The Baptism of Fire   

 We had the winds behind us for the entire journey from Cagliari to Marettimo. Perhaps that sentence makes it sound easy. It certainly wasn’t. We covered the 160 nautical mile distance in 31 hours. Upon departure we had pretty fair weather for the remainder of the afternoon. We even had the delight of spotting numerous dolphins nearby our boat. As the sun lowered in the sky and we stretched further away from land the weather started to turn. The wind was picking up and the waters becoming rougher. It seemed like it could pass but it held on for the rest of the trip, and even got heavier at times. 

 From my two extremely busy days in Rome I had arrived in Cagliari quite tired but I had to press on. As it was just the two of us, we had to take shifts on watch. From 16:00 onwards we took one hour turns throughout the night and into the next evening; one man on the helm maintaining course, the other below deck sleeping on the bunk. During meals we were both up and also when things got tougher… For me, that was midnight, on the dot. I had been down below deck preparing some tea, and having not quite gained my sea-legs for the trip yet, wasn’t feeling to well. I came up to sit in the cockpit and get some fresh air. The unease seemed to subside, then return in waves. The clock struck twelve and I was on the side of the deck, spewing over the railing, or, as accurately as I could in the rocking & rolling seas! It wasn’t quite accurate enough as we found at daybreak when I had some vomit to clean off the deck with a scrub brush. I also managed to cover the tops of my new deck shoes and now have a stain on one to remind me about getting seasick! I felt pretty rough for the next 10 hours or so, but the 1-hour naps helped… a little. I didn’t have an appetite for the first part of the next day but forced myself to eat and get some food into my system. By the afternoon I was pretty much back to normal. 

 Originally we had planned on having 2-hour shifts but Ross decided we’d be better with 1-hour as the helm work took a lot of concentration in the rough seas and I was also new to the boat. As challenging as it was, I did enjoy the experience. It had been five years since I last sailed and I was happy to get back on the water. It was also my first time for a crossing. When you’re out on your boat and there is nothing around you except ocean, and all you can see on the horizon is the line where the sea meets the sky, you think differently. 

 We succeeded in reaching our destination. Later, Ross referred to it as the “Baptism of Fire”. It was a long journey, but a good experience to have to prepare for the Ionian Sea crossing we’ll be doing at the end of June. It will be nice if the weather is more favourable for that trip. Approaching the island of Marettimo was quite a sight. It’s a dramatic mountain shooting out of the sea, with heavy cloud cover that just rests over the peaks, much like the Rock of Gibraltar. I wished I could have gotten a photo of our approach from the west but seas were still rough and I was busy preparing for our arrival. I did get a shot from the side though, nearer the east side of the island. 

 We weren’t really sure what to expect in Marettimo. Analyzing the island from a distance it looked pretty small with not much activity. A few groups of white buildings with blue doors and windows, some donkeys on the hillside… But we were pleasantly surprised after arriving. For a small place it was quite lively with a couple of small restaurants and tiny shops, narrow alleyways, a village church, a small collection of boats in the marina, and even some of those fat, old Italian men that sit on benches all day talking amongst themselves and smoking cigarettes. We celebrated the arrival at the marina with an appetizer suggested by the waitress; smoked swordfish, tuna sausage, tuna heart, tuna eggs, and some other part of the tuna (we didn’t understand what she said), but it all tasted very nice. We ate our own pasta dinner on the boat then I was able to retire to my cabin for a solid, revitalizing sleep.

The Baptism of Fire

We had the winds behind us for the entire journey from Cagliari to Marettimo. Perhaps that sentence makes it sound easy. It certainly wasn’t. We covered the 160 nautical mile distance in 31 hours. Upon departure we had pretty fair weather for the remainder of the afternoon. We even had the delight of spotting numerous dolphins nearby our boat. As the sun lowered in the sky and we stretched further away from land the weather started to turn. The wind was picking up and the waters becoming rougher. It seemed like it could pass but it held on for the rest of the trip, and even got heavier at times.

From my two extremely busy days in Rome I had arrived in Cagliari quite tired but I had to press on. As it was just the two of us, we had to take shifts on watch. From 16:00 onwards we took one hour turns throughout the night and into the next evening; one man on the helm maintaining course, the other below deck sleeping on the bunk. During meals we were both up and also when things got tougher… For me, that was midnight, on the dot. I had been down below deck preparing some tea, and having not quite gained my sea-legs for the trip yet, wasn’t feeling to well. I came up to sit in the cockpit and get some fresh air. The unease seemed to subside, then return in waves. The clock struck twelve and I was on the side of the deck, spewing over the railing, or, as accurately as I could in the rocking & rolling seas! It wasn’t quite accurate enough as we found at daybreak when I had some vomit to clean off the deck with a scrub brush. I also managed to cover the tops of my new deck shoes and now have a stain on one to remind me about getting seasick! I felt pretty rough for the next 10 hours or so, but the 1-hour naps helped… a little. I didn’t have an appetite for the first part of the next day but forced myself to eat and get some food into my system. By the afternoon I was pretty much back to normal.

Originally we had planned on having 2-hour shifts but Ross decided we’d be better with 1-hour as the helm work took a lot of concentration in the rough seas and I was also new to the boat. As challenging as it was, I did enjoy the experience. It had been five years since I last sailed and I was happy to get back on the water. It was also my first time for a crossing. When you’re out on your boat and there is nothing around you except ocean, and all you can see on the horizon is the line where the sea meets the sky, you think differently.

We succeeded in reaching our destination. Later, Ross referred to it as the “Baptism of Fire”. It was a long journey, but a good experience to have to prepare for the Ionian Sea crossing we’ll be doing at the end of June. It will be nice if the weather is more favourable for that trip. Approaching the island of Marettimo was quite a sight. It’s a dramatic mountain shooting out of the sea, with heavy cloud cover that just rests over the peaks, much like the Rock of Gibraltar. I wished I could have gotten a photo of our approach from the west but seas were still rough and I was busy preparing for our arrival. I did get a shot from the side though, nearer the east side of the island.

We weren’t really sure what to expect in Marettimo. Analyzing the island from a distance it looked pretty small with not much activity. A few groups of white buildings with blue doors and windows, some donkeys on the hillside… But we were pleasantly surprised after arriving. For a small place it was quite lively with a couple of small restaurants and tiny shops, narrow alleyways, a village church, a small collection of boats in the marina, and even some of those fat, old Italian men that sit on benches all day talking amongst themselves and smoking cigarettes. We celebrated the arrival at the marina with an appetizer suggested by the waitress; smoked swordfish, tuna sausage, tuna heart, tuna eggs, and some other part of the tuna (we didn’t understand what she said), but it all tasted very nice. We ate our own pasta dinner on the boat then I was able to retire to my cabin for a solid, revitalizing sleep.

Dale NicholsComment