Crewing the Med: Cabin fever

Jumping dolphin, Sicily

Log & Chart

We are such different people crammed into this small vessel, cabin fever sets in as tiny quarrels develop between some simply for the sake of it. I’m not sure if it’s a hangover from some high corporate practice but if something goes wrong the excuses are sounded and blame allocated with great efficiency, unlike the fix or the sense of shared learning.

Over a two-day crossing the waves grant us little sleep as the boat wallows and slams around.
During my night watch we cut between lightning storms passing to the north and south, great flashes mark either end of the Milky Way.

In the middle of the ocean a board private jet dives down to buzz our mast then roars off. WhatsApp notifications sounds a 21st century Land Ho; Ping! Ping! Sardinia must be within range. Even in a seemingly empty seascape modern times make their mark.

The mood sinks again as the two alpha males duel it out with passive aggressive one liners, one using belittling direction the other happy to use ignorance to avoid participation. Given the minimal introduction, compact and sometimes stressful environment with a side order of sleep deprivation life aboard feels like a social experiment even NASA would be wary of running.

While others go ashore to explore a beach I doze on deck. Months on the bike binging on cheap solitude and ferrel independence has meant the transition to crew life has required some acclimatisation, my more introvert self is rejuvenated with a little space.
Swimming round a tiny island also helps ease the mind with exercise.

Two day crossing to Mallorca

A rough sea makes sleep a distant dream, as the bow of the boat crests up over waves it then slams down into the deep troughs. Weightless.. thump. Weightless.. thump. Weightless…. THUMP. As if slung from ceiling to floor buy a ceaseless wrestling team, you have to wedge yourself into your bunk, torrents of water rushing past inch away trough the skin of the hull. When I do nod off its to a bazaar purgatory dream state; Walking through a fantasied town with the gravity of reality persisting through, floating me up then crashing me down like an astronaut on a moon walk through a beanie crowd.

Morning coffee helps thaw conversation between two crew members where it had iced up over the last week, it’s a relief for all.

An oil leak dribbles from the gearbox just as the wind dies. We bob along, limp sails as a flurry of spanners and wrench work try to diagnose the issue. We use a small camera on a stick to peer under the immovable lumps of machinery deep in the engine compartment. After an hour or tweaking a few hydraulic hoses it seems to stop though its guess-work, so we potter on with caution, still miles from land.

A patches of flat features sea erupts in a frenzy of white froth, something is chasing a large shoal to the surface, opportunistic birds flank from above.

Late into my solitary night watch I’m finally caught in a lightning storm, a moonless deep star-scape outlines pitch black clouds, glowing bright as cracks of white light racing across their bellies. Rain lashes across as I batten down the hatches, soaked through in seconds, exhilarating as it washes the salt from me and the boat. Tempestuous winds howl around playing havoc with the sails, then in a flash all falls quiet again, just the sound of dripping sails in darkness.

During travels with the bike I was given meals and shelter by strangers to whom wealth was a roof, they would laugh if I were to try to repay in either action or money, it was the most warming confirmation of humanity. Aboard its strange watching those of a dramatically differ economic status fall out in bitter fashion over petty sums; worth of fishing equipment – neither dare lose face, both condemn the other an idiot.
People have the right to use their hard-earned wealth as they see fit but despite insignificant value would rather quarrel themselves angry, ransoms a collective spirit and solicited others into the fraction.
For a leg spent spectating such behaviour in such contrast to the one before it feels very educational. Money and happiness; the cliché rings true, as the old ones always do. I preferred it when people talked of houses as homes not assets.
For the first time since leaving England I find myself thinking of home and the road again along with all the warm relationships I’ve found along the way.

Palmer Mallorca welcomes us to Spain and the fist new country for me in a while, usually “border days” would have me excited, though it seems a little uneventful, traveling by boat seem to have subdue the interactions that I have found mark the changes, many marinas seem to mute their local character. On a boat you have to consciously opt into the surrounding, stepping out over the sea water moat, while on the bike there is no choice, you’re naked to the environment, the passing hellos, wild dogs and hospitality. It can make it stressful but all the more richer.

At midnight the huge marina falls quite except for dolphins splashing among the monstrous super yachts.

Crew members Tigs and Mike depart while Wayne joins us for a few days. Tigs unfortunately must be with her family while Mike has got what he needed from the experience, both have felt the push of our unbending skipper and seem relieved to be moving on, I just hope the relief is shared with him as well so that we may all relax. It’s sad to say goodbye to Tigs but is has opened up a spot on the boat for me, one going all the way across the Atlantic. To the Caribbean. Maybe even Panama and South America.

Log & Chart

3/9/2015 06:00 3468 V 1 253 5.5 1013 Sm 0 Left Rinella, water maker on
10:00 38.2583°N 014.9842°E 3493 SW 2 245 7 1013 Sm 0 Water maker off, 3hr: 150ltr
12:30 38.2085°N 013.5711°E 3510 E 2 250 6.6 1014 Sm 0
17:20 38.2073°N 013.3304°E 3540 x Anchored Mondello, Sicily - 72nm motoring, 🙁
4/9/2015 07:30 3540 Heading for Sardinia
11:00 38.6886°N 3563 SW 4 280 6.4 1014 Sm 0 Engine on
14:00 38.2136°N 012.2949°E 3581 SW 4 290 6.7 1013 SL 1 x Sailing, watch change
17:00 38.2684°N 012.0461°E 3601 S SW 4 285 7.7 1012 SL 0 x
20:00 38.3039°N 011.3958°E 3621 SW 4 270 7.8 1011 M 2 x Full beam reach
22:10 38.2403°N 011.1790°E 3638 SW 5 275 7.8 1011 SL 2 x Full sail, storms passing to south and north
5/9/2015 02:00 38.3843°N 010.4453°E 3666 S SW 6 285 8 1009 M 0 x Over 9 knots, Wind 30 knots, all sails reefed
05:10 38.4874°N 010.2483°E 3686 N NW 7 242 5 1009 M 0 x Low passed through 1009 bar rising, wind veered 160°
10:00 38.5249°N 010.0128°E 3717 W NW 6 332 6.8 1013 M 1 x
14:00 39.0575°N 009.4169°E 3743 W 6 319 6.6 1013 M 3 x
16:30 39.1194°N 009.5062°E 3756 1013 Marina Villasimius
6/9/2015 08:00 39.1194°N 009.5062°E 3756 V 1 244 6.1 1016 Sm 2 x Slipped marina on motor, switched to sail 08:35
13:00 3786 Engine on
14:10 3792 NW 2 227 6.8 1016 Sm 2 Water maker on, noticed small leans in engine
15:20 38.8934°N 008.8114°E 3796 Anchored Porto Malpatano
7/9/2015 06:50 38.8934°N 008.8114°E 3796 NW 2 P 6.9 1016 Sm 1 Upped anchor
08:10 38.5143°N 008.3994°E NW 3 259 1018 SL Motorsail around headland
14:00 38.5269°N 007.5439°E 3840 NW 4 266 7.4 1017 M 1 x Full sail
22:00 38.4364°N 006.4070°E 3899 N NW 7 276 6.9 1017 M 0 x Put reefs in all sail, close hauled at 55°
8/9/2015 02:20 38.4682°N 006.0994°E 3923 N 4 279 5.5 1016 M 1 Engine On
07:50 38.5420°N 005.2824°E 3956 N NW 2 280 6.8 1014 SL 6 Water maker on, Diesel: 275ltrs
08:50 Water maker off, oil leak - hydraulic clutch, from filler cap
10:50 38.5820°N 005.0950°E 3971 NW 1-2 281 5.4 1014 SL 5 Check oil filter, coolant hose (may need new washer) added oil, 1500 RPM
14:00 38.0105°N 004.4571°E 3990 NW 1-2 277 6.2 1014 SL 6 Pit reves to 1800 RPM, no sign of leek
21:00 39.0676°N 003.5424°E 4035 NW 1 285 6.3 1013 SL 2 Lightning in the distance
22:10 4037 N NW 4 270 7.8 1014 SL 7 x Heavy rain, engin off
9/9/2015 02:00 39.1350°N 003.1445°E 4062 N 4 283 7.1 1013 SL 2 x Still Lightning N and S
06:00 39.2120°N 002.1711°E 4084 N 4 297 7.1 1013 SL 3 x
09:15 39.5648°N 002.6347°E 4101 N NW 1 1013 SL 3 x Arrive in RCNP Palmer Majorca. Goodbye to Tiggs & Mike