It has been a very busy 17 days since I left off on the last update “Bye Bye Kalymnos” on the eve of us leaving Kalymnos Island in Greece and finally starting our travels westward across and out of the Mediterranean as we set up for crossing the Atlantic probably next month.
It was with the full spectrum of emotions that we put Kalymnos in our wake as we left on Oct. 30th after first arriving back on July 7th. This little island had been our home base all that time and we had definitely felt part of the community. However we were also eXtremely happy to finally be heading back out to sea and back the life we love of exploring the world on our latest floating home, Möbius.
Fast forwarding to today, Wednesday Nov 16th, 2022, I am writing this update after we just pulled into a lovely little marina in the town of Melilla which is about 200 nautical smiles West of the Algeria/Morocco border. Interestingly enough we are actually not in Morocco as Melilla is as you can read in the link above “.. is an autonomous city of Spain located in north Africa.” So officially, we are in Spain!
At only 12.3 km2 / 4.7 sq mi Melilla is not very large but has a population of 86 thousand and a very rich history that will be fun to explore in the next few days.
Hopefully you not as “geographically challenged” as I am and will have figured out that we have now travelled the majority of the Mediterranean from the far Eastern end in Antalya Turkey and are now only 200nm away from Gibraltar that marks the far Western end of the Med.
I’ve put in an orange line on this map tracing our approximate path of this trip so far.That will give you some idea of how pleased we are to have made such progress and how well Mr. Gee v2.0 has been propelling us along.
Quick Statistics Overview:
Since leaving Kalymnos 17 days ago, we have put about 1600 nautical smiles under our keel and the all new Mr. Gee has now accumulated 194 hours purring away in his Engine Room. We are still breaking the new engine in so I’ve been keeping the loads at about 75% of the 100% continuous duty rating, which would be 150 BHP @ 1650 RPM that I currently have the fuel injection set up for. I am able to very accurately gauge and control the engine loads by varying the pitch with the Nogva CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller and then watching the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge which is pretty much a direct proxy for engine load. Full load would typically generate an EGT of about 450C/840F and I’ve been keeping it below 330C/626F and running about 1440 RPM.
At these settings our Speed Over Ground SOG runs between 7-9 knots depending on wind, sea and current conditions and overall we are averaging a bit more than 8.2 knots at these conservative loads. Over the coming weeks and months I will start to vary the engine loads with different RPM and pitch settings and record all this data to help me find the Goldilocks combination of SOG and fuel burn. For those interested, in the 1600 NM so far Mr. Gee has been consuming about 1.78 Liters/NM which would be about 0.47 US Gallons per NM for my Imperial measurement friends and followers. Our design goal had been to get about 2L/NM doing 200NM per 24 hour day which would equate to averaging about 8.3 knots SOG. So we are very pleased to have exceeded this already very ambitious design goal and we will see how this changes as Mr. Gee breaks in and we vary SOG and engine loads and encounter more varied sea and weather conditions. I will do my best to keep you posted as this data accumulates.
We have also been varying the length of each passage as we hop our way West across the Mediterranean with passages like the one today from Saidia Morocco to Melilla Spain being just 35NM in a bit more than 4 hours and our longest passage so far was our jump across the top of Algeria which was 625NM in just over 3 days (79 hrs)
But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s jump back to where we left off back on Oct. 30th when we finally were able to motor out of the lovely little Greek Island of Kalymnos which had been our home base for almost four months.
For our very first trip with the all new Mr. Gee, after completing all the paperwork needed for us to leave Kalymnos and Greece we motored over to a lovely little anchorage on the South end of the tiny Greek island of Ios which was about 83NM away. We anchored in to the beautiful little “Never Bay” on the far Left in this photo at 23:00 under an almost full moon and it felt SO good to be on anchor and back at sea again after so many months.
Next day, we got an early start and pulled up the anchor just after sunrise and made our way west to another lovely night anchorage on the South end of little Elafonisos Island which was about 120NM west. We averaged a bit more than 8.5 knots taking 14 hours and had the anchor down just before 22:00 for another peaceful nights sleep on the hook, aka at anchor.
Elafonisos was our last anchorage in Greece as we continued our way West and crossed into Italian waters on our way over to Sicily. Total length of this leg was 415NM which we did in just under 49 hours so average speed was about 8.45 knots. It was a great two day passage.
Captain Christine has acquired the new title of “Weather Wonder Woman” or W3 as she hones her skills using various weather software, most notably PredictWind, to do what I’m calling “No Wind Hunting” as ideal conditions for us have changed dramatically from our decades of sailing and we now ideally want no wind and flat seas or perhaps even better, following seas and winds which give us an added boost in speed.
As you can see from the sunset photo above and this moon setting shot the next night, W3 has become the master No Wind Hunter!
We headed for Marina di Ragusa which is about 40NM North West from the SE bottom corner of Sicily. Our friends Matt and Cindy were there on their new Amel 50 “Speed of Life” and it was great to be able to catch up with them over several meals and good wine while we waited for the next good weather window for the next leg of this adventure to leave the EU and head over to Africa.
When entering or leaving a country by boat, you need to do so at an official Port of Entry so we made the short 40nm trip up the cost from Ragusa to Licata which was the closest Port of Entry on our way West.
We left Marina di Ragusa as the sun was rising and were docked in Marina di Cala del Sole at Licata just before noon and were able to get a taxi to the Police station where the immigration and Port authorities were located. This all worked out eXtremely well with neither the marina nor the checking out process taking any time at all or having any fees! So we were back on Möbius and leaving the dock in just over two hours.
After the days and weeks and non stop fees trying to get our Schengen visa time extended in Greece you can imagine how delighted we were to have this final exit out of EU and the Schengen Area all happen so quick and easy. Africa, here we come!
As you can see, it is not a very big jump, about 195NM from Licata in Sicily to Bizerte up on the NE corner of Africa so an easy overnight sail in just less than 30 hours.
We pulled in and were side tied for a nice change in the very nice Bezerte Marina by 14:00 on Tuesday the 8th of November.
Tunisia has very good prices on diesel fuel, 0.66 USD per Liter, so we took full advantage and did our first filling of all six of our diesel tanks. We took on a total of 6792 liters and with exchange rates for the Tunisian Dinar and a credit card fee the total came to $4510.18 USD which at today’s fuel prices was a very good deal we think.
We now had about 11,000 liters of fuel onboard and so we were finally able to see how well Möbius sits on her waterlines. As you can see, the hull was now eXactly on the lines!
A bit closer shot as it is difficult to see where the 120mm wide Black Bootstripe on top changes to the Black InterSleek bottom paint but if you click to enlarge you will see that indeed sits eXactly on that line which is a great testament to our eXcellent NA Dennis Harjamaa! Well done Dennis and thanks for creating such a fabulous hull and boat for us.
Oh, and just in case you needed any proof that we are definitely not in “Kansas” anymore, check out this shot Christine took of the breakwater across from where we were tied up in Bizerte Marina. Yup, that’s a camel, well actually a dromedary with just the one hump, casually strolling along the breakwater. There was a small herd of them which we saw at various times during the day.
While we were only in Bezerte for a few days before the next weather window opened up we did get time to walk into the the very colourful old town and enjoy the sights and smells of this waterfront city.
We were also able to fit in a great date night eating some street food and then a delicious full meal at a little restaurant on the water.
And enjoy one more beautiful sunset evening to finish up our all too short time in Bezerte and Tunisia.
We had originally hoped to fuel up in neighboring Algeria where the fuel prices are even lower at about 22 cents per liter, but it turned out to be too long and difficult to get the required visa to allow us to stop there so we had to make the jump from Bezerte to Saidia in Morocco in one go and sail about 10nm off the very long Algerian coast of North Africa.
It was a very smooth passage as W3 worked her weather routing skills perfect yet again and we had exceptionally calm seas with some following seas to help out several times.
On one of her 6 hour watches Christine snapped this photo as she had fun surfing Möbius down some of the larger following swells and hitting speeds above 11 knots.
Most of the time though it was more like this and we enjoyed some beautiful sunsets and sunrises along the passage.
Christine had several opportunities on this passage to enjoy watching the large dolphins that came over to say Hi and play in the pressurized area ahead of our bow. I’m not sure who was having more fun, Christine or the dolphins but they all had a great time.
This is a relatively busy shipping route and so we saw our share of other ships on this passage such as this little fella.
We have a very good Class A AIS (Automatic Identification System) onboard, with several backups so pretty much all the other ships show up on our charts along the way and give us full information on each one including boat size, heading, speed, CPA Closest Point of Approach), etc. so makes it very easy to contact them on the rare times we need to and otherwise stay well informed of where they are in relation to us.
I took advantage of the calm conditions to do the first test run of the Paravanes I had built. These are what we are going to try out for stabilizing Möbius in seas that want to cause us to roll back and forth sideways.
The paravanes or “fish” as they are often called, are rigged to a fixed line of Dyneema off the end of each A-frame boom which is lowered off each side at about 45 degrees. The fish run about 5 meters or 18 feet below the surface where they “fly” through the water very smoothly. When the boat tries to roll to one side the paravane that is being pulled up resists this motion and the one on the opposite side dives down as its line goes slack and sets up for its turn when the boat tries to roll the other way.
I particularly like iterative design and I start with the simplest approach and then adjust from there as I test. This first setup was a fully manual one with the orange line being the fixed length line that the paravane is suspended from and then a smaller Grey retrieval line attached to the rear of the tail fin. Christine slowed the boat and I lowered each fish into the water and they quickly zipped out and trailed behind the boom attachment points and then bring the boat back up to speed. A bit too busy to take photos but you can imagine how this works.
It worked quite well but the retrieval required more effort than I thought was safe so I will re rig these lines so that the retrieval line goes up through a block mid way out on the boom and then over and down to a winch on the large Arch on the boat. I’m in the process of doing this rigging now and we will try it out on the next passage and let you know how it works and can get some better photos and details on their performance.
We pulled into Saidia Marina which is just inside the border between Algeria and Morocco our longest passage so far at 625nm which took us just under 79 hours with an overall average SOG of 7.9 knots. As you can see, they had plenty of room for us!
The marina is very large with an entire mall of shops and restaurants surrounding two sides but it has seen better days and Morocco had been closed for two years due to Covid restrictions so it was a bit sad. However the people and all the officials were extremely kind and engaging and we were quickly checked in and had fresh Moroccan stamps in our passports.
We were about to loose the good weather we’d been having so we took advantage and made the quick 35nm trip from Saidia over to Melilla which as I mentioned at the beginning is actually part of Spain so we pulled in just after noon time and were quickly tied up and checked in.
As per my opening photos and comments, this marina and town is the opposite of what we found in Saidia, being very full and busy, very modern and diverse and is already proving to be a great spot for us to hunker down for perhaps as much as a week while we wait for the winter storms to pass through and provide us with the next chance to motor our way along the Moroccan coast as we get closer and closer to the Straits of Gibraltar that are now less than 150 nm WNW of us.
The other fun thing that recently happened is that we crossed the invisible Prime Meridian or Zero degree Longitude and so we are now into officially in the Western Hemisphere! Antalya sits on about 30.7 degrees East and Melilla is at about 3 degrees West so we have now traveled more than 33 degrees of latitude on Möbius.
Looking further ahead, we are setting up to cross the Atlantic next month and will mostly likely take something close to the Southern route as shown on this map. These are typical routes for sailboats and thus based on favorable winds circling the Azores High pressure zone so we will just wait and see how that is positioned this year and figure out the best “No Wind Hunting” route for us to take across the Atlantic. Stay tuned for more as these Nauti Nomadic Grandparents do our best to continue to keep you all well entertained!
Thanks and hope you will join us again for the next update to see just where Möbius is in a week or two.