Making our travel plans, we decided to slowly build up to longer passages. We started out by doing 15-30 miles a day (one nautical mile is roughly 1,85 km) up to Elba. From Elba to Corsica we had one longer day of 70 miles, followed a few weeks later by our first night sail of 90 miles. After two months of sailing we were ready for the next step: a passage without land in sight!
The sail from Sardinia to Sicily is 145 miles if you take the shortest route. We were aiming for Mondello from Capo Carbonara, which is about 180 miles. We expected the passage to take 36 hours. Leaving at 5:00 in the morning, we would arrive around 17:00 in the afternoon the next day. Looking at the weather forecast there was no use in waking up so early: the winds were predicted to be non-existent until noon. But we were itching to get going, so still we picked up the anchor at 7:30. If we would motor a bit until the wind picked up we would be sure to arrive during daytime.
On the sail from Cagliari to Capo Carbonara, we encountered a family of six with engine problems. Thomas hopped on board but wasn’t able to start the engine either, so we towed them to the next town of Villasimius. The last stretch had to be done with the dingy. Our 4 hp outboard got them barely moving, but they did get safely to shore!
Leaving the bay the next morning we got a little shock when the motor didn’t turn on immediately. I tried to calm down Thomas and wanted to leave anyway because I am convinced that we can also anchor on the sails in case of an emergency – the bay we were aiming for was huge. When we were about 20 minutes on our way we smelled something burned, like electricity wire burned, which was a reason for me to turn around and head back to where we came from. This time Thomas convinced me it was only the 12V to 220V converter so I pointed the bow towards Sicily again and we were on our way!
The first five hours we did some very slow sailing at about 2 to 4 knots. When our speed dropped below 2 knots we fired up the engine again and motored for three hours. Then the wind had turned and increased to 15 knots right behind us so all of a sudden we were absolutely flying! We threw out the fishing line with our colourful tuna lure on it, which immediately got the attention of Stephen (Seagull). Luckily we didn’t catch Stephen but a very nice sized yellowfin tuna. Our first fish! Thomas felt super sorry for this beautiful fish so he apologised (sorry honey) before putting it out of its misery quickly. So we had a mixed tuna plate as midnight snack and tuna steaks and wraps the next days.
We kept a watch schedule of 3 hours through the night. We had to gybe a few times and always timed to do that on a change of shifts so we both could get some sleep. We didn’t reef to make up for lost times during the day, so we did consistent speeds of 6 to 7 knots the whole night. Looking back, we should have reefed to make it a bit more comfortable. Despite the waves I really enjoyed the quiet night, there were no ships around and the sea was just beautiful. When I was taking the 3:00-6:00 shift, I was almost sad to see the horizon lighten up for the sunrise!
We continued on our super fast course and reached Mondello after 190 miles in 34 hours. We were happy we made it so fast and couldn’t wait for some cold beers on shore and a quiet night to recharge ourselves before our next guests: Thomas’s sister Liesa and her boyfriend Lukas!