On Sunday 19th July we departed Licata, Sicily at 07:00hrs to sail (and motor at times) West to Cartagena, Spain. Just after sunrise the morning was calm and beautiful. As we progressed under engine along the south coast the winds (as forecasted) started to build unfortunately against our direction of travel and by 15:00hrs we had 25knts Westerly winds with waves breaking over the bow of the boat. This continued until 18:00hrs then the winds started to ease and by sunset we were clear of the island of Sicily and passing south the Egadi islands heading into our first night. It was a quiet and pleasant night with a stunning sunrise at 06:20hrs to bring us into day two.
Monday 20th July, 07:00hrs (24hrs underway) we had 137nm completed. It was a beautiful calm day with very little wind so we motored at 2300rpm maintaining a speed of 5/6knts. The crew enjoyed showers while the seas were calm and hot water from having the engine running, not that hot water was required with the outside air temperature at 29degC. Even the sea turtles were enjoying the calm waters and basking in the lovely sunshine and were happy to pose for a photograph by the passing paparazzi. Lovely as these calm seas were we needed wind from the East to allow us to sail and switch off the engine as we could not carry enough diesel for the entire trip. A glorious sunset at 20:30 eased us into night two and Schooner could not hold out anymore and used his piddle mat. I would swear he actually smiled as he did.
We were now passing South of Sardinia and it was very busy with fishing boats buzzing around who seem to be oblivious to the approaching sailboat so concentration was required monitoring both the AIS and visually each change in direction, sometimes towards us and at other times away from us. To add to this they were launching pots which actually had lights something I have not seen before. Perhaps this is a regulation in Italian waters, a good one in my opinion. However, from a distance these flashing lights can be very confusing in a rolling sea as they appear and disappear and at times look like there are four or five of them but when you get close there is only one. Oh how the mind can play tricks on you when you are tired and in the dark of night.
Tuesday 21st July, 07:00hrs (48hrs underway) we had 291nm completed which meant we had travelled 154nm in 24hrs and were making good headway. The wind had also increased so the engine was off and now we were under sail with a moderate following sea. We were all alone at sea and had no targets at all showing on the AIS. The wind at times was just a bit slack and with the rolling seas would knock the wind out of the sails resulting in a lot of banging noises from both the sails and the rig which Schooner was not too happy about or the crew either. We put a preventer on the Main Sail and goose winged the Genoa which helped.
Wednesday 22nd July, 07:00hrs (72hrs underway) we had 415nm completed, we had travelled 124nm in the last 24hrs so our mileage covered was down on the previous day but we were still under sail and moving in the right direction. The wind was a little more consistent all day and the seas were now moderate to rough at times so by now the crew were tired and even a little cranky!! but holding it together as we were now over half way to our destination.
Thursday 23rd July, 07:00hrs (96hrs underway) we had 544nm completed and had travelled 129nm in 24hrs. By 11:30hrs that morning the wind had dropped to 3 knts so we furled away the head sail, hauled the main sail to centre of the track and turned on the engine. We still had 194nm to go to Cartagena so now it was a matter of keeping the engine revs low to preserve fuel to ensure we had enough to reach our destination. Also, we had now entered Spanish waters so time to change our curtesy flag from Italian to Spanish. It was a beautiful calm starry night and a welcome break from the rolling seas of the previous two nights so the crew by now exhausted slept well when off watch including Schooner.
Friday 24th July, 08:00hrs (121hrs underway) we had 679nm completed, 135nm completed in the previous 24hrs. Crew spirits were high as mainland Spain came into view and it was a beautiful calm sunny day. The shipping Traffic Separation zone at the headland was busy at the time we needed to cross so we had to alter course on two different occasions to avoid being in the path of a bulk carrier heading north, another heading south and did not want to risk be sandwiched between the two lanes.
At 20:50hrs we safely docked at Yacht Port Cartagena marina. First priority was of course Schooner and as soon as his little legs hit the pontoon he was off with me wobbling after him my legs a bit confused with the non moving ground beneath them. When doggy formalities were completed and cleaned up we returned to the boat for a very deserving celebration drink and toast to the longest trip to date completed onboard Maggie. A grand total of 754nm, 133 hours, 6 amazing sunrises and 5 amazing sunsets.
At some time during our trip when the main sail was reefed the boom caused some damage to our bimini. We should have hauled up the topping lift to lift the boom after putting in the reef which would have prevented this. A repair was required and completed by the skipper during one of our rest days in Cartagena and a good job he did too.
We were now in Spain which unfortunately still has a high number of Covid-19 in circulation around the whole country. Face Masks are mandatory at all times even when walking around in open spaces and of course in the marina area. We limit our social interaction with others which I’m sure makes us seem a bit anti-social to other yachties and is not in keeping with the norm of meeting new people and sharing stories of adventure and knowledge but we are not in normal times at the moment and need to protect ourselves. During our five day stay in Cartagena the only trip outside the marina was made by me to Lidl for provisions. Luckily we had explored Cartagena during our last visit on our way East so it did not feel we had missed out on exploring this beautiful city and we hope to return in the future. We are not finished exploring the Mediterranean yet.