Saturday, 14 June 2014


I find the wind fascinating.  The breeze that cools our skin and flows over our sails is created by a complex combination of natural forces that shift and change continuously: there are the constant global factors such as the rotation of the earth, creating the spin that produces benevolent trade winds and ferocious revolving tropical storms; the impact of the equator as a huge heat store that causes air to rise constantly, creating the equatorial low that sucks in cooler air from both north and southern hemispheres; and then against this backdrop are the high and low pressure systems that develop like mountains and valleys in the atmosphere, generating gradient wind as air flows from high to low attempting to equalise pressure.

Here on Juno we are affected today by much more local factors.  There is a gradient wind blowing from the west as we set off across the bay of Palma, giving us a lovely beam reach across to the headland at Porto Pi. However by mid-morning as the island of Mallorca heats up, the warm air rises and a thermal wind develops, sucking cool air in from the sea, acting in direct opposition to the gradient breeze, creating a brief lull.  Then as we round the point sailing northwest the gradient wind and the thermal wind line up to join forces and suddenly we have too much wind and I am reefing down. Isn't it fascinating?

Still on the search for a quiet nights sleep and to escape from the lumpy sea state, we sail to Porto Colom, a sheltered natural harbour on the East coast of Mallorca where we anchor and spend two days waiting for a weather window for our passage to Sardinia.  Summer has definitely arrived in the Mediterranean and we try out our new awnings to keep the sun off the deck and cool the boat. Jamie and Lucie are keen to do the overnight passage with us to Sardinia where they will fly back to the UK, so we set off sailing into a light easterly, and as the day goes on it becomes stronger and quite uncomfortable as the sea state develops.  After bashing into the waves for a few hours we decide to change our plans and we bear off onto a fast beam reach towards Mahon, on the island of Menorca.

While Mallorca is international and stylish,  Menorca is sedate and genteel, and home to the elderly British, from elegant home counties to effin' essex. It is also home to some famous caves and a Casino on the sea front which Jamie and Lucie are keen to see.  The last time Fatty and I went to a casino was in Monte Carlo, when she cleaned up at the roulette table while i lost all my stake.  This time i just watch while she starts cautiously with a few warm ups on red and black, her stake slowly dwindling, then down to her last few chips she bets on 19 red and wins. Infuriating.

After two days of gorgeous weather around Menorca we drop Jamie and Lucie at the airport while we wait for a proper weather window.  The glory of having no time pressure is that we can wait until the weather conditions are right, and today they are perfect.  After a night at anchor in the harbour at Mahon, we raise the anchor at dawn and slide out of the lagoon. A blast from my bow thruster rather disturbs the tranquillity and brings one couple scampering up to their cockpit in alarm.  We are en route to Sardinia, with the perfect forecast of light northerly winds, backing to northwest as the day progresses giving us a calm sea state and a following wind for our passage of two hundred miles to Isola di San Pietro.

Who would have believed that Fatty and I would be sailing double-handed offshore with our big red spinnaker drawing us powerfully through the water. But we are. Partly this is due to some great technology called a top-down furler that allows us to furl our spinnaker in the same way that we furl our headsails. This was my big investment over the winter and once we get the hang of it, it works like a charm taking all the drama out of spinnaker hoists and drops. The other big factor is the wind.  Although there is only 6.4 knots of wind on the sea - that's a gentle breeze that might just ruffle your hair -  Juno and all her 32 tons is sailing directly for southern Sardinia at 6 knots. What a great conversion of wind into energy. The ground wind is blowing from the north, about ninety degrees off our port bow, which when combined with our forward momentum creates an apparent wind angle of around 60 degrees.  In fact our spinnaker is actually a genneker, an unpleasant word that is used to describe a sail that combines the light weight of a nylon spinnaker with the asymmetric form of a genoa, and this allows us to sheet it in hard and broad reach over flat sea in a gentle breeze while we have lunch in the cockpit.


  1. Great stuff Frewie - 'effin essex' - Love it! Nice to see the top down furler has already paid for itself... Best of luck guys xx Miss you both!

  2. Rule 1 - always bet on19 red

  3. Mahon to Carloforte two handed .......the beast under complete control.....and a delicious looking lunch to boot....doesn't get much better. Paulus.