Captain's Log - man alone (without Jilly!)

Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
Trip End May 31, 2014

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Flag of Italy  , Sardinia,
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On the 10th January it was time for Jilly's annual trip to the Lake District and as planned this was also the time for the crossing to Sardinia (197 nm not for Jilly). So the day started early with us rising just after 0700 for Jilly to prepare for the flight home (hair, makeup etc) and for me to get breakfast and do those last checks, before sailing off to Mahon in Menorca for the crossing to Sardinia.

Breakfast done I saw Jilly off at the bus stop and returned to Dunikolu, then at 0930 cast off from the mooring . First stop the fuel pontoon to fill Dunikolu’s tanks with diesel so that I could motor all the way if needed! By 0945 I sailed her out into the Bahia de Alcudia with full sails set.  The wind was from the West at 18 knots and my speed was between 5 and 10 knots in gusts.  So the 56 nm crossing  was without problems even though the sea was building and quite rough at times.  This said, by 1700 I realised that I would not make Mahon and went to anchor at Cala Binibeca 10nm short of my destination. 

The next morning I had a relaxed start and set sail around noon with a resolve to obtain a new weather forecast from Mahon before  embarking on the crossing to Sardinia.  Reaching Mahon I tied up to a pontoon, got the forecast and decided to head straight off instead of waiting until the morning as the forecast was showing strong winds would be following from the West later next day.

Setting off at 1645 and with the engine running and reefed sails I decided to motorsail the overnight stage to give the batteries a good charge for navigation instruments and lights. 

That night I made good progress with around 50nm covered and only 2 other ships sighted within a mile of me each time.  I would have preferred them a little further off in the dead of night but that, as they say, is how it goes.

During the morning of the 12th the sea had begun to calm and I reset the sails in a 'goosewing’ pattern to take advantage of the following wind and turned the engine off (quiet at last).  This is how the day went and by 4pm I had passed the way stage having 87nm to go of the 197nm crossing.  That night the wind had steadied so to keep things simple I took in the Genoa and just sailed on the main.  This meant I was going slower but less of a problem should things change in the night.  For the first 4 hours of the night I ran the engine again to charge the batteries gaining a little speed in the process.   After this I settled for a quiet sail in what had now become a rough sea, not that the wind had increased yet, but the swell had. 

Generally the night was cold and increasingly windy and I was glad the heating was working to keep things snug down below.  Most of the passage had been by use of the autohelm with me checking the log every hour and keeping the boat set up for the wind which made for a reasonable if uncomfortable sail.  There was, of course, another ship in the early hours that passed by within a  mile of me again.

At 0600 I was woken from my rest by thunder and going on deck I saw a storm breaking dead ahead.  The sea was now very rough and the storm would bring strong wind so it was time to drop the sails and start the engine immediately.  As the storm hit the wind went from 18 knots to 38 knots in a few minutes and the torrential rain reduced visibility to under a mile, but Dunikolu ploughed on through it all albeit with a bit of a sway on!

The storm kept coming and going every hour or so until I got safely through the Passaggio dei Fornelli, a very narrow gap through the islands at the top of Sardinia, into the Golfo del Asinara  and just past which was Stintino my destination and shelter after the crossing.  Needless to say for the sailors out there, the leading lights for the passage through the islands were not working, so thank goodness for GPS.  So here I am tucked up in the harbour by 1400 and at last peace and quiet for a goodnight’s kip.  That’s the long passages done.  All coastal and island hopping from now on.

Stintino to Olbia

Over the next few days I sailed from Stintino around the northern part of the island through the Bonifacio Strait and the Archipelago di La Maddalena , either anchoring or berthing in a marina for the nights.  My first stop was Isola Rossa which was notable for the red rocky island which gives it it’s name.  Next was Porto Pozzo,  a safe anchorage where the anchor dragged a few times because of poor holding.  Palau was my last stop, a very reasonable marina where I rested for 2 nights before the final leg to Olbia through the archipelago to meet Jilly on the 20th.
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Steve Horlock on

Heroic stuff. Well done for your solo sail, and in the winter! We look forward to further posts.

Linda sherlock on

Well done, Steve. I can see why Jilly opted to be in the Lake District!

pauline and roly on

Hi Steve and Jilly!-hope Jilly's Lake District was enjoyable; bet you're both pleased to be back on board together...and VERY well done Steve with your exciting solo crossing.I should probably tell you that I'm in the wars!I fell over Roly's skiing luggage in the hall a fortnight ago and have fractured the head of my right humerus!...just as I was looking forward to 2013 being an improvement on 2012!!! Take care both, love from we two xx

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