We left Sarande, Albania with very little wind, but it filled in quickly. Within a few hours we had enough to sail – even if a bit slowly. We sailed throughout the afternoon, and we had dolphins come to play in our bow wake just before sundown.
Our winds grew light through the night, and we motorsailed most of the time. We were able to sail a few times, but we just did not have enough wind most of the night.
The winds remained marginal the next day. We sailed some and motorsailed some. We caught a very big tuna in mid-afternoon, and we thought about cooking a chunk of it on the grill for dinner, but we had eaten a big lunch, so we put the fish away for the next day. It was so calm that we were sitting on the cockpit coaming only about an hour before conditions turned against us.
Fish slayer strikes
Around sundown on our second day, the winds increased in to the low 20s and the seas became difficult. They were short and steep, and we had difficulty making any headway in them. Passage rarely has trouble making her way through a seaway, but this was a tough one for her (and us). This went on for almost twelve hours. Fortunately, conditions calmed the next morning (our third day out), and we were able to make our way south then west around Capo Spartivento.
We headed north towards the Strait of Messina. Our plan was to stop at Reggio di Calabria Marina just south of the narrow of the strait. We planned to check in to Italy there, tidy up the boat, and catch up on some sleep. Again, conditions turned ugly. We had 30 knots of wind on the nose with gale warnings and short steep seas. We got within less than five miles of the marina, and we turned around. We did not want to continue the bash to get there and have to deal with trying to moor Passage in an overcrowded marina with that much wind.
We crossed the strait and sailed down the east coast of Sicily. The seas were a bit rolly at times, but all in all, it was a nice sail. We went about 20 miles south as far as Taormina Bay where we anchored for our first night in Italy.
During our second night, our AIS transponder had started acting up. It quickly got progressively worse and eventually stopped working altogether. This is a relatively new unit that we had shipped to us while in Sri Lanka just over a year ago, and we really like it and depend on it. We had recently decided to put on a lot of miles this season, and we did not want to do it without our AIS. So we contacted the manufacturer by e-mail while at sea, and we started making arrangements to get it either repaired or replaced. We figured that this might necessitate a trip to Malta, so maybe we are better off a bit further south?
At the end of this relatively short passage, we traveled 271 miles in 54 hours. Despite our occasionally miserable seas, we still averaged five knots. Not our best passage ever, but not our worst.