Continued From Previous Page: Sailing From Santa Maria Island to the Straits of Gibraltar and Beyond
Sardegna, Italy — Teulada Marina
The fun wasn’t over yet.
Mike motored us into the marina, and to our dismay, it was one of those places where everyone backs in and fenders are the only things separating the boats.
This is a smart configuration from a space-saving perspective. But for a couple of sailors who are used to anchoring in the summertime and mooring balls in the winter, navigating into this kind of dock seems a bit like trying to fit yourself into a full sardine can. The big winds, and the fact that we’re not used to docking this boat yet, didn’t help.
It wasn’t obvious where to go; we didn’t know whether we could just grab a spot or whether we needed to check in first. After we had cruised around the marina for a bit, a guy in a marina dinghy motored out to us and yelled something in Italian. Mike told him that we wanted to get a spot. He took off over towards the dock, and we followed him, or tried to. We were still fighting the wind and the currant somewhat. Mike kept the motor throttled way down because he didn’t want to hit anyone’s million-Euro yacht, but it was not easy to back in like that. It was stressful, because the boats were all so nice and bunches of the owners were hanging around on the dock. But on the bright side, people came over to help us.
We finally got settled, and right away we got to meet some of our new neighbors at the marina. One of the boat owners, Marco, speaks good English. He asked if we had sailed all the way from America. Mike told him from America to the Azores, and then from the Azores to here. He made a bowing motion towards us. Then he translated the conversation for the rest of the people on the dock.
One of the other boat owners disappeared and then momentarily came back with two great big cans of German beer, one for each of us. Talk about hospitality! We were impressed.
The people we met continued to impress us with their hospitality and graciousness throughout the duration of our stay. We’d recommend a vacation in Sardegna to anyone.
From here, my journaling gets pretty sketchy; the next several days were a whirlwind of activity and I didn’t have time to write everything down that I would have liked to. I did do a sort of nutshell recap, so between that and the pictures hopefully you’ll get a bit of an idea what happened.
I wrote the following journaling on 9/4/2012 14:21 Eastern time, 20:20 local time in Sardegna:
Fri. 8/31/2012 — â€œArrived in Sardegna, A.M. Dinner with Marco, Claudia and their children.
Sat 9/1/2012 — Took a walk up as far as hotel. Looked at beach, coastline. Spectacular! Dodged traffic. Got ride back with nice Italian couple.
Sun 9/2/2012 – Rained. Mike slept in. I journaled (which is why I have been able to recount this much of the story to you.) Did boat chores. Took bus to Teulada. Went to bank. Needed to ask random Italians for help understanding how to use the ATM. ATM machine ate our card. Walked around; looked at closed stores. Waited for bus. Decided bus wasn’t coming. Began to walk back. Bus came. Ran after bus. Bus didn’t go all the way back to port. Had to walk partway, in the dark. Scary, scary.
Got up early to take pictures.
Teulada marina is quite scenic and beautiful, don’t you think?
There is a free anchorage right outside of the marina. The locals tell us that it’s often crowded, but it wasn’t crowded at that time due to the wind and weather.
Later that morning, nice couple, Barbara and her husband, drove us to bank and to get fuel. ATM at the bank didn’t work. ATM card worked for fuel. ATM at post office worked. Thank God for locals who knew there was an ATM machine at the post office. P.O. was at an out-of-the-way spot that we never would have found on our own.
Evening — went back into town and had dinner at an Italian restaurant / bar. Took pictures. Had fun. We picked the restaurant because they pick people up from the marina, and because they have free WIFI. The guy who drove us was a crazy, crazy driver. He was funny though. It was scary fun.
Him: “Sorry for no English.”
Me: “Sorry for no Italian!”
We laughed. The three of us tried to have a conversation anyway. We were able to talk to him about MotoGP, a little.
Me: “Sardegna is beautiful!”
Him: “No work.”
We’ve discovered that’s pretty much the case with all the islands we’ve visited — Catalina Island, Santa Maria Island, Sardegna…
It started raining, hard.
Him: “This is not normal.”
His driving didn’t become any less crazy with the rain.
When we reached our destination, our driver parked the car; we got out and he led us through the bar, across a courtyard, up some stairs, and into the restaurant. Then he introduced us to Claudio, our waiter.
Claudio seated us and gave us our menus. As Mike and I studied the menus, our hearts sank; we realized that almost everything they served incorporated either pork or shellfish, which we do not eat. However, they were able to accommodate our requests to change a couple of the dishes.
We started off with an appetizer of tuna; I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t think to take a picture of it before we dug in. It was beautiful, almost like a work of art — and it was the prettiest thing we ate that night.
Next we had pasta. It was amazing to us that, for some reason, the pasta tasted better in Italy than it had anywhere else. It tasted soooo good.
After the main course, I decided to take advantage of the free WIFI. Meanwhile Mike enjoyed some espresso and watched Bad Boys, which was playing on the TV. For some reason, at the time it seemed like the funniest thing in the world to us watching Will Smith and company speaking Italian.
Then Mike decided he wanted to try some dessert. I was so full that I said I didn’t want any, but then he talked me into having some of his because it was soooo yummy. The photos don’t even come close to capturing the yumminess.
It rained for most of the evening. At times it was raining so hard that we all got up to watch it.
The restaurant was not busy, maybe because of the rain. When we’d arrived, there had been a group of people eating. Later a couple came in, but we could tell they were friends of Claudio’s. (His friends helped us take the picture you see of Mike and me together plus a few others that didn’t turn out.)
At the end of the evening we asked Claudio to call a taxi for us. When we went out front, he was waiting for us; he drove us home. How nice was that?
I asked him, are you sure it’s OK?” He said “It is OK.” I asked him if he was finished working. I assumed from his answer that the people in the restaurant were his friends, not necessarily paying customers. Mike asked him what time he normally gets off work. He shrugged, then said, “ten o’ clock, twelve o’ clock, three o’ clock.” I guess he just stays until everyone is finished and no one else shows up wanting to eat.
Did boat chores all day. Missed the bus. Crazy funny guy from the marina gave us a ride to town. I am still laughing, thinking about some of the things he said. There’s no way I could do the conversation justice in this brief entry and I probably shouldn’t even try; I guarantee that his humor will not come across when I write about it the same way it did in person.
He spoke quite a bit of English because he used to work for Princess Cruise lines. In the summer time, they cruised to Los Angeles, Mexico and I forget where else. In winter, they went to Alaska and some other places. He learned English at that time. Then he told us he moved to Germany and forgot all his English. His English was broken, but mostly understandable.
He cracked some jokes about McDonalds that made us die laughing. First he started shouting at us, “McDonalds is shit! shit! SHIT!” Of course we weren’t going to disagree with that. Mike was in the front seat making faces and pretending to gag at the mere mention of McDonalds.
Then the guy said that Neil Armstrong, the astronaut, put a McDonalds on the moon. LOL! Teeheehee!
Yeah, I warned you the conversation wouldn’t seem all that funny when I wrote it down. What can I say. But if you ever hear Mike and me bantering back and forth about this or that being “shit! shit! SHIT! now you’ll understand how that got started.
Here are some of the pics we took as we were walking around Teulada.
We went to the P.O. and got more money out of the ATM machine. Stores were all closed — we didn’t understand why.
Went to Italian library to use their free WIFI. The outside of the library was really pretty, as you can see from the pics below.
To use our laptop at the library, Mike had to give them ID and all kinds of info. I checked to make sure that About.com credited all my work for the past month — they did. Left library. Called taxi.
I’ve been enjoying taking pictures of the pay phones in all the countries we’ve been visiting. Pay phones? How quaint!
Crazy tourists, taking pictures in the taxi. Haha.
I’m so sad that I didn’t get a photo of my favorite view of Teulada; it would have been facing the other way down this street. I settled for taking this not so great pic through the front windshield of the taxi as we were driving. The driver gave me a puzzled look when he saw the camera flash; he probably thought I was taking a picture of the back of his head. Teehee!
Came back to boat. Taxi cost 15 Euros. Yikes! Bus is only 2.20 each way per person.
Got fruit & veggies from the farmer who comes down in his truck to sell produce at the marina — potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, nectarines, lettuce, onions. That day he seemed to be sold out of figs, cabbage, plums and zucchini, which we bought from him other times.
We bought so much I had a hard time figuring out where to stow it all. The gear hammock and the pantry were completely filled with food.
Not pictured: I resorted to putting the watermelon in the sink. This was the only thing I could think to do to keep it from rolling around in our boat.
Leaving Sardegna, Italy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Sailing to Crete, the Greek Island
This journaling is dated 9/7/2012 1:05 Eastern Time, 7:05 Italian Time
We left Sardegna on 9/5/2012 in the afternoon, sometime between noon and 1:00 o’clock.
Prior to our departure, most of our day was consumed by boat chores — putting everything away, cleaning and preparing to leave. I washed all our produce and put it away, then Mike refilled our water tank.
We left without incident.
I had been sure I would cry when we left Sardegna; our time there was too short and I would have liked to stay longer.
Yet, it was one of those days that sailors dream about — fair winds at about 17 knots, following seas, and small, shallow waves. The sea was so calm, the day so beautiful, and the scenery so gorgeous; it was impossible to cry on such a perfect day. We were even able to take some pictures as we left.
MikeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s getting really good at taking arm’s-length self-portraits of us.
Conditions have remained calm, but our wind has died and we are now motoring. We could maybe sail a bit more than we have been, but Mike wants to hurry through the “Stretto di Sicilia.” There’s been quite a bit of boat traffic and it’s safer to have the motor on when the winds are this light (7-10 knots) considering the condition of our sails.
Shortly after sunrise, I took some pictures showing our position.
Right before sunrise, we passed a group of fishing boats.
Visibility seems good but we can’t see anything except sun, sky and sea — and the occasional bird.
9-8-2012 4:30 a.m. Eastern Time, 10:30 a.m. local time
We’re still passing by the Sicilian coast. Earlier this morning I took a couple pictures of our instruments; it was so bright outside that it was hard to tell whether you’ll be able to see anything in them.
We could see the Sicilian coast, faintly, so I took some pictures of that too. I made sure to take a couple photos of Mike pointing at the coast just to be sure that later when we go back to look at these pics we’ll be able to figure out what they are.
Yesterday we did have some good wind for awhile and Mike was able to turn the motor off. Then the seas got rough for awhile and it was uncomfortable sailing. After sunset, it was so dark that we could not see the horizon, and Mike got a little queasy and had to lie down.
The wind shifted so we were beating into it; it died down, and we had to put the motor on again. The sails were flogging and flogging, so we took down the “main” sail (remember, we had the storm jib hoisted instead of the mainsail, since our main got destroyed back in the Atlantic.)
In one of the photos I took this morning, I think maybe you can see that our sail is down.
Shortly after that the wind picked up again but it was still coming from the wrong direction for easily getting through the strait. So we kept the motor on.
This morning, the winds and the sea are so calm that we have had to keep the motor on. There are cargo ships everywhere; it’s like rush hour. There are at least 3 ahead of us, a few alongside of us, and one or maybe more behind us.
Sun 9-9-2012 12:47 Eastern 18:46 local time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Sunset
Today Mike and I decided that we are more than ready to park-a the barca.
We motored all day today until about an hour ago when we put the sail up and attempted to sail. We aren’t breaking any speed records, but at least we are moving in the right direction. The wind is barely blowing at 7-10 knots but it is coming from behind us.
Mike and I just ate a meal of Italian vegetables — zucchini, onions, potatoes, tomatoes — and we each drank a cup of Portuguese hot chocolate.
The sea is calm and life is good, although we are both feeling anxious to get to our destination.
Mike only saw a few cargo ships today — not many. I was down below sleeping for most of the day while he kept watch and navigated the boat. I thought about crocheting, but today was really hot and I didn’t feel motivated to work on anything in particular.
The temperature has dropped a bit now that the sun is down, and it’s much more comfortable. In any direction, all we can see is sky and sea. There are some gray clouds overhead. If sailing were always like this, everyone would be out on a boat. The oceans would be jam-packed with cruisers.
The Moth-Eating Bird
9-12-2012 4:12 Eastern Time, 10:12 a.m. local time
Our sailboat, from time to time, has been a safe haven for little critters who’ve somehow gotten too far out to sea. A couple of days ago, Mike began marveling at the number of moths and dragonflies that had landed on our boat.
We debated about whether or not to kill the moths. Our sailing wardrobes consist mostly of wool, and I also have bunches of wool yarn aboard. A couple of moths could render us cold and naked pretty quickly. Yet I was reluctant to kill those beautiful living creatures that had come to our boat for refuge.
Mike decided we should kill them before they had a chance to breed. But, before we were able to act on his decision, nature intervened in an interesting way.
A beautiful yellow bird landed on our boat yesterday. We were about 150 nautical miles away from the Greek island of Crete; we were surprised to see such a small, vibrantly colored bird so far out to sea. He didn’t look like any of the ocean-going birds we’d seen thus far.
The bird was in search of food. As it turned out, he liked to eat moths. He ate every single moth we had aboard, including bunches of moths we didn’t even know we had aboard. He was systematic in his search for moths; he looked in every pile of line we had, and in every available nook or cranny he could find.
Sometimes the moths would attempt to get away from him by flying away from the boat. When they did, the bird would fly after them and hunt them down. He ate every single one of them.
The little bird was fearless. He was not even a little bit afraid of us. He landed on Mike several times and he landed on me one time as well. Once when he landed on the boat beside me, I could feel his delicate little feathers tickling my back.
Can you see the bird in the photo above? Check it out — I actually got a pic of him when he landed on Mike. Take a look at Mike’s right shoulder, which is on the left side of the photo when you’re facing the computer. Is that amazing or what?
He ignored our attempts to give him water; he was in pursuit of moths. When he couldn’t find any more moths aboard our boat, he flew away. We were sad to see him go. We’d been hoping he would stay aboard for another couple of days, long enough to get back to land.
He flew South, in the direction of Africa. We’re curious about whether he was an African bird, a Greek bird, or from somewhere else all together.