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 solo across the Atlantic is too dangerous in a small boat!

Saling keeps you fit

Sailing keeps you fit

I cringe every time I have to hear this. Family and friends, with absolutely no knowledge of sailing have rallied to harangue me incessantly on the absurdity of my impending travel plans. They would all rather I find a new job, settle down, and be responsible.

Ha! No chance of stopping me now, but you would think they’d have had a little more faith given that risk management was my “bread and butter” profession. Let me digress a moment to reiterate my intentions:

Towards the end of this year I plan to sail across the Atlantic in my 23ft sailboat (a Yarmouth23). Not because it is a life-long dream, not because I want to set a record or publicise sponsors, and certainly not to prove anything to myself or others.

I just want to be alone at sea in my boat, free to travel where I please for an indeterminate period. It’s not a vacation, I’m not trying to “find myself” (surely that asininity has gone out of fashion), and I’m still insisting it’s not a mid-life crisis (surely I’ll live at least another 70 years!)

However, I am intentionally getting away from the Machiavellian machinations of corporate life to pursue a rewarding hobby / lifestyle that has helped me relax, get fit, see new places and put some melanin back into my pallid office dweller complexion.

I have not rushed into any of this. I’ve spent the last two years just equipping and getting to know my boat. Cruising trips have only gradually become more ambitious, and I’ve patiently acquired and familiarised myself with all the warranted safety gear.

I have confidence in my immaculately maintained craft and have left little to chance with regards to safety. I carry a life raft, EPIRB, PLB, 3xVHF radios, HF receiver, a parachute sea anchor, Jordan series drogue, second complement of sails, Aries vane gear, two tiller pilots, a pyromaniacs horde of flares, 3x handheld GPS and more.

The only pieces of cruising equipment I don’t have are a water-maker, satellite phone and HF transceiver. Prohibitively expensive on my budget so I’ll just have to carry the water I use, live without SMS at sea, and listen rather than talk all day on the HF.

Not that any of this is likely to allay their fears, so I’ll just have to weigh anchor, do my Atlantic crossing, sail back and tell them; “See, you needn’t have worried!”
With a little luck I might be able to stave off the alternative “find a new job, settle down, and be responsible” option for a while yet. 😉