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August 2000 Diary

27th of August - 31st of August 2000 After two days in Filicudi we sailed on to Alicudi, an island 30 nm further westward. It was hard to find an anchorage on the east side, because the sea is very deep around the island. We enjoyed the visit of the island. No cars spoil the countryside and the people, mostly holiday house owners from the main land are very friendly. We wanted to stay a little longer, but the unsafe anchorage left us only one night stay. We kept on and sailed 60 nm westward to Ustica Island. The sail at night was very pleasant with light winds and no swell at all. "Champagne sailing" as we call it. AMBERELLA glided slowly through the water, the children were sound asleep and the moon was shining the way. It was like a holiday movie scene. Arriving in Ustica very relaxed the following morning, we anchored in the northeast of the island, but the swell made the anchorage uncomfortable. The little town quay was crowded, but we found an unfinished ferry dock outside of the harbor.

SY "Nomad" makes it passage to Sizilia

Ustica is a little holiday island and famous for its underwater caves, The water is crystal clear and our anchorage seemed unspoiled. The little town was typically Italian, lots of little shops and of course souvenirs for the tourists.

We first had the plan to sail back to Sicily, going westward along the coast and take a good weather opportunity to go to Sardinia. But Ustica seemed a better jump off point and we decided to wait for a good weather pattern here. We met another cruising yacht and made good friends with the German MSV"Moby Dyck" owned by Monika and Reinwalt. Now there were the three of us cruisers. "Nomad" Michel, with whom we sailed since Santurini, Greece, "Moby Dyck" and "AMBERELLA".

Michel was about to finish his 12 years circuum navigation, when he would reach the longitude of Menorca, Balearic islands.

passing SY "Nomad"

Just as we began to feel comfortable in Ustica, the authorities told us to leave the little dock where we lay alongside, because a big warship would take our place. We were angry, because it was 30 min before sunset. The Italians could have told us earlier, what was happening. I had to go in town and find Nina and the children, before we would leave the dock in complete darkness and search for our anchorage in the North East of the island.

Here the swell rounded the cape and we had a very uncomfortable night. There was no point of staying here and being uncomfortable. We better set sails and began out trip to Sardinia. We did not know that our weather prediction and the radio forecast was wrong and that we would sail into yet another strong wind situation.(see September 2000 entry).

25th of August We sail to the Eolian Islands (as well called Lipari islands). At first we anchored in a beautiful bay south of the island Volcano. As the name suggests, here one can find still active volcano activity. The smell of sulfide, like faulty eggs lay in the air as we went for the main bay. Renata, my mother in law, Nina and the children went for a bath in the hot pools. Later in the afternoon we sailed to Lipari, but it was late and we did not visit the main island. Early in the next morning we went to Filicudi and anchored stern to the town pier. Here we got fresh water for our tanks and paid a visit to the island. We had dinner at the waterfront, but the food was average, the prices very high. What could we expect from a tourist spot?

22nd of August After my 11 days visit in Germany, I was back in Milazzo, home sweet home AMBERELLA. It was nice to see the relatives back in Germany, but now the time running out. We had to keep going, before the winter storms in the Sardinian Sea made a crossing to the Balearic Islands impossible.

During my stay in Germany, Nina, her mother and Selina baby were looking after AMBERELLA. Nina became an engineer, fixing technical problems on the starter engine and the fresh water cooling system. With the advice of Michel, she took it all out by herself, cleaned and replaced parts. Our 30 years old diesel engine is in need of a big revision. There are too many small things breaking down, which keep us busy and making longer voyages unsafe.

In Milazzo I met a French sailor with a similar engine and he was giving me addresses and phone numbers of still existing service workshops in France.

13th of August 2000 AMBERELLA arrived in Sizilia! I finally managed to get a flight home to Germany. It was impossible to get a flight from Greece, because of the holiday season. I will leave AMBERELLA, Nina, Renata, and Selina in Milazzos town harbor and travel with Nastasja to my parents.

Since Iraklion it was hard to find an Internet point and I could not update my website. I was hoping for the better in Italy, but to my surprise, the well developed tourist spots did not provide this way of communication. I saw a place, but was not allowed to connect with my own laptop. Communication is still an expensive item for cruisers.

As I said, we arrived in Sicily. After short day sails to Koroni, in Greece we sailed to Methoni and Pylos, the western part of the Peloponnese. Those were easy legs and we were always waiting for the right weather. In Methoni I exercised another anchor maneuver under sail. A Dutch sailor, obviously a bit uncomfortable with us sailing past his beautiful maintained boat, shooting into the wind without running the engine and dropping the anchor nearby was screaming at me "Why do you anchor that close". I told him to wait and see and as the chain was led out we were on a good distance from him. Later on I passed by and ask if he had a problem with us anchoring there and he apologized for calling out too early.

greek impressions, Gate in San Thurini, Island Greece 2000 Sep

We had planned to sail all the way up North to Sakintos Island and Levkas Island. This area was known as windless in summer and one had often to use the engine, going up north. We were waiting in Pylos for 4 days, because the windless area decided to send us Northerly wind in gale force, up to 40 kn.

But as we left Pylos, we had a good sail in direction to Italy and so we changed the curse and steered 270° westward. There was no point running the engine, wasting fuel only to get further north, when our destination was westward. For the crew the decision was on a short notice. We had left Pylos in order to sail only 8 miles to another bay and ended up heading for a new destination 360 miles away. But we still had the option to change the course after the first night, and so we left it open to the weather. The next morning was again a perfect sailing day and that was when we kept on going. Michel from SY "Nomad" was informed on the radio and he was as well happy with the decision to sail to Italy.

The first day we logged only 86 miles, because we had tacked in the night and steered higher into the wind. Renata, my mother in law, was on board since Kyparrisia. It was her first sailing trip ever and she kept on telling us, that she could go on like this for weeks. But the very second day she had to admit that "it gets rather boring". At the second night we were warned by a cargo vessel, that a big container ship was sunken in our area and a lot containers were floating on the surface. That message scared us right of course and we tacked again to sail further North.

The third day was very quiet we were becalmed, the sea was like a mirror and I took a bath in the Ocean. The chart read 3000m depth. It was a strange feeling swimming and thinking about it. We tried to sail in this very little breeze, but if we wanted to arrive soon in Italy we had to get a little more wind. For about 40 miles we used the diesel, but than I was sick of running the engine. Either there came wind or we were waiting for it.

The weather forecast kept telling us about strong Northerly winds while we were sitting tight in a mirror like sea. When we finally had wind, it came from the South. Not bad for us, for it was a perfect angle to sail. Finally we closed in to the cost of Calabrien.

I send a position report to friends and relatives as soon as we had mobile connection, but as soon as we send the message, the weather situation changed rapidly. My logbook than read:

"position ...Strait of Messina, Italy.
After we send the latest position from AMBERELLA just south of the Italian coastline Calabrien, we did not know that the calm sea will change rapidly after we entered the strait of Messina. Just an hour after our last mail, SV "Nomad", our sailing company, called us. He got stuck in a fishing net. Nobody would think of fishing nets so close to one of the most frequented ship straits in Europe, and we we are still wondering how this could happen, since we saw a lot of cargo vessels just passing the same latitude than our Belgium friend.
He could free himself, but his propeller was out of work and it was impossible to clear in the night. So AMBERELLA with its 30 hp engine was pulling the 8 ton SY "Nomad" for about 2 hours in calm seas. But suddenly we passed the last cape and entered the strait of Messina.
We let "Nomad" go off the lines, set sails, and off we went.
With short step waves coming from the north west we instantly put the maximum reefs into our main sail and went on. The wind picked up very quick and soon big breakers entered the cockpit. Renata my mother in law, for the first time in a boat, was actually saying "I am enjoying this" while I just begged for nothing to break down. We made no course good, but I was betting for the wind to change north easterly once we were in the middle of the strait. And it did. With maximum 8 bft we pushed 6 knots against the wind and finally were back on course to Taormina, our destination.

Taormina, Sizily Italy 2000

as resume: 370 nm in 5 days, with 2 days dead calm (we spent about 12 hours not moving at all) and 50 miles on engine. max speed 7.7 knots...AMBERELLA sailed about 160 nm by herself, we do not have an autopilot, but with a little balance we managed to have a few breaks from the helm.
Poor Michel, from Nomad who sails single handed was too tired after 5 days of sailing, and he was unable to see the bay of Taormina, We were piloting him with the VHF and gave instructions.
For us it was as well an exhausting experience since it was our first long leg with AMBERELLA and we do not have an auto pilot yet.
The kids were bored and in our spare time from the helm we had to play especially with Nastasja. She wants to play with the same toys, two horses, every time. It was impossible to get a rest in daytime.
Now after 2 days in this beautiful bay, we are ready to go again.

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