The Path Back

August 10, 2019

The weather is marvellous!   Overnight on Sunday the skies opened up and I thought the skies may have had more water than the sea, and the thunder was deafening and the lightning ridiculously close, but now, crisp air, low humidity and modest temperatures.

I think I will need to ride my bike for a long time today.

I have spent some time building a straw man plan for heading West and thought I would update those who want to know about these things.   I will now spend the rest of this week preparing the boat, riding the bike and doing paperwork.

One of the benefits of non-EU countries is that often they have tax-free fuel, which is about 60% of taxed fuel.   My fuel tanks are relatively large and after the summer cruising, very empty, so it works out to being a lot of money to fill, but also a big savings over retail prices.   As you do the math, it is worth noting that I have filled this boat with fuel three times in just over two years.   Now admittedly I have spent some pretty significant time not moving, in Athens, in Taranto, in Bari, and in Tivat, but the point is, that a fill-up lasts a LONG time.

One aspect of that tax free fuel, however is that I must leave the country immediately after.   I ‘cannot use the fuel’ in Montenegro.   I also can’t fill my flexible bladder (about 600L) with tax free fuel.   So I will pay about 0.65 Euros for about 4500L of fuel at 8am on Saturday morning, then leave for Italy.

I will travel to Brindisi first.  It will take about 15 hours to cross and because I must immediately leave Montenegro I will arrive in Brindisi at night.  Having stayed at the port before (in April) it won’t be a problem getting in at night.   It is deep, with wide thruways and mostly well lit.  In fact the bright lights of the port actually hinder visibility on entry, but it is manageable and I will have both a full moon (99.3% at 1:22 am Sunday) and a night vision camera.  The last time, we had heavy cloud, 30+ knots of wind and no clue!

Since I have been in this area before, it is not likely I will hang out.   I do have to sign into the country here, however and paperwork can take time.   Hopefully it is a quick turnaround and off I go to Santa Maria de Leuca at the tip of the heel (Italy’s boot).   This is my least favourite place to stop in Europe so far, but it is the prudent place as I will likely be a bit tired from the overnight trip to Brindisi.   Leuca is only an eight or nine hour cruise and also super easy to enter, day or night.

Next will be Crotone.  I have never been there before and I am likely to stay for a day or two in Crotone and cycle to see a bit of the area.   This town is also a very short trip from Leuca, giving me lots of time to recover if I am fatigued or sea-sick.

It is worth noting (for anyone doing the math on these times), they are based on my approximately 6.5 knot speed.   With a good muffler, a good blower and a full tank of fuel, I can ramp the boat up to 7.5 knots (15% faster – 100% more fuel) or even 8 knots (23% faster – 200% more fuel) in good sea conditions and get places substantially faster.   That will come into play on my long passages later.

The weather reports look good, not great.  The water is not flat but the winds will be at my back topping out at around 15-20 knots or so based on current reports.  The downside is that report has degraded, so we will see what happens over the next 48 hours if adjustments are necessary.

Image 2019-09-10 at 9.46 AM
PredictWind suggests this path for greatest comfort

I use PredictWind for weather analysis and it also has fantastic tools to analyze departure time, weather routing and various other cool tools.   The graphic on the left is the path that it suggests (the different lines are for different start times.  You have to use the app to see those in action).

This app is even better if you are a sailor (because the wind is so much more important) but it does a great job, showing 4 different weather models, excellent graphics and comprehensive tools.  It is well worth the $300 I spent (half price sale) when I subscribed.





Today I also finished installing that blower fan.   A minor modification to the bracket that makes it workable, but it really isn’t the right solution.   The blower needs better support.   But you gotta love getting out the grinder and grinding up a solution to a problem.  Makes you feel like a real sailor!   I will have to get a new bracket upon my return to the US or perhaps somewhere else along the way where supplies are more plentiful.   Overall though it is in, pulls a lot more air than the other side,  even though they have almost the exact same CFM rating.   This lends credence to the idea that I need to look at changing the ventilation situation but the new blower will keep things cooler for now.

Fluids in all the engines have been checked, and other than transmission fluid for the wing engine, the boat is ready to move!   That means cycling is on tap.

And that’s it for today.   A short ride, just 36km, but I tried to climb a hill that I descended a few weeks ago.  It had grades of 14-20%.   I started up that hill but I stopped about 1/3 of the way up and went to an easier hill.   Funny enough I looked on the maps later, and I had climbed half of the vertical in the first third of the climb.   In other words it was going to get easier.   Instead I went up a nice easy climb on a new road, with great pavement and an average grade of 4% (maximum grade around 14% though), and enjoyed my afternoon!

(P.S. The featured image has nothing to do with my day . . . at all, I just wanted to have a pretty picture on the front.  Its a cruise ship (of an older variety) docked in Kotor bay a few weeks ago.)







(P.P.S. This is a test to see who reads these things.   I have discovered that if I don’t put my posts on Facebook, my readership is about five people [and I thank you for showing interest, even if you are parents who are just checking for a pulse].   So I will now test to see if I mention this post, if people go back to look at the posts that I have NOT put on facebook.   They don’t get any action at all.  Don’t worry this isn’t about my ego, this is about marketing, social media and the ‘reach’ of different aspects.  I am learning on the fly.

So here are the posts that haven’t seen much action:

Drive to Warsaw – just notes about the drive – covered in Roadtrip…

Drive to Budapest – just notes about the drive – covered in Roadtrip…

Alone Again

An Array of Busywork

I saved a Turtle – I will do this one separately later to test the appeal of that message.   🙂

There are plenty of other ones, but I am just going to watch these.

Overall, the interest and excitement with my excursion has completely worn off on most of those who are sitting at a desk or have lawns to mow or cottages to visit.   As one would expect.

We will see if highlighting this post, gets people to the bottom and they look at any of the ‘missed posts’ listed above.)


9 thoughts on “The Path Back

  1. Hallo Don!
    I found you on MarineTraffic and follow your progress !Hope you doing well!Did you like Crotone? Hop the Poseidon and Eol ar friendly to you in Otranto Canal !
    Haw a safe sailing!?!
    Nikola Tesla fro P10 😉

    1. Thank you Nikola, and for all of the help on Saturday morning! Things are going relatively well. As you can see from the posts today, there have been a couple of minor issues, but the trip is going well!!

      BTW can you get this blog address to Yuval if you see him. Thanks for the kind wishes.

      1. Of course!If I see Yuval I’ll be glad to get your address to him!!!
        I will follow your progress !!!
        All best wishes !!! 😉

  2. Nice read Don. I am a bit sad to see the Atlantic Crossing is off the table. Even though I would not likely be able to go I was looking forward to the stories. Enjoy the cycling and maybe one day our paths will cross and we can enjoy a beer. Back to real life for me.

    1. Chris, I hope you survived Dorian unscathed. Home Free will be in the maritime next summer in all likelihood. If I don’t see you before you and Susan can come for a visit then. Don’t be a stranger.

  3. Don, I’m sunbathing in Mallorca at the moment, reading your latest posts with interest. Make plenty of time to cycle when you get here, you may or may not know that this island is the go to place for cyclists from all over Europe, it had some amazing climbs and climate. David

    1. Hi David, I am on it. Literally just documenting my probable path which includes Mallorca. I will go twice. Once on the way to Barcelona, and then when Jinhee comes over at the end of October, we will go back there and wait for the boat to load on the transport.

      I know it is the cycling haven . . . I have yet to ride my bike there though so I will be spending at least a week there I think.

      When Jinhee comes we will likely go to Ibiza for a day or two as well. this all depends on the loading date for Home Free, but I will be trying.

  4. Good read

    1. Thanks Dad. I hope all is well on the farm.

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