Anchored Among Giants

Read Dream Time's August/Sept
article in Cruising World Magazine


August 27, 2019 (Day 4,471)
Quick Fix: 39° 18.8 N / 03° 00.0 E
Majorca, Spain

Ciao. Hola!
With a gentle ten knot northerly breeze, our 254 nautical mile passage west, riding latitude thirty-nine north from Sardinia to the Balearic Islands, was a cruising delight, and after fifty-four hours of gliding peacefully along flat seas beneath an uninterrupted sky, our three white sails offering the only distraction in a world otherwise saturated entirely in blue, we raised the Spanish island of Majorca, and with it our twenty-sixth courtesy flag since beginning our world voyage. This passage has brought Dream Time five degrees closer to the northwestern hemisphere, which now lies just 130 nautical miles off our bow. We began our world voyage in this quadrant, it holds the countries of our birth, the country we now call home, the country, even, that Dream Time was created. Indeed, home feels very close to us now. There's just a tiny matter of 'crossing the pond', the only ocean Dream Time has yet to pass, the Atlantic.




Aug 23, 2019    |   Sardinia, Italy - Wandering the maze of narrow streets of Carloforte is like living in an MC Escher print.


August 22, 2019 (Day 4,466)
Quick Fix: 39° 07.0 N / 08° 26.1 E
Sardinia, Italy

A Morning Surfer
The Meltemi winds have been reduced to just a whisper so, alas, kite surfing in this remote corner of Sardinia has been temporarily grounded. But surfing is still to be had, at least for the two resident dolphins touring the shallows separating San Pietro from the main island. On two occasions they have joined Dream Time, detouring from their morning patrol to swim alongside, surfing off our bow, whistling and rolling to gaze up at us as we smile down to them. Our nephew, Harry, was treated to a visit one morning and took great delight in leaning over the railing, close enough to feel the discharge of water from the dolphins as they surfaced for a breath just a few feet away, where the tiny plumes of spray caught the morning sunlight and, for a fleeting second, cast a tiny rainbow off our bow. He mentioned it was a highlight of his visit, reminding us it is often the simple pleasures that bring the most joy.


Aug 21, 2019    |   Sardinia, Italy - The Meltemi wind drops along with the kites - time to 'debrief' at Kite Village Sardegna with a cold Peroni.



Day 4,463 - Sardinia, Italy
21:41 hrs - August 19, 2019
Face Dragging

It was in 2012 that one of my brothers last stepped on Dream Time, and now seven years later I was finally lucky enough to be welcomed on board by my lovely aunt and uncle, Catherine and Neville. It is customary that a blog is written during our stay and so it is now, almost two weeks in and with only a few days left before I leave, that I am writing my first (and quite possibly last) blog. 

We have spent the last two weeks hopping along the south coast of Sardinia, anchoring off of beautiful beaches. Having heard of my brother Tom’s spearfishing success in French Polynesia, I was determined to catch more fish than him and, if possible, bigger ones too. Unfortunately, I have not had much luck. Neville and I have spent many hours in the water over the past fortnight, spearguns at the ready, in the hope that we might see a fish large enough to spear but we haven’t seen a single one. While we waited for the fish to come out from wherever they were hiding, we made a target out of a plastic bottle, some string and a weight for me practice my aim with. It seems that the fish had nothing to worry about though as out my ten or so shots, only two pierced the bottle. Despite this the fish still seemed to think that it was too much of a risk to show themselves. At one point I thought perhaps I should go for some of the little fish, however I would have either needed a lot of patience, a very good aim or a very small appetite for it to have been worth it, and I have none of those!

While I wasn’t looking for fish or missing bottles, I have spent my time playing beach tennis with Neville (we achieved a new longest rally of 143) and exploring islands and local towns. In the evenings, we have barbecued off the back of the boat, watched a bunch of classic films, the most recent of which was released in 2000, and played a mixture of ‘Poohead’, a card game I taught Catherine and Neville, and Uno. 

On Tuesday, we were joined by a couple of dolphins as we sailed to Punta Trettu, thought to be one of the best kitesurfing spots not just in Italy, but in all of the Mediterranean. I have already done a fair bit of windsurfing before, and so I was very keen to give kitesurfing a go, and before I knew it I was being pulled through the water learning a technique called ‘body dragging’, however in my case it was more like ‘face dragging’ and involved a large consumption of sea water from me and a lot of stifled laughter from my instructor. Despite this, I can’t wait to give it another go and although the wind isn’t forecast to be strong enough today, I’m hoping to get out on the water again tomorrow and get up onto the board.

One thing that is proving to be a little bit trickier than we had anticipated (even more than spearing a stationary bottle in crystal clear water) is working out how I will get from the most south-westerly corner of the island, where we are currently anchored, back to the airport for my flight on Wednesday. The one rental car company we were able to find is fully booked until Thursday and there doesn’t seem to be a single taxi service in the area. I have to admit I’m not in too much of a hurry to find a solution as, although missing my plane would be a bit of a bummer, I certainly wouldn’t mind staying in Sardinia for a little while longer. 


Aug 16, 2019  |  Sardinia, Italy - After parkouring his way up the rocky cliffs like a mountain goat, our intrepid nephew, Harry, claims the windy summit of Isola Rossa.


August 2, 2019 (Day 4,446)
Quick Fix: 38° 14.1 N / 15° 34.5 E
Sicily, Italy

A Legendary Battle
We've come across all manner of fishing crafts during our voyage, but none come close in bizarreness to the Sicilian passarella. Phoenicians have chased swordfish in the Straits of Messina, a tumultuous narrow waterway separating Sicily from mainland Italy, for over 2,000 years, and while the boats have been impressively redesigned over the millennia, the hunt remains the same: a spotter to sight the fish, a helmsman to steer the craft, and a harpoonist at the pointy end. The new passarellas, however, which resemble half a suspension bridge, have taken the hunt to lofty new heights with a tower that wobbles a staggering 100 feet above sea level supporting, remarkably, a helmsman who steers the boat, 3 spotters and a 140 foot bow platform where, perched on the very end and clutching a trident, sits the harpoonist. But the passarella, sadly along with the swordfish, may very soon become the subject of legends like the mythical monsters of Scilla and Cariddi who once battled deep within the whirlpools of Messina. With dozens of these crafts circling the waters above, it's difficult to image how the swordfish can survive below.



Aug 1, 2019    |   Sardinia, Italy - Cloud puffs carried briskly over our first Sardinian anchorage by Mistral winds gusting to 34 knots.



Day 4,445 - Sicliy, Italy
18:47 hrs - August 1, 2019
Sicily. Vineyards, Volcanoes & Al Pacino

When I think of Sicily I immediately think of those scenes in the first Godfather movie with that little hillside village with its hearty Italians living big warm noisy Italian lives. And now that we're here I can feel what the film maker was getting at.

It's a big island, the biggest in the Mediterranean, but one I think that's actually best viewed from along the coastline in a little boat sailing around the edge. But the real heart of it, is definitely the interior.  Some of its best treasures are on the windy internal roads where you'll find a Sicily mostly unchanged and untouched. Quiet, but bursting with stories. There are so many medieval castles built on top of hills here. Wherever you are if you look up you'll probably see one balancing fiercely on whatever the highest most architecturally challenging rocky pinnacle there is. There are towns built into the sides of the rock faces with of course, castles on top. And endless anonymous vineyards teetering on the volcanic slopes, of a smoldering volcano. And of course, Etna, the boss of Sicily. The ninth biggest volcano in the world, active for 500,000 years and home to the mythological god Hephaestus and a one-eyed monster Cyclops (according to the Roman poet Virgil).

Etna much to our surprise has a fairly regular eruption schedule and obligingly put on a great show when we first arrived. For two nights we had front row seats from our safe anchorage below in Taormina and were glued to the exciting spectacle as red glowing lava flowed casually from the bubbling peak. Over the next few days we drove around the perimeter loop and up the twisty roads to the top as far as we were allowed,  then continued down along the coastal roads which comprised almost entirely of long dark tunnels dug through rocky hill after rocky hill, followed by astonishingly high roller coaster bridges which were met by yet more long dark tunnels. Not for the claustrophobicly inclined!

In my Italian imagination Sicily has a feeling of wildness and freedom, where you can get lost in all of Sicily's ancient stories. Where you can wander happily like Al Pacino, along a hot dusty goat trail and just enjoy being alive.