Looking Back – Recap of the 2019 Sailing Season

Looking Back – Recap of the 2019 Sailing Season

Just like the previous New Year, I decided to write a little summary of this past year, along with some scientific statistics at the end. It feels incredible to have made it this far, and to be travelling still, when it’s been a year and a half since we left! Both of us and our boat still in one piece, the money not quite run out, and various plans for next year already springing up. And the places we’ve seen! In May we crossed the Bay of Biscay, sailed along the Atlantic coast of Spain’s Galicia and then Portugal. There we decided to turn towards the Straits of Gibraltar. We made it to the Mediterranean in July, and in August we were hopping along the coast of Sicily. In September we crossed over to Greece, and there we found our next winter base.

All of a sudden I came to think that perhaps our blog posts make our journey seem somehow too sunny, effortless and smooth. There are many reasons for that. A travel blog often lags a few weeks behind of what’s happening in real time – it takes time to write, to sort and edit the photos, internet access can vary wildly, and so on. Memory is a funny thing, too – afterwards it brings the nice and funny things on the surface, transforms difficulties and setbacks into personal growth, scary moments into great triumphs. There’s no story when things are happening, the story takes form afterwards when all that wonderful, wild and boring stuff is behind us. The photos, too, tell mostly of sunny days and interesting sights, and of dolphins frolicking next to our boat. The camera stayed safely indoors in that terrible thunderstorm, neither of us felt like taking selfies of our baggy eyes after the third night’s dog watch, or photograph the lasagna upside down on the galley floor. But we have something in store for our faithful readers: a couple of excerpts from our logbook, written at the heart of events (I tried translate as well as I could).

It was sunny, calm. Who would have thought we’d find this same s**tty hostile North Sea vibe again. If we ever get out of these waters (which doesn’t seem likely) I’d just like some warm water sailing, please. The boat is tossing around and we’re both so freaking fed up. This s**ks big time. The wind is always against us, not what it was supposed to be, the current prevents Aina from moving at all, and we’ve freaking had enough. Our average speed is something like 3 knots. I sit here watching these endless rain fronts rolling in from the sea and the boat is doing 1.7 knots in some b***dy adverse current again. We’ll get rid of all this s**t and rent a house somewhere.

May 2nd 2019, 7 am

I’ve lost all interest in these long passages. I’d just like to be in a place where we could day sail, and see nice places, or even just find some cove for anchoring instead of the endless straight coastline and humongous waves. Even if weather’s calm and there’s nothing much going on (or is it because of it?) I always seem to be worried about something when we’re offshore. Feeling tired, hungry, and when I actually do sleep my dreams are all about sailing, too. Makes you wonder if sailing is actually too demanding and stressful, if you can’t get rid of these “What if” scenarios and just relax. Doublehanded sailing is pretty lonely, too, when one of us is practically always sleeping. I don’t usually mind my own company, but now I’d prefer someone else’s. Maybe these 2-4 day passages that we’ve been making are the worst kind, when your body and mind don’t get enough time to settle in the rhythm and your tired brain sees bogeys everywhere. But right now I don’t even want to know what a really long passage feels like, such as crossing an ocean. Gloomy thoughts on afternoon watch, in pleasant wind and sunshine…

July 26th, 3 PM

Why don’t we write about this kind of things in the blog? Maybe it’s because negative feelings seem somehow embarrassing afterwards. Why is it so frustrating to be moving slowly, when in fact we’re not in a hurry? We can stay in a nice anchorage for a week if we feel like it – why the impatience when we’re sailing? And if we’re tired, scared or worried at sea, why are we magically cured as soon as the passage is over? The only explanation is that when you’re out in the middle of the sea, the feelings are somehow larger – the highs are higher and the lows are lower!

Another thing that seldom makes it to the blog are the screw-ups we make. You don’t want to admit your mistakes, even if you’ve learned many things through them – for instance, if you forget to close the cap after oil change, before you fire up the engine, you’re not likely to do that again (you might also find that a Wonder Sponge works wonders on the oil stained lining). We can laugh at these mishaps privately, but never tell anyone else!

Leaving Binic © Sailing Infinity @sailinginfinitynw

Our sailing season 2019 started on May the 1st in Binic, Brittany. Since then, we have seen a lot of water! Turquoise, grey, and endless shades of blue. We’ve seen many other things, too, but after so many offshore passages I have to admit I’ve seen quite enough water for a while. We sailed from one sea into another, saw fabulous sunsets and even more fabulous sunrises – because that meant another night was behind us. Nights were great too, all those stars and the Milky Way, the moon and so on, but sitting alone in the cockpit at night, in a small boat in the middle of the great big universe, I sometimes felt really, really small.

During 6 months we sailed 3100 nautical miles. In the 2018 season we also sailed for 6 months, but only 1700 miles – from Finland to our winter base in Brittany. No wonder we weren’t feeling absolutely glamorous the whole time. It’s hard being on a long haul, but if you want to get to a place far away, it’s just something you have to do.

We haven’t felt homesick during our journey. Well, not for any particular place, but we do miss people. We quickly feel at home in a nice village or town, as soon as we know our way to the supermarket and have found our favourite café – two or three visits are enough to turn it into our haunt. It feels good to stop for a while. Often a few days is quite enough, sometimes you want to stay for longer – especially in the winter. And maybe some day, somewhere, we might stay for good. But it’s pointless to speculate when that will or will not happen. We’ll see, that’s our motto. Maybe we’ll never stop. Many people have crossed one ocean, then another, and before they know it they’ve circumnavigated. Some folks have suddenly heard the call of the icebergs, or ventured up the Amazon. Who knows what this Mediterranean adventure of ours may turn into. After all, you can only cross an ocean one day at a time – maybe some day we’ll feel up to it. Maybe not.

We wish a Very Happy New Year to all our readers!

Last, but not least, assorted bits and pieces of season 2019 statistics:

Depart from Binic, Brittany, May 1st

Arrive at Mesolonghi, Greece, November 1st

Nautical miles travelled: 3100

Route: Brittany – Bay of Biscay – Galicia – Porto – Algarve – Gibraltar – Almerimar – Mallorca – Sardinia – Sicily – Kefalonia – Bay of Corinth – Mesolonghi

21 nights on passage

94 nights at anchor

69 nights in a marina or town quay

38 ports or anchorages

Greatest achievement: Crossing the Biscay

Longest passage: The Biscay, 375 nm

Most exciting passage: Straits of Gibraltar

Scariest passage: Sicily to Greece in a thunderstorm

Best passage: downwind sail under the Rio-Antirrio Bridge

Best anchorage: Trizonia island, Bay of Corinth

Most beautiful anchorage: Islas Cíes

Most beautiful town: Cefalú, Sicily 

Most beautiful sight: Delphi

(or maybe the Theater of Taormina)

Warmest water: +28 °C (+82 °F), Capo Milazzo

Best market place: Argostoli, Kefalonia

Best seafood restaurant: Borda do Cais, Ferragudo

Best local cuisine: Kalypso, Trizonia

Best bread: pain rustique, Boulangerie Jacob, Binic

Best pizza: haven’t come across better than Al Ponte in Gdansk, Poland!

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