As soon as Kostas had left, we slipped our lines and set off from Pilos for the 350 mile journey back to Marina di Ragusa. On reflection, perhaps not the best plan, but we were anxious to get on to ensure that we had good weather for the entire crossing. Unfortunately, it was really lumpy at sea and we hadn’t really had chance to get our sea legs; so we all felt a bit grim.
We had a fast sail for the first few hours then during mine and Kim’s watch, on a profoundly dark night, a squall blew in and hit the main sail hard pushing it across and breaking the preventer line on the boom. We managed to drop a reef in and stabalise the boat but it was a little scary for a while.
The next day brought really light winds so we were motoring for the entire day and night. Finally, we were able to sail again from about midnight on the third evening. During our watch on the third night a flock of birds appeared and showed off with a dazzling aerobatics display at the mast head. Two birds stowed away on board to rest up before setting off on their migratory flight again in the morning.
Whilst Ian was on watch, he called me up on deck at 0130h as we had snagged the keel on a thick line attached to some kind of fishing float. In a matter of minutes, the boat had slowed from a respectable 4.5kts down to 2.5kts.
Just as quickly, we began picking up speed again and were confident that the line had slipped away. It was a good thing it was so heavy and that we were sailing, not motoring. We did not want that size of rope around our propeller.
As daylight dawned, we could make out the coast of Sicily.
As we neared MdR, we decided to have a swim.
a) To wash off the accumulated grime from the last four days without showering, and,
b) To double check that there were no ropes around the keel, etc., before we made any strong turns into the marina.
We were soon showered, refreshed and dressed in clean clothes. We looked south and noticed some threatening clouds. Kim said that they looked like Dementors. Within minutes, the wind had whipped up to 35kts and the rain came lashing down. We had just called the marina to announce our arrival but called them back to say that we would stand off and come in once everything had calmed down. We waited for 45 minutes, staying head to wind and bouncing along the waves that had built up from virtually nothing.
We made it into the marina and to our berth with no problems. Although, Ian later revealed, the alternator had a final, almost fatal, flurry to add to the frisson of the moment! It stopped working briefly but then rallied and seemed to recover itself!
There was a wonderful welcoming committee on the pontoon.
After pizza and a good night’s sleep we felt much brighter and on Saturday began to winterise the boat, as well as complete the huge list of jobs; cleaning, repairing, and, of course, socialising,