September 26, 2015
After almost three months in Spain, we are experiencing a kind of culture shock, having arrived in Cagliari, Sardinia a few nights ago. Our reasonably serviceable Spanish is no longer the key to easy conversation with locals, and we have to adjust to different wines, different rum( !), and different rhythms of life and speech. We head out to Sicily today, where we’ll spend the next four or five months, perhaps longer if it is a difficult spring, trying to learn enough Italian to feel comfortable with the exuberant, ancient, and complicated culture around us. Should be fun!
Port Mahon, Menorca was our last stop in Spain, before setting out for the 250 mile trip across the Mediterranean to Sardinia. Ellie caught a flight there, beginning her return to the US after being a great addition to the crew for two weeks. Sarah continued on with us, stoically serving her nighttime watches and fitting in perfectly with the rhythms of life on a boat.
Port Mahon, so long occupied by the British, was an interesting blend of Spanish, Catalan and more generalized European culture. For me, a very cool part of the experience was re-reading while there the first book of the Patrick O’Brian series – “Master and Commander” – which begins in Port Mahon. The first trip in the book is a sail from Port Mahon to Cagliari, and the rest of the action takes place in the waters we have been sailing since arriving in Spain. It adds some wonderful depth to a story to be familiar with the setting in which it takes place. If only it were easy to do that with all the books one loves…
Meanwhile, there has been a dramatic, to us, shift in the weather, suggesting that we are none too early getting to our winter shelter. It’s become cool at night, with, every few days, episodes of significant wind and even rain.
Our 180 mile sail to Trapani, Sicily will bring us close to the waters that have been the site of so many recent tragedies involving refugees travelling from North Africa. The refugee crisis is very much in our thoughts, and our heartfelt sympathy goes out to those driven to traverse these waters in vessels much less appropriate to the task than our sturdy little boat.