Sea legs shake off - 2019 first sail
After having spent nearly 6 months in the marina in Hammamet for the winter season it was now time to shake off the spider webs off our sea legs and take The Dream out for a sail.
At this point, I (Ana) also needed to get my passport 90-day visa renewed, and we were not interested in flying me somewhere and spend money on hotels, taxis etc just to get a new stamp. So the decision was made we were going to do a short sail to Pantelleria, an Italian island nearby some 80kn mikes away and return the following day, that would clear everyone’s passports. We had invited a few of the friends we had met in the marina. They were very excited about the idea of going sailing on our yacht and could use also the opportunity to shake their sea legs.
While preparing The Dream to leave its dormant winter condition we discovered our wind transducer on the top of the mast had stopped giving us wind direction, a new part had to be ordered but that wouldn’t stop us of going on our little sail, this was not the first time we would be sailing without the assistance of technology which regards to the wind instruments, so our attitude was that we could learn a few new tricks from our much more experienced friends!
We waited for a smooth forecast, paid our dues to the Immigration Police because this time we wouldn’t even as lucky as when we arrived avoiding the backshish and set sail at 2pm UTC (3pm Tunisian time)
This was the first time we actually had guests on board sailing with us, the only other time we had people on board with us sailing was when we did our shakedown cruise from Lisbon to Gibraltar and back to Lisbon, to complete the purchase and reflagging process. On that sail, we had two skippers with us because we were completely jet lagged from flying from Hong Kong just the day before. So I guess that one occasion it doesn’t really count as having guests.
So with our friends excited about the sail we started by hoisting the mainsail and the unfurling the Code 0c sail, we all enjoyed that for a while but as we gained distance from shore and got more wind it was also time to adjust our direction and that would mean most probably that the Code 0C was not suited for the new wind direction. Having not sailed for so long and feeling a bit rusty we made a mistake, instead of turning a bit more downwind to furl the Code 0C we turned upwind. In no time we would suffer the consequences of this lapse in judgment, the sail twisted and made the shape of an hourglass, no matter how we tried the sail wouldn’t furl or unfurl.
We had only one option, drop the sail or risk to shred it and possibly lose it.
Luckily this happened on this day with plenty of extra hands to help with the task instead of the usual shorthanded situation of John and me.
Rubens our Brazilian friend was tasked with taking control of the helm once we turn on the engine, Phillippe our French dock neighbour and John were tasked to go on the foredeck to try and stop the sail from dropping in the water (which would make life even harder) while I could go to the winch and slowly lower the sail allowing Phillippe and John to wrestle the sail onto the foredeck.
With that done we needed to act quickly, the boys on the foredeck had already done the hardest job of all with huge success, now we needed to be sure the sail wouldn’t cause more troubles. With Rita’s, our Brazilian friend, help we managed to get the entire sail into the salon through one of the foredeck’s hatch. And just like that, the problem was gone and the salon a complete mess!
Mistake behind our backs we unfurled the Genoa, trimmed it as we normally do (after guessing and feeling the wind direction) and prepared ourselves to listen to the advice of Rubens that loves tweaking and adjusting the sails to get the most advantage of them. Our speed started around 6 knots with 15 knots of wind and stabilised between 7 and 8. Everyone was happy and enjoying the fact that The Dream doesn’t usually heal that much on these speeds.
Dinner time came and went, each person feeling free to stay resting on the cockpit or belowdecks on one of the aft cabins.
By 1.30am UTC (2.30am Tunisian time and 3.30am Italian time) we decided to reduce our sail area by putting a reef on the Mainsail and 2 on the Genoa. We had been doing great speeds and were now approaching a busy area with lots of cargo ships coming from the TSS further up the Tunisian coast and lots of fishing boats.
3 hours later we decided to lower all sails and motor through the last bit at a slow speed, Pantelleria Islands was already in sight, we still had quite a few fishing vessels doing their erratic routes near us and we needed to wait for daylight before entering the port.
By 6am we were already anchored in the corner of the bay just outside the harbour and getting coffee ready for the guests that did portions of the night shifts with us and for the ones that enjoyed a nice sleep at sea.
Suddenly the VHF radio called for our name. The harbour master was not happy we hadn’t called requesting permission to anchor. With my girly reply, I managed to get permission to stay for a couple of hours to rest before proceeding our trip back to Tunisia.
Coffee and breakfast done it was now time to lift anchor and retrace our route back to Hammamet, arriving hopefully still with daylight.
It took us a while to get out of the island wind shadow but once we did our speeds were back at around 8 knots and soon enough one of the fishing rods got bitten by a fish. John fought it hard but most have been a huge Tuna because even though I managed to slow down The Dream fast the fish still managed to snap the lure leaving us just with the line. A big disappointment, we were all already dreaming about firing up the barbecue for dinner.
But the excitement was not over, with the winds clearly on The Dream sweet spot when it comes to wind angle we would show our friends how comfortable our yacht is even when doing 9 knots of Speed Over Ground, they were finally understanding what we meant when saying that we don’t heel that much usually even when doing such speeds.
As the winds picked up when approaching Hammamet we reduced sail area but shortly after we would be getting ready to enter the marina and dock at Police dock for formalities.
It had taken us 38 hours to do this fun round trip with our friends, a true pleasure to have them onboard sharing the thrill and hopefully learning from their experiences.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.