Bay Area Sailing School


Wayne Cooper has taught ASA courses at Bay Area Sailing School the last two years with most of the courses being the Combo course.

Wayne has returned from the Med due to issues with the boat he was assisting in sailing.  We will be posting his emails on this page of our website for all of his many students to follow his suggestions and comments on cruising.  He will  be teaching at Bay Area Sailing School teaching the Combo course (ASA 103 and ASA 104) as well as ASA 106 which is the Advance Coastal Cruising course.

You will find his emails below with the most recent at the top of the page.

Do email us if you have questions we can forward to Wayne.

August 26, 2015

August 6, 2015

The Passage to Italy from Corsica

The passage to Italy (Livorno) from Corsica is pretty straightforward.  The distance is about 50 miles and given the usual prevalent winds, one can proceed on a port tack all the way.  One should maintain a good lookout because there are several small islands between Corsica and Italy (one being Elba, where Napoleon was first sent – before his Waterloo).  Also one will see a distinct increase in ship traffic – container ships, ferries and cruise ships.  The traffic is nothing like the HSC, so if you have taken the Combo (103/104) you will be well prepared.

Livorno is the most industrial of ports we have entered so far.  There is no anchorage so you have to enter the marina and find a slip.  Remember that it is “green right returning.”  The entrance is somewhat serpentine with several sharp curves, so keep a sharp lookout.  We entered after sundown and tried to arouse a port authority to get a slip assigned, but received no response.  We found a vacant slip and tied up.  We weren’t disturbed overnight but still worried about someone coming back and claiming the slip.


Choosing a captain or crew

You may choose to go cruising by either joining a captain in his/her boat or getting crew to man your own boat.  There are some general issues to consider in each of these situations.

Choosing a captain:  This is a very important decision because of the nature of the captain/crew relationship.  According to international maritime law, the captain is “the sovereign,” and the crew is supposed to follow orders unless they are considered to be illegal or manifestly unsafe.  So you really need to know that the captain is a worthy seaman and that the boat is seaworthy.  The best advice I can give is that you should try to go sailing with the captain before signing on.  This will give you a lot of information about compatibility and competence.  Of course, this is not always possible, given that you may be considering signing on via the internet.  So, let me give a couple of questions I would ask which will give you some idea of the captain.

About character:  ask what is his attitude about the use of the holding tank.  You should know that it is required by international law out to 12 nm.  If he/she gives a vague or negative answer – don’t go with him/her.

The same can be said about dumping oil products or plastics into the sea.  If he/she is not firmly committed to not doing this, don’t go with him/her.  You would be breaking international law and while he/she would certainly be fined you might be charged as an accessory.

Judging the seamanship of the captain.  Again, if you could go sailing with him/her you could learn a lot, but that is not always possible.  Here is one question you can ask, the answer of which will give you a lot of information about the captain and his seamanship.  Ask him/her how the boat heaves-to.  You would be amazed how many sailors who are very experienced but do not know how to heave-to their boat.  It is a simple maneuver which is easy to do and to learn, but cannot be learned or taught from a book.  Just as with the polluting questions, if he/she gives a vague answer, then you should question just how experienced he/she is.

What about rules of the road?  Does he understand them?  If he is not trained by an organization like the ASA he might not really understand them.  Here is a question which will tell you if he really understands the RoR:

“Your are the upwind vessel on a port tack overtaking another vessel in a narrow channel.  What vessel do you have the right-of-way over?

Think about it:

Upwind vessel – you are give-way to a downwind vessel.

Port tack – you are give-way to a vessel on a starboard tack.

Overtaking vessel – you are give-way to even a power vessel.

In a narrow channel – you are give-way to a vessel not under command, a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver, a vessel constrained by draft and a vessel engaged in fishing.

So, what vessel do you have the right away over?  Only one:


A sea plane.


If your potential captain gets this correct, and is not pissed at you for questioning his experience, then he is a keeper.


Choosing crew

                In my view, choosing crew is much easier than choosing a captain.  The two most important variables are physical and attitude.  As regards physical, I frankly would not reject as crew anyone with any disability I can imagine, if the attitude is good.  There are successful sailors who have extreme disabilities from blindness to extreme physical disabilities – even wheelchair bound – so I would go more on attitude.  Sailing is a challenging sport and requires an attitude of cooperation and persistence.  If you potential crew has these characteristics, then give him/her a chance.


Termination of this cruise:

Due to problems with the vessel (MiM), I have discontinued my current cruise.  I will be returning to Galveston and will teach at BASS (if Glen will have me) and will be preparing my boat, the Starbound (37 ft. cutter) so that I can resume cruising in her.

If there are any questions concerning the current cruise and any of my comments (complaints and corrections are welcome)  or future planned ones you can contact me through BASS or my email:

Fair Winds and Following seas



July 30, 2015

I have not mentioned that there are many excellent books and online resources which cover the topics I mention and my comments are not meant to replace them.  I will reference my sources, when appropriate.

A single book I recommend is: Beth Leonard: The Voyager’s Handbook.  It covers all the general issues in great detail.   It is written in a very lucid style by an experienced and knowledgable crusing sailor.


The current between Sardinia and Corsica, the costs of cruising, anchorages on Corsica, cruising and freedom


The current between Sardinia and Corsica

On leaving Sardinia we crossed the Golfo de Asinaro passed into the waters between Sardinia and Corsica, the strait of Bonifacio.  The wind was about 12 knots from the NW and the seas were 2- 4 feet.  The distance between the two island is about 40 nm.  About 10 miles out from Sardinia it became clear that we were being driving by a westernly current.  It seemed to be going 3-4 knts because it regularly caused our bow to turn up and the boat to tack, despite trimming the sails as tight as possible.  Shifting tacks drove us back towards the eastern coast of Sardinia.  So we had to motor-sail for about 20 miles until we were past this current.  By this, we were able to drive over the waves.  The situation was basically identical to that which occurs at the end of the South Jetty in HSC if you try to cut the corner beyond the # 7 marker too close when there has been a predominant SW wind and swell for a few days.  You will be driven back into the South Jetty, so you should continue out the HSC further to at least the # 3 marker.

Corsican separatism

Just as with Sardinia, the first place we made landfall on Corsica was on the extreme southern tip.  This was at a small village, named Tizzano.   And, again like Sardinia we found local people who seldom met tourists, so our reception was cautious.  The only available place was an open-air “Restaurant,” with a tin roof.  We soon found that there is an ongoing separatist movement on Corsica.  The “National Front of Corsica,” (FLNC) is an active group founded in 1976.  As late as 2009 it claimed responsibility for bombings aimed at driving the French and their colonial influence out of Corsica.


Anchorages along the coast of Corsica

I have previously mentioned the situation of the lee shore of the anchorages along the western coast of Corsica.  There are many excellent harbors for anchorage, but they all put you on a lee shore if the wind is from the west.  We have had  problems but we have been blessed with mild weather and steady winds.  With storms from the west there could be real problems since the anchorage (less than 10 meters) is always within 100 meters of the shore or rocks.  This requires careful attention to the selection of the anchorage and attention to an anchor watch.  You should not do what I call “TIG” anchoring.  (Trust in God).  You need to pitch in.


ofAbout half of the harbors along the coast of Corsica have a little village where you can find beer, soft drinks and Wifi.  It is a remarkable fact that we have been able to find Wifi in some of the remotest of places.  So far, it has been free, though you may have to buy a coffee or other drink of your choice to get the password.


The coastline of Corsica is indescribably beautiful – very rocky with sheer cliffs, with houses and high steepled churches.  Every bay has one of the towers I first mentioned at Teulada.  I take it that these pre-modern towers were light houses which were manned by fires nightly – incredible.


The costs of cruising

Many people of course wonder what is the cost of cruising.   It is actually quite reasonable if you are careful what you spend your money on.  I will present at another time the characteristics required of a blue water sailing vessel and how it should be outfitted.  The issue here is the cost of consumables.  In the places I have cruised the cost of food is basically the same as in the US, if you shop in the local market and not the tourist fast food places.  The cost of diesel varies considerably – just as in the US.  It was cheapest in Monastir (they stated that they kept the cost low so as to encourage boats to come there)  Sometimes you have to buy water, but most of the time it is free, but you need to inquire if the water is consumable – it was not at Alghero.   We have on board a Katydyn watermaker, which is a godsend, though it is reasonably labor-intensive.

The major way we have saved is by anchoring out rather than taking a slip.  The cost of a slip has varied from 35 euro/night at Monastir to 140 euro/night on Malta!  So far, we have paid nothing, nada, zilch for anchoring out; of course, this means that you have no shower or laundry, so you have to take a “sun shower,” and wash your clothes in seawater with fresh water rinse.  Occasionally, we have found a public laundromat and a public shower (Alghero, Propriano).


Cruising and Freedom

One if by land

And Two if by sea

And I on the opposite shore will be

Ready to ride to spread the alarm

To every Middlesex, village and farm

                                                The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by H W Longfellow

I have heard several students of the Combo (103/104) course express their interest in quitting their job, buying a sailboat and go cruising.  Often, the reason for such a consideration is the belief that cruising would provide freedom from the challenges and worries of modern industrial life.   I would like the reader to consider some of the encounters we have had on this cruise, including Italian xenophobia, Tunisian terrorism and Corsican separatism.  Do not think that you will escape all existential worries by going cruising.  You will certainly leave behind the issues which are hot topics in the USA at present (Did Tom Brady deflate?), but you’ll be exposed to other, more local issues, for which you might not be prepared.   It seems that people treat you somewhat differently if you arrive in their domicile by sea.  When you arrive by tour bus, or even rented car you will encounter people who are accustomed to receiving and reacting to folks from the outside.  But when you arrive from the beach there is a sense of foreignness and wariness; you may not receive a warm welcome, for, after all, we have words for people who arrive by sea – “invaders,” aka  the “United State Marines,” (“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”).  So, more often than by land, visitors by sea should tread lightly on the sand.  Be prepared.

Next:  The passage to Italy, choosing a crew or captain.


July 22, 2015

Natural beach, Italian xenophobia, lay of boat at anchor with a current and medicine 3

The first night out of Alghero we anchored in a bay about 40 miles north up the coast.  The entrance was guarded by the same pre-modern towers we saw in Teulada.  The anchoring depth we preferred was about 5 meters which took us to no more than 200 meters from the beach.  It didn’t take long to determine (with the aid of my 7 X 50s) that this was a “natural beach,” and I’m not talking about the sand.  Further investigation, however, proved that there were not many of the “beautiful people” practicing their beliefs here.


Italian xenophobia

During the Second World War, believing that their forces were not yet ready to invade “Fortress Europe,” consisting of Nazi fortified France, the Allies decided to invade the Axis from the south, through Italy.  This was called the “soft underbelly of the Axis.”

After leaving the beauties of the natural beach we again sailed north and took, Passaggio Della Fornelli, with a 4 knot current, leading to the Gulf of Asinaro, on the north coast of Sardinia.   About a half mile into the Gulf we could see the  beach of Stintino with sailboats anchored off to starboard.  We worked our way into the bay and dropped anchor about 500 meters from shore in 5 meters of water.  The next morning we took the dinghy to shore.  As we approached a dock where other dinghys were tied up,  a shirtless young guy stormed down the dock and yelled something to us in Italian. We answered in English that we wanted to tie up for a few minutes and visit the store.   He pushed our boat away and yelled, “No English.  Speak only Italian here.  No English Only Italian.”  This rippling mass of machismo took his best defiant pose and glanced at the bathers on the beach as if he were expecting a medal for repelling the attack.  I favored re-assaulting  the dock, but my companion, being of a more rational nature, wanted to reconnoiter the situation; so since he was at the helm, we made a tactical retreat, deciding on a flanking maneuver down the beach past the sunbathers, who didn’t appear to be particularly interested in the skirmish going on before them.  About  100 meters from the original assault site we found an opening, so we pulled the dinghy up on to the sand.  A frowning guy, past his prime, made a dispirited defense of his position but his physical form was not sufficient to repel our beachhead, so we brushed him aside and tied the dinghy up to a tree.  We had found the soft underbelly of Stintino.  And this one was wearing a speedo!

The European “Union” is in a curious state.  We have seen no northern European or English tourists in the south, only Italian.  Seldom have we found anyone who speaks English.  There is no official language in the EU; instead the government supports a very expensive translation program.  It is generally acknowledged however by the educated Europeans, that one must be able to speak and communicate in English if one wants to succeed in what is called the globalized world.  In addition to the current problems of Greece, Ukraine, and migrants, there is the problem that England, the home of the unofficial official language is going to have a referendum in the near future in which the issue of leaving the EU will be decided.  The result could be like in Rome where the educated elite spoke Greek, while the common people spoke Latin.  I suppose the Italians of Stintino are hoping that the English will secede so that they can continue with solo Italiano.

Lay of a boat at anchor with a current

I have previously mentioned that, with the orientation of the island and the predominant direction of the wind, the anchorages on the west coast of Sardinia are going to be on  a lee shore.  Certainly this is undesirable, but there is no choice, so you need to be certain to anchor out far enough to give you sea room should you drag, and you should get up in the middle of the night to check that you are not dragging.

But there is some consolation in the fact that a current sweeps up the coast so that the sailboat, with its deep below-waterline appendages (keel, rudder, skeg) will orient itself to the current.  This makes it such that the boat, rather than orienting to the wind, that is, stern to beach, will actually orient itself parallel to the coast, and on occasion may orient itself stern to sea, providing a relief to the concern of a lee shore. 


Medicine 3

I want to make it clear that in my previous dispatch I did not want to suggest that anyone can safely miss any doses of a prescription medication without ill effects.  It is very important that you talk with your doctor to be certain if you can miss any dose of your prescription medication.  There is considerable variation between meds and you need to have enough for a situation where you can’t get a refill.

Continuing about medicines and cruising: As I previously mentioned, you should have on hand some prescription-strength pain medication.  You will want to be certain that your passengers are not allergic to these medicines.  The most common allergy which would be important here is that of codeine.

Regarding antibiotics:  I do not carry antibiotics on board because they will not really do any good if they are not specific for the infection.  In fact, they will more likely select for a resistant bacteria which would be very hard to eradicate, if they are not specific to the organism causing the infection.  The best treatment for infections involving skin, digits and other external structures is careful cleaning with soap and water and a clean dressing.  A skin infection, like a boil, is best treated by lancing it with a sterile scalpel blade (something you should have in your kit).

Other common meds you should have on hoard are:

Eye drops, ear drops for external ear infection. throat lozenges, cough medication and suppressant, aspirin (81 mg. daily is recommended by cardiologists to prevent a heart attack), all of the medications you can find on the drugstore shelves for GI problems (laxatives, Pepto-Bismal, immodium, antacids, anti-acid medications, stool softeners, hemorrhoid medication…), cranberry juice for simple bladder infections, multiple vitamins, ibuprofen, muscle relaxants, burn creams, sunscreen. dental floss, flu and cold medicine, benadryl… Im sure there are a lot of others which I have overlooked.


Next:  The current between Sardinia and Corsica, the costs of cruising, keeping track of diesel usage.


July 15, 2015

Sailing the western coast of Sardinia, diesel in the bilge and medicine 2


The island of Sardinia lies almost straight north and south, inclining only slightly towards the west.  That physical fact plus the observation that the weather fronts cross the Mediterranean from west to east make it such that for a high percentage of time one can sail, on a close-hauled port tack, long distances parallel to the western coast.  From the tip of the island to Alghero is over a hundred miles and we never had to tack as we followed this strategy.  There was very little traffic and only one other sailboat was spied along the way.  There are a few fishing pots but these are designated by flags and not hard to spot. 

The coastline is very rugged, with sheer cliffs on top of which are lighthouses. 

One distinct disadvantage of this relationship between wind and coastline is that anchorages will be on a lee-shore, so one will have to be careful to anchor out far enough away from hazards so that should you drag anchor where you will have enough sea room.  It will be imperative to set a careful anchor watch, which we discuss in the 103/104 Combo course.  And if the wind picks up at night, get up and re-check the anchor.

The port city of Alghero provides an ideal place to anchor, or one can take a slip in the marina.  It is a beautiful town, offering anything one would expect in an old European village – an old town, with cobblestoned streets and hidden shops and cafes, several high-steepled churches, including the iridescent multi-colored dome of St. Michael’s.  There are multiple markets, an amusement park for the kids and long strands of sandy beaches.


Diesel in the Bilge

About two hours before sundown on the way from Tunisia to Teulada we smelled diesel in the cabin.  An exploration of the bilge found that it was awash with diesel.  This presents two problems: 1. The bilge pump was about to come on and empty the diesel into the sea, an infraction of international law, (You are required to sponge it up with an oil-absorbent pad – a diaper works well), and 2. The issue of what is the source of the diesel.  The answer to this question might indicate a more serious problem.  When something like this arises, the first rule is ‘Do not panic.’  One needs to consider what are the potential sources.  These include: 1. The fuel tank, 2. The jerry cans holding surplus diesel, 3. The Racor (fuel filter) and the fuel pump.  Addressing No. 1 first, we checked the fuel gauge – it showed that the needle had not fallen, so if the diesel had come from the tank it would have had to be a slow leak.   Next, we examined all of the jerry cans and found than there was no indication of leakage from any of them.  Next, in order to examine the Racor, one needs to feel along the bottom of the bowl which houses the filter.  There is a venting valve there which sometimes works its way open, or which someone has failed to close.  The inspection of ours found that it was dry.  To check the fuel pump, one needs to start the engine and inspect the filter under a bright light to see if there is any fuel leaking.  Again, we found no evidence of a problem here.  So, then we went back to the fuel tank and inspected the hose coming from the bottom of the tank.  Sure enough, running a clean paper towel over the bottom of the hose revealed that it was wet with fuel.  Closer inspection showed that the connection of the rubber hose to the metal outlet of the tank was improperly fastened.  Reconnecting this properly solved the problem.

Medicine 2

Regarding prescription drugs:  You should take along as much of your medicine as you will require for the entire cruise, if you can.  However, you usually can get only enough for three months, so you will need to make arrangements for your medications to be forwarded to you at some designated destination.  It is very difficult to get a foreign prescription filled in a European pharmacy.  The pharmacist will probably require that you see a local doctor to have your prescription re-written.  And be aware, as I previously wrote, that you may be given a “generic equivalent” to your usual medication.  This sounds innocuous enough, but it can cause problems, especially for cardiovascular medications.  For example, suppose you are taking for hypertension what is called an “ARB.”  In Europe you may be given the much cheaper “ACE inhibiter.”  They work just as well for the treatment of hypertension but cause some people to develop a worrisome cough.  Also, with “beta-blockers,”  “generic equivalents” will provide the desired effect on the heart and blood vessels, but different drugs produce depression and sleepiness.

One last note about prescription drugs:  Most drugs behave according to what is called “First Order Kinetics.”  This sounds complicated, but what it practically means is that you can miss three doses before you get a substantial withdrawal of clinical effects, so, should you run out, you have some time before you have to get another dose.  But please note: the withdrawal symptoms of missing a beta-blocker may be very serious – racing heart rate, high blood don’t let yourself run out, and if you have to, take a generic equivalent.

Another comment about my previous remark about homeopathic medication.  It seems that in Italy one can find a “Parafarmacia” which specializes in ‘omeopathe’ and herbal remedies.

I will be posting photos from this part of the cruise on Facebook.  Look them up if you are interested.

Next time:  A “natural” beach and Italian Xenophobia


July 9, 2015

Since my last dispatch, medical matters,  sleeping, self-steering and diesel in the bilge

remainder,Since my last dispatch, if you are average, you have spent about 4 hours in commuter traffic, 25 hours at your computer, making your contribution to our Gross Domestic Product (for which we thank you), while the MiM and its crew has sailed on a starboard beam reach for the first 1 ½ day, then on a broad reach for the remainder, with 12 knot winds,  2 ft seas, under a pale blue sky and marine blue sea, escorted by an honor guard of 50 dolphins and 2 sea turtles, who were acting as admirals of the fleet,  as it undulated the distance from Monastir to Sardinia in three days and two nights.

Oh, in case you missed it, the moon has been full the last few nights.

Just saying.


We anchored in a small bay,  named Golfo Di Teulada, about 11 pm.  While I don’t as a rule like to enter an unfamiliar port at night, the moon was full so we could clearly make out the water ahead.  We could see in the moonlight a tall unlighted turret, which suggested an unmanned lighthouse.

bronzedIn the morning we dinghied to shore where we were greeted by a bronzed bare-chested thirty-something with hair down to his shoulders and a beard down to his belly-button.  He spoke only Italian and his major concern was that we properly separate our garbage into the appropriate re-cycling bin.  Welcome back to the EU.

There were a few small houses on the shore and what we in Texas would call a snow cone stand.  It didn’t sell snow cones, though, just beer, Fanta and potato chips.  The proprietor was a Sophia Loren reincarnation.  Not surprisingly there were a half-dozen guys hanging around the stand.  One old guy with more gaps than teeth answered my question about the sentinel turret at the entrance of the harbor – 15th century, was all I understood.  No one spoke English.  Somehow they knew I was “Americain.” 


Medical matters

If you are considering cruising, medical matters will figure prominently in your plans.  I will give a series of narratives about what you might want to think about.  The first subject is :

                The European Farmacia

The European Farmacie is more like a primary care provider than is the American Pharmacy.  Each Farmacie has a resident pharmacist who chooses what medications are for sale in his/her establishment.  And there will probably be only one or two choices for a particular symptom, perhaps not the drug with which you are familiar.  For example, in Lampediusa there are three Farmacias.  I went into each and talked with the pharmacist and asked for something for heartburn.  Actually, I described the symptoms, the pharmacist made the diagnosis.  Then she (each case, a female) disappeared into the back of the store and returned with a single choice, each time the particular medication was different from the other stores.  So, for whatever reason, the pharmacist is the one who chooses what is available.  You may have to shop around if you are seeking a particular drug.

What this means is that you will need to become familiar with the generic names and generic equivalents of your preferred medication.  You can ask for the med by name, but probably you will be given an “equivalent” drug.

Of course, you can take your meds with you, but if you are going to be gone for a long time, you won’t be allowed to import too much medication.  You can have prescription medicine sent to you.  Be sure that it is in a prescription bottle with your name and the name and address of your doctor.

Also, be aware that homeopathy is practiced in Europe widely, so you may be given a homeopathic drug.  In the USA, homeopathy is considered to be “alternative” (some would say “quack”) medicine.  So you will want to decide what you think about this.  A google search will bring you up to speed.



The watch schedule for sleep is largely determined by the number of watch-standers there are.  Each crew member needs at least 4, and preferably 8, hours away from watch.  With two, as it currently is on the MiM, Waldek takes the watch from 6 pm until 2 am, while I take it from 2 am to 10 am.  This works well for us, since he is a late sleeper, while I am an early riser.  Between 10 am and 6 pm we alternate 4 hours at the helm.  It is important that someone is responsible for looking ahead, even if you are on autohelm, because you can slip up on things, like fishing pots, very easily.   It is important, if there is only one on the deck at night, that that one wear a PFD and harness and connect up to the Jackline if it gets rough or he has to go forward – and he is to awaken and notify the one below sleeping that he is going forward.  This is discussed in the 103/104 Combo course, where we also practice what is called the “Williamson turn,” which is a method to recover a man-overboard when underway at night by power. 



On the beam reach, our Aries windvane provided the steering.  On the broad reach, the Raymarine Autohelm stood the watch.  The windvane works by sensing apparent wind (remember this from Joe’s 101 lectures) and, as you have little or no apparent wind on a broad reach or a run, it flails around like a Mississippi mudcat.  The Autohelm functions by holding a prescribed compass course; consequently, it has to work pretty hard and steers a snake-like course.  One needs to sit close by the mainsheet in case there is a major wind shift, so as to prevent an accidental jybe.  Careful attention to sail trim is critical on this course, as well.


I have christened the windvane :”Rip Vane Winkle” because he lets us sleep.  I call the autohelm “Comrade Ray,”  because cruising on a small boat must be like living in a commune.

More on Tunisia:  The point of land where Kelibia is located is spectacularly beautiful.  There is an enormous “Ribat” (fortress, like the one in Monastir) sitting atop a high cliff.  The spectacular scene is equivalent to any castle you could see along the Rhine in Germany.  It is a shame that the terrorist attack has decreased tourism so much that the “Arab Spring” is threatened.  This is, of course, what they wanted to happen.


Next time:

Diesel in the bilge! And Sailing the western coastline of Sardinia


Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July.



June 28, 2015

Mediterranean Anchoring and boat maneuvering, the terrorist attack at Sousse, cruising and the market

Mediterranean Anchoring:  The Combo (103/104) books illustrate Mediterranean anchoring accurately, however they do not make clear why you need to anchor this way.  If you look in the books you will see that the illustrations show that you drop an anchor off you bow (or stern), then motor to the dock and tie up.  That is correct.  But the reason that you have to do this is that there are no dockways between boats.   Boats are tied up to the dock right next to each other and you need the bow anchors to keep them from banging up against each other.  And, obviously, you need a lot of fenders – 5 to 7 on each side.

Small-boat maneuvering: We practice maneuvering the inboard diesel boats in the Mentor Sail and the 103/104 Combo.  This turns out to be critical in the Mediterranean marinas.  The distance between boats is very little and one may be asked to do what is essentially parallel parking of the boat, so you need to be very comfortable with how she backs and how she does a “standing turn.”  Fortunately, the MiM has a right-turning prop and backs severely to port, so a standing turn is quite easy to do.


The terrorist attack at Sousse:  The only visible effect of the terrorist attack on the beach at Sousse (just a few miles north of here) is a heightening of security – more policemen on patrol.    One worries, however, that it will have the effect which the terrorists desire – the curtailment of foreign visitors to Tunisia.  My shipmate, Waldek, the retired diplomat, tells me that his embassy (Poland) already discourages it’s citizens from visiting Tunisia for this very reason.  You can check the US State Department web site to see what the USA recommends.  This would be unfortunate for the “first democracy in the Arabic world.”  The shopkeepers and waiters in the cafes are ambivalent about the democracy; they just want tourists, so that they can make a living.  So the situation is still fragile.

Cruising and the market:  One of the most engaging things about cruising is the exposure to the many outdoor markets which thrive at seaport towns.  When Joshua Slocum sailed around the world in 1899 he encountered no customs restrictions.  While this is not true today, it does not discourage these markets, where trading and bartering flourish.   It seems that humankind exists to trade and cruising is one of the best ways to be a participant.


Erratum: In a previous dispatch I wrote “break for infidels” when I meant “brake.”

In a previous report I wrote EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) when I should have referenced OSHA (Occupational Safety…)


June 27, 2015

Clash of Civilizations and the market


While it is true that the fortress at Malta was built to keep the “Mohammedans” from the south out and the fortress at Monastir was built to keep the “infidel Christians” from the north out, the modern market economy makes these structures historical relics, for there is no “clash of civilizations” here.  The market at Monastir, which is woven around three mosques, consists of a tangled warren of byways and alleyways extending in all directions, with wares and hucksters spilling out into the streets.  It appears that anything can be found in the shops – it is as if a tornado had hit Sam Walton’s biggest Walmart and the contents were spilled out over a labyrinthine street village.  As opposed to Walmart, however, here the sellers could not be more enthusiastic about their products.   They try several languages – Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish,  then noting an unconscious response to English, they home in.  One bright-eyed grinning old man with a single brown molar noted my glance at a stuffed camel, which I thought my  granddaughter, Julia,  might like.  He plucked it from the pile and pushed it towards me. 

“Here, for you, 15 dinar.”


‘What you pay?

‘2 dinar’

‘Okay, 10 dinar’

‘No, 4 dinar’

‘Okay, for you, 7 dinar’

‘No, 5, dinar’

‘Okay, 6 dinar, 6 dinar.  Here you take,’”

as he pushed it on me.

The camel has embroidered across its side, “Tunisia Souvenir.”  How’s that for authenticity?

The haggling is what makes it worth more.


There is an article in the Tunisian paper, Le Temps,  reporting that tourism is down over 20% since the “revolution.”  The waiter in the café where we can get easy WiFi opines that the revolution has been very bad for business.  They want and need more tourists from Europe.  And the prices certainly are inviting.  The slip fee is 25 Euros a night. (about 25 dollars).  

As far as security, there are unobtrusive guardhouses manned at each entrance along with the occasional strolling patrolman with automatic weapon.

At the boatyard

The boat is “up on the hard” now, having the bottom cleaned.  It has been over a year since its last cleaning and it is unbelievable how much of the flora and fauna of the Med we have been transporting.  The workers seem industrious and competent.  It is worthwhile, though, to stay around while they work because they are working simultaneously on 3 other boats and it seems that, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”  It is also worthwhile to email ahead of your arrival to be certain that your boat can be accommodated.

The cost of the bottom-cleaning – 350 Euros (!) (compare that to Seabrook!)

There is clearly no Environmental Protection Agency here.  The workers wear no hard hats and no safety masks.  The dark guy doing the painting with a rollerbrush wears an upside down tee shirt with holes cut out for his eyes.

The sail repair is also going well.  We found a shop between a café and a “drug store” – no drugs, just candy, soft drinks and newspapers (Arabic and French). 

One cannot buy beer or wine in the shops but these are available in some cafes.


We’ll be checking the weather tomorrow and, assuming that all the repairs are completed, will head next to Kelibia, further up the northern coast of Tunisia.


Erratum:  In my first post from Lampedusa I misspelled the name and wrote “Lambedusa.” 


June 21, 2015

On Crossing bars, trailing nets and crossing roads:

Crossing bars

To Tunisia:  When we checked the weather online in a hotel bar in Lampedusa on Wednesday, it appeared that the wind would die down by Thursday at ten so that we could be off.  However, on Thursday at noon it was still blowing 25 to 30 knots and whitecaps were visible out on the water.  So we checked the weather again.  This time it appeared that the earliest we could leave would be Friday at 10.   This report suggested that we would have 10-15 knot NE winds to Tunisia and that we would have only until Saturday to get there, since the winds would again kick up.  We figured that the trip would take about 30 hours.  So, when the weather was relatively mild on Friday morning we took off about 8 am.  It turned out to be mild with a 12 kt wind, so we set off on a starboard tack with some rolling seas without breakers.  Late in the afternoon the wind shifted and we were able to alter our course so that the seas were more comfortable.  This proceeded through the evening.  We made good time, at periods up to 5 kts/hour

Then at about 1 am in pitch dark the jib began to flog violently and the jib sheet became lax.  It was obvious that the sheet had broken away from the clew of the sail.  After managing to roll the jib in and bringing in the slack of the jib sheet, we continued on  engine and mainsail.  The wind and seas turned and for the next 3 hours we beat directly into the wind and waves.  Encountering a counter current along the African coast of about 1.7 kts/hr, our speed over ground (SOG)  was about 1kt/hr.  The chart showed that we had to pass a lighthouse on an island which is about 10 miles out from the coast at a town called “Monastir.” 

We were essentially running parallel to a string of small islands which served as a bar to the entrance to the bay to Monastir.  The chart showed that there were spaces of open water between the islands and before the lighthouse.  While beating towards the wind and the waves, striving to travel to a point where I could round the lighthouse and head towards Monastir, I noticed several power vessels crossing my bow, and passing over the bar, entering the bay without having to round the Lighthouse.  They were passing through these apparent channels between the lighthouse and the next following island.  I was tempted to follow one of them in, but remembering what we always teach in the Combo course at BASS:  Never assume that the vessel you are following has the same deep draft as you and assume that the guy may be a local and knows how to make the passage safely.  So, I resisted the temptation and kept slogging along.  If I had had my jib I could have fallen off and sailed further out to the sea and then rounded the lighthouse with the current to my beam.   At sea, wishes, hopes and dreams have very little exchange value.


Trailing Nets

A troubling site was that early in the morning, before sunrise, I began to see that there were fishing vessels out.  (“Green over white, there’s fishing tonight”.}  Having previously observed the tuna fishing boats dragging their long apparatus several hundred yards behind them, I was worried that one of these guys might be trailing one of these things.  Distance is very hard to estimate at night.  In the daytime I had seen that the apparatus was visible about 300 yds behind the vessel, but  is it lighted at night?  Is it required?  If it is a towing vessel, it is required to carry specific lights – The towing vessel:  “ 2 vertical Mastheads Sidelights, Sternlight YELLOW and Masthead aft;   If the load is 25 m wide: “All-arounds forward and aft white lights”

But what about fishing vessels?  A trawling vessel with “Gear out >150 m” is required to have “Sidelights, Sternlight, R/W all-around”  But this usually refers to “gear” out to the side. 

(Incidently, the R/W should not be confused with W/R, which represent the Pilot vessels we see frequently in Galveston)

Even though I saw only G/W, I tried to keep well astern of the vessels.


After finally making the lighthouse, we were able to alter our course to the south about 20 degrees enabling us to take the current on the forward quarter, skyrocketing our SOG to 2.5 kts/hr. . The passage across the bay to Monastir went relatively rapidly.  After the sun was up, however, I found that the fishing vessels DID have the long trailing apparatus behind them!

The entrance to the marina is guarded by two breakwaters, the openings of which you cannot see until you are directly lined up with it. (Much like the breakwater at GYB).  The entrance markers may at once have been painted green and red but at present are both black with some specks of green on the starboard one, and red on the port one.

We did not have to call for or look for the harbormaster as his representative was on the dock waving at us.  He helped up moor up and explained the formalities of going through security, and customs and even checked to see when we could arrange to have the MiM pulled out and the bottom painted.

Security and Customs took a couple of hours but only because my companion, Waldek, kept them talking about what is to be seen around the area.  Waldek is a retired diplomat and he feels the need to establish diplomatic relations with everyone he meets.  The policeman took a lot interest in my passport, especially the picture of the Statute of Liberty.  He asked several questions about it – “In New York?”  “Big?”

It appears that there are about a dozen cruising couples from Europe here.  They have spent the winter and the reports from several is that it is a very pleasant and comfortable place to spend a few weeks.  The prices are reasonable (hamburger with cheese – 4 dinars [about 2 dollars]} and the facilities are modern and very clean.  A lady will do your laundry.  Some cafes sell beer, others not at all, although smoking is allowed in all of them.  The ashtray is brought to the table when you arrive.


Crossing Roads

The area around the marina is spectacular – photos to come – There is a medieval fort, many minarets and spires.  The walk to the market is only about a mile.  One has to cross one busy road.  I do not read Arabic, but I’m pretty sure that the sign at the crossing mark means” “We do not break for infidels.”



June 16, 2015

We are still in Lampedusa.
On Lights:  As noted in the Combo class the entrance to the bay was lighted with green to the right.  The way folks here remember is that red is to the left, and that is where the communists are.   It does make some sense since it is the same color as bow lights.
Also note, the green and red lights are set about 50 yds INLAND!  You cannot go directly to them - you'll hit the rocks.
crossingOn Charts:  We entered using an electronic chart.  However, it had us crossing directly over the land!.  If it had been foggy or dark, we'd have run on the rocks.  It appears that the problem is that the programmer moved the entire island to the east!   Be aware.  We are going to confirm this when we leave and notify others.
On neighbors:  Before we left Malta, a French couple came over in their dinghie.  They knew that we were going to Lampedusa and Tunisia, from which they had recently arrived.  They came, without bidding, to offer us information and insights into the sail, anchorages, officialdom and anything else we inquired about.  This seems to be the way with cruisers.  Gracious good neighbors.
More on the neighborhood.  Lampedusa is the outpost of the EU for Africa.  It is the entry port for the desperate people who are trying to escape the turmoil there.  As a consequence, the Italian Coast Guard has an enormous task.  Consider this, Italy is like Texas, Arizona and California in the USA.  If migrants get in, then all of Europe is open...
More later,
Wayne C

June 15, 2015

First passage:

We just arrived in Lambedusa - about 100 miles from Malta.  We got out of Grand Harbour about 10 a.m. with a NE wind of about 15 kts with 3 ft. seas.  We took a course of 310T along the coastline of Malta and Gozo.  Then we bore away to 290 deg T.  There was a following sea so the autohelm wouldn't hold, requiring that we steer.  The wind shifted a little during the night but we made good progress to Lambedusa after about 30 hours on a broad reach.  I fashioned a preventer to prevent a jibe with the following swells.  When that is done, one has to stay closeby so that a gust of wind doesn't backwind and knock you down.
FishermenThe weather was perfect - 80deg (F).  We saw some sea turtles.  There was very little traffic until we approached Lambedusa when we encountered fishing vessels.  Some were dragging nets on an apparatus which trailed behind over 300 yds!.  You really have to be careful and  not sail between them.  They act just like the Fishermen in Galveston Bay - got the right-of-way and take advantage of it.
We have anchored in a cove off the main channel in 5 meters of water.  With a Danforth anchor --- the bottom is sand, looks good.
The village of Lambedusa is very small.  It is 6 p.m and the Italians are still on the beach.
We passed a wired in camp where the refugees from Africa seeking asylum are kept.

More later.

Hope all is well with BASS.
CWayne C

June 10, 2013
theAll is well here.  The boat I am on the "MIM" pronounced "M ee M"   She is an Inerga Puma, built in 1978.  She is very rugged and built in the tradition of sailboats of the 70s.  She reminds me of my Columbia 30 which was also built in the 70s.  She is a sloop with a roller furler jib and main.  She has a full sized solar panel which supplies enough power to run the watermaker, lights and water.  The engine is a 30 horse Yanmar.
We are anchored in Grand Harbour, which is very sheltered and quiet with a mild incoming breeze of about 5 kts.  The temp is 28 deg C in the day and about 20 deg C at night.  It is a 20 minute bus ride to the center of the capital, Valleta.
There is very little tide throughout the Med - only about 2 feet.
The water is clear so that one can actually inspect the anchor.   The depth is about 6 meters and the bottom is sandy.
Napoleon...Malta is certainly a beautiful place for sailors to visit.  It has a very long history - extending from Neolithic Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, France under Napoleon...  During WWII it was prized by both the Nazis and the Allies because it would have been a supply route for the Akrika Corps.  One can still see signs of the bombing.
From the hill overlooking the anchorage one can see out into the Med.  There appears to be very little deep-draft traffic.  I spied only one container ship.
Hope all is well there.
Ill send another report when I can and have something to report.
Wayne C

June 9, 2015

I am presently in Malta.  Everything is fine.  The boat is well arranged - totally contained within solar panel with water maker, inverter.  She seems to be ready for cruising. 
We will plan to go to Lampedusa then to Tunisia this weekend, so I will be able to get you some sailing information.
The water is blue and very clear.  We are anchored in "Grand Harbor" a very peaceful site which is well protected.  It was the site of battles between forces from the Roman times to WWII.
I'll get back to you when I have more to report.
Best to all.