30. May 2013

Axel says;

Day 1.
The fullmoon and the fact that it didn't look like there will be fortunate winds coming in the next 2 weeks to cross from crete to malta made my decision while i was having a beer ashore in the sunset. Quick stop at the supermarket and the vegetable store and up with the anchor at about 22:00.
The wind was good just completely from the wrong direction, as always, i needed to go west and that was where the wind came from. So i headed southwest towards Lybia. It felt like the old computer game frogger, all the cargo ships and tankers where going east west or west east, only i was zipping throu them north south. One time a ship came so close that i shook hands with the captain and wished him a save journey. Wolf the newly installed radar gives a save feeling knowing how far the ships are away at night.
Then at 19:40 i saw a boat on the horizon, looked like a fishing boat with lots of steam coming out of the exhausts. 10 minutes later the rundown boat was literally 10 meters away and a group of 10-15 lybian fisherman were yelling and greeting me just before they ran over my fishinglines that i was trwaling behind. For a moment i was a bit uncomfortable and the images of somali pirates ran throu my head. And i was ready to call for help on channel 16. I think they were just excited to see a sailboat heading to lybia. I hope they don't come back.
I wish i would have taken pictures, last thing i had on my mind at ghe time.

Day 2.
The night was uneventful. First no wind which meant i had to motor for a few hours, then light wind, but the good thing, i turned my bow to Malta. The only signs of civilization were, when i saw one ship, wolf saw 2, and a 2,5 liter bottle of coca cola drifting the eternal seas. Light winds and almost no traffic meant that i got a good nights interval sleep, the second night at sea is always hard for me, not this time.
18:00 still no or light winds. I did laundry, cleaned the boat and myself, repaired this and that and caught 2 tuna, but since i am a lousy fisherman, eventhou i tried to be real patient and thoughtful when reeling them in, i lost both of them. The one i lost 1m behind the boat, looked like a nice 7kg fish, the second one felt stronger on the line but i didn't see him close up. Hmmm pasta with vegies tonight.
Faith is restored: just before sunset i caught a nice about 7kg tuna.

Day 3.
The wind has returned, after slow sailing or motoring all day yesterday, it seems like the wind will pick up from now, north east, easy down wind running, still 260nm to go. I hope karin is not getting too worried, i think i will arrive in Valletta in 2,5 days, about 1-1,5 days later than expected.
This morning i changed the converbelt on the engine. Since we bought La Negra we use up converbelts like crazy. Now i have a new theory, i am trying to align the pullwheels better and clean them, i hope this helps!
Wow, a ship just passed me really close by, i called it on channel 16, "sailboat la negra, sailboat la negra calling sea melody, sea melody!" I had response but it was poor reception but i heard "please go to channel 69" so i did. The other person asked for last port of entry, crew members and cargo, i was confused, and replied if he really meant me, as it turned out it was port control from Masaschlok, malta, about 240nm away and they were not talking to me. I didn't know that VHF could reach that far. I suppose the ports and sea rescue have really powerful instruments. Still 240nm!!!

For the last 2.5hours i have been fighting with a fish. Once i caught a 35kg, 1,20cm tuna. It was a long fight then, and this one was even longer and stronger. Everytime i had him close to the boat, he took of again. To be honest thou, i am kinda glad he went, i wouldn't have known how to get him up the boat, i was preparing a pull lift system, or trawl him alongside the boat to Malta... Off he went, sorry buddy, but the hook will grow out and you'll be ok and i hope you live long and don't end up on a Japanese sushi train in kyoto. The only bad thing for me, i lost 2 of my best lures. My new system has 2 lures behind each other, seems to work. Oh and i even took down the genua, and pulled in the main and mizen to go slower. Since fish on and fish off i sailed 13nm. Now that the fish is gone and all sails out, i sail at about 7.5kn average. Juhu!!! If i keep this speed i'll be there in 27hours. 200nm to go.
The night was fast and restless. 130nm to go.

Day 4.
The day started like yesterday ended. Fast down wind and fish on - fish off. This time i couldn't care less i had just prepared breakfast (tuna) and a coffee. Once i finished both the fish got off the hook.
Again i am so happy to have wolf onboard now. I can estimate how long i can sleep according to my speed and saying the others go at 25kn, which they don't but just to be safe. But don't get excited longest sleep is 25min, that feels like luxury.
The proceedure is as follows:
Check 360degree if you can see anything, most the time, nothing. Then check the radar, oh what a surprise, 1 ship in 6nm, 1 in 16nm and one in 21nm distance. The one in 6 mile i should have could have seen but often you only see a glowing on the horizon. Then wait and see which way he is going, if he is close enough you try to see his position lights, they will tell you which direction he is heading and what opponent you are up against to. Once this boat is clear of your way and the others too, you can go rest. The radar shows 24nm so if a boat come from any direction at 25kn he will hit me if i stand still in about 1 hour. If i move towards him at 7kn like last night, we will meet in approximatly 45min. And since we don't want that we only sleep max 25min and be with 20 min on the safe side. You do get into the rhythm, just gathering yourself and getting up is tough sometimes, but the thought of a big container ship being close to you is a good motivator.

So super nice strong wind i guess 25-30 kn, big ocean, la negra plowing trough with 7kn and then within one minute, nothing, wind gone. Up to this point the weather forecast i had was 100% correct. But thanks to a humangous containship that is passing 1 mile away as i type, i have the weather. Thanks MV charisma.

But whatever they said wasn't right. Now i got strong north east wind around 20kn, reefed down again. Beam reach av 6.5kn

I was hoping to arrive sometime evening to go for a beer with my friends, now it looks like it will be an after hour party at 5 in the morning. 65nm to go, birds are leading the way.

I sailed about 530nm (direct way would have been 450nm)
It took 4 days and 5 hours (101 hours)
Average speed 5.25kn
(These fact are no facts anymore after last night)
Fact correction:
4 days and 15 hours (110hours)
Avg speed 4.9kn
Topspeed 8.5kn
I am back in middle european timezone
Singlehanded sailing with radar is awesome
I had 7 fish on
2 i got onboard
There is lots of tuna in the sea, just not in greece
I saw 1 dolphine, 1 pillow and one coke bottle
Many cargo ships and tanker
Zero sailboats
1 lybian pirate-/fishingboat
I drank 8 33ml mythos beer cans

Ha sometimes life has different plans for you: 50nm before malta i get a gale warning force 7 on the vhf for the straight of sicily. Normally no problem; run it down wind till its over. For me that would mean being back in crete. So main 2 reef, genua maybe 3 squaremeter, mizzn out, clipped in at all times and hard into the wind. This is going to be a long night. And the worst i can smell and see the light grow in the sky of malta. No i almost wish i started the engine instead of drifting at 1-2kn in those light wind days.

But as they say: a calm sea never made a skilled sailor.

Puhhhh skilled sailor??!! Last night i tried to sail as high as i could against the wind, and i was getting further away. So i tried with the engine, but the waves were so high and wind so strong that i felt like on a motorcross track, and i didn't get closer, so i decided to heave-by, put the sails so you drift and had a rest. Since 5 this morning i tried sailing engine, reef in reef out... I got 30nm to go and only thing i can do is full throttle against the wind and waves. Superbly uncomfortable, loud and slow. Its gonna take me all day to get there. Yesterday i felt like a king - now like an old dog.

I saw the wind in the forecasts but it was supposed to come today and i would have been safe somewhere on malta.

You know when you get closer to land by:
1. Trash in the water
2. Birds
3. Telefon reception
4. Internet connection
NOW land in sight!!!!!

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