Sailing from Sicily to Greece

SETTING SAIL

We found the perfect weather window and we were off. After a bilge pump boat hook exchange (our friends, Sailing Nomad, had a bilge pump related disaster hours before setting off on passage), we followed them out of Syracuse and into the deep blue.

This was going to be the longest journey we had done so far, three days and two nights of sailing to reach Argostoli in Kephalonia. We had done so much prep that I actually wasn’t too nervous. We had safety equipment coming out of ears, a forecast of calm weather and two other boats to cross with. Anyone who knows me knows how anxious I can get, so the fact that I was feeling pretty calm as we hoisted the sails and set off towards Greece was a bit of a miracle.

LEAVING SYRACUSA

We were following Sailing Nomads and were soon contacted on the radio by Wild Rover, some other friends from Marina di Ragusa, who were catching us up fast. We spent a lot of the first day (and in fact most of the days after) watching what our friends were doing with their sails and trying to work out how to get better performance out of the boat. It was a great learning curve, watching how they were much more willing to follow the wind off course if it meant they could get the engine off. They received several radio calls from us …’Do you have the engine on? What point of sail are you on? What speed are you making?’ They didn’t seem too fed up by our constant questions, or they were just being polite, but either way we were learning!

The first day passed uneventfully and the sun started to set. It was quite a special moment, to be out at sea with nothing to see other than our two friends, sailing in a little triangle. We ate chilli outside and immediately started our watch pattern. We had reflected on our passage over as crew and decided that the standard four hours on, four hours off weren’t for us. We had found the four hour shifts too long (and too lonely) so decided to try two hour shifts.

OUR FIRST SUNSET

I slept first leaving Adam harnessed in with our standard horizon HE890 portable radio attached (you can skip this bit if you aren’t my Mum). This is perhaps my favourite bit of safety equipment, as if Adam went overboard while I was asleep he could press the distress button and it would make our on board radio bleep like crazy and give me his co-ordinates. It would also send his co-ordinates to our nearby friends, so help would be at hand! But I guess this wouldn’t happen, as we have the rule that if we’re in the cockpit alone we’re always clipped in. SEE MUM, WE DO ALL THE SAFETY.

Adam woke me up with a cup of tea. Nothing beats waking up to a cup of tea. Adam slept in the cockpit (I think he was nervous I’d start running around the boat trying to get better sailing performance if he left me to my own devices!) My shift went quickly even though there was nothing to see but the mast lights of our friends and the stars, which carpeted the sky.

A LITTLE MAINTENANCE

The night passed quickly and I didn’t feel too tired by the end of it. We found it much easier to be more relaxed with shifts during the day and it was nice to have company, especially as there really was nothing to see! I read, Adam unsuccessfully fished. We napped on and off through the day. We played with the sails every now and again and fixed a few things on the boat. It was bliss.

By the second night Wild Rover had run ahead (I think they were just showing off) so we spent the night with Sailing Nomads, having little radio chats every now and again. Wild Rover was also checking up on us, giving us little tips like alerting us to fog when we reached the busier crossing outside Argostoli. He advised we put a saucepan up the mast to help radars find us….yeah nice one Karl, like we’d fall for that one.

In the morning of the third day we spotted land. Kephalonia was where Adam and I went on our first holiday together. We walked around the marinas and talked non stop about what boat we would buy when we went on our sailboat adventure. Adam wanted a Catamaran. I wanted a sailboat. We got a sailboat. Just saying. It felt so amazing to be sailing up to the island where we had once had a far off dream. In those moments two years ago I wonder if I ever thought this would really happen. I don’t think I did. But it shows just how quickly life can change, and that it really is possible to chase a dream, no matter how unattainable it seems. Perhaps I’ll create a wall sticker.

HAPPY TO SPOT LAND

We were waved into an abandoned marina by Hayley and Karl, our friends from Wild Rover. For the first time during the whole trip we were in danger. I tried hard to cover Hayley’s excited shouts about a turtle she had spotted. We were about to moor the boat alongside for the second time ever (it didn’t go great the first time!) and I know how Adam’s love for animals will take priority over any safe manoeuvre. There was a very real danger that if he heard the shouts the boat would go careering towards to the stone wall or the expensive looking sailboat in search of the turtle, instead of smoothly alongside. Luckily she went unheard and Adam docked the boat beautifully.

ARGOSTOLI

There was just enough time to enjoy the sunset from land before it got dark. We celebrated our first passage with our friends over dinner and drinks and fell into bed exhausted but so proud of our massive achievement.

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