Siderno to Brindisi – the last leg for a while

The sea has been still all night with very little wind but the place where we are anchored has been very rolly with the boat moving around lots. It has disturbed Maria’s sleep in particular which was ruined completely by a few mosquitos that had got in and feasted themselves on us all night.

It is early in the morning when we get up to start the final day and night sail to Brindisi. This will be our first overnight trip on this journey where we will be just two up although we are confident that we will catch up on our rest when we can. We have checked the weather and it will be a little lumpy in the Adriatic but that is true for the next five days and Mariadz can take a bit of discomfort for the eventual goal of arriving at her new home berth.

There is hardly any wind and we seem to be a little luckier with the tides today which are, if not favouring, at leant punishing us. Maria is really tired and get a good rest up in the cockpit as the boat sails herself under my watchful eye.

The sea is flat-ish. This goes to maria once saying how flat the sea was and being corrected by one of her friends who suggested it wasn’t flat but flat-ish. That is now folklore and if we are in anything mirror-like, it is described as flat-ish.

As we move along the sole of the boot of Italy, the weather is getting a little worse and the wind is building. Unfortunately it is also building from the north east which is exactly where we need to be going. There is a noticeable line in the sea with white caps on the other side and this is ominously moving towards us. We are soon embroiled in a bouncy sea with the wind in our face. Our forecasts tell us that this will change later but at the time this happens it feels awful and we turn towards land for shelter as our first tack. Let’s hope it is not going to be like this long term or this will be a long journey. It is slow progress and we are starting to get close to land before we are anywhere near the gulf of Toronto that occupies the instep of the boot. I tack so that we can get around the headland, hopefully there will be some protection from the swell within the bay.

After this tack as we are heading towards Greece, albeit very slowly, the wind slowly changes direction and the swell reduces and suddenly we are in Eden. The wind is perfect and Mariadz is flying along at a great pace. If this continues we will be in Brindisi by morning. Note to self – never ever EVER use those words, it is the kiss of death. Today is no exception and shortly afterwards the wind dies down and we are motor sailing at a reasonable pace but the engine is back on as it has for a lot of the delivery trip.

One thing we have noticed since passing out of the western Mediterranean and beyond Sicily is that we haven’t seen a single dolphin. These had become a daily occurrence for us and we loved having them visit. Since passing through the Straits of Messina we haven’t seen one. Very sad.

Anyway we settle into our night routine and have decided that we will have a two hour watch routine but the other one will sleep up on the cockpit. It means a little of a disturbed night but it is only once and we can catch up on sleep the next day. Interestingly, this seemed to mean that we took turns to sleep. This part of the journey is quite tedious. Relatively little on AIS that would be a danger although we are now starting to see some sailing boats around – potential racers then!

It is nearly first light as we finish crossing the bay of Toranto and we can see the heel of Italy, Puglia, Mariadz’s home for the next couple of years. However, we have had to be careful of the swell and strong winds and these are likely to be worse once we get into the Adriatic with nothing to protect you like the heel has for this part of the journey. It is with some apprehension we approach Maria is Santa Luca, fully expecting the storms that have been described to greet us. in fact we have reduced sail and got ourselves ready just in case. Actually, it was exactly the same as we had already experienced so more of the same.

At this stage, we noticed a sailing vessel, SV Phoenix, which had been on our instruments since he left port in Italy. It is a 40 foot catamaran who seems to be doing the same journey as us. Initially it looks like we will be soon past him as he is going very slowly but shortly after, we don’t seem to have made that progress. He appears ahead of us having cut the corner into the Adriatic. There are still a lot of miles to Brindisi and so we have the opportunity for an interesting game of cat and mouse with him going up the coast. On some tacks we are clearly faster and can point closer to the wind, using our traveller to adjust the main to allow that but he seems to go a lot faster at other times, twin engines maybe?

The wind is in the north

We are less than a couple of hours out from Brindisi when there is a sudden change in the engine note and there is shaking. I don’t think it is the engine but go down to check the engine room, no noticeable problems with the engine so it is likely to be something wrapped around the prop.

Fortunately, Mariadz has a rope cutter attached to the prop for nets and lines that get wrapped around the prop to cut these away. Maria goes into astern to see if we can throw off whatever it is that is caught. When she returns to forward the vibration is still there. I recheck the engine but we are convinced it is something around the prop although there aren’t any lobster pots in this area. Well not to our knowledge and not that we have seen which may also be the problem! Maria goes again with a big burst of astern at reasonable revs. There is a churning, chewing sound which seems to clear and when maria goes back into forward the vibration has stopped. It looks like the rope cutter has done its job.

It is then into Brindisi marina and the approach takes ages from when you think you are getting in to when you turn the corner next to the castle and can see the marina. As we turn into O pontoon and look for 20, our new berth, it is clear there is someone already in it. We keep going and with some help get into O12 and our journey for this year is complete.

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