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  • Writer's picturePeter

Boys and their Toys

Our first bay, just 3 hours away from Cagliari was a real pleasure for us. The water was a turquoise blue, 6 metres deep, crystal clear so we could see the fish at the bottom, and the beach was about 200m away. The breeze was light as we dropped the anchor and our first attempt seemed to go very well. Time to relax with a cool drink and watch the sun go down.

The next day was the start of our play time:

First on the agenda was the blowing up of our SUP (Stand Up Paddle – or the paddle board), recently bought from Decathlon and due to its “back pack” packaging, there was a suitable donkey to take it away “easily” from the shopping centre. Its weight was manageable and other than the small problem that its length was a little longer than any flat space available on the boat. The decathlon High Pressure Pump managed to get to about 7 psi - recommended board pressure was 15 psi, but there was no way the correct pump bought for the job would manage this. 7psi seemed to make the SUP quite rigid, and Ingrid was ready to be the Guinea Pig and see if she could successfully stand up or if the paddle board would fold in half with her weight.

Manhandling the board into the water seemed to go well and Ingrid was successful in paddling off towards the beach and have some fun (I think she wanted an ice cream). When she was back it was my turn – all went well with this little toy. The only “problem” we have (and what a problem to have) is where to store it when it is not in use.

While we are at anchor, it is not a problem to leave it in the water or to put it on one of the side decks of the boat. However, it is quite large to have it inflated and attached to the railings. As we now realise the “problem”, we start to notice how other people on other boats are either quite inventive, have a bigger boat or just don’t seem to care in the way they store their boards.

My concern is for it not to interfere with the ropes while sailing, so for the moment I am deflating the board between anchorages and storing it in one of our many storage spaces. Yes, it is a hassle to re-inflate it, but we are getting better at the process and the convenience of the safely stowed board while sailing seems to be the best option at present.

Next on the list is our inflatable dinghy with its E-propulsion outboard electric motor. We did not want additional petrol storage onboard and hoped that our solar power was also sufficient for charging this battery. At 2.7 meters long, it is much shorter than the paddle board, but significantly wider and about 3 times heavier. Should we have bought a smaller one we ask ourselves ? (though the answer is probably a little too late in coming) As you can guess, there is no flat surface big enough to easily lay it out and inflate. Our cockpit dining table seems to be the optimum location – yes, it is amazing what problems life throws at you and how one has to just “cope”.

Pressure requirement is only 3 psi for this inflatable, so our Decathlon pump was again put to good use and the dinghy slowly filled up the cockpit area as it inflated. Next was to get it over the railings and into the water. Well, with a little pushing, pulling, lifting and shoving we got the dinghy over the rear railings, between our davits and into the water with a gentle splash – we still have calm weather and so we did not have to fight with the elements in this process.

Next was the installation of the electric outboard motor and battery pack. At several kg per item I held on extra tight to make sure no part slipped uncontrolled into the water and sank to the bottom. Click click, all in place but nothing happens ……?? Yes, there is a safety cut out key that needs to be installed before anything will turn on. Should the driver fall overboard for any good or bad reason, with the safety cut out key attached to his body, the outboard will immediately stop, rather than continuing off into the sunset until the battery runs out.

With the key installed, off we go with the quiet purr of an electric motor and keeping our carbon footprint low. It takes a little bit of time to get used to the motor and dinghy, but I think Ingrid and I are 50% on our way to being experts and only a few bruises in the process. We have a great place to store the dinghy - on the davits below the solar panel. Perfect, but it cuts out our view behind when sailing and makes it difficult to get off the back of the boat when moored up in the marina. Oh well, more innovative solutions need to be found.

Now we can leave our yacht at anchor in the bay and head for the marina to buy our groceries, bread, beer, ice cream, go for a coffee or restaurant without having to be in the marina (and paying marina fees) to do this.

1st try without safety key

2nd try with safety key !

Our life is becoming self-sufficient with the solar power charging our batteries during the day and our water maker making all the fresh drinking and washing water we need. Just in case, I do have a diesel generator to charge the batteries, should our consumption be too great and the sunshine being insufficient. Give me a few more weeks of anchoring and I will have a better idea of how self-sufficient we really are.

I have not yet had a chance to try out my scuba gear (+ new air tank) as this particular wimp is still waiting for the water temperature to get a little higher than 21 deg. C. I have been too spoilt in the past with most of my diving being done at 30 deg. water

temperature. Also, our subsequent anchorages have been a little windier than expected. It is the ongoing battle between the Sirocco and the Mistral, so really calm days seem few and far between at the moment.

As we sailed up the east coast of Sardinia we found little shelter in the bays for anchorage and marinas seemed also to be quite exposed to the winds as they flipped from North to South and then South to North at very irregular intervals. As we were getting close to the Esmerelda coast, we hoped that in the many bays we could find our turquoise waters and shelter from the winds. We did find many beautiful bays with turquoise waters (when the sun shone) but the wind can blow up to 30 knots as they are funnelled between the hills, headlands and numerous islands. We are not alone and the many bays are filled with sailboats – all looking for the same as we are.

We drop our anchor in 6-8metres of water. This means that we need to let out 5 times as much chain (30 – 40m) to allow for the anchor to set and to have enough weight to keep us from moving. It is quite obvious if you think about it, but not so obvious to the anchoring novices amongst us; 40m away from the anchor with a north wind will allow us to move 80 metres should the wind change to the south. We therefore need to be careful with the other anchored boats as we swing (hopefully in harmony) with them.

Our anchor alarm, initially set at 20m (after all, who wants to drift more than 20m whilst at anchor ?) kept going off and keeping us awake most of the night as the winds changed and changed and changed ! Not a very relaxing start.

Over a day or so, we manage to make a complete circle about our anchor and we are slowly building up the confidence that our 35kg of stainless-steel anchor and 90kg of chain will not let us drift away with the wind. Though we know this, it does not stop us looking at the other sailboats that have anchored close to us and swing back and forth like we do – just want to make sure they don’t drift too close to our boat.

Ingrid “sleeps” with the Navionics app on her phone next to her pillow. The app plots our actual position and track so that each time she wakes, a small glance to confirm that we are within our arc or circle is all that is needed to allow her an additional few hours of relaxed sleep.

The unhurried approach to life and sailing is doing us good. We continue to learn on a daily basis and allow ourselves time to relax. We don’t need to be anywhere at any time, so we can wait for breaks in the weather to allow for a good and safe sail. My next book to read is “Stress Free Sailing”.

The scenery here is beautiful and our planning is at our leisure. Our main task seems to be boat cleaning; the Sirocco from the Sahara desert brings a tons of red dust that covers everything – with red dust on every surface and in every nook and cranny.

My fishing continues, but my second fish at less than 10cm long was really not worth the storage space on my phone. They seem to outsmart me at present with my bait being eaten before I have had a chance to strike. I think I need to be a little more serious and pay attention to what I am doing.

So many toys, so much to do and another sunset to enjoy.

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