On needing some days to recover

Having sailed my Alan Buchanan 37’ sloop south from the UK at Easter, with plenty of wind, generally favourable, and a crew of three strong guys, I took a couple of long weekends with friends of both genders to sail (actually, sadly, mostly motor) her to Cartagena and then to Alicante. So it was in Alicante that I boarded her a fortnight ago to sail her to Italy’s Monte Argentario, with a pal from Glasgow and another from St Andrews.

Set your compass around 65 degrees, keep her there, and you pass delightful anchorages on Ibiza (Cala Lleon), Mallorca (Cala Figuera), Menorca (Mahon) and Sardinia (first Stintino and then Santa Teresa di Gallura). True, the days were long and the sun severe on Scottish skin; but the night sailing was marvellous under a mediterranean sky sizzling with shooting stars.

Despite depressingly few sightings of marine wildlife and surprisingly little other traffic until we traversed the Tyrrhenian Sea, we hardly felt alone. There was never a night at anchor when we were the only ones swinging to the hook. (Mediterranean marina prices in high season see to that.) And though she has no mod cons, offering only warm beer, Libertine of Leith danced us delightfully downwind towards our destination.


Eight days and over 600 nm after leaving Spain we made landfall in Italy. Along the way we found sheltered calas, phosphorescent waters, restaurants open til past midnight, tide-free navigation and a superb Sardinian beer called Ichnusa.

Now berthed in a marina, the gradual refurbishment of a 55 year old boat made of mahogany on elm with a teak deck continues apace. A little work every day, cleaning and oiling and revarnishing, along with the repairs which are the wooden boat owner’s regular recreation, have filled my days with joy.

In six days’ time my son joins me to sail her north, to her winter berth in Liguria. Nine months from now I hope I start my periple of Europe’s southern seas.