Away from Italy

Fri 26 Oct 2012 18:21
38.25.425N 9.39.872E
What started out as a fine looking anchorage changed overnight as a swell started rolling into the bay, making life very uncomfortable.  As always, the anchor held its place so our repeated trips upstairs to see if we’d moved were a waste of time.
Weather reports were not encouraging.  A low in Portugal is heading East and is joining up with another low coming up from Algeria, both expected to combine over Spain and head up a bit.  This is about to bring severe gale conditions to Sardinia.  We decided it was a marina for three days to wait it out or go.  We went up the coast a little ways – wasted two hours as it turned out – to find a marina that was so small it only had two sailboats and some powerboats in it.  We decided to turn for Tunisia, 130+ miles away.
It was raining and the sea state was up a bit, with some bashing and crashing through the sets so we motored for about 8 hours.  It’s now almost 8pm and the wind is steady at a fraction under 20 knots and we have the engine off at last.  We’re making about 5 knots with a partly furled genoa and a full main.  The moon is shining off the water and we look like we’ve missed the bad weather.  By the time it gets to southern Sardinia, we won’t be there.
We almost lost the rudder on the Hydrovane earlier today.  The pin that secures it to its rudder post sheared off and it slid down the shaft.  Luckily I had read the bit about making sure you have a line securing it to the boat as they float like bricks.  I hopped through the ladder and began trying to secure it for lifting with a second line but as I had taken off all throttle, we were wallowing so I got completely soaked and had to use one hand to stay attached to the boat.  Drama over, rudder on board. 
There are a few large container ships about and some general freighters.  The good thing about AIS is that you get a lot of info about the vessel, including its destination.  Nice to sit and gaze at all those containers full of Chinese stuff headed for the various ports of Europe.  There was a fuel ship headed for Ceuta, a freighter headed for the West and after all that a catamaran on the opposite tack to us passed about 200 yards to our port side.  Gave me quite a start as I’d been listening out for AIS alarms and he didn’t have AIS so he was past me before I even saw him.  Lucky he was paying attention.  I was playing Solitaire on my iPad.
The wind may not hold through the night so we could have the engine back on again.  We’ll see.