We got the engine running again in Trapani but weren’t sure the water problem was fixed. Thomas decided to detach the exhaust every time after running the engine, so there wasn’t any possibility for sea water to be sucked back into the system. This was of course not the situation we wanted to be in, and were pretty sure the exhaust cooling, or ’manifold’ was broken (yes after googling that you still don’t know what it does). We ordered that to Cartagena and crossed our fingers the quick fix would hold up a little longer. But enough about the engine, that topic is way too prominent in what is supposed to be a sailing blog.
We found everything we needed in Trapani except for a reliable outboard engine. We were in doubt whether to buy a second hand engine, as the chances of that being stolen would be very high. When we found a one-year-old engine with papers of ownership we thought we found the perfect ‘in-between’ solution: not too expensive and not stolen. After mounting it on the dinghy we found out it wasn’t in good working order, probably the reason the last owner had sold it. So we returned the damned outboard and ordered a new one to a shop in Menorca, our next stop in one week.
We sailed from Sicily to Menorca in two trips with southern Sardinia as in-between stop. The route was against the prevailing winds, and we were lucky to find a good weather window (which means that the wind is blowing at a force and direction that suits your trip). We rushed out of Trapani after a morning of frantically running around, returning the outboard, paying our bills and doing last minute grocery shopping. We left in such a hurry that we forgot our iPad and had to get back after one hour at sea to pick it up at the boat yard.
The first part of the 1,5 day sail was amazing, we were doing great speeds and kept a course directly towards Carloforte (southwest Sardinia). If we kept this up we would be in Sardinia in no time! But of course, the conditions changed..
Thomas took the first nightshift from 21 to midnight and woke me around 23 with a seriously worried voice: there was a huge thunderstorm and we were heading right into it. We studied the thunder and decided to turn around and sail away from the storm, meaning setting sail to Sicily again. We knew that if we would make way north, the wind was likely to decrease and we thought there would also less likely to be thunder. When we got enough distance from the electrical violence going on, we turned north and kept a close eye on the movements of the storm. After a few hours, when it looked like we had sailed around it, all of a sudden we saw lightning on both sides of the boat: we were right in the middle! Thomas rushed to start the engine and I managed to motor sail out of it. This is exactly why we need a reliable engine! Luckily Scehawk cooperated and we made it through safe.
After the thunderstorm the wind decreased and we floated towards Sardinia veeeery slowly. We didn’t make it before sunset, which was a bit frustrating, but we didn’t want to turn on the engine if it wasn’t necessary. So we bobbed around at 2-4 knots and anchored in the dark in Capo Carbonara (didn’t quite make it to Carloforte!). We didn’t get much time to rest because another storm was coming our way the next day! We had to find shelter and sailed across the Bay of Cagliari to a more sheltered anchorage. The wind and waves were furious and we were barely making any progress tacking into it all.. But again, we were not turning on the engine unnecessarily! We considered it a good exercise of our sailing skills.
We waited a day before sailing to the Balearics (first up: Menorca) and took the time to make plans, read books and rest. We couldn’t go to land because we didn’t have an outboard and the waves and wind were too strong to row against. The sail to Menorca was to be our longest yet: 225 NM! That’s two days and nights at sea. Because of the wind we had to make a detour, first head south on the engine and then make a turn towards Menorca as we reached a bit more wind. We had no choice but to use the engine because the weather wasn’t getting any better in the next days.
It turned out, there was absolutely no wind at all. We turned off the engine maybe twice for a few hours, but then the wind died and we had to start it again. We ended up running the engine for 40 hours.. We couldn’t go very fast and Thomas had to do an emergency repair at sea but other than that it was running just fine. And another advantage: it was so calm! We docked the boat in the harbour of Mahon after 3 days and 2 nights at sea. We were super well-rested, the boat was squeaky clean and we had cooked and eaten all full meals. For the final stretch we were accompanied by a family of beautiful dolphins.