Good things come to those who wait.
Oh how we had waited and oh how good it was to say goodbye to the people of Canet. Also the lads in the boat next door, and the windy Gulf of Lion. My favourite goodbye is for the wind. It’s ever present roar 24/7, became an intrusion on daily life, and reminded us of who was in control of our travel plans. The wind in Canet is a bastard, for me this is an undeniable truth.
“The Bastard winds of Canet”, I do think this new phrase could catch on.
Once the boat was finished, up until now the wind had the last laugh. ” The Bastard Winds of Canet ” blew for three weeks where we had to wait to start our journey. In the end it was four months between dropping and raising sails. To say we were keen to leave is an understatement, and the morning of our departure I felt like doing an Irish jig on deck to mark the occasion. I didn’t as we had company and it was too early and cold for dancing.
Travelling Once Again With The Captains
To make the process more comfortable, and fill in the many knowledge gaps we now have, we engaged a professional skipper Mathieu to come with us for the first two days. Having Mathieu on board is similar to holding a parent’s hand when you are a kid, you feel as though nothing bad can happen to you whilst they are by your side. No doubt my side kick captain was happy for us to go on our own, I felt we really needed the help and on reflection it was some of the best funds we have spent on our journey so far.
As they say knowledge is priceless.
Let The Journey Begin
I had waited so long for this day, and in all my imaginings I had not once thought of starting our adventure by me “chow chundering” over the side 5 nautical miles into the 345 nautical mile journey. All of us do sea sickness in our own way, to those of you lucky enough to escape this malaise, good on you, though best keep your good fortune to yourself as your sailing partner may not want to hear how lucky you are. For me sea sickness makes me incredibly sleepy, so after I had fed the fish I then had a lie down for the next 6 hours. This day was the closest I have ever been to living the life of a cat.
I’m not sure why I get sea sick, but there were still positives from feeling like crap. As Mathieu was there I didn’t have to solider on, plus a day without food is always such a good start to any health kick prior to summer. A new pearl of wisdom from Mathieu in regard to sea sickness was, you are best to stay inside and keep warm. I had always thought the opposite was true, outside and keep cool was the go. How wrong can you be. I recalled the several long nights I have spent freezing cold, miserable seated outside waiting for the dawn to arrive. All in vain to a fast recovery – Bugger!
A New Must Have Item On Our Boat
I need to share my new favourite thing on our boat, a Nanna blanket. This is a blanket with an electric blanket inside it. I am in LOVE!! If your boat or home like ours is minus a heater, this is the next best thing. It can be run on 12 volt and it is so delicious to wrap yourself up and get warm quickly. In a prior life, the Captain would be happy to warm me up using a hair drier, a little tricky on a boat, yet the loss of this luxury has now been replaced by this new luxury. I wonder if it’s time to take up knitting again when I sit with my new blankie.
Highlights of day one besides Nanna’s little helper, the Captain’s food and relatively calm waters, was having Mathieu on board to talk, demonstrate and go through things we had forgotten or didn’t know about sailing catamarans. As part of the proceedings we put up our screecher or gennaker sail, which continually twists as it goes up. The boys managed to get the deed done but it wasn’t simple and we will add a new swivel at the head of the sail to see if this makes a difference. As a sail it has been frustrating as well as disappointing and we are yet to see its benefits.
Day two we had a decent wind behind us which was fantastic as it was pushing us just were we wanted to go. Mathieu thought we were lucky to leave when we did as the wind and waves we were experiencing, meant the weather had started to cut sick once again in Canet. No surprises there. As I had stated previously the weather and wind in Canet is ridiculous. Downwind sailing with Mathieu was brilliant for two reasons. First the waves were larger than anything I had encountered before, so having both boys in charge gave me confidence to watch, learn and see how well our boat handled, without me having any responsibility. Nice. Second, Mathieu showed us how to reef without changing course whilst sailing downwind. Handy. The important aspect of this manoeuver is to lower the sail in degrees and pull in the luff and leech reefing sheets (the inside and outside ropes of the main sail) together as you go, keeping the main sail off the spreaders. If you don’t do this you run the risk of breaking battens on the spreaders, (the big wires that hold the mast up).
Other highlights of the trip was a decent sized pod of dolphins who came to just have fun in our bow waves. Earlier in the day the Captain had said how few fun loving dolphins we had seen on our travels. They must have heard him speak, they came to prove a point. Our next visitor was a tiny bird that had been blown away from shore in the winds, he flew onboard for a few hours respite. Not our first bird visitor but this one was seriously cute, and felt right at home coming in and out of the cabin for the warmth, so comfortable it even had a go steering. I hope it made it back to land, when it left us we were still a long way from land, none was in view when it left our home.
The Clock Continues To Dictate
We were on a tight sailing schedule, Mathieu needed to be at the Olbia Airport on time early Sunday morning. As it was he had missed most of Easter thanks to the wind delaying our departure, so missing the flight was not an option. This time pressure meant we got to pass through the straight between Corsica and Sardinia at night. Great pity as magnificent scenery was missed and no sleep was had until we “got around the corner”. Throughout the night the downwind sailing continued by hand so both Mathieu and Gaz got to helm outside in the cold. It was bitter outside, the wind cut through and once again the Nanna blanket and water bottle also a new addition were welcome. Still as a sailing education it was invaluable.
For anyone in Australia who like me, prior to arrival thought the Mediterranean was a mild climate, think again.
This place is cold and it’s mid spring. You have to blame the wind as it chooses to run down the snowy mountains and grab the cold as it goes. Official weather temperature forecasts are taken in the shade, away from the wind. So forewarned, the weather ranges lie, and I’ve taken to wearing a skivvy, a grey one, I’m thinking of joining the Wiggles. After days of cold and wearing jeans which I absolutely detest, I am looking forward to the summer temperatures which I know will come eventually. The most common phrase spoken on our boat is “it’s bloody freezing” as if by stating the obvious somehow it will make the weather get warmer.
Not working thus far.
When we finally got around the “corner” and out of the wind, we tucked into a bay for a few hours sleep. It was 3.30 am in the morning and both boys had been up since early morning, I had grabbed a couple of hours sleep on the couch so all of us were buggered. We were up again at 6.30 a.m as we still had to get Mathieu to the airport in Olbia and time was ticking. As well as the cold we now had rain, it sounds hideous but the sunrise and the place we were sailing in was so beautiful, it was hard not to feel anything but inspired. Finally after months of patience we were sailing towards new destinations. The mood on the boat was upbeat. Sleep, sunrises and hot food will do that, yet for me, this morning held the promise of so much more.
The Captain and I felt as if we had made the great escape from Canet and the future was bright. Summer, friends from Tasmania, and new places to see and explore are on their way! Oh and don’t forget the warm, winter is almost gone.
A Quick Video From The Passage
For those of you who follow my Face Book Page, you will know that I am trying to learn how to put together some footage of the trip. It’s not professional but at least I can say I was there!
The adventure has begun!
PS Another highlight of the trip was earlier in the evening making cake mixture, but not cooking until around midnight. To have a hot cuppa and steaming hot cup cakes was a treat. Worth repeating.