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!