Made it to Albania
Made it to Albania :)
Crossing day -1
0830 start. Zigzag upwind on light breeze to Santa Maria di Leuca, where two Gabrieles and a fleet of Optimists from Smaré Scuola Vela make a nice welcome. I stop for a while - and am grateful for bowl of fruit and restock of sail repair cloth. Check forecasts. Resume sailing round the tip of the stiletto heel of Italy. Now in the Adriatic, race against fading light to reach Port Badisco. Very dark when I get in. Difficult stretch of coast - very limited stopping options. Meet Andrea, who has supplies - including a GPS, replacement warm hat, and waterbelt for my harness - all very useful for tomorrow's crossing. Last Italian pizza. Andrea explains about the 6000BC cave paintings here. Beautiful places and meetings to end the Italian chapter.
Lightning over the sea all night. Up at 0530. Porridge, biscuits, dried fruit and coffee. Away by 0630. Enough breeze to get away from land and more once offshore. Broad reach heading. See a turtle :) More wind with clouds - some periods planing. Ideal wind. With 35nm to go can intermittently see outline of land - very high land - on Albanian side. Pass close to two ships, but other than that no traffic. Wind veering - becoming tighter - until eventually sailing in upwind mode to maintain course to land. With 15nm to go adjust course for target to south, allowing more open line and fast planing in increasing wind. A hundred flying fish jump in unison towards the sail. Their evasive action deflects them up above my head, glistening in the bright sunlight.
And then the wind stops. Really stops. Just 2nm short of land and 3nm short of target. No wind. But still a breaking sea. Impossible to paddle. Time to eat and be patient. And warm up - for I have sailed without drysuit and have been constantly wet from spray. The coastline is untouched and majestic.
Occasionally a gust arrives, warning signs of bigger downdrafts from the mountains that are to arrive later. I struggle towards target, and 2 hours later force a way to paddle the choppy, swelly, windless last few hundred metres into the cove. Its a wild and wonderful place - no roads to here, but there is a tiny bar - open today - that caters for travelling windsurfers.
Notice a stowaway is still with me - a ladybird - with me since leaving port in Italy - who I'd written off as lost at sea.
Explore behind the cove later in day. Wonderful and truly pristine. Butterflies everywhere struggling with the now fierce gusts.
Crossing day +1
Try and fail to make it somewhere to get a passport stamp. Difficult wind conditions, high ground and lumpy sea.