Sailing from Palermo to Gagliari

Motor Sailing

Motor Sailing

I’ve set (motor)sail for Cagliari and something is wrong with Eileen of Avoca. There are odd vibrations coming from the engine but I am at a loss as to the cause. After a restless night I notice an appreciable loss in power and am getting more concerned. I’ve checked everything I can on board and all that remains as a possible cause of the vibration and loss of power is an issue with the propeller.

Attaching my waterproof video camera to a boat hook with copious amounts of tape, I lower it over the side and film the rudder and propeller shaft in action. Problem identified!

I’ve become entangled in some debris, if only I had thought to check this sooner. I’m now midway between Sicily and Sardinia and I need to go into the water to clear the prop.

Now if I were McGyver… all I’d need is some chewing gum, a welder, two dolphins… etc… and I’ll build a dry dock in which to do my repairs!

Facing reality (Shucks, I’m not really McGyver), I drop the sails and deploy my parachute sea anchor. No way am I going to get into the water if my boat wont stay put. To be extra sure I put on a harness and tie myself to the boat on a long line before jumping in. Now why do I suddenly feel like shark bait?

Twenty minutes later, operation, clear prop is a success. The vibrations are gone and I’m happily making 4.5kts motor sailing toward Gagliari.

It’s the 9th of October 8am. I’m moored at S. Elmo marina and making arrangements to get back to Belgium.

Sailing to Palermo

Palermo port

Palermo port

Setting the TillerPilot, I take 20 minute naps (using an egg timer as my alarm clock) between lookouts and manage to reach Palermo by 1pm the following day in a semi-rested state.

Thankfully there was very little in the way of shipping, though I still don’t like sleeping when the coast is just an hour or two away. Especially when this area has a reputation for being the “Bermuda Triangle” of the Mediterranean.

The port of Palermo is not a pretty sight. A forest of cranes, numerous decrepit ships and offshore rigs undergoing maintenance dominate the skyline, but at least I’ve found a spot to moor Eileen (an abandoned refueling station).