May 19, 2009
We wake to a fine morning in Mahon, and set off for the long trip at 9.00 am, hoping to arrive late afternoon the next day in Carlo Forte, on the south west coast of Sardinia.
The weather is very calm with just a very slight easterly wind and forecast to remain the same for the next 3 days-ideal for motoring across, but prospects for sailing are not good. Nevertheless such a calm sea is a real blessing for the long trip, and we set the autopilot for 101 degrees and prepare to relax for the next 30 hours or so.
However, the peace is soon disturbed when about 50 miles out we lose the GPS and autopilot function. It had played up the day before, but a wiggle of the data cable going in to the chartplotter seemed to have fixed it. After much further wiggling we resigned ourselves to continuing without the autopilot, finding a sponge to lock the wheel most useful. With two handheld GPS’s with us there was no real problem to steer a straight course over to Carlo Forte. Fortunately the radar was still operational. So we retired “George” the autopilot and officially welcomed “Sponge Bob” aboard.
Then it happened, a truly sensational event. Sue asked if the fishing rod that we’d been trolling around for the last four weeks always bends as much as that? Yes friends, we’d hooked our first tuna – for all you doubters photographic evidence is attached! OK, not a whopper, but about a 5 pounder, easily enough for a slap up dinner for the crew this evening. I’d like to say it put up a hell of a fight to land it, but in truth it seemed like it had almost drowned by the time we reeled it in. John filleted the tuna on the back of the boat avoiding too much mess, and we all looked forward to dinner and the rest of the crossing with new found enthusiasm. Several pods of dolphin and a number of turtles entertained us on our way
John prepared a superb tuna pomodoro, San Franciscan style, for dinner and we settled down to watch a great sunset over a flat Mediterranean sea. At 10.30 pm we started our 3 hour watch rotation -with two people on, but staggered so one fresh person arrived every 1.5 hours. It worked well with crew busy manually steering and looking out for other shipping on the radar. It seems that the route over from Mahon to Carlo Forte is about 20 miles off a shipping lane-probably between Cagliari and Palma, and quite a few vessels appeared at this range. However only a few yachts and a couple of commercial vessels passed by closer, but nothing within a few miles and the night passed by rather uneventfully. I took the first 3 hour watch and returned at 6.00 am just in time to see the sunrise – a perfect day, clear skies and the sea as flat as Alton Water on a New Year’s day . After half an hour the wind freshened a little and came around to the North East so we were able to turn off the engine and sail at around 6 knots for an hour or so -heaven. The wind quickly dropped and we were back on the motor for the rest of the trip.
The second day was similar to the first, but a little more relaxing. One of our crew, Nathan happens to be a trained Shiatsu masseur and an engineer to boot. In between disappearing down various lockers in search of the errant Raymarine data cable ko’ing the GPS, Nathan applied his Shiatsu skills around midday to entice the captain into a deep state of relaxation on the deck for what the crew informed me was some considerable time!
We arrived in Carlo Forte at about 4.00 pm bang on schedule. A great run over, despite technical hitches. I then spent an hour or two trying to track down a Raymarine agent to take a look at the GPS system. The Sunbird guy in Scotland at first thought Sardinia was French and gave me a number which turned out to be in Corsica. After many calls I at last managed to speak to a guy who said if we call him 9.00 am next Monday in Cagliari he might be able to take a look at it –welcome to Italy!