My first week on the Ranger was spent doing a variety of work in the coastal waters around Cagliari. This work included several dives documenting marine life and patrolling south of Sardinina along the 1000 meter depth curve for illegal driftnet fishing operations. This diary is about our crossing the Western Mediterranean from Cagliari to Rosas Spain a trip of a little over 330 miles of open ocean.
The Sardinian waters have revealed us a little more of the marvels that abound there.
Today we headed off early from the port of Cagliari. We sailed in a southeasterly direction in search of a shelf the remote position of which, inside a protected area, had called our attention. It is known as the de Secca di Santa Calerina shelf.
The new faces I saw come aboard the Ranger on the night of the 29th were not so new, except for one. The arrival of the first "batch" of new crew members felt like a reunion: Maribel López, co-worker from the European office, Jorge Candan and Pilar Barros, video cameraman and his underwater assistant and… Miguel Bosé were joining us again!!! The new face to come aboard our catamaran made a long journey to join us.
Only a few days have passed since we left behind our fruitful stage in search of illegal driftnet vessels in Sicilian waters. Today we took another step on our new path, this time on the Island of San Antioco, in Sardinia.
While the rest of the crew went about the daily chores on the Ranger, an expedition made up of Xavier Pastor, Olimpia García, Juan Cuetos and I, left for some of the ports where last year there had been quite a lot of illegal driftnet vessels.
My travelling companion, Nuño Ramos (captain on the Transoceanic Expedition in 2005), and I arrived at Cagliari and went straight to the Ranger, which was moored in the Port of San Telmo. As we had expected, immediately after boarding the yearned-for Ranger, engines were started up and our crew colleagues, with a full tummy, and after having received us with open arms, cast ropes loose and set off in search of more illegal driftnet vessels.
On 24th June we sailed incident free to Cagliari, on Sardinia. On our way we are visited by some striped dolphins and we sight a few loggerhead turtles that dive underwater when they note us coming up close. The sea is calm and one realises that we are in for a hot summer. The heat is quite intense.
We have had an extremely peaceful day’s sailing. After our most recent adventures, namely the successful “search and capture” of illegal driftnet vessels, having a morning without being pursued by boats with fishermen calling us rather indecorous names in the language of the Roman Emperors, or throwing fish at us, has turned out to be quite monotonous. In truth, the watches were much more entertaining when we had to be on look out to avoid them boarding us.
During the 4.00 a.m. morning watch, Soledad, Albert and Juan have sighted a new driftnet vessel hauling in driftnets. They immediately informed Xavier Pastor, Carlos Pérez and Quique Talledo in order that these might proceed to identify the boat in question by means of its graphic register and then file a complaint with the Coast Guard.
Soledad Esnaola woke me this morning at 5.30 a.m. with a single word: “driftnetters”. At last, I was to have the chance to see at first hand one of the most harmful and regrettable illegal fishing nets and to confirm that their use, in spite of the prohibitions, is still possible and goes completely unpunished. I ran up on deck and there it was, the driftnet vessel, only a stone’s throw away, unhurriedly reeling in these nefarious nets without a care in the world.