Mahon

We’re in Mahon and plan to stay here for a couple more days before heading to Mallorca to meet our friends who arrive on Thursday. It’s been great to be in a marina for a few days to get things fixed on the boat. Our sails are repaired but we are planning to replace them eventually. We are also doing some upgrades to the boat (new mattresses, renewing the head linings for the interior panelling). The boys have been doing lots of schoolwork and we’ve also been exploring Mahon which is a lovely town. The weather has not been great although it is still warm. The only problem is that our sun tans are rapidly fading!!!

Rain

It’s been raining on and off the last few days, a good opportunity to test our cockpit enclosure which we are pleased to say does a great job in keeping us dry! Today we are anchored in Cala Teulera, a little bay round the back of a fort at the entrance of port Mahon. The kids and I did schoolwork this morning whilst Seathan got on with some maintenance and repair jobs and also organised a few more things. It’s been a good day as we managed to secure a whole new set of through hulls which Pete and Lucy will bring over when they visit. We also booked a raymarine technician in Palma to come and reprogram our software and check all data interfaces. Tomorrow we will go into Mahon to pick up the repaired sail and we might stay in the marina for one or two nights. The prices are very reasonable now that the busy summer season is over but it is still amazing how much discount there can be had after a bit of negotiating!

Still in Mahon

Yesterday was hot and sticky and today it’s raining which is quite a relief. We are heading out today to anchor in a nearby Calla and then will return to Mahon on Monday afternoon or Tuesday to pick up our repaired main sail. We stayed at a floating pontoon in the middle of the marina which was perfect for us as it gives more privacy than being at the town wall where too many tourist walk past and stop to peek inside the boat. It’s also been a great way to meet some other yachties also staying at the pontoon. There’s water and electricity (but no wifi unfortunately) and it’s only a one minute hop across the water with the dinghy to the go into town.

We have some friends visiting in two weeks which we are all very excited about. Pete, Lucy and their kids are coming over for a long weekend to Palma de Mallorca to see us ! We might have to get them to bring a few things from the UK we can’t get over here…

We also made plans to pick up two friends in Malaga late October who will sail across the Atlantic with us. We met Yotam and Eden when we were in Marmaris and got on really well. It will be great to have some extra help to share the night watches when we are doing 2 or 3 weeks non stop sailing.

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Schoolwork, meteors and a ripped main sail

We arrived in Mahon at 4am this morning, 43 hours after we left Sardinia. The trip went well. We left with not much wind. The sea was very calm and we caught up on some schoolwork. We are getting on well with schoolwork and have a good routine going. I have plenty of great study books and practice papers and I try to vary the subjects. I’m finding teaching more enjoyable than expected. Tyrii’s main focus is maths and english but we also do science, history and languages (Dutch, French, Spanish). At the moment we are focussing on the times tables as it is such an important foundation. I don’t think it’s his favourite topic though. He prefers history, science, reading and creative writing. Aeneas is learning to read and I follow the phonetic method. We cover a new letter (or sound) every day and we use flash cards and games designed to practice and recognise sounds. For his maths we have a box with specially designed blocks and shapes to teach patterns, numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. Aeneas is always eager to do schoolwork but he has a short attention span so I don’t push him too hard. We’re also starting a scrap book with information and key facts about each country we visit. Aeneas already knows all the flags of the countries we visited (and more!).
But back to the trip …
We left Sardinia with not much wind and it picked up a bit during the day but died down again by the evening. Seathan did the first night shift and saw some dolphins and an amazing bright orange moon. My shift started at 2am and I felt very refreshed after a good 5 hours sleep. I was ready to indulge in some guilt-free me-time! It really is the ultimate me-time when all is quiet and everyone else is asleep (and the weather is calm and there is not much other traffic around). I had downloaded a few newspapers and magazines on my iPad the day before and also had my kindle ready to hand (I’m reading the game of thrones series which is very addictive reading) and my iPod to listen to some music. Heaven. I didn’t see a single ship even though I kept checking the navigation screen in front of me (which shows any other ships nearby on AIS) and also did a visual check of the horizon every few minutes. The highlight of my shift was seeing a huge meteor shower just after 6am. I saw a bright flash and a giant fireball sweep across the sky leaving behind a green and orange glow. It only lasted a few seconds but was absolutely amazing.
Yesterday we got some wind and it kept changing direction. We started with the spinnaker then the MPS (multi purpose sail also called “code zero”) and then down to the 130% genoa sheeted outboard with which we reached a top speed of 10.5 knots. In the afternoon the wind died down again but the sea remained choppy which was quite uncomfortable. The Med has a tendency to mix up an old swell with a cross sea and it makes for the washing machine moment at sea. The boat handles it well though and nobody got sea sick. We also got a visitor on board: a little bird. It stayed with us all the way until Mahon and seemed quite tired. At one point his little friend came over as well but he didn’t stay.
We swapped our Italian flag for the Spanish one and made our approach into Mahon (the largest natural marina in Europe) around 3 am. It is always a bit scary to approach land in the dark but the harbour entry and channel was very well indicated and of course the GPS is a great help too. We tied up to one of the floating pontoons in the middle of the marina and went to sleep. This morning the kids woke up but let us sleep and helped themselves to breakfast.
For the first time on our trip we are on familiar territory. We spent a couple of weeks here holidaying two years ago when we chartered a yacht. And Seathan knows the island pretty well from sailing here many years ago.
As we stay in Europe we don’t have to check-in and go through formalities. Greece was different. Even though they are part of the EU they have different rules and we were required to check-in and out in every port and carry a transit log. That is not the case in Italy and Spain where things are more relaxed. We did get one visit in Italy from Customs as we were anchored in a bay. It was just a routine check and they wanted to see our registration book and skipper’s licence.
We will probably stay in Mahon for a few days and then cruise the coast and stop in Cuitadella before heading to Majorca and Ibiza. We have a few repairs to do including our main sail which ripped yesterday and needs to be repaired (if not replaced). We also need a new spinnaker and asymmetric. Seathan is running a replacement program for all through hulls and pumps but it depends on where we can buy spares… The joys of being a boat owner means there are always things to fix and replace!
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Arrivederci

We’re ready to say goodbye to Italy and head to Spain. But before we leave we wanted to spend one more night at anchor. After five days in a marina in a big city, being at anchor again is serendipity. We found a lovely bay just 15 NM south of Cagliari with clear water for some snorkelling and swimming. Tomorrow we set sail for the Balearics. The wind forecast is good, not perfect in terms of direction but we’ll take it as it comes. I’m already looking forward to another couple of night sails!
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Cagliari

We’ve been in Cagliari since Monday. It’s an interesting city, a mixture between ancient history and modern city living. We enjoyed visiting the historic centre and its beautiful cathedral set within very old city walls. Apart from some sight-seeing we spent the rest of our time doing maintenance and fixes to the boat, catching up on schoolwork and enjoying having shore power (watching movies, getting lots of laundry done …). We’re staying in a small family-run affordable marina and yesterday the marina was visited by three huge dolphins who were hunting fish. Beautiful to watch.

Our next stop is the Balearics which is approx 250NM away so it will be our longest crossing yet. We are waiting for a favourable weather-window and hope to get going in the next few days.

 

 

Cagliari Old Town

Cagliari Old Town

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Sardinia

We’re nearly in Sardinia, just a few miles off the coast. The most exciting part of the trip for all of us was definitely catching a fish. It was around 5pm yesterday (just in time for dinner!) that we noticed the fishing rod was bent and started pulling it in to discover a tuna at the end of it! The boys were screaming with excitement and got a bonus biology lesson. Seathan gutted, cleaned and filleted the fish and we had a delicious supper and a few more meals in the freezer. I went to bed at the same time as the kids (9pm) and Seathan did the first night shift. I prefer to do mine after a little sleep so when he woke me at 2pm I didn’t mind . It’s quite magical being out there on your own under the moon and stars while everyone else is asleep. I listened to some music , figured out which stars were which with the help of the skyguide app and only saw two other ships. I love the moment just before sunrise when everything becomes light again. Apart from spotting several turtles, today was pretty uneventful. We did schoolwork in the morning, had spaghetti carbonara for lunch (quite appropriate as we are heading towards capo carbonara !) and we cleaned the boat while the kids played with Lego. And now we’re all looking forward to anchoring in a nice bay, going for a swim and then an early night!

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we’re off again

We’re off to Sardinia! Bye bye Favignana! We enjoyed being here for a few days and yesterday explored the island which has some beautiful bays and a rugged coastline. It should take us between 24 and 36 hours to get to Sardinia depending on wind speed and direction…

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