Go West!

We waited two weeks to get the right weather window to head due west across the Ionian 150nm to Italy. We had a great time, but there can’t be many activities in this day and age when the weather can mess with your plans for 2 weeks. I’m exaggerating a bit, we could have chosen to motor across in zero wind. We have done it a few times and would rather sail, the noise of the engine starts to get monotonous. We could have also chosen to set off on some fairly average conditions and beat into wind and waves for 30 hours. Done that too…and it makes me a very unpopular skipper…But eventually a window opened up.

We managed to catch a lovely southerly almost all the way across. Being a southerly and us heading west the wind was between 120 and 60 degrees off the port side of Vega at 10-15 knots for most of the trip. In these conditions, we can manage 4.5-6 knots. Perfect cruising.

At the end of Milly’s 10-midnight watch, Heather took over in the cockpit and in no time the wind was on the increase, with a bit more of a west in it. By 1am we had 18-22 knots at 60 degrees off the port bow and we were flying, averaging 7-8 knots in the small swell. The new moon had set a couple of hours previously the stars were magnificent. It was champagne sailing…

At 4am Ben accompanied Heather in the cockpit for his first proper night watch and then I was back out at 5am. The wind was now a steady 25 knots and had even more west in it, putting it 40 degrees off our bow and with our boat speed we were seeing apparent winds in the low 30’s. The waves quickly built up and things were less champagne like and a bit more vomit inducing. By now we had furled away our main sail and were beating into it with just our head sail up and we were making good, if bumpy, progress with boat speeds in the high sixes and low sevens there was spray over the deck and no one really fancied too much brekky. But spirits were high and we had only 4 hours left to run. As we entered the lee of Cape Rizzuto just south of Crotone, things moderated and we entered the port in almost flat calm conditions. How things can change!

As crossings go, it was our best yet, we only used the motor for three hours and we did the 150nm in 26 hours. An average of just under 6 knots. Sure you could have done it in a ferry in 6 hours or by plane in an hour…but where is the fun in that?



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