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Sailboat log

Freediving in Cyprus (log15)

We continue with our adventure and finish the installation of our new radar. Getting the cables through the mast is quite a tricky thing but we found a way at the end to pull trough three new cables 😉 For now we decided to use our Radar only via WiFi and not install the data cable. What do you think about this idea? Do you use your radar through WiFi?

Also we go on our second freediving session and explore the crystal clear waters of Cyprus. There is no better feeling than to be back in the water. But check out our video to see the whole story.

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Installing AIS 700 and a Quantum Radar on our Beneteau Oceanis 393 (log14)

It is time to prepare our sailboat for the Atlantic crossing! First actions on the list? Installing AIS and Radar. For the AIS we choose the AIS 700, perfect for sailboats of our size and easily installable. For the radar we choose the Quantum Radar from Raymarine, which was a bit bigger than expected and caused some delays in our plan due to an unfitting radar mount. Check out this video to see the problems we encountered during the installation and what you should avoid when doing the installation of radar and AIS.

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Losing the boom at sea (log13)

Not every crossing goes as planned! We finally hoist the sails and leave Israel behind us, but on our sail to Cyprus we encounter our first serious problem. At least we would call losing your boom out at sea a quite serious problem. If you want to see how we cope with losing the fixing pin of our boom during our 200nm crossing from Israel to Cyprus check out the video! We obviously also show the amazing sailing experience we had before the incidents and will show you how you are going to prevent losing your boom and the fixing pin of your boom at sea.

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When it’s all about boatworks (log12)

Ready to start Sailing Season 2020? We have spent the last two months in Herzliya marina close to Tel Aviv, Israel and can not wait to finally set sail again. But before we are able to start sailing season 2020 and set sail for Larnaca, Cyprus, we still have to fix a lot of things on our sailboat ForTuna. Watch our latest episode on youtube to see how we applied a new UV-protection to our main sail to make sure it lasts longer. How we fixed our leaking galley window to finally spent rain season without water in the galley. How we reorganised our storage to be ready for all the long passages which will come along this year.

Let’s get ForTuna ready for sailing season 2020!

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Sailboat log

When Sailing to Greece (log10)

It was time for us to leave Italy and head to Greece. After one last pizza, which we still dream of, we left the most southern tip of Italy’s heel and headed to Korfu. The crossing was luckily very calm, and we managed to sail some hours in very light wind. We arrived with the last sunrays and Greece greeted us with incredible scenery and crystal clear water.

Sailing boat in greece

This week our crew had a particular goal for the week: fishing. 3 out of 5 crew members were armed with fishing rods and spent their whole time optimizing the lures. No need to tell you that the sailing route obviously was adapted to fishing places and fishing times.

sailboat and greek flag
man fishing on sailboat

The stakes were high, as two of the crew members had praised themselves at home about their fishing abilities, and messages came in hourly to ask about our success rate. Hence, ending the week without catching fish was just no option!

The first day ended with no fish on the lure, but on our second day in Greece, we caught a colorful Mahimahi! This took off the pressures from our crew and gifted us with a lovely barbeque at the beach. We felt like in a movie, making fire on the beach and drinking rum like real sailors. The only ones who ruined a little bit the evening were the masses of mosquitos, but we had to learn to cope with them in Greece.

guys on sailboat caught fish

The greek island proofed worthy of their fame. White beaches between vast cliffs, surrounded by green hills. It is truly a sailor’s paradise. Which kind of explains the thousands of sailboats you will meet along the way. But luckily, there are so many bays that everybody finds their anchor place.

Sailing boat in shipwreck bay greece

We obviously went to visit the famous shipwreck bay, but boy were we lucky to be there in the evening, during the day it feels like an ant-hill. Thousands of people trying to get the perfect shot. If you are ever there, don’t miss out on the small hidden cave on the bay southernly from shipwreck bay. You won’t be able to anchor in front, but we, for example, took turns at the helm so everybody could swim there and explore it.

Our final destination of the week was Athens, and one last challenge was standing between us and the city: The Canal of Corinth. Constructed in 1893 for economical shipping, it is now mainly used as a tourist attraction and for sailboats and motorboats who like to avoid the long way around the Peloponnese.

We arrived at the Western entrance of the Canal after a long night sail and announced ourselves to the canal officials. Together with us other 7 boats were waiting for the canal doors to open. Interestingly you are allowed to enter the Canal in the same order as you arrive at the entrance. Still, it seems so that captains do not like to respect that order. Once the canal doors opened, it felt like an actual race to enter the Canal. We were first astonished by this behavior but then discovered that once you arrive at the Eastern Exit of the Canal, you need to pay at the Canal toll. So if you are there first to enter the Canal, you are the first at the Exit and won’t have to wait until everybody has paid.

sailboat in Corinth Canal

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing the South of Italy (log09)

After a month in Sicily, it was time to move on. There was still a lot to explore in Sicily, like the south and the west coast, but we will have enough time next year to do so. So if you have any recommendations about sailing in Sicily, let us know in the comments.

Be aware this blog post will contain a lot of dolphins. We never saw as many dolphins as in those two weeks. We don’t know if it was because of the location (the Gulf of Taranto) or because of the time (End of May). However, we could not care less why we will always remember those tranquil days escorted by dolphins.

three Dolphins swimming
girl on sailboat with dolphin

We had agreed to bring ForTuna to Athens, and the accorded date was only two weeks ahead. We had 14 days for 600 nautical miles.

Our route brought us from Taormina to Santa Maria di Leuca. On the way, we stopped in Roccella Ionica, Le Castella, a small town with an incredible Castel on the waterfront, Crotone, a lovely village with a great fish market and unfriendly carpenters, and Gallipoli, our new fav place to sail to (check here why).

Unfortunately, there was not much wind this week, so we had to motor a lot. We would not have done it if we had not pre-agreed a time and place to meet up with friends, as we hate to motor this much. We definitely learned that sailing is not made for pre-agreed times and places. In general, the coming weeks would often remind us that sailing does follow wind and waves and not human timetables.

girl on sailboat
sailboat

The most extended leg on this journey was from Crotone to Gallipoli. Before we left Crotone, we indulged in a great fish market where we ended up buying oysters for a ridiculously low price. Personally, I am no fan of oysters, but those were delicious a high saltiness, but no fishy aftertaste. Reinforced by oysters, we started by sunrise to make the 68 nm until Gallipoli, where we definitely lost our hearts.

Sailboat in the sunrise
Sailboat in sunrise
sailboat with sails

The leg was super calm and we had the luck to get visited by dolphins many times, which brought a much-needed distraction from the wide and calm blue sea.

We arrived in Gallipoli in the late afternoon, and it was time for Greta to handle her first anchoring alone; Michael was still in a business call as we arrived, so it was my job to determine the best anchoring spot, check it out and let the anchor drop. Fortunately, it was a wast sandbank that rose very slowly, so I managed to drop the anchor without Michael’s help.

Dolphins close to a sailboat
Dolphins close to a sailboat

We spent 3 days in Gallipoli, jumping naked into the turquoise water, eating seafood at the restaurant’s pontoon and getting lost in the small streets of the old town. We are so much in love with Gallipoli that we decided to write a separate post about it. Find all the reasons why we love Gallipoli in our blog post “best place to sail to in Italy“.

Awaken from our Gallipoli dream, we had one day left to move to Santa Maria di Leuca to pick up our new crew, which would help us bring the boat to Athens. But more about this in the next blog post.

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing Tropea and the straight of Messina (log08)

After our 32hour passage from Sardinia to Sicily, the straight of Messina was our next big sailing challenge. But let‘s start from the beginning.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat

We had been in the Aeolian Islands for 2 weeks, visited most of the Island, and been to Stromboli twice. The second time around, we had changed our crew, our friends had gone home and Greta‘s mum joined ForTuna to visit the Islands, which have been so long on her Travel list.

Stromboli
Stromboli

Our original plan was to sail back to Sicily and from there, approach the straight of Messina. However, after more detailed planning, we discovered that the North coast of Sicily close to the Straight was pretty bare and without protected anchorages. On the other hand, the mainland of Italy offered anchorages closer to the straight, which would allow us to pass the straight first thing in the morning and avoid arriving there tired from sailing.

So off we went to mainland Italy heading for Tropea. Looking back, it was a great decision. Not only did we manage to approach the straight safely, but we also visited one of the most stunning places so far. Funnily before visiting Tropea, we knew the city only because of the variety of onions named after it. Now, we will remember it forever for its steep cliffs, small streets, farmer markets and sanctuaries placed on cliffs overseeing the Italian coast. As you can see, we are pretty in love with Tropea, if you want to find out why read our 3 reasons to sail to Tropea.

Tropea

After Tropea, we anchored as close as possible to the straight. We choose a small open bay in front of Paparone, Italy. Unfortunately, not safe from incoming swell, which diminished our sleep quality together with the excitement for the next day. However, we rose at 7 and at 8 we were already at the entrance of the straight. The straight is dangerous for sailors because of two strong currents meeting in it. For a more detailed description of the dangers connected to the strait of Messina, check out our Guide for Sailors for the Strait of Messina.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat
North Entrance to the Strait of Messina

As requested, we contacted the coast guard to inform them about our passage and asked for information about the canal. You can imagine the relief when the coast guard told us it was a perfect time of the day to pass. The winds were not strong and until 9 am we had a window to pass south. So with good spirit we entered the canal.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat
North Entrance to the Strait of Messina

Our good spirit was slightly dumped when we saw a fisher in front of us lose control over his small boat, which started to turn 180 degrees. Looking closer, we recognized a small whirlpool he had overseen. Luckily the fisher managed to get out of the vortex without any problems, but our concentration rose again, as we wanted to avoid having the same experience.

Vortex in the strait of messina
Countercurrents in the Strait of Messina
Whirlpool in the strait of messina on a sailboat
Whirlpools / Vortex in the Strait of Messina

When we reached the middle of the canal, the wind in our hair got stronger and we wondered what had happened. A look at the monitors showed that the wind we were experiencing was due to ForTunas speed. ForTuna was going at a speed of 10kts. A speed ForTuna had never reached before and never would again. It took us a while to understand that this speed was purely due to the strong currents in the canal. We were practically pushed out of it.

In the end, everything went perfectly well. We managed to avoid all the whirlpools and passed the canal more quickly than expected due to our new speed high.

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing we fished our first tuna (log06)

Since we put the first fishing hook into the water, our dream was to catch a tuna. First and mostly, because we wanted to make sashimi. You can imagine our happiness when the second fish we caught was a beautiful shining tuna. 

tail of a tuna fish

We were on our way from Panarea to Stromboli. Most of the crew was napping on the boat, after a great lunch at anchor. As now was our habit, we put out our fishing line, but with not much hope as we had only caught 1 wish in 5 weeks. But it seems that sometimes luck strikes those who have lost hope. 1 nautical mile in front of Stromboli, the fishing rod started sirring.

You can imagine our surprise! Michael and I immediately jumped up, looking first at the fishing rod and then at each other. Was this happening? Two fish in one week? As we asserted we were not still dreaming, we woke our friends to help. We luckily were 6 people on board, so while Michael took care of the fishing rod, three crew members and I took down first the Genoa and then the mainsail. Once done, the fish was still on the hook, and it was now time to help Michael get it on board. 

sailors fishing

We knew it was a bigger fish then we caught before because he was quite reluctant to get aborad. Having broken already a few fishing lines, we were super careful not pulling it in too hard and decided to let the fish fight and get tired. For about 30 minutes, I steered the boat in the direction of the fish while Michael pulled in and let go of the fishing line according to the strength of the fish. Finally, we saw the shimmer of a fish in the sea.

tuna in the water on a fishing line
tuna in the water on a fishing line
tuna in the water on a fishing line

One of our crew members had already prepared the fishing net, but as the fish came closer, we realized that this fish would no fit in our net. But how should we get it on board? We first tried with the fishing rod, but each time the fish was slightly out of the water, we were scared the line would break and how sad would it be to loose the fish now. A different solution was needed. Following his instincts, Michael jumped onto the platform, grabbed the tuna, and pulled the fish on board.

sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish

We were all in awe, once we had this magnificent creature on our boat. Neither of us had ever seen a whole tuna. We almost felt sorry to know that most people only knew it from a can. After contemplating its beauty, we hoped that it would fit in our fridge as the sea was to rocky to filet the tuna.

fresh tuna fished
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
fresh tuna in fridge

Once arrived in calm waters at Stromboli, we watched a lot of Videos to be sure to filet the tuna in the right way to avoid any unnecessary waste. We ended the day with a tuna steak on our plate and a laugh about our sweet and little fishing net.

fresh tuna
sailor filett tuna fish
fresh tuna steaks

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing the Aeolian Islands, Sicily (log05)

Going to Sicily is better than going to the moon.

Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez

Well, we had to check for our selves, so after Sailing one month in Sardinia, we took another month to explore Sicily and in specific the Aeolian Islands. Praised in songs and poems, these 7 islands have been on our top list of places to sail to since we bought the boat. Funnily, it was Greta’s mum who put them on that list, as it is her own private dream to go and visit them. So knowing she would come to visit at the end of the month, we planned our sailing route accordingly.

harbor of Cagliari, Sicily

The first thing we did in Sicily? Explore their cuisine. Oh, how we love Italian cuisine, especially because every single place has its specialties, they have their own world of foods and somehow these worlds are always incredible and unbelievably tasty. In Sicily, we had to taste, Arancini and Cannoli. Both deep-fried, but both worth the extra calories. And hey, the cannoli are not with cream like many would think, but with Ricotta, a very light creamy Italian cheese, so they are almost dietarian. Almost 🙂

cannolo siciliano on a sailboat

But enough of food let us go back to sailing. We departed from Catania and on our way to Cefalu caught our first fish. What an experience! Until now, we always managed to lose the fish by breaking the fishing line, but this time, we managed to get him on the boat! We had two friends aboard who helped us in this exciting moment, and we are thrilled to have shared it with them. It’s those common experiences which for forge and strengthen friendships.

catching a fish with a net
fishing

We brought the fish safely to Cefalu, an astonishingly beautiful town. The harbor, unfortunately, is located behind the hill, so you have to walk about 1km to go to town (which can be pretty tricky in the summer heat). But the harbor itself is charming, so no need to go to town, if you do not need groceries or spare parts.

Sailboat in Cefalu, Italy
Sailboat in port of Cefalu, Italy
Sunset in Cefalu, Italy

It was time to pick up a second couple of friends and leave for the Aeolian Islands. ForTuna was brimming with excitement, as all her 6 crew members could not wait to explore the Aeolian Island. Obviously, Stromboli was on top of our list of places to explore. The most active volcano in the world! We could not wait to go there. 

sailing instructions
Aeolian Islands
Aeolian Islands, Italy

The first impressions of the Aeolian Islands were according to all our expectations. Small islands, with cliffs and sandy beaches, most only accessible by boat. We spent the night in Lipari, a lovely little town, where your Italian dreams of Bella Vita will all come true.

Sailboat in Lipari, Aeolian Islands, italy
Aeolian Islands

On our second day, we spent lunch at an anchorage in Panarea. Here we spotted our first octopus, which immediately went on Michael’s list of sea animals to catch and eat. It was still pretty fresh, even if it was already the end of May, but our friends did not stop and jumped into the dinghy to go and swim at the shore. After lunch, we departed to go to Stromboli, but more of that in our next blog post.

Sailboat in Aeolian Islands, Italy
Aeolian Islands, friends on small boat

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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our first crossing – waves, wind and the moon (log04)

The time had arrived for our first crossing. Sardinia to Sicily 180nm, which turned into 200nm due to wind and waves. For our first crossing, we decided to get some crew reinforcement and luckily Greta’s dad is an old sailor and agreed to help us out together with a sailor friend. On Sunday our new crew members arrived on board and we finished the last preparations for the crossing, like changing the outhaul-sheet and setting up a preventer. 

Era arrivato il momento per la nostra prima traversata. 180nm, dalla Sardegna alla Sicilia, che a causa del vento e delle onde alte si allungano a 200nm. Per questa nostra prima traversata abbiamo deciso di chiedere rinforzi e per fortuna il padre di Greta è un vecchio marinaio che ha accettato di accompagnarci assieme a un suo amico. Domenica sono arrivati a bordo, completando il nostro equipaggio e assieme abbiamo terminato gli ultimi preparativi per la traversata.

Sitting in Cagliari we looked at the weather predictions and could not have been more unlucky. The mistral had again started to blow, greeting us with high waves and constant 35 knots. However, we saw a small wind-window on Monday which might allow us to cross. Therefore we decided to try it on Monday if we would encounter too much we could stop in Villasimius, the most eastern point of Sardinia. So we set sail Monday morning heading east. The winds and waves along the shore were calmer than expected, so we felt sure to do the crossing. Unfortunately, we could have not been more wrong. Once we left the shelter of Sardinia, the waves came at us hard from the north, forcing us to turn down only after a few miles.

Seduti a di Cagliari esaminiamo le previsioni meteorologiche e non avremmo potuto essere più sfortunati. Il maestrale aveva ripreso a soffiare, regalandoci onde alte e costanti 35 nodi. Per lunedì scopriamo una breve finestra con vento accettabile, che avrebbe potuto permetterci l’attraversata. Decidiamo pertanto di partire lunedì, nel caso di vento troppo forte, avremmo potuto attraccare a Villasimius, il punto più orientale della Sardegna. Lunedì mattina salpiamo in direzione est. I venti e le onde lungo la costa erano più tranquilli del previsto, quindi ci sentivamo tranquilli rispetto alla traversata. Ma che illusione! Una volta lasciato il rifugio sicuro lungo la costa della Sardegna, le onde ci colpiscono duramente, costringendoci a ritirarci, tornando in porto, solo dopo poche miglia.

So Villasimius turned into our new starting point. After a save night at the harbor, we started again to control the weather forecast. Tuesday night and Wednesday seemed the best time-frame to us Thursday wind and waves would pick up again. So after a quick call to an experienced sailor friend, we decided to leave the harbor on Tuesday at 14:00.

Villasimius è pertanto il nostro nuovo punto di partenza. Passata la notte in porto, consultiamo nuovamente le previsioni del tempo. Martedì notte e mercoledì il mare sembra essere navigabile. Ci consultiamo telefonicamente con un amico esperto velista e decidiamo di lasciare il porto di Villasimius martedì alle ore 14,00.

Honestly, after having experienced the waves of the day before, we were a little bit scared to encounter something similar again. But it turned out that Poseidon (or any other sea-god) had granted us save passages. Most of the time we had a nice wind from behind, which we supported with some motor speed as we could not risk to be too slow and encounter the storm predicted for Thursday. We were even lucky enough to be greeted three times by dolphins and having the moon enlightening our whole night.

Le onde della giornata passata ci incutono timore, facendoci sperare di non rivivere la stessa esperienza. Ma sembra che Poseidone (o qualsiasi altro dio del mare) avesse pietà di noi. La maggior parte del viaggio abbiamo vento in poppa, che combinato alla forza del motore ci ha consentito di arrivare integri in Sicilia; giusto in tempo, prima della tempesta prevista per giovedì. La fortuna ci ha regalato per tre volte di essere accompagnati da vari delfini e la luna piena ci ha illuminato il percorso notevolmente.

In the end, we arrived safely in Palermo on Wednesday at 22:15. 32 hours of 3 hours shift had passed and we could not have been happier. Everything went smoother as expected, but we also learned to respect the sea and plan enough time for a passage.

Raggiungiamo il porto di Palermo sani e salvi mercoledì alle 22:15. Dopo 32 ore, suddivisi in turni da 3 ore, stanchi ma felici. In conclusion, possiamo dire che tutto è andato più liscio del previsto, ma abbiamo imparato a rispettare il mare e a pianificare le traversate più attentamente.

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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