards our destination: Soller in the Island of Mallorca.

A couple of days before crossing, it was clear that a nice Tramontana (northerly wind) would have allowed us to sail to Mallorca. Still, it was important to set sails right after the strongest winds had passed but at the same time we wanted to avoid to get to Mallorca at night.

And so at 2:00pm we left behind our beloved Real Club Maritimo de Barcelona and set course to 170-180º. According to the routing analysis, it would have taken us between 16 and 18 hours to cover the 100 nm (1 nautical mile is 1,852 km) to get to our destination: Port of Soller.

It’s interesting to notice how every time we get prepared for a crossing, we are a bit “nervous”: we have mixed feelings, we watch the weather forecast several times and we follow some well defined routines to make sure all safety related aspects are well covered. Then, as soon as we are out of the safe port, we trim the sails and it all becomes natural: those strange feelings disappear and we feel relaxed and in peace despite being isolated and far away from land and people. Maybe this is something that experienced sailors don’t feel any longer, but my impression is that we will always have those emotions before any crossing, regardless how long the journey will be.

The A.I.S. (Automatic Identification System) is a great system to see and be seen by other boats. Here we have 3 boats and one helicopter from Salvamento Maritimo (Maritime Rescue) surrounding us: for a second (or two) I thought they were chasing us…

Weather conditions were very much aligned with the forecast and that’s something any sailor appreciates a lot. During the first 8 hours we had 10-12 kn of true wind which allowed to us to sail with our main and genova well deployed at an average speed of 6 kn (one knot is one nautical mile per hour, check this article to find out more).

When a crossing involves a night out at sea, we always try to only have one person on watch and one relaxing/sleeping. Here Amaia is resting before sunset as she’s getting ready for her watch (we normally do 3 hour-watches)

At 7:00pm the sun started disappearing, it got dark and we switched the navigation lights on, but – as expected – half an hour later a big full moon appeared at the horizon: she took care of us during the cold night and provided great help to the person on watch.

We didn’t encounter any dolphin this time but a young sparrow landed on Bolero in the middle of the crossing and decided to take the helm for 10 minutes – it was indeed an emotional moment seeing “her” taking care of us while chirping

At night, as expected, the wind decreased and shifted to blow more from the aft, so we had to alter course a bit to maintain a good speed over ground. Still, we were advancing smoothly and making 4 to 5 kn.

At 4:00 am, Amaia spotted land: Mallorca and its lighthouses were well visible from miles away, we could clearly see both Formentor and Soller lighthouses.

Sunrise as we approach Mallorca: Cabo de Formentor and the entire Sierra de Tramuntana were welcoming us with some stunning colors.

During the last hours of the crossing at about 7:00am, we were expecting a shift and an increase of the wind: as soon as it started, we reduced sails and furled in the main sail completely. We got gusts of 24 kn coming from broad-reach and two hours later we were entering into the Soller bay, where we got a nice berth for 7 euro a night (we are the only boat in the transit pontoon)!

Bolero safely moored in Soller. The port going through a refit and we can’t plug-in to shore: not a problem really as we have 3x110w solar panels recharging our batteries

We will be spending the next days here in Soller, as we work during the day and go for a walk before the sunset. We honestly can’t still believe we are finally starting this adventure, so please don’t wake us up just yet!

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