This is my new house for the coming two months…
She is definitely the best boat I’ve been sailing with..
It’s a 60 feet long (18 meters) designed by Roberto Starkel with a agile wooden hull covered with a layer of carbon The 23 meters mast is counterbalanced by a keel 3.5 meters deep and steered easily thanks to a 2.6 meters deep spade rudder controlled through two elegant wheels on deck.
The sails are even more impressive with around 230 square meters of sails and power manoeuvred through 5 new three-speed electric winches, two structural running backstays and a hydraulic system to control wang, backstay and outhaul.
The propulsion engine is equipped with a driveleg and folding propeller’s “overdrive” that enable to increase the cruise speed by 1 knot.
To complete the equipment a 150 HP bow thruster, a warping windlass and obviously an anchor windlass with 90 meters of chain complete the deck equipment.
The below deck equipment are no less than the upper deck.
Air conditioning in each cabin, , power generator to have 220V when anchored in natural harbours, a 120 litres desalinisation plant, 2 bilge pumps and autoclave.
Not to mention the instrumentation shared between B&G and Raymarine plus a Furuno Navtex receiver.
Those sailors between you already understand the beauty and complexity of this unique Lady.
I say “unique” because only 5 sailing boats have been build based on this wooden hull and sailing design by Starkel and customised internally by the shipyard Stella Polare to match the shipowner’s desires.
Destiny indeed soon will bring me to know also on two of these Ladies: Marie Claire who was even awarded as the most beautiful boat at the 2006 boat show of Venice and Arabesque. The shipowner of this last one while allowing me to visit the boat will also show me the photos of the construction phases: it’s incredible the care and complexity to build layer by layer this wooden hull made of 3 layers of wood and a protective external layer of carbon.
Don’t worry I stop here singing the phrases of the boat..
And will tell you about the experience to be skipper for a summer.
I am sure I am not the only one who dreamt about leaving the office job and make a profession out of my sailing passion! Take the way of the seas and oceans for Life and job.
While lost in the Brazilian amazon jungle, out of the blue Destiny gave me this amazing opportunity to realise my dream.
Many are my duties but the First of all is Safety! Of the boat and of all the people on board (a family with three young amazing kids). This is a wide topic that not only requires to know how to sail and when to reduce the sails in due time, but also includes for example planning the navigation accordingly to weather forecast and the skills of people on board and ensuring safe anchoring at night.
The whole summer will indeed anchored in natural harbours: the positive is no crown, dinner and relaxation under the stars in the quietness and peace of nature. On the other hand for me this includes sleepless nights if the weather forecast makes a mistake or the wind changes suddenly during the night.
On top of the above another duty (and need) of the skipper is to keep all the systems of the boat up and running both on deck and below deck, but even for example be sure to never run out of water and gasoline. This last one will require a bit studying on sailing guides to find ahead of time a dock deep enough to reach the gasoline station with a keel 3.5 meters deep…Not many harbours with such dept in this area!
But I’m the only crew on board and in addition to the skipper duties I’ll be in charge also of feeding everyone on board: I’ll be practicing for Master Chief!
The menu of the summer includes Lasagne, Parmigiana, Crepes, savory quiches, tortilla espanola, Octopus salad and roasted fish with orange and spices 😉 Not to forget my Tiramisu for which I trained so much in Brazil 😉
All together it’s an hard job and the days are very long starting from 8/9 am (if no long sailing is planned) and ending after dinner arranging the kitchen. But it’s in the sun, on the sea and all about one of my biggest passions: sailing!
Luckily technology helps enabling to recover from internet missing user manuals in few minutes and to get the great help and expertise of Pegaso boatyard (www.pegaso-yachts.com): without their help the summer would have not been the same at all!
My first week on board is spent entirely with them at dockside in Genoa to learn all the systems on board and to fix the last details before leaving for two months at sea.
A long transfer to reach Elba Island where we’ll be sailing for a whole week: I know well the area from my years of sailing, plus I adopt the best way of sailing I learned back in Caribbean with Luis: be conservative and keep on the safe side, after all we’re not doing a Regatta (yet!).
The mood on board is great for the whole week even if we anticipate the way back by few hours to sail South to Naples just before the arrival of a storm. It takes two nights and a full day in between to reach “Piccola Marina di Miseno” near Naples. A good friend of the owner welcomes both of us in the best way: a seafood lunch in the right local restaurant drinking good wine, plus he will give us the right contact to find the spares we need on board, thanks Luciano and Ciro!
The next lag is a new adventure for which the owner is joining with a friend: heading South to Messina strait that we reach for the sunset and we will cross during the night.
I check in internet the status of the currents in the strait at the moment in order to avoid or take advantage of the “Bastarde” (backwater currents) by following a more central or next to the coast route. Sailing a strait at night is always a challenge since the traffic is logically concentrating in these areas like in a funnel and the boats in the dark of the sea are identified only by few lights that gives an indication to other boats of the direction followed and if there is a risk of collision.
In a place like Messina Strait there are also supertankers passing that actually appear as big black walls moving in front of the horizon…quite scaring when they get close at a speed three times your’s…
Also here technology progress gives a good help and AIS (Automated Identification System) is showing at least the biggest ship on the screen of our Ray-marine cartographic GPS.
A stopover in the harbour of Santa Maria di Leuca just to fill the gasoline tanks with the dinghy (I assure you can’t reach the gasoline dock here with 3.5 depth…) and here we go:
Ionic Greece we are arriving!
Just too many places on these islands where it worth to stop, relax and have a swim in clean transparent water surrounded with plenty of fishes and caves to explore!
Here is a list of islands we visited from North to South and back:
- Othoni o Fanò, our stop both the first and last nights in Greece: just west of the dock there is an incredibly bay well repaired from the prevailing winds and waves. It’s a great anchorage and relaxing spot!
- Corfu o Nisos Kerkira the biggest of the islands we visit and the most touristic one. The east side is all well protected and has few spot where to split the sail to the Southern islands
- Nicolaos Islands on the coast just south of Igoumenitsa: few boats in the protected bay between these tiny islands
- Paxos: is where we set anchor with also pulling lines to land. This allow the boat to stay in place and avoid rotations around the anchor. Especially in Greece is a technique widely used since the sea bottom decrease fast from the coast and reaching already 5-10 meters few meters away from the rocky coast.
- Antipaxos: contrary to all the other boats we head to the West coast and in particular to the very first bay in the north. A huge bay where we’re the only one at anchor for the whole afternoon and night. It’s here that after a morning swim I have a walk on the beach to have evidence of a terrible reality. Every step I do I am surrounded by plastic: tiny, big, transparent or colourful pieces of any kind of plastic product. Instinctively I just start collecting them and making a pile out it. Meter after meter I clean up the pile grows and grows and after 2 hours I can fill 5 big garbage bags with them. I speak with the ship owner who is happy to make our part for the environment and bring them to the next dock. It’s just a piece on an iceberg, but we’re happy to have done at least one piece!
- Lefkas: we reach this island sailing 40 miles South of Antipaxos and by sunset our anchor is safely set in the bay out of Visiliki dock. A nice village with plenty of market to fill our food stock and many restaurant to enjoy a dinner out.
- Athokos: a tiny island just in the middle of the Ionic archipelago that as usual gives us a beautiful landscape and a good shelter in the southern bay
- Itaka! The entrance of Itaka is beautiful as crowded its’ anchorage. As usual in these group of island the wind is blowing in the late afternoon and tonight a bit more reaching gasp of 25 knots. We find our spot but I prefer to stay on board and make sure nothing happen to our house with so many boats around and the risk of any of us looking grip on the anchor. The amount of sand and mud that we lift with our anchor the following morning gives me the confidence that Itaka is more that a good shelter but the perfect place to set anchor and have a good sleep! What an emotion to be in the legendary town of Ulisse.. I almost decide to buy a copy of Odyssey to read again!
- Kefalonia: a small channel divide this island from Itaka. The same channel is a funnel for wind that usually blows with stronger intensity here than the rest of Ionic Greece. With all my surprise as soon as we enter the bay of Andisamos at the end of such channel the wind drops together with the waves that came with it. The bay is huge with plenty of space for all the boats and with two lines on land we have a great rest.
- Zakynthos: the southernmost island we reach. The huge bay of Laganas, in the South of the island, is actually a natural reserve for Turtles composed on three areas. One on the east where even navigation is forbidden, the central where anchoring and fishing are banned and the western one where we set anchor and hide for a day while a storm pass on the outer side of the island.
A day off before turning back and heading North!
This time we sail with good wind on the West coast of the island. Together with the wind a small wave is slowing us down but the landscape is amazing with the high rocky coast and huge caves. Even better is the bay where we finally anchor for the night: Vroma. Just before entering where all the other boats are we set anchor on the left side of the channel: a huge wall is on our starboard, below it we discover a tunnel under water where the bravest kids swim through holding their breath.
- Oxia: a remote island at the entrance of Corinth’s channel where we are again the only boat at anchor: and it’s mid August! Amazing!
- Pondikhos: a small tiny island 10 miles north and full of octopus waiting to be fished. The perfect good weather conditions allow us to sleep in a bay that looks more a recess of the coast more than a real harbour, but enough protected.
- Kastos: we’re trapped by the beauty and quietness of this island that is even well protected by the prevalent winds.It deserves a couple of nights and relax including a fireplace and BBQ on the beach.
- Meganisi: the first thing we notice it the traffic and number of boats at anchor that increase a lot in this part of the archipelago. But we finally find a dock with the right depth to refill gasoline: Vathi – Vathy.
Time to head back and sail back to Lefka to be run back on board from the restaurant on land for a sudden storm with gusts of over 30 knots of wind.
Antipaxos, Paxos, Lefka, Othoni and we’re back in Leuca for a couple of days before heading again North to Naples and ultimately to Tuscany.
And here it is the last surprise of the holiday while sailing out of Capo Rizzuto finally one the two fishing lines that we trawl since a months finally gets a 93 cm Red Tuna. I will learn also how to fillet a fish!
Back on land finally and looking for a period on the mountains…
…A week later…
I am already back on board!
And this time on the sister boat Marie Claire to bring her back from Sardinia to her home harbour in Tuscany!
Fair winds and following seas to everyone!
An usual day sailing on board: