Looking back over the past year of cruising it feels like a lifetime ago that we started out as babes in the woods. We have learnt a lot, including how we like to cruise and live aboard. We have seen some amazing sights and have met some wonderful people as well. We have certainly had some unforgettable experiences. Here are a few of our most memorable-est moments so far.
Longest single passage:
La Rochelle to A Coruna of course! - The shakedown: 3 POB, 351 nm, 53 hours, max speed 8.5kts, max wind 18kts, whales and dolphin sightings, no seasickness and only my 4th time doing an overnight passage offshore! The Bay of Biscay has a quite a reputation but fortunately she was very kind to us. Since then we have done a number of overnight passages with just the two of us and now have a good system sorted out. I still get a little nervous before we head off but I think that is probably healthy.
At anchor - 38kts at anchor in Kotor, Montenegro. Several boats dragged but we were fine, as was the inflatable unicorn moored nearby! Underway – recently revised, thanks to the Meltemi in the Cyclades. 41kts crossing to Skhinoussa to Amorgos. Time to go from the 2nd reef straight to the 4th reef (ie the lazy bag!) and stick the Volvos on. Even without sails the pressure on the boom is considerable! Poor ITIKI and crew were covered in salt!
Worst sea state:
2-3m confused seas crossing the gulf of Cadiz – waves coming from all directions - poor ITIKI and crew got all shook up for several hours! Lunch and coffee service was postponed until we dropped anchor around 9pm! It was a white knuckle ride!
NE corner of Mallorca, late September storms were threatening. We had several nights at anchor with the distant rumble of thunder and flashes of lightening. When we reached the top of Mallorca and tucked in for the night we got hit with a beauty! It arrived swiftly in the late afternoon not long after we anchored, with 35kts gusts. That one tested out the Ultra, but then the wind eased off a bit and the storm stayed put dumping torrential rain over the NE corner of the island, and ITIKI, for at least 8 hours! The thunder was deafening and felt like it was right over our heads - and lightening too. When you are sitting on a boat with a large metal stick pointing towards the heavens lightening is not your friend. The high hills around us were comforting though, as was the arrival of another yacht with an even bigger metal stick - they both should draw the lighting before we do. Sadly there were a number of fatalities in the area as a result of the storm.
Most spectacular anchorage:
This is really a toss-up between Burano, in Venice Lagoon, and the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Burano we were anchored for several days within view of the lovely coloured houses and leaning church tower for several days and enjoyed dinner ashore at a Michelin restaurant. Bay of Kotor is surrounded by spectacular cliffs and our anchorage was overlooked by the old city walls reaching up to the ruins of a medieval castle. Which one do you prefer??
Best kite run:
Well we do love our Parasailor and when conditions are right, this is the most boring sail ever! Set and forget – 23 hours under kite with no gybing crossing from Sardinia to Sicily, leaving at sunrise and arriving at sunrise to the Egadi Islands. Purrrfect! Read more
Wow this is a tough question to answer, but everyone asks it. We have been fortunate to visit so many wonderful places but I would have to say that despite the unsettled weather, visiting Venice lagoon in your own boat is something really special, even if you have been to Venice before. Doing a hot lap past the Piazza San Marco in ITIKI was definitely a highlight of our cruising time. Cruising the canals of Murano, Burano and Torcello was also pretty cool!
We have seen both dolphins and turtles in several locations in the Med and off the Portugese coast. The turtles are usually solitary, often very large loggerheads seemingly drifting along and very shy. Dolphins are another story though. If we spot them we usually race to the bow seats as (we think) they will come and play if they see you. We could watch them for hours and never get bored. We captured some of these memorable moments last year. Now if we see them we just enjoy their company rather than trying to take more photos. Here is a wonderful memory.
Most rewarding moment:
At anchor in Peniche, Portugal, Keith rescues solo sailor Arne who had fallen from his boat in the thick fog, just on dusk and was hanging on to his anchor chain for about 20mins in the cold water. He was getting into his dinghy when it flipped and he went into the drink, with his backpack and brand new iPhone. His ladder was tied up so he could not get back on board. He was trying to get our attention for a while and his plan B was to swim ashore but in the thick fog could not figure out which way it was! He could have headed out to sea! Keith got him back on board, bailed out his dinghy and sent him down below to get dry clothing on. Definitely could have ended badly had we not got to him in time. We saw him a few days later anchored off the beach in Cascais where he swam over to ITIKI to thank "Chris" for saving his life. Can't beat that!
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.