Syracuse -> Marina di Ragusa: Report on our passage from Greece to Sicily
After carefully studying the weather forecasts for a few days/weeks we decided Wednesday evening was the time to leave for Sicily. We checked the weather just before we set off – and yes it still looked OK.
So off we went leaving at 3pm. We started off doing over 7 knots and our thoughts of how quick we could be back at this speed made us feel dizzy with happiness. Then we hit some current and slowed to 4.5 knots and reality set in. We were still hopeful of a quick passage.
We then left the protection of Corfu and headed across to Sicily. The seas were a bit swelly which made it a rather uncomfortable motor sail – there wasn’t really wind for us to sail. After a few hours we saw a thunderstorm develop off the starboard side. We wisely decided to protect our back up hand held instruments and a few other bits such as the laptop by putting them in the oven – it is meant to act as a faraday cage and protect the electronics in case we were hit by lighting. We think the real risk is forgetting the bits are in the oven when you next turn it on.
By late evening we left the bad weather behind, the winds increased and shifted to be beam on, and we started making 6+ knots and had a more comfortable sail. All was good. Yoyo stayed in the cockpit and behaved impeccably only demanding tuna every 3 hours (at shift change).
Thursday night the winds died down however we still had the swell from the seas. This meant we had an uncomfortable time rolling about. We then lost GPS on the instruments. However we were prepared and started up the hand held GPS unit….no signal. Maybe the Americans had turned it off due to some excitement in Syria. We now started steering by the stars – well ok we kept on the current compass heading and figured we should hit Sicily somewhere in 24 hours time and we could then follow the coast. By morning we had a GPS signal again and all was good – we hadn’t strayed from our course at all.
By Friday morning the seas and winds were both low and we settled in to the final stage of the passage – by this time we anticipated arriving in Marina di Ragusa about 3am Saturday.
By late afternoon the winds picked up along with the seas and another thunderstorm was spotted nearby. All the electronics went back in the oven (gas mark 4). This time the storm hit us. Visibility went to zero, the rain lashed down, winds were gusting to 30 knots (Force 7) and the radar showed just a mass of rain so we had no chance of avoiding other ships of which they were several as we were near Sicily. We decided to change direction and head to Syracuse as we knew it was a safe and easy anchorage and was only 2 hours away. By the time we arrived there was no rain, gentle gusts of 10 knots but the sea was still quite swelly.
We anchored and then slept very well.
Saturday morning and we looked at the forecasts – it looked like we had several opportunities to sail around to Marina di Ragusa over the next few days with Monday looking like the calmest. This also had the bonus of giving us a few days rest first.
We rechecked the forecast after our evening meal at 7pm and all had changed. We needed to leave now or be stuck for at least a week (or more if it changed again). We raised the anchor and set off for an overnight sail back home.
The seas were relatively calm, the winds perfect in direction and strength but we did get the old favourite of lightning storms around us. Electronics went back in the oven (why we take them out we don’t know). We had light rain but avoided any bad bits. We arrived back in Marina di Ragusa at 7am, tired but very happy to have arrived at last.
p.s. There are no photos as pictures of just sea is a bit boring and during the storm the visibility was so limited there was nothing to see!