After we have converted our underwater ship to Coppercoat over the winter in the Marina Gesti Nautika, in Fiumicino just outside Rome, and various other work is completed, we lie with our Katinka on the pier and make final preparations to continue on March 15, 2020 our world tour. For days, rumors of an imminent closing of the borders and restrictions on travel have been buzzing around in the news. The number of Covid-19 infected is increasing rapidly and the hospitals here in Italy are completely overloaded. The worst affected area is Lombardy, where people are dying like flies, as a result of the overload of the health system, due to the new virus. Only Lombardy is far away, and in the south of Italy, where we want to go next, it looks long not so dramatic. We simply can't imagine what will later be known as a lockdown at this point in time. They can' t just close the borders and prevent people from traveling, can they! On the day of our planned departure, the time has come. The Italian government decides on a large number of regulations that completely restrict the movement of each individual. At the beginning nobody really knows what this means. Is it now possible to sail or not? Can we enter another port or not? Is it possible to leave Italy by sea and enter another country? The statements about this are contradictory. The Coast Guard in Fiumicino, when asked by us, states that sailing is still possible. The coast guard in Ponza, our next destination, however, does not allow us to enter a port anymore. Gaby, the cautious part of our two team, says from the beginning, "let's wait and see", I slowly become cautious and think to myself "tomorrow is also day".
|Marina Gesti Nautika Fiumicino, Italien|
Quickly it turns out that we are stuck, and under the strictest conditions, the next 10 weeks only to shopping outside the marina can move us with a mask. Only one of us is allowed to enter the supermarket, the number of people who are allowed to be in the store at the same time is limited. Theoretically, it is also possible to visit a doctor or go to the pharmacy, but we do not make use of this. After eight long weeks there are the first relaxations, we can leave the marina for a walk, of course only with mask. After two more weeks, sailing in the Lazio region is allowed again, but we are not allowed to leave the region. On May 18, 2020, our Katinka resembles a grocery store. We have stuffed the drawers to the brim with food in order to remain self-sufficient for as long as possible. We still do not trust the whole thing. What if the Italian government reverses the easing? Spain, meanwhile, is pursuing a different strategy and is still closed to sailors. No matter, on 25 May 2020 we throw the ropes off. It is always difficult for us to say goodbye, and today is no exception. The people from the marina have grown close to our hearts in the last half year, they were, more or less, the only social contacts we had. We drive the channel downstream and are curious whether the bridge in Fiumicino lifts for us. The bridge master probably did not expect any boat and so we stand almost 20 minutes on the spot until the traffic on the left and right of the bridge comes to a standstill and the traffic lights are switched to red. Slowly the bridge lifts and another traffic light gives the way free for us. The second, slightly smaller pedestrian bridge, also opens and we have our freedom again. Carlo, a Marina employee, stands at the wall and waves us over. I drive up close and he throws us two croissants and says goodbye again in his own way. We are touched and wish him all the best. On the sea we are alone. No boat far and wide, even from the commercial shipping there is nothing to see. In calm weather we set course for Palmarola, a small island northeast of Ponza. The bay "Cala del Porto" is almost empty, apart from us there is only one Italian yacht moored here. During the night fierce downdrafts with up to 35 knots fall on us from the slopes and due to the anchor watch there is only little sleep left. Welcome back, life has us again, the anchor holds and we have passed our first baptism of fire this year. In the bay "Chiaia di Luna" in the southeast of the island of Ponza it looks no different. For this time of the year hardly a yacht to see. Not to mention foreign yachts. The coast guard comes alongside and checks the papers. Everything is in order and so we continue our journey. In Ponza town we go ashore for the first time. Most of the stores are still closed. Tentatively, the hotels begin to prepare for guests. One has the impression that here nobody really believes that anyone will come at all. In a bar we sit down at a free table and watch the people. Many of them are very insecure and don't know if they should be happy about the strangers or if they should keep their distance. In the end they decide for both, being happy with distance is also possible. Officially, the travel restrictions in Italy will be lifted on June 03, 2020. During the night we pass the island of Ventotene, the southernmost island of the Lazio region, sail past Ischia and Capri and reach the Amalfi coast. In Amalfi we drop anchor in front of the castle and enter the harbor by dinghy. We are willingly called by a pier operator and asked to moor at his place. He is happy that it starts again and after the question what he would like to have for mooring, he just waved off. In Amalfi we find also the first restaurant which has opened and after ten weeks we eat once again a pizza. That this is the best pizza of our lives, may be partly because we have not eaten for a long time.
Meanwhile, the first technical problems are appearing. A few days ago we put our watermaker into operation for the first time and found a crack in the housing. The warranty case is handled cleanly, but keeps us four days in the not exactly cheap Marina d`Arechi, a little south of Salerno. We take the opportunity to have a look at Salerno. Italy is only slowly awakening from the shock of the Corona pandemic, so most of the stores and restaurants in Salerno are closed, and there is little going on in the streets and pedestrian zone. No one really trusts anyone else, and even with masks on their faces, people are overcautious. The pandemic has hammered the sting of mistrust deep into people's minds. On our way south we discover the ports of Agropoli and Acciaroli, which allow free mooring for 24 hours in the city area. Not only does this have a very budget-friendly effect on our budget - after all, the mooring fees in the Mediterranean are the most expensive in the world, at least in summer - no, the two towns are also well worth seeing. The old town of Agropoli is located on a rock from which one has a great view of the harbor and the surrounding area. In Acciaroli we have to enter our data in a list for the first time during a visit to a restaurant and fever is measured. The next morning black rain clouds come up. We run out anyway and want to escape the front, the front surrounds us, and pulls through in front and behind us. Miraculously we stay dry. Suddenly a radio message! The Coast Guard calls the Katinka. Oops! Did we do something wrong? At first we have a bad feeling when we hear the name of the Coast Guard in connection with our own boat name on the radio, but they only ask if everything is alright on board, which we can confirm. It's nice to know that someone is looking out for you. In the evening Katinka hangs on a buoy near Cala degli Infreschi, the last time on the Italian mainland.
|Aeolian Islands Stromboli, Italy|
Only very slowly we make progress. The wind is as good as non-existent, it makes it at times to 5 knots, much too little for our "cargo catamaran". The next morning we find ourselves in the middle of a military exercise of the Italian Navy. The speedboats create an insane wave that leaves nothing in place on the catamaran. We start the engine and flee. After more than 24 hours the wind has changed its mind and blows now with 15 knots from easterly directions, which brings us much closer to the long visible volcano cone of Stromboli. The buoys indicated in the nautical guide are not present and so we anchor on 8 meters, as the only yacht on this day in front of Stromboli, not far from the ferry dock. Only a handful of people find their way to the beach, although the water is now already 25°C. We cross with our dinghy and explore the island. Through narrow streets we go up to the Chiesa di San Vincenzo Ferreri, from where we have a beautiful view of our anchorage. The rumbling of the volcano takes some getting used to and we always wince when, after a quarter of an hour, the explosions inside the crater repeat themselves. Nevertheless, we continue our way and after good 2 hours we reach the observation platform on 400m, at the edge of the Sciara del Fuoco, the ramp from which the hot lava runs into the sea. Not at every rumble, but every now and then masses of rock are thrown into the air. We are impressed by the natural spectacle. Late in the evening we return to our catamaran Katinka. With wind from the northeast, we make rapid progress and pass the ramp in front of which, only a few months earlier, some yachts had run away, because a powerful eruption had preceded and smoke and rock masses raced down the slope. With 18 knots of wind we are under full sail at the limit. A rough sea does the rest and Gaby gets seasick once more. Unfortunately she has to fight with it every now and then. Mostly a travel gum helps. It is not so far to Panarea today, so she will be quickly relieved of the nausea again. On the starboard side a few fishing traps come into sight, which can only be seen at the last moment in this sea state. Directly in front of us again three pieces, we have never seen so much in a small space. Also these three we can still avoid. So we are warned and keep a close lookout. Nevertheless we run into a field of about ten fish traps, one of which gets caught in our rudder. There is nothing more to be done under sail. First I try with the boat hook, which does not succeed. With the diving knife, I cut the rope between the float and the fish trap. The block comes off the rudder and we are free again, unfortunately the cage is lost. Arrived in Panarea we recover first of all from the shock. Panarea is for us the most beautiful of the Aeolian archipelago. The paths are well developed and the gardens are full of flowering plants that grow over the paths and provide shade with their natural roof. We swim ashore and set out to explore the island. Sitting in the harbor pub, we watch a small freighter unload. The wind is favorable and we pass Lipari to Vulcano. Vulcano is the last island of the Aeolians we visit. Here we have the opportunity to look into a crater. With a good 400 meters and moderate rise, the crater rim is easy to reach even for inexperienced hikers. However, sulfurous gases come out of the ground, which, depending on the intensity, spread a smell of rotten eggs. You can't like that, but the view from up there compensates for many things. Meanwhile we have the 18th of June and the first time this year we do not feel alone. In the evening there are about 10 yachts in the bay.
|Aeolian Islands, Italy|
We leave the bay of Porto di Ponente and set course for Palermo. We moor in the Sitimar Marina, not far from the city center. The solar panels have been causing problems for some time, as they switch off when the sun is full. This means that the service batteries are no longer fully charged, which leads to additional engine hours, especially at night. Also, the onboard converter that brings the shore power from 220V to 12V is defective and needs to be replaced. When plugging in the shore power it went off with a loud hiss and lots of smoke. After Salerno was our last major city we visited, and it was there but rather quiet to go, we are almost slain by Palermo. The city pulsates and lives. Palermo is also the first city in which we have the impression, "the virus is there, but we make the best of it". Palermo impresses with monumental buildings from different eras, the markets are known for the street food found there. The prices are moderate. However, one also notices that there is not enough money in the back and front. In some buildings, the maintenance backlog is now clearly visible. Nevertheless, we have come to know Palermo as a friendly and lively city. When checking into the marina, we are advised to register on a Sicilian site on the Internet, this is necessary because of Corona, in order to be able to follow the routes in case of infection. We take it calmly and register, after several attempts, on the side. What becomes of the data and how long they are stored, no idea.
|Sicily Palermo, Italy|
Palermo is behind us and we have once again trusted the weather forecasts and are once again disappointed that the wind does not adhere to them. Instead of north, it blows from the northwest, and that is very obstructive if you want to head west. We try to tack up and after three hours we are almost in the same place. Annoyed I start the engine and we cruise close under the coast. In the evening we reach Balestrate in the Gulf of Castellammare, a very pristine area. On the west side of the gulf is the nature reserve Orientata dello Zingaro, where you can find beautiful anchorages. We sail around Cap San Vito and set course for Trapani. Our destination are the Egadi Islands, which are located off the west coast of Sicily. These are still considered an insider tip and indeed, on the island of Favignana in the bay of Rotonda you will find nothing but nature. With us there is only one boat in the bay and that only during the day. At night we are all alone. We have arranged with the Dar Melica and want to cross together to Sardinia. Janet and Heinz we had met last year in Elba, they are now on their way to Spain because they bought a new boat. We are happy for them and especially happy to see them again. The wind is howling in the mast, outside the bay Rotonda an impressive wave has already built up. The Dar Melica, which had arrived the night before, left an hour ago and has set course for Sardinia. We are in the last preparations and then take the 130 nautical miles under the log. The wind comes from the southeast and blows partly strongly with more than 20 knots. With the genoa out to port and the main to starboard, we quickly pick up speed. For a short time we reach up to 10 knots, which means top speed for our Katinka. At least we have never been faster. The wave has reached almost two meters and pushes us forward as well. The autopilot works reliably and so we sail into the night. A funny feeling when you only hear the breakers but don't see them anymore. In the cockpit we can hardly talk to each other because of the roaring sea. During the night the wind decreases more and more, so that we have to start the engine in the morning for the last ten nautical miles. The anchor drops in crystal clear water on five meters in the sand. Now it's time to sleep, as the noise during the night made it almost impossible to do so. Peter, our first guest this year on the Katinka, will not arrive in Cagliari for another ten days, so we have plenty of time to explore the south coast of Sardinia. We anchor in the bay Poetto and weather first a strong Mistral, which has strayed down to here. The problem with the solar panels could be narrowed down and was declared as a warranty case. The challenge was now to send the defective modules back to Germany. In Italy, the limit for private individuals is a package length of 1.5 meters. However, the solar modules measure 1.51 meters. If you then add the packaging, you have no chance to send panels in this size. Therefore, we buy 300 meters of household foil and wrap four modules with it. At the post office, we then spent 1 1/2 hours discussing the said 1 cm with the people in charge. Finally we could post the package. The fun cost us a little over 100€ for four irreparable solar modules, but the manufacturer really wanted them back. In this day and age, there is so much mischief that trust falls by the wayside. Somehow we can even understand that.
|East coast Sardinia, Italy|
We wanted to sail with Peter, who is our guest for a week, along the west coast of Sardinia to Alghero, from where he can then take the ferry back home. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the coming week predicts only northwest wind, so that the plan is not to be carried out so. Instead we decide to sail over the east coast to Olbia and then from there through the Strait of Bonifacio towards the west. Without solar power is there so many engine hours more necessary, but also the wind is anyway as good as not present. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful week that we experience together and Peter has probably also noticed that long-distance sailing is not a bed of roses, but that you have to earn the beautiful bays hard. We reach Olbia and moor in the city port for 16 € per day. Since a further journey by sea and reaching the destination at the right time would be associated with very many uncertainties, we stay in Olbia and take a closer look at the city. Peter leaves us here and starts the journey home by train and ferry from Olbia. We sail further west through the La Maddalenas and the Strait of Bonifacio and reach the island of Piana in the northwest of Sardinia, long after Peter has returned home. In the crystal clear, turquoise water we anchor on 3 meters and spend a few days here with Caribbean feeling.
|The Northwest of Sardinia, Italy|
But now it must go on, the problems we have do not solve themselves. We are still sailing without solar power, which proves to be very inconvenient in the long run. In the meantime, the solar modules have been sent to our home address, from where they will be forwarded to us. At the moment it is just not clear where to. The idea is to visit our first Trans Ocean base and ask there if the package can be sent to them. Unfortunately, the base manager in Alghero is seriously ill and so this possibility is cancelled. In Porto Conte, in the northwest of Sardinia, we find a marina whose postal address we can use. For one week we pay about 700 €. The jetties are falling apart, the washing machine has to be opened with a screwdriver and the electricity fails almost every hour. Here we lie more bad than good and wait for the package. At least the neighbors are nice and offer us fish to buy. We use the time and rent a scooter with which we explore the northwest of Sardinia. Now that we have circumnavigated almost the entire island and are preparing for the crossing to Spain, I am summoned to the marina office in the afternoon, where they ask me for the registration forms for Sardinia. I reply that such papers are unknown to me and want to know what they look like. When I answer the question how long I am already in Sardinia, with three weeks, I meet uncomprehending looks, because of the language barrier one leaves it however thereby and gives me an Internet address on which I can announce myself. Corona is just the one, organization the other and both do not always fit together. Now that we are officially registered in Sardinia, we visit the cities of Sassari, Alghero and Bosa, take a closer look at the bay of Porto Conte and spend a week in this area. After six days the solar panels reach us and we immediately start with the installation, which is completed in a few hours, as solar panels had already been installed in the same place. Fortunately, the dog-ears on the modules caused by the transport do not show any effects. For two weeks now, Spain has also reduced its Corona restrictions and has reopened sailing in Spanish waters. The next morning we tackle the 190 nautical miles between Sardinia and Menorca. We say goodbye to Italy after a good three years and look forward to Spain. After sailing more or less in circles this year, we make up miles to the west for the first time on this leg. Ahead of us I see a row of fishing boats that seem to be moving on a line. I check the plotter and see a steeply sloping edge, which is probably due to the island base of Sardinia. Immediately it shoots me by the head, fish! I bring the rod out as we approach the edge. I wait anxiously for the first bite. After an hour, we are already almost five nautical miles behind this edge in deep water, I give up hope of ever catching a fish in the sea. I sit in the cockpit and try not to let my disappointment show. Gaby can't help saying, "Well, then there's spaghetti again," and stands in the galley while I sip my beer listlessly. Well at least I'm hungry and it's already 7:00 pm. The day is slowly coming to an end and we are in the middle of the sea. At the end of dinner we discuss just the first night watch as suddenly the fishing line rushes out. I hear me only fish call and we look at us both a bit befuddled. I quickly reach the fishing rod and tighten the brake a little. When I want to take the rod out of the holder, I notice which tension is there on it and put it straight back in. To Gaby I call completely excitedly "Bring me please my safety harness so that I can pick myself". When I turn around I notice that she has disappeared. At first Gaby doesn't want to do anything to this and watch, but when I call for the harness she hesitantly comes out of the salon again and helps me. I try to take the fishing rod out of the holder again and realize that it will be quite a job to get whatever is hanging on the other end on board. Tensely we look at the water but at first there is nothing to see. Centimeter by centimeter I reel in the line. Hopefully it's not just an old rag or some plastic canister. Slowly I start to sweat. I try to estimate how many meters of line have slipped out and how much I've already reeled in again, and now I mustn't tear it off. After a quarter of an hour it is then so far, it is actually a fish, looks like a tuna or perhaps nevertheless something else. Still good 20 meters. "Bring the gaff" I say to Gaby, who looks at me with big eyes, that she is involved in the whole thing is not at all right. She pities the poor creature. "The stick with the hook on it" I say to her. By now it is clear that it is a yellowfin tuna. So that the animal does not suffer excessively must be acted now fast. With the gaff I pull him on board, two stitches below the gills let the fish bleed out quickly. "You're almost there old boy" I say to him, Gaby has already disappeared again. The tuna measures almost 1 meter and weighs eight kilos. On a specially made folding table at the stern of the Katinka, I cut up the tuna until late in the evening. A small part we boil down, because we are not sure if it works at all, and the other, much larger, we will eat in the next fourteen days, in all variations. In the free watch we found little sleep that night.
On August 1st we arrive in Menorca and drop anchor in Cala del La Olla on eight meters of sand. Spain is reached and we sleep first once properly. In the meantime the vacations in Spain have begun and the bays fill up slowly. In the Cala de Trebaluger we find an anchorage only with difficulty. With the dinghy we navigate the river that flows into the Cala. Dense reeds at the shore edges hinder the visibility and the landing. Nevertheless we have a lot of fun with this exploration tour. Slowly it is time to replenish our provisions and so we decide to sail to Port de Pollenca on Mallorca. In the south of Mallorca lies Cabrera. The islands of the Cabrera archipelago are a nature reserve and you need a permit, which you can apply for on the internet. Anchoring is prohibited on the archipelago and buoys are limited and booked up to three weeks in advance, especially in August. We got hold of a buoy for August 21, for two days, and have until then a little time to get to the east coast of Mallorca, to the south. After we have replenished our provisions, we now want to explore the island in the north with a rented scooter. While shopping we had to realize that the prices are about 20% higher than in Italy and so we decide, hoping for cheaper prices on the mainland, to buy only the most necessary things. Also here in Spain, many stores, bars and restaurants, Corona conditionally, have closed. Whether this is only temporary so, can be said with some only presumed, with others however already with certainty, too clearly are the signs at the buildings. We take the scooter to Pollenca about five kilometers into the interior of the island, not to be mixed up with Port de Pollenca. The town is usually a tourist magnet and numerous vendors sell their handmade wares at market stalls scattered throughout the town, in the narrow streets and squares. When we arrive the number of visitors was manageable and so we can visit the town with the currently necessary distance to our fellow people. With our scooter we drive further into the mountains and on increasingly narrow roads we take the first pass in attack. Our destination is the monastery of Lluc. In the monastery, accommodation is still given to every traveler today. We visit the monastery and the botanical garden and are surprised to find a swimming pool in the middle of this wasteland. Even if the temperatures would give it quite once to jump into the cool water, we do without it and continue to Sa Calobra. Here the road winds about ten kilometers into the depth to a small bay. Some of the bends are so narrow that you have to give way to oncoming traffic. In any case, a fantastic experience.
|Mallorca Sa Calobra, Spain|
In the early afternoon we are on our way back, because we have an appointment once again with Janet and Heinz from the Dar Melica II. In the meantime, the two have taken over their new boat and are on their way back to Sicily. On the anchorage we make them out not far from our anchorage and also go over immediately. The boat offers more space than the old Dar Melica and has a modern layout. The interior is cozy and offers everything the long-distance sailor needs. We wish them all the best with their new boat and always fair winds. In the evening we celebrate the new yacht with a bottle of red wine and order for a long time once again a paella. After a fuel stop we continue our way along the east coast of Mallorca and reach the bay Cala Molto. Here we are confronted for the first time with the rangers who monitor the protected Poseidon grass. With visual devices they check the position of the anchor and the course of the chain. If the anchor is in the grass, we are asked to take up the anchor and anchor elsewhere. All is well with us and so we are allowed to stay. The next morning we raise anchor and with only moderate wind and little speed we continue our journey towards Portocolom. But this changes quickly and due to the wind coming from the east it does not take too long until a high swell sets in, which makes the entrance to the natural harbor basin quite narrow. Again there is a ranger who points out the Poseidon grass while positioning the anchor. With the dinghy we set over and make a first city inspection. The life in Portocolom takes place mainly on the harbor promenade, where there are numerous bars and restaurants. We start to love the small appetizers, called tapas. Again and again we order a few from the menu, often not knowing what we are ordering. We have never been disappointed so far. On the way through town we discover a laundry and we decide to do our laundry here, without our own washing machine we are dependent on such facilities.
|We do not have Corona, we have Rioja|
Through the portal Noforeignland you can look up the locations for many things the long distance sailor needs. We also post useful spots on this portal again and again. Late in the evening we return on board and fall dead tired into the bunks. Early in the morning there is a sudden crash and I startle. The neighboring yacht has hit us. The night before, invisible to us, a yacht has come too close to ours and, as the wind shifted, rammed our Katinka. On the damage we remain in the after sitting, since the liability insurance of the opposing yacht refuses to take over this. Sensitized by the incident, we are then also very frightened with which carelessness so some anchor maneuvers around us are carried out. There it is simply even more to watch out, what the one or the other is doing. In Cala Mondrago it was the same and so we are glad to be in front of Colonia de Sant Jordi now and to be able to keep a little more distance to our neighbors in a wide anchorage field. Sant Jordi is our starting point to the island of Cabrera from here it is only about ten nautical miles, but we still have a little time until August 21. Colonia de Sant Jordi is a nice little town, still far away from Palma Mallorca and its party mile. But also this town is heavily marked by Corona. Slowly we realize what effects the pandemic has on the population. Once again, many bars and restaurants, as well as small stores are closed and that in the middle of the high season. We sit once again in a tapas bar and dream with a glass of beer so into the day. Luisa, I know her name because a colleague has called her so, is in the neighboring bar and covers tables. She is one of the few who still has work. I wonder what she'll do when the season is over. And this year it will be over faster than the years before. When you see all this, it makes you wonder if the measures taken are appropriate. Back on the Katinka we prepare for the short beat to Cabrera. The buoy is reserved for us from 6:00 pm. We first want to go to the east of the island to occupy one of the day buoys, these must be left after sunset and cannot be reserved. On this day, however, a heavy swell from the east set into the bay, so we don't feel like mooring here. Instead we sail once around Cabrera. The bays are gigantic but unfortunately it is not allowed to anchor here. With boats the rangers control the anchor prohibition again and again. On the west side we see dolphins for the first time this year. We have missed the animals for a long time and wondered what is actually going on. A mother swims around with her young one for almost half an hour in front of our starboard bow. The little one doesn't have so much air yet and has to go to the water surface more often. The father watches the scene, with some distance, on the port side. Eventually they disappear again and we turn into the entrance of the big bay of Cabrera, where the buoy field is located. Of course much too early and we are worried to find a free buoy. But luck is on our side and we find a free buoy where we can moor. For two days it is now ours. In the evening a ranger drives through the field and checks the boats by means of a list. If the boat name is not on the list it is sent away without mercy. In the next two days we explore the island on the still open hiking trails. Even here, you wouldn't believe it, the island is only permanently inhabited by a few rangers and a handful of people, there are restrictions because of the pandemic. Many hiking trails are closed, the buildings are closed. At least we can visit the excavation sites of the French soldiers who were abandoned on the island by the Spaniards as prisoners. Many had not survived at that time, what today looks like a paradise must have been hell in the past.
|Cabrera anchorage, Spain|
In the evening of the second day, the ranger makes us, as with the neighbors the night before, friendly but determined that we must now disappear here and so we make the night drive over to Ibiza. Because we have fed for days on the caught tuna and also the boiled fish still tastes excellent, I am not allowed to hang out the fishing rod this time. Gaby believed for a long time that I would not catch any fish anyway, but now she is not so sure anymore. With 15 knots of wind from astern we make quite fast progress. In the course of the night the wind decreases more and more and so we bobble along, partly with almost three knots, towards the west. Only shortly before Ibiza the wind becomes stronger again. We squeeze into a small sheltered bay to the existing anchors who have just woken up and have breakfast. In the meantime we have practice with anchoring, so that we are quickly sure that we are lying well. For us it is now time for a good night's sleep. Since in a few days mistral is announced again, we do not stay long in the north of the island. The very next day we sail on to Sant Antoni de Portmany to do a little shopping. The bay is full of buoys for which we have to pay, the price of the harbor is out of our budget anyway, but even for the buoys we have to pay a lot. Anchorage possibilities are few and far between. Nevertheless we find a place to anchor and can do our shopping. The next morning we are between the Illa des Bosc and the Illa Sa Conillera in front of the pass that leads between the islands. The seabed here comes to within two meters of the water's surface, and the passage is peppered with rocks. The color of the water changes from dark blue to a light turquoise, while the water is crystal clear. The pass is only five meters wide, then it goes deep down again. Without grounding we make it and sail south with moderate wind. In the Cala d`Hort we make another stopover to run the next day in the spacious bay of Es Torrent and weather there the Mistral.
|Balearic Islands Ibiza, Spain|
The next two days it blows with over 30 knots from the north and it becomes quite uncomfortable for us on board. But the anchor holds and so we can sail on to Formentera when the mistral dies down again. On the boats it is party time. The small motorboats are crammed with people and the music bangs far over the anchor field. A lot of power helps a lot, after all, the next party boat is not far. You have to be able to endure that. If you can't, you'd better not come here. In the evening the magic is over and we draw comparisons between the storm of the day before yesterday and the ghetto blasters of today at noon, but come to no clear conclusion. Sometime in the evening we break off the discussion, after all we want to leave early in the morning to get to the mainland in Spain. Gaby stands in front with the headlamp and brings up the anchor, while I try to interpret the hand signals and guide the catamaran. It's still pitch dark but the wind is coming from the east at 12 knots and we want to take advantage of that. Usually in the Mediterranean moderate winds are not very frequent and persistent, so here you have to take advantage of every breeze. With daybreak the wind then also falls asleep more and more and we have to use our engine once more. 136 nautical miles lie before us and it goes again into the night. The most beautiful thing are always the sunsets, you just can't get enough of them. In the early morning we approach more and more the Spanish coast and thus also the trade routes of the professional shipping. Here you just have to be a little more alert than you already are. Shortly before we reach our destination, the autopilot suddenly stops and the compass display starts to gyrate. After a short time it works again and we don't attach any importance to the incident for the time being. In Cartagena, after I have radioed the port, we are received friendly and assisted in docking. The marina makes us a very good offer for a month, so we decide to tour the south of Spain with a rental car from here.
We stay in Cartagena until the end of September and visit Granada, Cordoba and Seville. Make a side trip to Valladolid and drive back via Toledo. If you don't know Andalusia, you should take the time to get to know the country and its people. When we tried to visit our first Trans Ocean base we were not very successful, so we tried again. In Almerimar is the base which is managed by Alex. By email I announced us and lo and behold, the answer is not long in coming. She was happy to have a coffee with us. On the 29th of August we started early in the morning at 7.00 o'clock, on the 103 nautical miles long distance from Cartagena to Almerimar. We set sail and Katinka runs at 4.5 to 5 knots towards the destination. The autopilot also works perfectly on this route. The wave from the west takes on a height almost comparable to the Atlantic wave, but the wind comes from the right direction and we make very good progress. In the late afternoon a school of dolphins visits us and during the night the wind drops down to two knots. We start the engine again. The following morning we reach Almerimar. The weather forecast has announced heavy squalls for the day after tomorrow and that is the main reason why we arrive here. The marina is a bit outdated, but the pontoons are clean and the city harbor has a certain flair. With under €30 a day for a week for our catamaran, we squeeze in the showers, have seen worse things. The people are friendly and helpful, that counts for us the most. We keep the first Trans Ocean base visit in best memory. Alex and her husband Udo are very friendly and helpful. We are very happy to have met them and wish them all the best.
Already during the day the wind has increased to 30 knots and the spray rises over the 5 meter high wall of the outer breakwater. In front of the harbor entrance there is a three meter high wave breaking in the waterway. To enter the harbor now would be severely punished. During the night, the wind increases to over 50 knots, gusting to 65 knots. Katinka has entered the spring and tugs violently at the mooring ropes. Wide awake I stand in the cockpit and watch the natural spectacle, with deafening scenery, always hoping that all ropes hold. Only in the morning hours the wind gradually decreases to 25 knots and around noon we still have 15 knots. We have survived the worst, everything went well. The next day we take a walk on the beach in wonderful weather, as if nothing had ever happened. We are definitely happy to be in the marina. Two days later we set off for our last leg in the Mediterranean, to Gibraltar. At shortly before 05.00 o'clock we loosen the lines and grope ourselves in a thick fog soup from the port. We really didn't expect fog when we had set the departure time so early yesterday. The harbor exit is actually buoyed, only in the dense fog nothing is to be recognized. Suddenly a green flash penetrates the wall of fog and right after that we see the first red buoy flashing. We set course for Gibraltar, again 132 nautical miles. In the afternoon the autopilot stops working and we have to steer the remaining 90 nautical miles by hand. Again and again dolphins appear beside and in front of us and accompany us for a while. Gaby calls out "there is something ahead!" I take the binoculars and count about 20 dorsal fins floating in the water. Let it not be killer whales I think to myself. Recently a group of orcas have attacked some yachts and damaged the steering gear. We have no desire to experience the same. As we get closer we quickly realize that the whales are much smaller. They are pilot whales that rest in small groups close under the water surface. Carefully and slowly we pass the animals. They did not pay attention to us and we are glad about it. A nice peaceful experience to see the animals lying in the water like this. With approaching Gibraltar the ship traffic increases again and on the AIS we see again ships over hundred meters in length. Suddenly, it is still dark, I sit thoughtfully at the helm and still annoy me about the autopilot, I hear next to me a snort, startled I flinched. There jumps, directly beside me a white-striped dolphin from the water. Two, three times and then he was already gone. With one blow I am wide awake again. The remaining 10 nautical miles pass as if in a flash and already we turn, around the rock, into the big basin of Gibraltar. We moor in the Marina Alcaidesa on the Spanish side and take care first of all of the autopilot. A button has corroded through to the conductor track and has caused a short circuit. After desoldering the contact, the autopilot works again, but the circuit board is broken and the button is no longer functional. Therefore we decide to buy a new control module. Unfortunately this one gets stuck at customs, so we don't get out of the Mediterranean as planned, but have to wait for customs clearance and subsequent delivery, which gives us the opportunity to take a closer look at Gibraltar and its Monkey Rock.
As soon as we have the spare parts we will leave the Mediterranean for good and sail out into the Atlantic. The contrast between Gibraltar and the Spanish border town of La Linea cannot be greater, on the one hand bustling activity, on the other bitter poverty. In Gibraltar there is no Corona, which of course is not true, but the people here seem to ignore the virus as far as possible, while on the Spanish side almost everyone wears the mask, even where it would not really be necessary. After three weeks the spare parts finally reach us and we drive through the Strait of Gibraltar, out into the Atlantic. On the height of Tarifa we get into the counter current and almost stand on the spot. Crossing the traffic separation area becomes an adventure. With three knots we sneak around the "big boats" to the other side. Here the current gradually eases and gives way to the Atlantic. The Atlantic awaits us with a five meter wave and much bigger distances. We gain new experiences on our first 560 nautical miles to Porto Santo, shortly before Madeira. Lonely we draw our course line through the water and reach the small island after five days. To enter the island we need a PCR test. This is free of charge on Madeira and within 24 hours the result is known. The people here are very friendly and relaxed. Even Corona seems to have changed nothing, although the effects on the island are clearly visible. Empty hotel resorts, hardly any tourists and few restaurant visitors characterize the image of these days.
|Porto Santo, Portugal|
We take long walks on almost empty beaches and do, for the first time in a long time, a mountain tour inland before we cross to Madeira. After a great day of sailing with 15 knots of wind from the southeast, we reach the Quinta do Lorde marina in the early afternoon. The resort is bankrupt but the marina continues to operate. At night, the village-like complex is a bit scary, but unlike Funchal, you have more space and the sanitary facilities are clean. However, one is also very far from the shot and therefore needs a car. We explore the island for ten days and would have liked to stay longer, but the year is slowly coming to an end and Gaby's passport expires, which we want to replace in the course of our home leave. Madeira will remain in our memories. The nature with its lush flora, the deep valleys and numerous hiking trails, has impressed us heavily.
|Funchal Madeira, Portugal|
Our last destination this year is the Canary Islands. After our home leave we want to wait here for the further events of the Corona pandemic, before we leave for the Cape Verde Islands and further to Brazil. As a destination we have Lanzarote in mind, but the persistent easterly wind, which later turns to southeast, puts a spoke in our wheel. We keep on Gran Canaria, which lies however also still too east. Omitting Tenerife because of the too high Corona numbers we finally reach La Palma, completely in the west, after about 62 hours. One has to stay flexible and we learn to deal with the given wind and weather conditions. The engine is used less and less and sailing becomes more and more important. Here in Santa Cruz de La Palma we will finish the year 2020 sailing and prepare for the year 2021.
|Canary Islands Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain|
This year we were:
330 days underway and had 35 days of vacation.
Of the 330 days, we were stuck in lockdown in Italy for 129 days and at sea for 72 days. 101 port days and 129 days in lockdown are compared to 84 days at anchor. Port charges in 2020 are 23.02€/day (Lockdown 11.67€; Mediterranean 44.77€; Atlantic 22.10€).
On the 72 days we were underway for an average of 11 hours, including 4 hours under motor. On 16 days we spent the night at sea.
In total we have covered 2661 nautical miles of which 1485 nautical miles under sail and 1176 under motor.
VMG in 2020 is 3.85 knots.
In the darned Corona times you never know exactly where it will take you. Nevertheless, we remain confident always the goal firmly in the eye, once around the world.