Sunday, 11 November 2018

Cruising Season 2018 Wrap-up

Basic stats:
Days on boat: 146
Distance covered: 760 nautical miles
Countries visited: France (Corsica), Italy (Elbe, Sardinia, Egadi Islands, Sicily)
Nights at anchor: 73
Average cost per night: 23 Euros
Motor hours: 100
Sailing vs Motoring: 50% (but most of the motoring was actually motor sailing with the motor purring along gently at 1500 rpms or less)

We are getting better at predicting what awaits us each year. The expectations for 2018 that were NOT true were:

1) Crowded and expensive ports in southern Corsica and northeast Sardinia: We simply avoided them. We only had one port in La Maddalena that was pricey, but given that it was in the center of town during June and there was a gale blowing, we felt it was worth it.

2) Using a line ashore to keep from swinging in narrow anchorages: All of the anchorages were large enough that you didn’t need a line ashore. I’m sure we won’t get away with this for much longer.

3) Transportation headaches: While the distance from our winter port to the nearest airport was greater than in previous years, the transportation system was direct and smooth between Licata and Catania. We left a couple of days early to visit Catania before flying home so we didn’t feel rushed.

Honestly, it didn't FEEL this crowded...

  • Dreamy anchorages everywhere from Elbe island to Sicily, with crystal clear turquoise waters averaging 29 C (84 F).
  • Great snorkelling.
  • Lots of time anchored out instead of in ports.
  • Fantastic weather (except for the stormy period at the end of August, as usual)
  • Cultural / historical visits: Elbe (Napoleon), La Maddalena (Garibaldi), Nuraghe settlements in Sardinia, Greek-Phoenician-Roman-Visigoth-Moor settlements near Cagliari, Cave paintings in Levanzo (Egadi Islands) from 12000 BCE, and Greek ruins at Selinunte and the Valley of the Temples at Agrigento in Sicily. We also enjoyed the big cities (Cagliari, Trapani, Palermo, Catania) and many of the smaller towns (particularly liked Marzara del Vallo in Sicily).
  • Italian food and wine, although I have to admit that by the end of the season I was ready for a break from pasta.
  • And as always, one of the biggest pleasures of cruising is meeting up with old friends and making new ones. We also particularly enjoyed the community atmosphere in Licata with so many live aboards wintering over here. I really hated leaving and may head back later this winter or early spring when I get too boat sick to be civil staying at home. (Patrick would say that time is now, but I still have things to do here first...).

  • Dragging at anchor and calling for a tow (in italian) 
  • Patrick’s cracked tooth in a tiny Sardinian town on the 15th of August (biggest vacation period of the year when no one works and everything shuts down)
  • A cascade of toilet problems at the end of the cruise.
  • Bad non-potable water (all over Sardinia and Sicily) and contaminated tanks.

Because of health problems, we got a late start on the sailing season and took it very easy this year. We sailed fewer miles than usual and enjoyed the pace, especially because it allowed us to spend many days enjoying beautiful anchorages with no urge to move on until the weather pushed us along. This season gave us a little bit of everything that you want out of Med sailing.