Our last day in Sicily was spent on Favignana, in the Egadi Islands. Julia, Kasia and myself spent the night on a mooring buoy under the shelter of a windward cliff. Kasia (aka Katie) had joined us for a week to help with the crossing, we enjoy her company and she has quite a bit of sailing experience. We needed a suitable weather window for the crossing to Sardinia so I kept a close eye on the forecasts, regularly switching between GFS, COAMPS, WW3 & WRF prediction systems while also keeping an eye on wave heights. At an average speed of 5.5 knots I anticipated a crossing of 27 hours. For the previous few days strong north-westerlies had been blowing which would make the journey tedious but northerlies were forecast to come the next day.
We spent a lazy day conserving energy and avoiding the midday heat. Once the air had cooled we topped up the diesel tank with our two 20l jerry cans. We piled into the dinghy with the empty cans and a shopping list and set off for the shore. We took a taxi to the fuel station, where we filled up and left the cans. We then went on to find some wifi and shop for provisions in the town before returning to collect the fuel a few hours later.
6am on the 3rd saw us up and quietly motoring out of the anchorage. Some reassurance was found as we joined a French ketch apparently embarking on the same journey. We jostled for pole position as we passed Marettimo, both using a bit of motor to keep the island a safe distance.
A few hours into the journey the predicted Northerlies began to shift to the West causing us to lose course. We began motor sailing and lost the French ketch into the distance fairly quickly. To our disappointment the wind settled to a steady North-westerly and the engine became our main propulsion for the bulk of the crossing.
At some points we dropped all the sails and motored dead into the wind but there were often times when the mainsail would fill while staying roughly on course. Tacking into the wind would have doubled our crossing time and would have raised concern with those expecting us on the other side.
The day passed slowly and was punctuated by a few dolphin sightings and one or two ships passing on the horizon. The AIS receiver provided the comfort of knowing there were numerous boats around us just out of eyesight. We knew the night was going to be dark as the new moon was only at 0.2% and would set soon after the sun. The stars were spectacular but the low light made the waves invisible. Luckily the forecast was correct about the calm night and gentle current pulling us toward Sardinia. We took shifts during the night but tried to have two people on deck at most times. Kasia was a great help and we would have struggled were it just the two of us. She also brought along plenty of audiobooks which preserved our sanity. Cabin Pressure and Absolute Power both got a lot of airtime.
We made landfall at 11am the next morning and were welcomed into Villasimius marina by an attendant in a fast Rib who showed us to our berth and helped with our lines. I entered the last entry into my logbook, then we set off in search of some bubbles to celebrate a safe crossing.
Later that morning I hauled out the dinghy to carry out some repairs aided buy two-part contact adhesive and penne pasta. All three of us managed to catch up on a bit of sleep and were feeling back to normal by the evening. My parents had flown over to see us in Sardinia and find out just what we’ve been up to. So we dug out our cleanest dirty clothes and set off for the twenty minute walk to their hotel for supper. We had a wonderful evening telling them about our trip so far and hearing all the news from home.
The next day they treated us to lunch in the marina and we took them out for a short sail on Bumblebee. After a quick tour of the boat we left the marina and headed around the coast past their hotel. We anchored in a small bay off Isola dei Cavoli for a drink and a swim before rounding the island and sailing back to harbour a few hours later. My Mum looked a little nervous as we healed gently in the breeze but looked more confident with the wheel in her hands, while my Dad (who’s far from an old salt) spun yarns of reluctant boating expeditions with my grandfather who was a passionate sailor.
We ended the day with supper nearby, eating local lobster and enjoying a wonderful view of the sun setting over the marina.
My parent’s visit was short so we spent the next day with them, chilling out at their hotel. We had a swim at the hotel’s beach followed by a delicious lunch and a bit of sketching and lounging around. Later we said fare well, thanked them for a truly spoiling few days and headed into the town of Villasimius for a look around.