A change of plan

Tuesday 26th April

It was a quiet night! around midnight there were signs the wind may be filling in and a one knot helpful current was aiding progress west. At breakfast time the wind switched from south to north easterly, not enough to sail but the angle was a definite improvement. The navigator toggled the waypoint on one to a point somewhere south west of Formentera, a few hundred miles west. Sardinia was visible through the hazy air to the north west of us. By 08:00 the asymmetric was up, a huge cloud of white fabric, slower at five knots than motoring initially but saving fuel. Though the heading was a bit south of west, the current hereabouts was pushing us more north west. By noon we’d covered an impressive 142nm since midday the previous day.

The sun was scorching hot, the bimini was unfolded to provide welcome shade. Quesadillas for lunch, two of the huge Greek wraps sandwiched leftover chilli, onion, tomato and cheese and fried in the big frying pan. Messy but tasty eating. Vicky, not eating anything with wheat, had more of the chilli & a Greek salad in a bowl with her rice cakes.

Mid afternoon being close enough to a Sardinian mobile signal, the skipper downloaded a GRIB file. The updated weather forecast brought bad news. The Western Med between us and the Spanish coast, would have a period of gales, not unusual at this time of year. Our options were limited, the viable sailing route lay below the winds along the African coast, an area we wanted to avoid due to the chances of encountering boats of refugees and the general hostility of Algeria to western yachts. Our other option was to take shelter; as our current position was some twenty miles or more north of the planned route or rhum line, a direct line west would take Temptress into the Balearic Islands. Ibiza Town, nearly 380nm westwards was chosen as our prospective refuge. Temptress has been there before back in 2002, there are four marinas marked on the chart so hopefully we can find a berth for a day or two til the gales pass.

With the wind building late afternoon the asym came down cleanly, without fuss. A well oiled racing machine; Owen stabbing the shackle to release the tack, yours truly letting down the halyard, the sail dropped neatly into the arms of Martin and Kevin on the side deck and was bundled down below where Martin got a lesson in big kite packing. A further lesson followed for Owen and Martin as Kevin and I rigged the pole cruising style with a third guy as well as the usual downhaul and uphaul on the windward side. Then we heaved out some of the genoa so Temptress was goosewinged for the night. Later the second reef was dropped in too, snug and safe, minimising the rolling caused by the following seas. For supper sausage and mash boat style – Lidl’s smoked sausages sliced and warmed in a rich tangy onion gravy over mashed potatoes with a side of steamed carrot & courgette plus bread to mop up any remaining gravy.

Ships Log: Noon to noon run – 142nm

Wednesday 27th April

Susie and Martin had an intriguing watch; as the last part of Sardinia was left behind and the bottom started to drop away, weird currents and slightly rougher seas pushed Temptress this way and that. Mainly the current was about a knot against us but occasionally we rushed northwestwards at 10 knots. Odd but with no explanation to hand we simply had to live with it for the hour or so it lasted.

A few fishing boats were seen by one watch, another spotted a yacht motoring east. The few ships passed by unseen but clear on the AIS. At the end of the second watch (03:00), the wind eventually died having been gradually becoming fitful and swinging wildly from ENE to almost ESE at times. The genoa was furled and the engine started once again. The pole was left in case the wind ever decided to show its face again. The last watch thought there was a ship coming up behind, until they realised it was the last of this month’s moon, just a sliver rising in the east. Tomorrow will be moonless.

By morning the fuel tank was down to half full, that’s around 150l of motoring since leaving Reggio, roughly just short of half the hours we’ve been at sea so far. They do say the Mediterranean is a frustrating place to actually sail; there’s either no wind or too much! The boys topped the tank up with the cans from the side decks, 80l. It should get us to Ibiza. After a late breakfast with the galley cleared, the crew mostly settled down to sleeping or reading in their bunks with the skipper on deck in the hazy but warm sunshine. 250nm to Ibiza, we may reach there late Thursday but more likely early Friday.

The rest of the day passed without incident. We managed to sail for a couple of hours in the afternoon with a poled out genoa. The evening was chilly and the sunset hazy. Dust is still causing sniffles and sneezes.

Ships Log: Noon to noon run – 141nm, since Messolonghi 614nm