July 3, 2011

the evening shows

the leg from tropea to sardinia was about 360 miles due west passing through the aeolian islands in the middle. one of them is called stromboli, after the volcano that lies in the place. the island itself is only the volcano with a couple of towns near the shore. because it is so difficult to anchor in this place, we decided to only sail around it by night to see the show. the volcano has erupted many times, and is constantly active with minor eruptions, often visible from the sea, giving rise to the island's nickname "lighthouse of the mediterranean". sure enough when we sailed around it we saw the volcano’s eruptions, one every 5 to 10 minutes. it was unbelievable to see this. first because it is almost unreal to be sailing so close to a volcano and second, even more surreal when that volcano is active and constantly throwing lava up the sky. it was fantastic. this show lasted several hours for as long as we kept seeing the volcano’s lights in the horizon.

the second night at sea on this passage was uneventful except for a bad food poisoning that esteban caught in italy. it was his turn this night to see the fire… of another kind of course. luckily the whole ordeal lasted only one night and by daylight he was feeling a lot better.

the final night of the crossing was probably the scariest of our trip. during the day we saw the barometric pressure gauge go down quite a bit while at the same time we saw all the heavy clouds getting more dense and dark as the night approached. by nightfall we were sailing through the worse electrical storm we have ever seen. the clouds were surrounding us and we had nowhere to go. at some point in the night we tried to sail backwards to avoid being hit by the lighting but we also had lighting in the back, and to our left and right. there was nothing else to do but put all electronics that could fit inside the oven (i am not sure this works but some sailors do it, so we did it just in case) and wait for the daylight to come. we were so happy to see the sun light and with it the end of this grand 9 hour electrical storm.

unfortunately we did not take any pictures to share and show what we saw. these are only of the clouds forming earlier in the afternoon before. we were too occupied praying and literally maneuvering the boat around the strikes; well esteban was at least. i was below deck for the most part, afraid covering my eyes and ears imagining how we could get out of it. watching the display of lights would have been wonderful in a TV screen or some other place safe, but certainly not in the middle of the sea with the mast to act as the only pole to attract them and with the most horrific sounds on top of us. miraculously, and i really think it was a miracle, we were not hit by any of them and somehow made it to the morning safe and in one piece and with all the electronics working.

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