Being rescued last week spurred thoughts of Thunderbird style rescues that we have been involved with since embarking on our adventures; those in which we have been on the giving rather than the receiving end!
The first occasion was in Mallorca in Cala Portal Vells when, in the middle of the night, there was an urgent knocking on Linea’s hull. We were roused from a deep sleep and adrenaline ensured that we were rapidly on deck. We leaned over the side to see a very frightened man in the water. He kept saying, ‘Boat tip!’ and in the dim light from the moon we could just about make out the silhouette of a small yacht far to close to the beach and leaning over at an alarming angle.
Ian deployed the dinghy whilst the man swam back to the boat to his friend. Initially, Ian tried pulling the boat forward off the sand but that didn’t work. Next, they pulled the boat over with a halyard to an even greater angle in an attempt to lift the keel out of the sand. This together with their engine and the dinghy eventually allowed the boat to move out of the shallow water.
They anchored again and kept a watch and left early the next morning to head back to Palma. It was their first trip out in the boat and we hope that they weren’t put off and that they have invested in a more substantial anchor. Thunderbirds were, ‘go’!
In Sardinia, we had gone ashore in the dinghy to do some shopping and came back to the beach just as another family of six was climbing into their dinghy. Unfortunately, they started their engine in a froth of seaweed and the engine gave up. In my faltering Italian, I asked them to jump in our dinghy so that we could take them back to their yacht. We towed theirs behind us. It was fairly slow progress with eight of us in the dinghy but we made it safely back and they were most grateful. Eat your heart out Virgil.
In Ormos Panormou on Skopelos, Ian whizzed off in the dinghy to help a crew member from another yacht secure the long lines to the shore. They were really struggling to attach the heavy lines and then bring them back to the boat. Puppets on a string!
In Porto Koufo this year, we were watching the rapid approach of a thunder-storm one evening when ahead of us across the huge bay I saw two people on a lilo kicking their way across to the opposite headland; snorkels poking up and face masks clamped to their heads. As the rain began to bounce down on us like bullets and the wind whipped up the water, I was concerned about the safety of these snorkelers.
Ian shot off in the dinghy and reached them whilst they were still in the sunshine. He asked if they were ok and they assured him that they were. He pointed out the looming storm and they shrugged nonchalantly. They refused a lift back to the shore and again said that they were fine. What more could he do? We watched them anxiously as they paddled back soon after; clearly they had realised their folly and were heading back to the safety of the shore. Safely back to Tracy Island.
In Limnos this year Ian disappeared off the front of the boat to help a couple whose anchor was fouled on another boat’s chain. He helped them disentangle the knitting and reset the anchor. Lady Penelope would be proud.
Recently, when we were anchored in Aggias Annas trying to fix our own engine, we realised that we needed more diesel and a full tank of petrol for the outboard. Just about at dusk, Ian set off across the bay towards the quay. He walked up to the petrol station and replenished our dwindling supplies. On the way back in the dark he was approached by another yachtie on the quay, asking if he could help him. He had run out of petrol for his outboard, too. Could he use some of ours to get him back to his boat? Ian obliged and Dimitri and his crew were very happy that he had turned up just when he did. International Rescue whilst rescuing us! A chip off the Gordon Tracy block!
The other day a couple came down the pontoon looking very tense and anxious. They had anchored in the bay and brought people ashore but now their dinghy had died on them and they couldn’t paddle all the way back. I offered them the use of ours.
Just yesterday, we were watching as a huge motor yacht pull out of the town quay here in Naxos. Their anchor was fouled on the bottom and then the port propeller was fouled on a mooring line. They were pinned in. Ian attended in the dinghy and with the assistance of other yachts nearby managed to secure the boat before it bashed into others boats moored on the wall. He freed the anchor and the harbourmaster dived into the water to free the mooring line. Job done!
This morning a yacht beside us that was pulling out and had his anchor trapped under the chain of a boat that arrived after him. With help from Thunderbird 2 and the harbourmaster’s Dad, (AKA Jeff Tracy!) Ian managed to free the anchor and the yacht was soon on its way. Another rescue completed.
Towards the middle of August we headed south down the East coast of Sardinia. We were fueled up, watered up, provisioned up and left for Sicily on Tuesday or Wednesday 23rd or 24th August.
The weather had been remarkably settled but just prior to our departure for this long leg of 150 miles it decided to have an eppy. We scuttled into a marina on the east coast and sat out 38 knot gusts of wind.
We departed early on Thursday morning at 0540, effortlessly gliding out of the berth in zero knots of wind. Within a couple of hours a perfect 10 knots of wind arrived from the north east. Out came the genaker and she was pretty much set then until 2000 when we took her down in preparation for night sailing. The engine did have to go on briefly but from 0200 the Genoa was out and we were doing a steady 6 knots towards our destination and bang on track too!
Twenty six hours later land is in sight. The Egadi islands
to the north west of Sicily. We are welcomed by a flotilla of dip-diving dolphins. Lovely.
Later we headed for an anchorage off the south west coast to recover.
We managed 155 miles in 29 hours. Average speed 5.5
Top speed 7.1 kn Top wind speed 15 knots
Amount of sleep – not enough!
Anchored in 7-9 m over sand and some weed in Cala Rotunda, Favagnana Island.
Heading to Favignana town next and then off to the south coast of Sicily.
I left for Manchester, via Venice! The most convenient route,honest. During the lay over in Venice I took a quick bus trip into the city, since I have never been, and walked along the Grand Canal for 30 minutes before returning to the airport and my onward travel home.
I met up with Keira at Manchester Airport because she had had to go to Manchester to apply for her visa for China. Together we drove down to Oxford to begin the packing and despatching of belongings and thorough clean of Keira’s student house to ensure that she and her house mates got their entire deposit back.
Job done. I left for Yorkshire with all Keira’s stuff with the aim of squashing it into the house back in the Shire!
Then commenced ten days of delightful dog, hen and house sitting at Lydia and Paul’s – a huge thank you to them!
Keira arrived on the Sunday and I had a busy few days helping her sort out for her year of teaching English in China and have a final fix of greenery and Yorkshire scenery! And catching up with friends. Bliss.
Then, before I knew it it was time to bid Keira farewell in an emotional parting at Manchester airport.
She will be teaching English in Foshan, Guangdong province in Southern China for a year.. Follow her blog on https://keiramoulding.wordpress.com/
I then set off for a day jaunt to see The Hodgson’s and Heane’s before flying off back to Sardinia, via Geneva and Ali and Paul’s for a quick catch up and over night stop. Thanks again!
Nice to be back on Linea with my Skipper! Preparing for a sail across to Sicily – just the two of us.
In the interests of brevity, I won’t bore you with the details of the weeks around Northern Sardinia, suffice to say that a certain amount of sailing, swimming, lazing about and reading were involved!
We gradually made our way round the staggeringly beautiful coast of Northern Sardinia, hugging the Costa S’Emrelda like a long lost friend!
We saw some big motor yachts ( and, by contrast, an old schooner) and plenty of celebrity look-a-likes, but not Orlando Bloom and Katie Perry who were reported to be there! (‘Who?’, asks Ian.) Budgie smugglers bountiful, though, for added entertainment.
We arrived in Liscia delle Saline near Olbia, in the late afternoon. The Tavolara island’s imposing granite table top providing a stunning backdrop.
No one else was in the entire bay! Why???? It was shallow, sandy bottomed and gradually rising to the beach in a most accommodating fashion. Why was nobody else here? We ignored the nagging doubts and anchored anyway. We jumped in the crystal blue waters and swam to the anchor. Beautifully embedded. We sat down in the cockpit to dry off and have a glass of vino when we noticed the planes landing and taking off from Olbia airport, literally a couple of miles away! Oh well!
From here, we tried to suss out a bus to the airport for me. We ended up dinghy-ing to the beach, walking miles and met with a modicum of success. In the end, we decided to go into Olbia Harbour. Although it is a good three miles down the bay to the Town Quay we were hopeful that we could park there for free. In this way, Ian could drop me off and pick up David and Angela in one swift movement.
This we duly did. However, the usual shenanigans occurred.
First, we arrived at the quay and pulled up alongside in a very deft manoeuvre to see signs on the bollards announcing that the quay was to be kept free. On further inquiry it appeared that a very smart, luxury yacht was taking preference for the space.
We anchored out in the harbour. Once the yacht had arrived we went alongside.
I radioed the coast guard to ask permission. I was told to take my documents to the office.
I went – it was shut.
I set off early the next day – already it was exceptionally warm. The men on the door of the coast guards office by the quay told me to go to the head office of the coast guard right at the bottom of the mole. I walked the mile involved, crossed a huge car park went to one office, was redirected, went out through passport control, in through another door, up a flight of stairs and into a tiny office on the second floor of a circular tower at the end of the mole in the heart of the commercial traffic area.
I exclaimed in my appalling Italian that the office was very difficult to find, which, on reflection perhaps wasn’t the best start to the ensuing conversation (nevertheless, true!) and was met with blank stares.
I battled on; ‘I am on the sailing yacht Linea, I arrived on the town quay yesterday evening and have come to show you my documents as requested.’
The rejoinder was an immediate ‘Perche?’ And a wholly Italian shrug of the shoulders.
It would seem that these coast guards have far more important things to be doing than taking details of small, private sail boats on the town quay. I was sent away!
At 1800 hrs the same evening, two coast guards, smartly dressed as always, appeared by the boat demanding to see my documents and to be given a form and tax docket! Available from a nearby tabacchi!
I filled in the form, bought the docket (16€) and returned it to the gentlemen. They said it is possible to stay for three days and after that to move on. Perfect for us – minus a day. Ian would have to hide in the evening when the coast guards make their customary daily checks! We had time to wander around lovely Olbia and do various jobs before I shot back to UK leaving Ian all alone.
David and Angela duly arrived and, by all accounts, a good time was had by all!
On Sunday 17th July we sailed to Porto Conte to the north west and tacked pleasantly along in 12 knots of wind. We arrived at the anchorage, after some initial confusion with interpreting the wording in the pilot guide, and decided to do what others were doing and anchor in 6-8m over sand and weed with our conventional anchor. Apparently, ‘autonomous anchoring’ is only permitted if you have a Sardinian stone anchor’.
We took the dinghy to the shore and had a good walk up the track, cutting into the headland like a gash, to the head of the steps that lead down to Neptune’s cave. However, the entry fee – €13 (and the thought of 762 steps, down and then back up again) convinced us to simply take in the views and then walk back down to the dinghy.
Having built up a suitable appetite to do justice to chicken, seriously garlicky creamy potatoes, courgette and carrot ribbons, we wolfed down our tea and the had our first game of chess. Stalemate!
Leaving Cala del Bolo be-times on Monday morning, we motored out of the dead calm bay to staggering views of the Capo do Caccia (Hunters’ Cape – where oddly, hunting is not allowed) looming overhead as we passed. The opening angle revealing a perfect hole in the rock half way up the cliff.
Just as we were marvelling at the formation of rock and wondering how the radio beacon managed to be balanced so precisely on the edge of the precipice, rather like a golf ball on a tee, when Ian suddenly slowed the engine and swerved to avoid an uncharted rock. On closer inspection, as we drifted by, with it inches from our starboard beam, it appeared to be a huge log!
Ian circled round and I grabbed the boat hook. We glided by and I prodded the ‘log’. Ah ha! Lava! It seems that there are large chunks of volcanic rock floating about in this part of the Med. Like icebergs in the North Atlantic. Hopefully, they would only afford us only a glancing blow as they are clearly very light and buoyant, despite their size.
On this course around North Sardinia, there is a huge promontory that adds 25 miles to your journey unless you take the Fornelli Passage. A very narrow and shallow channel between Asinara Island to the north and rocky island outcrops to the south. Here, you need to position yourself at the correct entry point out in the bay and steer towards two towers that must be in line one behind the other. You continue to head straight for these towers (and the shore!) until you spot two behind you that are aligned, and then you can turn right, keeping the two stern towers in line behind you. We negotiated the passage in fine weather and clear water so there was no problem at all. In unsettled weather vessels have to go round the long way.
We continued without incident and anchored in Stintino Bay in the late afternoon sun.
We kayaked into Stintino town and had a wander round. The walls of house s in the old town are adorned with enlarged photographs of the tuna fishermen of the town from days gone by. The industry is now defunct for various reasons but, as these amazing images show, the genti di tonnari were hardy folk from a bygone era. All cloth caps, long sleeved shirts, high-waisted trousers and rugged, weather beaten faces. If it weren’t for the fact that they invariably had bare feet, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were Yorkshire Farmers.
The pics showed tough fishermen lugging huge tuna from the boats, heaving boats up on to the shore, pushing barrows of filleted tuna to the market. In one group photo which the photographer was trying to stage, things had clearly gone very Sardinian. There were men dangling on each other and laughing, men gesticulating at each other to make a point mid conversation, men grinning, oafish at the camera, men looking the other way, men having conversations with characters beyond the limits of the scene. The whole picture looked like a community of people used to working with and trusting each other on a daily basis.
Interestingly, none of the men seemed to be sickening for a good feed. Some of them were almost portly. How wonderful it would be to meet them now. I wonder what these hardy folk would have made of bikinis, sun bathing, quay side restaurants, up to date weather forecasts and mobile phone obsessions!
Setting off from Stintino we motor-sailed most of the way to Isola Rossa, our next port of call. A pretty village and holiday development with a new marina and breakwater offering good shelter to anchor. We anchored among five other yachts and three cats plus a few day motor boats.
The holding was good and we had a great night’s sleep. next morning we srt off for a long kayak ride across to this incredible beach.
We decided to stay an extra day to explore and in order to find wifi, which we did at the Coccodrillus Restaurante. We spent most of the afternoon and early evening there, had supper on board and started our first chess lesson from a book of How to Play Chess! Fiendish game!
Latish next morning, we left for Capo Testa furthur to the East. As so often seems to be the case recently, we were heading directly into the wind. Progressing by motor sailing. We arrived and anchored. I felt sure, as noted in the pilot guide, that I was dropping the anchor on to a perfect sandy spot about two metres square. Since high winds were expected we put out nearly all our chain. We swam out to inspect it and, yes it certainly looked like sand but the anchor lay on its side and on further investigation it appeared that we had landed on a smooth rock with a covering of sand. Not much to dig into. Luckily, the weight of the chain alone seemed to do the job and the strong winds forecast weren’t due til much later.
The following morning, after great deliberation and reference to the wind reports from various locations, we decided that we would be better returning to Isola Rossa, where we knew that the holding was good and where we could head into the marina if necessary.
We had the wind behind us the whole way back. With the headsail alone we sped back in double quick time on a nice even keel. My favourite point of sail.
We anchored head to wind, pointing at the beach. Putting lots of chain out. As predicted the wind picked up at 0500hrs and we had spun right round. In the meantime, a French boat had anchored in front of us on much less chain. As we span in the night, both scribing circles round our anchors, we ended up about five metres from their bow! We rapidly pulled up some chain.
After breakfast, we thought it would be a good chance to go snorkelling on the rocks about a hundred metres from the boat. Ian had been swimming earlier and found a really good quality mask and snorkel on the sea bed so I tried it for size. Perfect fit! Off we paddled towards the jagged rocks in the distance. As soon as we had swum a mere thirty metres from the boat we realised that there were many large, unyielding and uncharted rocks lurking right below the surface! How fortunate that we hadn’t dragged our anchor or anchored any further over to the south side of the bay as we would almost certainly have hit them!
The visibility was good for snorkelling and we saw about six different varieties of fish, sea cucumbers, and many sea urchins. I dived down to pick up a green speckled shell. It was a perfect dome with a hole underneath and dot patterns vertically around from its head to its belly. There were still a few spines attached to some of the dots. These shells are the skeleton of one of the many sea urchins around here. Apparently, they are a delicacy that are an acquired taste. The effort of harvesting and preparing them must be a kind of guide as to just how much one should appreciate them.
As soon as we returned to the boat we moved across the bay (now deserted) to anchor further away from these errant rocks. We took the dinghy ashore and managed to persuade the bar man in a very nice hotel, Albergo Corrallo, to allow us to watch the Tour de France final day in Morzine. Didn’t spot you, Claire and Nick! Ooo, it did look wet!
Anyway, we returned to the boat to find that a swell of one metre was being driven into the bay. No other boats were anchored by this time. Clue! So we decided that, on balance, rather than pitching and rolling all night, we would head into the Marina Isola Rossa. What a lovely place and delightful staff. I forced myself to speak Italian and was rewarded with a mini, good-natured lesson and lots of grins.
It was incredibly hot in the marina because the high wall presented an excellent wind shield (as it should). It is probably an age thing, but I have recently discovered that the heat makes me sweat copiously. Whereas with most people this perspiration is evenly distributed throughout their entire body, with me, I seem only to perspire from my head and face! I am literally like a watering can. People could shower from me, if they turned me upside down and I’d almost certainly produce hot water! I could supply a small village with its daily water requirement; or I’d be the perfect sprinkler system for a lawn.
So, I have tried various items of apparel to combat this problem. One is to wear a cap. Another is to constantly wipe my face and head with a towel and the third, slightly less flattering option, is to wear a bandana. It was this last method that I had momentarily forgotten I’d employed when a slim, fresh faced, cool looking (as in temperature) young Canadian asked us for some help. She glanced at me as I responded to her question, clearly surprised that a yacht would have a permanent water feature on its deck and wondering what on earth a red-faced, dripping, middle-aged woman was doing on board. Realising my shocking appearance, I disappeared below to try and freshen up and cool down.
We had a good night’s sleep, although Ian managed to beat me at chess! Stupid game!
We left the safety and comfort of Isola Rossa by midday and and headed out into the bay. Before we had even put the dinghy on the back of the yacht the rain, thunder and lightening had begun!
Fantastic! Ian instructed me to put the phones, lap top and iPads into the oven! I kid you not! Apparently, this will stop them being zapped by lightning. The rain came lashing down, rivalling even my water producing qualities.
Luckily, up ahead brighter weather beckoned. We continued on, hopeful that it couldn’t last.
After all, this is the Med and it is the middle of July!