It was a while that I had read about confluence.org on the on-line site of BBC and I had gotten hooked to the idea. Being based in the Geneva (Switzerland) area, I had scanned the closest confluences and found that all of them had already been visited, so the idea was put aside for some future trip.
With the arrival of spring we decided to set off for a short sailing holiday in Italy, renting a boat in Tuscany. I vaguely remembered that there was a non-visited confluence among the islands off the Tuscany coast, checked it out and -bingo- 43N10E was in the middle of our cruising area.
On May 14th 2004, 0830 local time, Betly, a brand new Sun Odyssey 32, left the Italian mainland at Etrusca Marina. A High pressure was extending from the Atlantic, the pressure was 1008 mbar and running up, 10 kn of NW wind were expected. The decision was taken to first reach Elba island 15 m W and from there, if weather kept on and crew spirit followed, move to Capraia island, for a total 40 m of navigation.
I managed to badly twist my left thumb in the first reefing operation, with 15 kn of wind, 10 minutes after having left harbour. Even more annoying since it was a good companion to the right wrist which had recently been partly reconstructed and not yet back up and running. The mood was somehow low, but with the passing of the hours and the pleasure of being out at sea again, the spirit on board grew high and -bingo- the course was set toward Capraia.
It took some time to convince the initially-skeptical crew of the importance of stopping by the confluence, but I eventually made it, and -slowly- confluence fever caught us all. Within half a mile of the confluence, with just 5kn of wind, we rolled the genoa, kept the mainsail up, all sheeted in for larger stability, and started the engine...
We had no hand-held GPS on board, so no hope of paddling to the point on the tender: we had to rely on the on-board GPS, deep in the cabin, and try to manoeuvre Betly's 4 tonnes in place.
After a good 20 minutes of screaming matches between the helmsperson who did not see the GPS and the navigator which cound not see a thing outside, it was clear that the best strategy was to reach 43N and then try to move westward till the crossing with 10E. Another 10 minues of rising adrenaline and we got close, stopping the boat with a reverse throttle and trying to keep her there. The ritual picture of the on-board GPS was taken: 43 00 004N 10 00 006E... (picture #3) no way to do better... but some part of the boat had to be on the confluence by then. At 1847 local time the previously not-visited confluence was consciously crossed! No jellyfish seemed to mark the point, where just water was in sight (picture #2)
Time to lift our head from the instruments and look around. You can peek at pictures #1, #4, #5, and #6 to see what we saw. Only sea to the N [even though a bit earlier the small island of Gorgona had been visible]. Only sea to the E [even though a bit earlier, with higher sun, mainland was clear]. Elba island was clear at the S, and toward a dying sun, to the W, Capraia: our target for the night, still a few miles away. The day was long and time had come to move on.
Harbour was reached in a hour and a half, and among the postponed confluence-celebrations, a small ice-cream parlour was visited, as promised by your scribe to the rest of the crew, as part of the negotiation to talk them into the confluence visiting...