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Gap Year. Part 3: Covid 19 and Sailing the Mediterranean Sea

In two previous posts I told you about the great adventure I decided to start in 2019. Today I invite you to read the final part of my gap year update. In March we entered the Mediterranean Sea, the water was warming up and weather was more pleasant every day. And then the Covid 19 happened.

Let's start from the beginning. After visiting rich in flavours and adventures Morocco we set sails and sailed towards Gibraltar. We were at known waters. Few years back we sailed with a group of friends the same route, just the other way around. After crossing the Strait of Gibraltar we moored in La Linea in Spain.

Gibraltar & Ceuta

We spent few days in La Linea. I needed to cure my throat illness (that scared us since Covid19 was slowly becoming a thing in Europe) and the rest of the crew was exploring and working. Once I felt better I immediately went for a short hike to the Rock of Gibraltar. Just like few years ago I met Barbary macaques. They are the only species of monkey living wild in Europe. If you are interested in them have a look at the blog post I wrote back in 2015.

After leaving Gibraltar we crossed the Strait for the third time and went to Ceuta. We wanted to see the enclave in Africa, but unfortunately we only spent a day there before going back to Europe.

From the top of the Rock of Gibraltar even big yachts look like toys.

Rif Mountains (Africa) to the left, the Rock of Gibraltar (Europe) to the right.

Lockdown in Spain

Sailing along the coast of Andalusia we were stopping by in ports and carefully listening to the news. And the news was not optimistic. More and more countries were introducing movement restrictions and closing external borders. In the middle of March we arrived in Caleta de Velez, just several miles east from Malaga. We found out that Spain is going into lockdown for two weeks and we need to spent these days in marina. It was not the best news but we were still in a good mood. After all two weeks is not a long time and we can spend it making some repairs and resting.

Unfortunately covid was just starting. The number of active cases and deaths caused by the virus were growing rapidly and two weeks of lockdown were prolonged to four. And then to six. And to eight.

In the end we spent 97 days in Caleta de Velez. We spent them working, repairing the boat, excercising and making sure our brain is sharp. It was definitely a tough time. Nobody plans their gap year to spent almost one hundred days in lockdown.

Boardgames helped us to forget about quarantine for a bit. Luckily we didn't have Monopoly.

Even the most beautiful sunsets are boring if you are stuck in one place.

Sailing again. Spain

In the beginning of June lockdown in Spain was gradually lifted. In the beginning the freedom of movement inside the province was restored. We still could not sail anywhere, but we rented a car and went for a roadtrip. We visited Malaga, Grenada and Ronda.

In the middle of June the movement restrictions were lifted. We only needed to wait the storm raging at Alboran Sea and we were good to go towards Balearic Islands. We anchored off the beautiful Formentera, Ibiza and Mallorca. We paid a short visit to Menorca. The beauty of Formentera is best to be admired with a bird's eye. Together with Jola we made a short video:

We wanted to catch up with our original plan so we were sailing without a break. After all we wanted to get to Italy and Greece. Moreover, a presidential elections were organised in Poland in the end of June. We really wanted to vote so we registered in Italy. It was yet another reason to go to Sardinia.

Italy. Sardinia, Sicily and Aeolian Islands

The weather at the Mediterranean Sea is totally different from the Atlantic Ocean. Due to complicated terrain and variety of local effects it is quite hard to predict it long term. The best strategy is to get familiar with local effects and careful planning. One of the local winds is Mistral that blows from France and causes storms between Balearic Islands and Sardinia and in the Gulf of Lion. Luckily we were not waiting long for a weather window and we could safely sail to Sardinia.

In Sardinia we got a bit rest after the sailing marathon. In two weeks we sailed from Andalusia to Sardinia and we felt tired. We gladly slowed down and went for some exploration. We decided to sail north, make a short stop in Corsica and then sail south along the eastern coast of Sardinia.

Moonshine anchored by Cabo Caccia.

Once the temperature of the water rose to 25°C snorkeling and jumping to the water became a necessity.

Sunrise in Castelsardo. During the summer months clouds were rare which wasn't great for landscape photography.

Moonshine under way to Corsica. Splendid conditions and almost six knots of average speed.

The next stop on our way was Sicily. We mostly wanted to see the Aeolian Islands, a small archipelago of vulcanic islands to the north of Sicily. Getting there without own boat is challenging. Aeolian Islands were definitely one of the most beautiful places visited during our trip.

Moonshine under sails on the way from Palermo to Aeolian Islands.

Sunrise at the Vulcano island. The island's name is the origin of word 'volcano'. The clouds are actually sulfur fumes.

Panorama from the peak of volcano. Moonshine is anchored in the bay to the right of the peninsula.

On our way to Stromboli island where an active volcano is located. In the photo there is a cloud of ash coming out from the crater.

Anchorage next to Stromboli at a perfect windless morning. Mornings like that made us say "it was worth it".

Greece. Ionian Sea, Crete and Cyclades

After leaving Italy we went to Greece. It was my first visit to the country so the expectations were rather high. After all it is the country that every kid in the world knows from the history lessons at school.

Our stay in Greece started with a tremendous thunderstorm. Luckily we were safely moored in a marina. The instability of weather became a recurring pattern. In Greece we encountered (luckily from a safe distance) a medicane - mediterranean cyclone - that has devastated many of places visited by us before. Other than that the weather was perfect for sightseeing.

Getting to Greece meant that we could finally slow down. Since we planned to end the journey in here, there was no need to rush to the next destination. We spent over a month at Ionian Sea, then we sailed to Crete, Cyclades and finally we finished in a small town Kilada in Peloponnese. After selling the boat we came back to Santorini (by plane this time).

One of the unexpected thunderstorms approaching. Due to conditions we left the anchorage and went out to the sea.

The only advantage of thunderstorms were beautiful sunsets.

Anchorage in Kilada. This is where we said goodbye to Moonshine and we left her in the hands of new owners.

Santorini. Once the boat was sold we decided with Jola to check why is Santorini so popular and recognizable. We must admit that views are marvellous, but we prefer the small and less touristic islands.


After a bit over a year our adventure came to an end in Greece. The boat was sold and we are slowly returning to what's called "a normal life". Despite the problems I mentioned in my posts (storms in Atlantic Ocean, covid lockdown in Spain) we will remember this year for life. It was probably the most interesting adventure of our lives (well, at least so far!).

I will soon publish another article where I will try to summarize the gap year and answer some interesting questions. Why have I made so few photos? Is it possible to work and travel on board an 11-metres long boat? And what have we learnt during those 13 months and what would we change?