On May 15th we took the big step of setting sail from Sicily, homeward bound for the UK. This was a big step for us as the free movement of people, be it on land or water was and still is, heavily restricted. No rules are in place for people like us who are in a very unusual situation of having half our lives on a boat, wanting to get home and needing to pass through different countries on the way.
The EU has given guidelines for a coherent reopening of EU countries on June 3rd; but this has not yet been adopted by many nations. Italy, first into the crisis and thankfully first emerging, will take this approach, however the full reopening plans of other countries we will transit through namely Spain, Portugal and France have yet to be fully defined.
So why leave now, you might ask, instead of waiting for more clarity? One major passage on our trip home is to get up the Portuguese coast, which at this time of year has prevailing northerly winds. As we need to go north and will have winds against us, it brings potentially uncomfortable sailing which is not ideal for a young family. We are therefore banking on lulls in the northerlies, giving us enough time to jump up the coast in steps. Another approach would be to sail each day from early morning until noon before the strong sea breeze kicks in, then stopping in marinas until the next morning. Night sailing along the coast is not recommended due to the large quantity of fishing gear which could tangle around the propeller. With northerly winds getting stronger later in the summer, our priority is to get up that coast as early in the season as possible and ideally by the end of June. Hence, our May set off date.
One very good piece of news is that a list of ‘in transit’ ports has been compiled by the Cruising Association. These are ports who will accept boats such as ours for provisioning and refuelling while on essential travel. Our plan therefore is to move consistently and to stop at anchor or in marinas only for rest and reprovisioning. We are hoping that by the time we reach northern Spain in late June, the country will be open again for tourism and that we can cruise without the need for quarantine. Let’s see.
Since leaving Sicily we have make nightly stops in the Egadi islands, the south of Sardinia, Carloforte, Majorca and now Ibiza, from where I write this post. We have not landed as that would trigger 14 days quarantine. Our boat is bursting at the seams with food, water and diesel, prepared for many days isolation. We are doing just fine however and keeping well to our timeline of getting to Gibraltar in early June. We have been on alert on this trip, aware that we can be stopped at any moment, and questioned on our motives for travelling. We are confident of our approach but this has not happened yet. Despite the restrictions, we have had the opportunity to cruise on our own in the most beautiful of places; a rare opportunity in a busy cruising spot such as this.
Tomorrow we leave for Cartagena, Spain, named as an ‘in transit’ port where we can reprovision and also be very happily reunited with Tom, Phil, Stan and Ted on Bella (our cruising partners!).
How beautiful the Med is in the spring! We are enjoying wonderful sailing and we are all very relaxed. We have grown into sailing over the year, especially the boys, who are now completely comfortable underway. The Mediterranean continues to be a real joy and we are always struck by how beautiful it is, and we have only seen a small fraction of it. We need to come back……….Although COVID 19 has disrupted all our plans; we are intent on making the most of our ongoing adventure.