Cruising

So here’s the deal.

We are cruising in the Med, we are not alone, but we are.

It is such a different world out here compared to the life back home.

This is the new home, and it is sinking in.

Learning how to be safe, how to completely trust and rely on each other, how to sail El Gato safely, efficiently, share her with others, and to trust her with our lives.

We divide and conquer the tasks.

There are pink jobs and blue jobs, and all sort of jobs that overlap.

Eric is Chief Engineer, I am the Communicator. Eric makes sure all things are running smoothly; I cook. I drive when we anchor or dock, and he climbs out on the spinnaker pole to lower the last bit of anchor chain, or throws lines around cleats or to people. I navigate, he teaches me new tricks on our B&G systems.  Everything is integrated but we can also play on different displays at the same time and not disrupt the other person.  We are grateful to those who guided us towards these purchases, and this who helped us install them. Mainly Ray Marchetta and Gloria Borrego.

The jobs are endless, there is not a whole lot of down time. And despite the notion that this is cruisey, it is actually a lot of work. And we love it. The jobs are rewarding. El Gato was gently used, loved, and it shows. As the new owners, we have much to learn about her systems. They are complicated, and Eric is comfortable with doing whatever it takes to keep her running well. Trust me you don’t want these details.

We read about places we are interested in seeing, then make it happen. The Pilot books and Mediterranean Guide are always on the table, usually open to the next stop. With a Plan B. Just in case.

We watch the weather religiously as mother nature rules the show. Right now she is gentle.

Predict Wind and Navionics have become our best friends.

And when we don’t have phone service/internet for these apps, we keep our eyes open and our fingers crossed. Iridium Satellite will come into play eventually but for now Europe and T Mobile are our sources for info. Our B&G electronics are on until we anchor or dock and we check them tirelessly. Radar, AIS, creating routes, checking depth, it is a full time job staying on top of the situations. We are a good team. Strengths complementing, we respect each other and also learn who does what, when, how, and it is working really well.

We read how quickly the weather can change here, and it does.

But other than our not so nice experiences in Villafranche, where we certainly learned to be even more cautious than we already are, we have enjoyed good weather. Sometimes strong winds, but no more lightning or dragging anchors. Not that these things wont happen again, but we are learning to be more prepared.  And how thankful we can be after bad things happen.

At night the skies are clear and beckon us to look. Shooting stars, satellites, bright planets, the Milky Way, rising moons in deep rich hues of red and orange, sunsets and sunrises the same.

We take turns/watches, and spend 2 hours alone at night, and 3 in the day. We overlap during the day, and love our time together when we are both awake and present.

At night we wear PFD’s with tethers hooked onto lines (jacklines) we’ve tied to the boat so we can’t fall off. Even when it’s calm. Just in case. There are no do overs here.

The days are spent doing projects.

There is never enough time to do all the things on the lists.

But each day brings improvements to the boat, as well as upkeep.

We like a tidy boat, but are not obsessed.

The time alone with each other on our boat is a beautiful thing.

We love sharing this with our friends.

We make new friends, and it is part of this journey.

Learning about other cultures firsthand.

It is in fact a small world.

But it isn’t really because we’ll never get to see it all.

So we pick and choose and sometimes let fate take us to the next place.

So small we are, and so alone, but we aren’t.

Written at 3AM, Annie on watch.

Here is a photo of me trying out the escape hatch in our bathroom. Hope we never have to use it except for fun!

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And now for more fluffy bits!

(Written during the day at a cafe on Panarea, an island north of Sicily, just south of Stromboli.)

Forgraves, Cagliari, Carloforte, Stromboli, Panarea

We left off on the 4th of July so here are a couple of photos of our night in Cagliari, pronounced Cayleri with all kinds of rollings of letters. No matter how hard we try, they still laugh at us. View from the top, and inside a grotto where we ate. Marci ordered eel. Yuk. An Italian Johnny Depp cooked the pizzas.

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We had a beautiful week of sailing balanced with shoreside adventures including renting motor scooters in Carloforte, on the island of Pietro, the SW side of Sardinia.  Riding motorized bikes was a BIG one for me as I am very much afraid of motorcycles. But they were slow and easy and on an island it is the best way to see many miles in a shorter time. I can see this happening again. Eric can’t wait. He grew up with bikes and I can see how much he loves them.

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Carloforte had colorful buildings and homes and lovely people.

Marci and I enjoyed some street shopping. Linen dresses made in Italy for $25!

My new uniform when not in a bathing suit.

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Carly’s initials are CF and we found this sign to celebrate her!

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The water is warm now and it feels great to jump in, especially with the heat wave that Europe is experiencing. Feels like a southern Cali Santa Anna, dry, hot, and windy.

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One highlight of this week was water skiing behind El Raton!

Eric and John found emerging from the water more challenging. In fact the only way Eric was able to get all the way out of the water was to shed his baggies. 🙂

We left San Pietro early evening and sailed to Porto Pino, a long white beach known for kiting and tourists with umbrellas.

A new addition to the helm stations is our very own umbrella. It works downwind, upwind not so much!

The sail back to Capitana to deliver the Forgraves was perfecto.

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The boys cleaned up their faces too. Eric grew his first facial hair ever in his life and hated it. John shaved his beard when he arrived and by the time he left he had a new one.  We loved how he used Carly’s blush mirror to trim his face!

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We put every sail up except the Code zero, and had wind from 5 – 30 its from all directions.

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Eric and I left for Siciliy’s surrounding islands and the day started with catching a big fish!

We’ll have steaks and tartare for weeks.

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Sailed all night so we took a short stop at Utica to look around. No anchoring allowed as it is a marine preservation area. Met some Italians doing same and invited them for tuna dinner at Stromboli.

Stromboli – wow!
The Greeks left their influence and we cycled through very narrow streets and white buildings. Dinner as promised with the Italians who insisted on hosting us and cooking for us. It was entertaining and we all wound up singing opera at the top of our lungs!  Then Eric and I took El Raton to see the volcano erupt.  Sitting back on the bean bag chair, no one around, just mother nature doing her thing, it was better than any firework show. People make the trip to Stromboli to hike up for 3 hours to witness it, and 3 hours back down. Too hot now but definitely would do it in the Fall or winter.

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Basilica was a short swim to cool off.

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Now in Panarea.  The Pilot book barely mentions it. But it is also Greek influenced and is a small beauty. Last night we hiked to the highest restaurant and sat on a big table/bed with pillows overlooking the village and the sea. Not crowded, all alone except for one dinner party nearby.

Today it is hot and no wind. We will finish our internet and go to Vulcano, where we are told the word volcano originated.  Right now as I look out to sea from this cafe, I see Stromboli and some huge rocks jutting out from the water where boats are anchored for swimming. We will be there soon!

3 thoughts on “Cruising”

  1. Lovely report! such a thrill for us all to share your adventure in this way.
    Can hardly wait to be rendez-vous-ing with you somewhere along the way!

    Like

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