Preparations For The Atlantic Crossing

Leaving Sicily to cross back to Valencia. A storm underway and undertaking a lot of work on Ker Marie in order for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

I love to write and always intend to do it more often, but time on the boat is going so quickly at the moment. In my last story we ended up in San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily where we waited for a good weather window to cross back to Sardinia. Well actually, Valencia, but Sardinia is our first stop on our way. After four days of waiting the weather looked good enough and we hoisted our sails in the evening towards Sardinia.

After 42 hours of sailing we arrived in Sardinia. It was a great sail with lovely wind and we made a good overall speed. We anchored in special spot which is apparently famous for his dunes, “Porto Pino”. I walked up the highest dune, which was, (I found out because someone was whistling and shouting), forbidden. I thought these boys were lifeguards, but instead they were facing the other way towards the dunes, making sure no one went into it because it is a protected area. Me, whistling, but some tunes instead, walked my way down, with a full beach looking at me. Sorry peeps…did get the shot from Ker Marie I wanted though.

The next day we left late afternoon to cross back to Menorca. A 250 nm passage and with only 25 liters of water left we thought, “better a shower less than missing this good weather window”. We had some great sailing again. Very nice wind and very good progress. We were about to get close to Menorca when I had my night watch. While having my night watch I had seen thunder for a while in the far distance, but now it looked like it was coming closer and closer to us. I decided to wake up David, when it was 2’ o’clock at night. 

Together we had a close look on the radar and satellite, this was not the forecast at all, a thunderstorm was approaching Mahon, the place we were heading for. We decided we should be able to make it with only 20 nm left to get into harbour. We set up full sails and trimmed them as best as we could, to make the best speed possible. We were flying towards Mahon, but with only 2 miles left the storm was so close that David decided to turn around back to open sea again. At that point I wanted to pull a duvet over my head and go to sleep…

We were so close. For 1,5 hours we were beating against the swell to get away from the storm. We were on the edge of the storm all the time. There was proper thunder and the sea state was getting worse. Suddenly David saw a gap on the radar and decided to turn around to go for it, into safe harbour. We were now getting into the weather and very steadily the knots of wind increased, from 25 to 30, 30 to 35, 35 to 40, 40 to 45, 45 to 50, 50 to a Genoa as big as a garbage bin bag. The wind was ON and without our furler main mast motor, our main sail unfurled himself and was now wrapped around the rigging. Great! David tried to solve it but there was now way in this weather that was going to happen. The swell was big, nothing I have ever seen before. On the radio we heard a Dutch boat asking for the coastguard. With engine failure and a massive jibe on their main (they were surprised about the weather and had now idea what was waiting for them) they had to be tow’d in.

In the meantime we also had our engine on full throttle and with that tiny bit of sail we were beating the swell and trying to get into harbour before the weather was closing us in again. We hoped that we were able to get in because sometimes you can be rolled around so badly that you cannot get into harbour. But the entrance to Mahon harbour is wide. And then, finally, there we were, we made it! Both soo tired and very happy. After docking the boat there was a sigh of relieve.

It was morning at the moment and our neighbour said ‘were you out there?’. Uhm yes, we were. I think I can call this our first storm sailing moment. In a way it felt pretty good. I havent been once scared, but why would you when you know what the boat is capable of and you have the best captain you can wish for. Very happy David made the decision to turn around. Later on I went to see the Dutchies, same as us, the weather was not forecasted and they were completely overwhelmed by the storm. Apparently, as they told us, the coastguard was impressed by the weather as well when they headed out to sea. (see below a picture of the deviation we made and the weather gap on the radar)

After a few lovely relaxing days in Mahon we hoisted our sails again towards Ibiza. From Ibiza we did our last lap towards Valencia. We have been in Valencia for a month now and we have done a lot of work on the boat. To name a few: We replaced our windows in the cockpit, fixed the furler motor, Sails are repaired, winch maintenance and loads of other (endless) jobs.

At the moment David is making a bigger gas locker compartment, a new bow locker floor and fixing our engine. I guess we are not ready yet but we are really getting there. 

Valencia is lovely and it is good to be here and do the work. We think we can leave in the next two weeks and head for the Canaries. All very exciting!

Will keep you updated and many thanks for all your lovely comments that I get through Facebook and Instagram. Very much appreciated.


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