On to Italy...
Sunday 4th June 2017
We slept really well, I suppose you do when you get back into your own bed after a long and exciting holiday.
We had no time to relax though as we needed to pull our fingers out and get going as our winter deal at Marina de Olbia ran out on the 1st June so instead of paying €10 a night all-inclusive we were now paying €47 a night and that soon mounts up.
On our list for the first day back was, finish unpacking, clean the boat inside and out, food shopping and if the wind was OK get the mainsail back on.
I started on the outside while Claire did the inside. Although I had hosed the boat off last night, why I felt the need to do that, who knows I just don’t like RR looking unloved I suppose. Anyway, I got the hose, boat soap, a bucket and my big extendable brush and spent 2 hours going over RR again. Now she looked OK, she looked loved again.
Claire worked like a skivvy down below coming up for air every now and then. By lunchtime we were ready to go to the supermarket. Walking there was OK but it took two of us to control the wayward trolley on the way back especially down the last steep hill into the marina. My legs and hips were still letting me know I was an idiot for walking so much in NY.
Claire packed all the food away, we had a bite to eat then wrestled the mainsail out of the front locker where it had been since we washed and stored the sails with Graeme and Jayne back in November 2016.
We have developed a clever way, well I think it’s clever anyway of getting the main sail and it’s cover with the lazy jacks on the boat.
We start by laying the sail cover out on the pontoon. We then flake the main sail into the cover. If you remember Claire and I have been very careful to flake the main the same way every time we lower it, marking where the folds are to be up the Luff with a Sharpie. This really helps to avoid unnecessary creases and I hope prolongs the life of the sail.
Then we insert the four full length battens making sure that they are all the way in to the batten cars and the Velcro retaining flap is pushed into the batten pocket nice and tight.
Then we zip the bag up and carry it onto the boat. Our sail is loose footed so we have just one aluminium slider at the clew then nothing until the cringle for the tack but the sail bag has a long bolt rope to keep it on the boom. We walk the sail in the bag right forward then Claire makes sure everything is going to slide on to the boom track while I push and she pulls at the same time making sure nothing snags. We tie the lazy jack lines onto the bag which holds it all in place. This can be done regardless of the wind direction or strength really. That’s part one done.
Part two is to feed the sliders and the cars into the slot in the mast but the wind was not in the right direction for that so I had to be patient but that didn’t help either as the wind was still blowing the wrong way by the time darkness fell. Still quite a good day’s work.
The next morning, I woke up at about 04.30 I suspect it was jet lag I tried to get back to sleep but it was no good so around 06.30 I got up because there was not a breath of wind. I crept outside, put the halyard on the main and pulled it up slowly inserting the sliders and the batten cars into the track. I thought I was being really quiet when Claire appeared beside me about an hour later which was handy as I needed a hand. She wasn’t grumpy so I assumed she was suffering from jet lag too!!
After we got all the sliders and cars in we put the control lines in for the three reefs. We lowered the main folding it on the marks and zipped the bag up.
Time for a cup of tea, coffee for me please.
As it was so calm I suggested to Claire that we should get the genoa on as well. I had made a bolt rope slot cleaner from an old tea towel sewed around a piece of 5mm line over the winter. I soaked this in soapy water and pulled it up and down the genoa track a few times to clean out all the red sand and dirt that I know must have been in there.
We then unfolded the genoa along the deck and while Claire fed the bolt rope into the slot I winched the sail up. We stopped after a few minutes to attach the new sheets that George had kindly sent me in the post. With the genoa up and furled I hanked the storm jib on to the removable forestay and with Claire’s help I got it back into its bag. This was all before 10.30.
After another tea/coffee and a bit of a rest we walked around to the office. There was another boat in ‘Scarlett’s’ spot. How dare they!! and there was a gap where ‘Seeker’ had been. Hopefully we will bump into these two again somewhere soon
It was nice to see Anna in reception. She had been very nice to us all while we were here. She had a parcel for Claire, along with a present from Jayne and Graeme. On the bag it said ‘to celebrate your 100th birthday’ which Anna found very amusing.
Back at the boat Claire opened her parcel to find the funny little battery powered sewing machine that she ordered just after Christmas. Jayne and Graeme’s present was hidden away until the appropriate date.
I didn’t think the little sewing machine would last very long but it was surprisingly good and Claire managed to make new Mozi nets for all the opening windows on RR.
The jet lag was a problem for me in that I needed a 20-minute nap during the day. This wasn’t a problem but it was an odd feeling although after a quick kip I was fine again. I think Claire was feeling it too but was more determined to push through it so that she had a better sleep in the evening.
Why Claire was making the Mozi nets I got the engine sorted after its winter layup. Putting in a new raw water impellor, the old one was showing signs of cracking on its blades. I cleaned the fresh water filter, checked the oil and coolant levels and started her up. I let the engine warm up for a bit then noticed that the temperature gauge nor the rev counter was working!!
They were both working when I stopped the engine back in November. I tried for ages to get these two things working again but to no avail. I can’t believe that two separate things would stop working at the same time but I couldn’t see anything else wrong. Whatever it turns out to be I just know that it's going to be expensive.
Tuesday 6th June.
After a bit of breakfast we were off to the launderette. The kind English people opposite us on ‘Solent Salamander’ kindly dropped us off in their car as we had quite a lot of washing. Claire was pleased when we got there as all the machines were empty.
After it was all washed with the bedding dried as well so it could go straight back on the bed we started walking back to the marina. It was now that we could do with a lift as now the majority of the washing was wet and it weighed a ton.
Back on RR it all got pegged out then Claire made the bed. The last job of the day was to sort out the front cabin. This spare cabin like on most boats becomes a bit of a dumping ground and I also us it as a work room.
Claire pulled everything out, swapped the winter duvet for the summer one before putting everything back neat and tidy then it was my turn to put all of my stuff away.
We went around to Marc and Rosita’s house to say our goodbye’s. Unfortunately, Marc was away but Rosita invited us in for a drink and we got a chance to say good bye to their dog ‘Mr Fluffy’ which was our name for him not his real name which was Grey in Italian.
Wednesday 7th June
We intend to leave in the morning so we went to the supermarket for another go at filling the boat with food and drink!!
While we were there Claire had her hair cut, not in the supermarket you understand but in a salon outside.
We got back and while Claire was trying to find a home for all of the food and drink we had bought I started emptying the big locker in the cockpit as we had to fold up our trusty bike and get it into the bottom of the locker before putting everything else in on top of it.
Claire came up to help and it was a right struggle to get everything back in with the things we use most - Mooring lines, electrical power leads, hoses, buckets etc on the top of the pile. Also kept in this locker is our cruising chute which I like to have reasonably easy access too. It was hard work but we managed it.
I consider myself very lucky that Claire and I can work so well together.
We walked over to the office to settle up our account, this included €250 for the diver that Graeme had arranged for us. He cleaned the bottom of RR and checked the anodes as we never lifted RR this winter because of the exorbitant costs in Olbia.
Thursday 8th June
We were leaving Olbia after nearly 7 months. It has been a really nice stay here and we consider ourselves lucky that we were here with Graeme and Jayne and fortunate to be able to meet Beth and Kiren.
The Sardinian people have been friendly and generous to a fault. We will miss Anna, Marc, Rosita and Jacopo at the restaurant. I really do hope that we come back this way again.
But we are not leaving Sardinia just yet. We have friends that are staying at a Neilson holiday resort about twenty miles to the south in a small bay just past Porto Ottiolu.
Claire was nervous taking RR out of the marina for the first time in a long time but all was OK. We were soon happy to be weaving our way around the huge rock like Island called Isola Tavolara and through the smaller Islands around it that we had seen many times from the shore during our walks with Graeme and Jayne.
We had agreed to meet Nick, Lou and their lovely daughter Heidi around midday. As we were thinking about where to drop the anchor we heard shouting and there they all were in a two-man canoe. Nick told us the best place to stop as there were a lot of safety lanes and swimming areas that we needed to avoid.
Once we were settled they came on board for a while but said we should think about getting a shore as lunch was served between 12.00 and 14.00.
As they paddled off to get changed Claire and I got our dinghy in the water and lowered the engine down onto it.
We locked the boat up but when I tried to start the outboard it wouldn’t start at first then when it did it would only run with a lot of throttle! Oh no, a blocked slow running jet.
We got going revving it like mad but as soon as I slowed down near the water’s edge it stalled!! Still never mind lunch was calling.
We walked through the very nice resort, past the huge pool and into the dining area which was very plush.
It was self-service and you could have whatever you wanted. The choice was very good, the food was excellent. Nick ordered a bottle of Rose to help wash it all down.
After the meal we went to sit by the pool, Heidi and Lou went in with Claire following shortly. It really was a nice place as well as being able to use all of the brand-new sailing boats, windsurfing gear, paddle boards etc there were new bikes to be had also. Perfect for an active family. I was very impressed having never been on this type of holiday before.
The idea was to take Nick, Lou and Heidi for a sail on RR in the afternoon but when we walked down to the beach it was so still that even the Lasers were just drifting around. I suggested that we go out and sit on RR for a bit and perhaps the wind would fill in. This we did all crammed in the dinghy with the dodgy engine. It got us there OK and we spent a pleasant hour or so showing them around the boat and chatting about stuff.
Our original intention was to head off in the evening to find a protected anchorage but there was so little wind and none forecast that we decided to stay here for the night. With this decided Nick suggested we come back with them and stay for the evening meal. It wasn’t free like the lunch was as they have one night a week that isn’t in the all-inclusive deal but pizza was on the menu and Heidi gave them a thumbs up so that’s what we did.
We had a very enjoyable evening making our way back out to RR around 10.
We dropped our stern anchor to hold us into the very light swell and slept soundly.
In the morning we had a nice light breeze, we hung around for a while to see if Nick and Lou came down to the beach but we couldn’t see them so we made our preparations and left.
We had a mixture of sailing and motoring until we passed our big rocky island Isola Tavolara which was surprising in that it had a very nice circular rock formation and a small harbour on the seaward side.
It was here that we passed a yacht called ‘Totem’ which we had first seen in Ibiza and I think our good friends Ian and Lynne went on board the converted life boat.
Soon after we passed the island we put up our asymmetric kite and had a very enjoyable few hours sailing to our anchorage at Porto de Cugnana practising gybing with the kite down wind.
We anchored and sorted the boat out. As a bonus we realised that we could pick up the free Wifi from the hotel that was close to the water’s edge.
We were in a lovely spot so I decided to have a look at the outboard!!! I lifted it into the cockpit sticking the skeg into the hole for the table leg with lots of padding of course. Then I used the two lines from each end of the traveller to hold the engine upright with another line going to the small winches either side of the companion way. That’s going nowhere.
I removed the cover and got the carb off the engine which wasn’t too difficult. I slowly dismantled the carb taking pictures of it as I did. I didn’t have a manual for the engine and couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried get one via google as the wifi just wouldn’t allow it for some reason but Facebook was OK so I had the bright idea of putting a request out on that and within about 20 minutes Wendy Warwick, although it just might have been Richard attached an exploded view of the carb noting that No 24 was the idle jet. I found number 24 on my carb which I took out and cleaned with a wire from a wire brush, it looked dirty rather than blocked. I put it all back together, moved it back onto its bracket and gave the starting cord a pull. It burst into life and idled perfectly. I switched it off quickly as there was no cooling water circulating and cleaned up. Thank you, Wendy / Richard.
Claire made me her trade mark pint of G&T and poured herself a Prosecco. We watched the sun set and a fantastic full moon rise at the end of a very nice and satisfying day.
We had a very good night there. Fortunately the very bad hotel DJ who was playing songs like Agadoo, Superman and all those join in, dance along songs finished at 22.30. It was quite amusing though as he was speaking in Italian, I suppose encouraging people to join in and I was trying to imagine what he was saying. He still had the annoying DJ voice.
We left in the morning enjoying a pleasant sail / motor to the Maddalena Islands. I was glad to be able to spend this time anchoring in a few bays on the Sardinian coast as when we passed this way in November the weather was turning cold and we just wanted to get into our winter home.
We had arranged to meet up with Mike and Suzie on Toy Buoy. They were already in the Maddalena Islands having left the marina at Santa Teresa for a few days at anchor. We found them in Porto Palma on Isola Caprera.
We dropped our anchor. Claire dived to check that it was ok and said that it was but just in front of it there was a large old channel marker laying on its side on the bottom. Our chain was around the side of it and OK for the moment.
We dropped my newly repaired outboard over the side onto our dinghy which we had towed and motored over to Toy Buoy. The engine performed faultlessly.
It was good to see these two again, they crossed from Menorca to Sardinia earlier this year. The last time we were together was in Fornells, Menorca last August. Mike and Suzie had stopped in Menorca after we left them and had enjoyed house sitting for friends and Mike did a bit of freelance work.
They both looked very well, and they had invited Stefan and Emma another British couple from a boat called ‘Pintail’ which was a rather special Moody 47 called a Marksman over too.
Stefan and Emma had plans to sail out of the Med this year and cross the Atlantic with help from a friend and in the company of another yacht. They had a few months before they needed to be in the Canary Islands so planned to see Corsica, Elba, etc in fact the route we took to get here but in reverse.
Mike talked about the cruising permit needed to stop in the Maddalena Islands because it was designated as a National Park. Of course Claire and I didn’t have one of those. Suzie mentioned that the park wardens who came around in a dinghy to check hadn’t arrived very early that morning so we should be safe now.
No one had eaten yet so we called it a night and made our way back to our respective boats. It was still quite light and both Claire and I noticed that we had swung on our anchor and was now facing the other way. I was worried about our anchor chain and the sunken channel marker so Claire volunteered to go in and have a look. Oh come on I know what you’re thinking but the water was warm and clear.
When she swam back she said that it didn’t look good and that the chain was looping around and back up to the boat. Bugger.
The only thing I could think of doing was to motor slowly around in a big circle with Claire telling me what way to go. We had a chat about it and she was fine.
She went back in the water and I manoeuvred RR around her until Claire gave me the thumbs up. She came back on board, we lifted the anchor and re-laid it 50 meters away.
We had a quite night and a very good sleep but decided to be up and gone by 09.30 to avoid being fined by the park wardens.
When I got up and looked out of the window everything was perfectly still. It was as if I was looking at a picture of a beautiful bay with the boats sat on a mirror. The reflections were perfect without a ripple to disturb the illusion.
By the time I found my camera a very slight breeze had gently disturbed the glass like surface and the scene had lost its magic.
I made Claire her customary cup of tea in bed. It takes 5 - 10 minutes for her to become fully awake. I reminded her about the wardens and we were ready to go just after 09.00.
We called across to Mike to let him know where we were going and I started the engine. The anchor came up and we had moved about 80 meters when a RIB came around the corner with the wardens in……. how close was that!!!
They never even looked at us but went straight over to the remaining boats at anchor.
We motored for less than 20 minutes before dropping our anchor again in Calla Bitta, another beautiful bay but as this one was on the mainland of Sardinia it was free.
Claire went in to check the anchor which had set ok but she said that the were some rocks off to one side that we needed to be careful of if the wind was to swing us that way.
Soon Toy Buoy and Pintail were anchored in the same bay and we had a very enjoyable afternoon on board Pintail with Stefan, Emma, Mike and Suzie.
Toy Buoy and Pintail moved on in the morning. Pintail was returning to the Maddalena Islands with Toy Buoy going back into Santa Teresa marina as Mike needed to fly back to Englad.
We decided to stay where we were for another day. We wanted to see a bit more of Sardinia and Corsica before crossing to mainland Italy. We probably had two weeks of doing nothing before we had to get going.
We swam, read and did a few jobs around the boat. The following morning we had a slow start before pulling up the anchor. We enjoyed a nice downwind sail gybing the kite, sort of racing a few other yachts that were goose winging by reaching across the channel between the islands before turning into a big beautiful bay called Liscia.
We had read in the pilot book about the restrictions when anchoring in the bays around Sardinia. Basically you need to stay over 200 meters from the beach. There were no shallow sandy spots and we struggled to find anywhere under 11 meters.
We had only been there a few hours when we received a message from Mike on Toy Buoy telling us to leave immediately as he had just met someone in the marina who had just been fined €340 while they were anchored in Liscia bay.
We decided to stay put as we were in amongst 8 -10 other boats at anchor. But every time Claire saw a rib enter the bay she was up, ready to move. It was nerve-racking until the light started to fade. We can only assume that the other yacht had anchored too close to the beach.
It was such a beautiful place. We love, love, love Sardinia.
‘Pintail’ joined us anchoring a short distance away. It’s great to be able share this lovely place with friends. We all went ashore later in the afternoon for a walk along the beach and of course the obligatory beers in a beach bar.
We invited them back to RR for dinner and spent a very enjoyable few hours chatting about the places they were going to that we had already been to. If that makes sense.
They were off in the morning moving to Corsica so we said our goodbyes. This is the part Claire and I never seem to be able get used to. You meet nice people, you get to know them then you have to say goodbye.
We were moving on too though. We had decided to spend a few days in Santa Teresa Marina which Mike had told us was very cheap. At €31 a night for RR it was a steal at this time of the year.
It was quite windy as we sailed out of Liscia. I had pulled one reef in the main and genoa. The boat was sailing well but our course had us heading towards Bonifacio. We knew that there was a possibility that the wind would increase as we entered the straights as it gets funnelled between Corsica and Sardinia but on this occasion it slowly died away after an hour or so.
Santa Teresa was only a mile or two away so I asked Claire to start the engine while I furled the genoa.
Nothing! It wouldn’t start!! Claire tried it a few times but it was completely dead, not even turning over.
Oh no, I pulled the genoa out again and Claire got us moving albeit very slowly while I went below to have a look.
It had started fine when we had left this morning so I was looking for a stuck starter motor, a loose connection from the battery or on the starter solenoid. I opened the hatch and everything looked fine with the wires tight on their terminals. As I moved the inspection lamp I saw something in between the cooling pipes. I put my hand in and pulled out a relay. Ahh I only had one relay on this engine and I knew where it lived so I pushed it back in and asked Claire to try the engine again. Bellissimo!!! I dislike having to turn the engine on but that horrible feeling in your stomach when you want it to start and it doesn’t is far, far worse.
We were met by couple of marinaro’s in a RIB who shepherded us to our berth and helped with the lazy lines to the bow of RR. It looked a very nice place and I realised that we had been here before with Jayne and Graeme in the car.
Annoyingly we also discovered that it had a travel hoist for haul out at only €400 for a weekend on the hard. I am pretty sure that if Graeme and I had known about this place we would have both had our boats lifted at some time over the winter.
Suzie was aboard Toy Buoy just along the pontoon preferring to stay in Sardinia rather than going back to England with Mike.
We met her a few times with Claire popping over for tea etc but Suzie had a bad back so she was happy to sit on board an rest.
Claire had her list of things we needed to do but first we had to do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Claire is like a machine. She has tremendous will power and has been following her HIIT routine for months now no matter where we have been.
So we found a shady spot and went through the 6 or 7 exercises twice. We were meant to do them 3 times but even in the shade the heat was too much.
We stayed there for 6 nights as it was so cheap. We used the time and the internet to get the blog of our trip to the Caribbean and New York completed.
We also changed all of the pipes on the bathroom tap /shower as they had started to leak. I also had several attempts at fixing the temp sensor and rev counter problem all to no avail.
The town of Santa Teresa was very nice. When we had visited here before it was in the middle of winter with everything closed. But now it was great, Claire and I had a very nice meal in a fish restaurant called Azzura and on another evening we watched the sunset and enjoyed cocktails in the town square as we people watched.
But it was soon time to move on.
We left the marina with Claire at the helm as usual. I was stowing the fenders and warps when I looked up to see the Santa Teresa – Bonifacio ferry leaving its dock. The channel is very narrow and I wondered if the ferry would follow us out?
At that point it gave a very loud blast from its horn which could only mean one thing ‘get out of the way I’m coming through’ but there wasn’t really a ‘get out of the way’ place. Claire´s face was a picture when she turned around and it made me laugh out loud.
Claire moved RR in as close as she could and the ferry swept past without slowing for a second. ‘Italian drivers’
We had 15 knots of breeze and a course that would take us directly between Corsica and the small Islands that lay off her Eastern coast. Perfect.
Toy Buoy was in front of us somewhere. We could see them on the AIS but it looked like they were going a different way which was strange as they said before we left that they would follow us to a bay called Sant’ Amanza.
The sailing was perfect RR was going well. Claire swapped our rather battered Italian / Sardinian courtesy flags for the French / Corsican ones and we sped on.
Now we had a choice, we could follow a course that took us in very close to shore through a gap that was about 4 meters deep or go around.
I kept quiet although I think Claire knew what I wanted to do. I suggested we go in closer to have a better look so Claire changed course slightly.
At that point a large motor launch roared past but didn’t go through the gap. To me it looked fine. Claire said that it looked ok on the chart plotter too so through we went. I suggested that we have the engine on tick over just in case which we did.
It reminded me of the time we were with Karen and Peter on our way to Porquerolles!!!
We dropped the sails and motored into this beautiful bay, Toy Buoy were alongside with Mike explaining that they had had a problem with the clutch for their Jib halyard hence their strange course.
I went forward to sort out the anchor and got the fright of my life as when I bent down a large grey dolphin was right by the side of the boat and expelled a big puff of wet air through his……….I’m not sure what you call it? Blow hole!! But boy did it make me jump!!
After we had dropped the anchor and sorted the boat out we could see about 5-6 dolphins over by the fish farm pens. There were people on boats and paddle boards near them too which made us think that they may pop up around here a lot.
Later in the afternoon we went ashore and had a very nice drink with Mike and Suzie in the Maora Beach Bar. This was a very posh place that reminded Claire and I of Calla Bassa in Ibiza. That said a very nice glass of Rosé and a Pietra beer was only €10.
Mike and Suzie were going to move on in the morning but we were happy to stay where we were.
We were still trying to save money by staying at anchor as much as possible.
We were planning to try to meet up with Karen and Peter who had flown to France from Australia for a wedding. They were meeting up with our Mum and Dad also Lauri and David for a while in Provence before driving to Sanremo for a week.
The idea was for us to get to the marina called Porto Touristico di Roma which was one of the closest marinas to Rome. Then get on a train around the coast of Italy back up to Sanremo (Remember we spent a few free days on the harbour wall there last August) spending a few days with Karen and Peter before returning to meet Grace who was going to spend a few weeks with us. Whew.
Anyway we wanted to cross to the mainland as late as possible to save money as the marina was going to be €47 a night.
Of course the weather always has the last say and it looked like all of our plans were about to be ruined by strong winds forecast for the end of the week.
We have made a promise to ourselves that we DO NOT leave a place of safety in poor weather just to try and meet someone, no matter who they are or to make some self-imposed deadline. But leaving early was OK so this is what we did.
We moved the boat a short distance to ensure that the anchor was set in sand as we had a couple of strong wind days ahead of us.
We enjoyed a very relaxing few days in San´t Amanza but it was time to get across to the mainland. So the night before departure we sorted the boat out. We didn’t need to leave early. Midday would be good.
We were about 500 meters away from the Maora beach bar and Claire noticed a large crowd of people gathered on the beach around a young lady in white. Everyone loves a wedding and it was such a beautiful place to hold the reception. I just hoped that the music wouldn’t go on too long.
We went to bed around 22.30 with hardly a sound from the wedding reception but at 01.30 that all changed. I woke up with a start. The music was so loud, but not distorted at all. They must have had very good quality speakers then this guy started singing and I would have bet Claire’s half of Red Rooster that it was Gregory Porter singing. It was really good, in English and the band supporting were superb too.
Oh well I can manage a couple of hours of this…….it was nearly 4 hours later when it stopped!!. We got back to sleep eventually waking again at 09.00.
We were ready to leave by 10.00. I wanted to hang around a bit longer but Claire was getting nervous. The wind was blowing 15 – 20 knots and forecast to get a bit stronger.
Our crossing should take between 22 and 24 hours and the problem of leaving too early is that often you get there quicker rather than slower than planned and you really don’t want to arrive in the dark unless you absolutely have to.
We got the anchor up and stowed. I had promised Claire that we would start off under genoa alone as the wind was right behind us.
We unfurled the genoa as soon as we could and switched the engine off. Soon we had 6 knots boat speed and we hadn’t left the confines of the bay yet.
I knew the sea state was going to deteriorate as we got out into deeper water. After an hour we were averaging 8 knots and we kept seeing 9 come up on the instruments as we surfed down the larger waves.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated was that the self-steering gear couldn’t cope with the conditions so I was at the helm for the foreseeable future.
Soon we saw 30 knots wind speed and the water was white. Claire was quiet but when I asked her if she was OK she said she was. I did say that if the conditions got any worse we could think about diverting to Porto- Veccio along the Corsican coast.
Our forecast said that we should expect 20 – 30 knots up until midnight.
We decided to pull a bit of the genoa in as it felt like I was losing control of the boat at times. I suggested to Claire that we pole out the genoa to make it more stable but she quite rightly stated that one of us needed to be on the wheel making it impossible to rig the pole. The reduced sail area helped and I felt like I was back in control.
For some reason I thought this was going to be a busy stretch of water but no. Apart from a Moby ferry out of Olbia we were all on our own.
The hours ticked by and we were eating up the miles. It was exhilarating but tiring at the helm. I had the feeling that Claire wasn’t ready to take over just yet.
After about 5 hours I felt our speed start to drop off as the wind reduced somewhat. After 10 minutes I let the genoa out again our speed was about 6 knots. I tried the auto helm and was pleased to discover that it could cope with the better conditions. The waves were still big but from behind so not too bad.
We started to relax a bit. Some stronger gusts still came rattling through but we were ok. Claire gave me a lovely, beaming smile and I knew she was ok and feeling better.
The wind was getting less and it got to the point where we needed to put the main up. Which we did. The boat was going well.
I saw a flash of something in the water and shouted dolphin’s.
Claire made her way to the bow and spent over 30 minutes watching one of the best dolphin displays we have seen so far. It really was special with some of them leaping out of the water spinning onto their backs and on more than one occasion I am convinced that they were trying to splash Claire with their tails. Brilliant.
It was fully dark by 22.30. Well not fully dark, it was except for the stars that were out in force looking even brighter due to the fact that there was no moon. Claire and I spent ages just looking up marvelling at the milky way and pointing when we saw a shooting star.
As usual I couldn’t sleep but wanted Claire to try. She was feeling all sticky because of the sun and the salt spray from the following sea and decided to have a shower. When she had finished she looked so clean and happy that I decided to have one myself. It was great. I felt so much better.
Claire made us some pasta pockets and tomato sauce which was delicious. After we had cleaned up she got her head down. It wasn’t too much later that the wind dropped to 5 ish knots and I wound the genoa in and started the engine.
We stayed like that for the rest of the trip arriving at our intended destination of Santa Marinella at 07.30 on the 26th June tired but happy.
We had two goes at anchoring before settling quite close the marina wall with a stern anchor out holding us into the small swell.
The idea was to stay here at anchor for a few days before moving down to Porto Turistico Di Roma. The weather however had different ideas.
We fell straight to sleep waking up around lunchtime for a swim and something to eat.
We looked at the forecast and it wasn’t good. We had rain and wind coming that evening. 15 – 20 knots Easterly (which was bang on the nose) tomorrow with more bad weather to follow.
I called the Santa Marinella marina office on the VHF asking if they had room for us which they did. I asked for a price and was told €60 a night. Blimey it looks like we were moving on again in the morning then.
We had a nice day but as the sun dropped we heard loud music coming from a building just across the marina from us. Oh no!! but it was a Monday night. The compare was dreadful singing along to all the songs. It was more like a Karaoke I suppose but it stopped around midnight.
We slept well apart from having to get up about 03.00 to roll away the sunshades and to shut all the windows as a squall shook the boat with strong gusty winds and rain.
At 06.00 we were both awake so we decided to leave. With 15 knots of wind already blowing we put a reef in the main and made our way out to sea.
I cannot tell you how frustrated I was. The wind, and it was a lovely constant wind was coming directly from where we wanted to go!! I don’t mean roughly, I mean exactly.
Normally when your sailing towards your destination which is to windward of you one tack is generally better than the other. Your VMG is better. This means that as you tack up wind one leg is getting you a lot closer with the other leg not so good but not here, oh no both legs were equally bad so that after two hours of hard sailing to windward we had only made 4 miles towards our destination. You could walk there quicker!!
We just wanted to get there so I rolled in the genoa and started the engine. At first we were making about 4.5 knots but the wind steadily increased as did the short sharp chop which was stopping the boat.
I decided to head inshore which enabled RR to take the waves at a slight angle. This helped a lot but after a few hours we were quite close to the beach and I needed to head back out to sea.
The wind was 30 knots now and we were making very little headway. We had dropped the main a few hours ago so I pulled a small bit of the genoa out and used that as well as the engine to get us moving.
We were nearing the headland and the seas were a lot bigger here. As we tacked back in we could see the buoyed entrance to a river that led to Fiumicino. The pilot book stated that you had to call on VHF for permission to enter. Claire did this but received no answer so we tacked back out to sea again.
It was really rough out there now as we were nearing the headland, we were both nervous but RR seemed OK. We were only doing about 4 knots with very little VMG or headway made towards the marina.
As we tacked back in I noticed a long breakwater with a motorboat at anchor behind the wall in relatively calm waters.
Claire looked at the pilot book and said that what I was looking at was a part built marina. Work was halted due to bribery and corruption claims. In Italy! Who would’ve thought it!! On the chart plotter there were no depths shown so we went in slowly. I was seeing depths of 6 m so we went in further. We dropped the anchor behind and to one side of the motor boat.
Once we had taken a couple of transits I switched off the engine. It was unbelievably nice just to sit in relatively calm water with just the noise of the wind as a reminder of what was going on on the other side of the wall.
We made ourselves a drink and relaxed for a bit. Claire said this had been harder for her than the crossing. I must admit that it had been a tiring few hours. I promised her that we would stay put until the wind and waves dropped a bit. It was forecast to decrease around 19.00.
Shortly after we arrived the motor boat left and we had the place to ourselves. We had a swim or two to cool off then we noticed a Guardia Civil launch towing a yacht towards us.
As they entered the sheltered area the tow was dropped but by the time the yacht managed to set it’s anchor it was back out in the rough stuff so the tow was picked up again. Obviously the yacht had lost its engine and they were bought in closer to us. So near in fact that by the time their anchor had set we were in danger of hitting one another. Unbelievable. The sheltered area was about the size of a football pitch!!
So, reluctantly we pulled our anchor up and moved away a bit as they were obviously having engine problems.
The couple were French. We felt sorry for them, not because they were French but because they must have had a hard time out there with engine problems and needing to call for help. They apologised to us for having to move.
We watched as they tried to repair the damage caused by the tow. Their pulpit had been damaged and a cleat pulled out but I am sure that they were just glad to be in. Claire and I thought it strange that they were dropped here as there was nothing around and no one to help them.
After an hour or so they called across and we spoke on the VHF. They had hardly any English but significantly more than our French but we managed to understand that they were asking us if we had some diesel we could spare. We did so the man was going to row over. We watched as they got their little dinghy off the foredeck putting the oars and a jerry can in. We were about 80 – 100 meters apart and the wind was still very strong so I suggested that they wait until the ‘vent’ dropped a bit. This they did.
After a couple of hours the wind had dropped significantly and we wanted to go so I suggested to Claire that we up anchor and motor closer to them dropping the anchor about 20 meters from them.
The man stopped what he was doing and climbed into the dinghy. He spent a good few minutes trying to get the oars in their sockets. When he had done this, he sat on the transom (the part that the engine is normally fixed to) facing forwards and started to row.
Well I was sure he was going in. The front of the dinghy came up so high I could not believe that he managed to stay in.
His wife was busy tying a longer line to the painter, she had obviously seen him row before. He was not getting any closer to us. It was painful but funny to watch.
I got a long line out and threw it to him, he grabbed my line and pulled himself towards us while his wife paid out her line……what a carry on. Fancy being a sailor and not knowing how to row especially when you didn’t have an outboard!!
Anyway I filled his jerry can up for him. He offered us money but we refused. We said our goodbyes and his wife pulled him back….Hahaha.
Our anchor came up and we motored out into the swell which was still quite big. I pulled some genoa out and soon we were entering the harbour at Porto Turistico Di Roma-Ostia 13 hours after we left Santa Marinella 23 miles away!!!
We tied RR up and sorted her out before sitting to watch the sun go down on a very tiring few days with drinks in our hand. Alcoholic of course!!
28th June 2017
After a very good but restless night’s sleep, I was woken by the boat being pushed around by the strengthening winds. I was sort of pleased about this as it confirmed that our decision to leave early to get into Ostia was the right thing to do.
I made Claire a cup of tea, she too was glad to be in a marina. It's going to cost us a few bob but we had a lot planned for the next 6-7 days so it will be worth it.
Once we had showered, I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to stand under a good shower, letting the water pour off you for a lot longer than necessary after a few days at sea where water is a precious commodity and definitely not to be wasted. We walked along to the office to book in. They had a deal whereby if you stayed for 7 nights you got one of them free so it worked out at €47 a night. Not too bad considering we were now in the high season. We asked the receptionist about car hire as we wanted to drive to visit Karen and Peter who were over from Australia and in Italy at the moment. She called out to a man who had just left the office. He came back in and she spoke to him in Italian. ‘So you lika da car’ he said. We explained what we wanted and told him that we had been on line and found one in Ostia for €175 for 5 nights. Which was true. He held up his hand pressed some numbers on his phone. After a quick discussion he said that he could provide us with a small car for €145 for 5 nights with unlimited mileage, two drivers, and no additional insurances required!! Result.
We agreed to pick it up from the office at 09.00 on Saturday 1st July.
We walked to the supermarket. The local area around the marina wasn’t very nice. It was made up, almost entirely of very run down 5 – 6 story blocks of flats. Large bins were dotted around these estates, all were full to overflowing smelling dreadfully in the hot sun. Cars were parked everywhere with big holes in the roads and pavement.
The supermarket was pretty good considering what we had walked through to get to it and we got all that we needed.
When we returned to the we had a message from Stefano and Emma they were ok but sad that all of their plans to sail across the Atlantic later in the year were on hold because the people that they were going to cross with had had a bad time on their yacht crossing to Madeira and were now not going. So instead of heading out of the Med they had decided to turn around and sail down the Italian coast and on to Greece. It was good news for us though as we would be very happy to bump into them again.
That evening we went out for a meal in one of the restaurants dotted around the marina which was very nice.
The following day was a jobs day. I tried again to trace the fault with the alternator and temp sensor but after three hours I gave up.
I washed the boat down while Claire cleaned inside.
We received a message from Pintail and Toy Buoy who had met each other in Elba letting us know that they should be joining us sometime in Ostia as soon as the bad weather passes.
As we were walking back from the chandlers we noticed that the French boat we had helped with fuel was tied up against a marina pontoon. We couldn’t see anyone on board but it was really getting knocked around by the short choppy waves that were being pushed into the marina by the strong winds.
Claire cooked us a nice meal and we went to bed. I was woken up about 02.30 by the boat tugging hard on the mooring lines. When I went up on deck the wind had changed direction creating a surge in the marina. It's hard to explain what ‘a surge’ is but it's made up of slower, slightly larger waves that lift and push the boat forward which is then stopped, by the mooring lines. The lines jerk the boat backwards sometimes quite violently only for it to picked up by the next wave and it starts all over again.
The last time this happened was in Calvi, Corsica with Jayne and Graeme. It can do a lot of damage if you’re not careful even pulling out the mooring cleats on the boat in extreme cases.
We have the mooring springs that our parents bought us for Christmas a few years ago and they work well in dampening the shock of the lines going tight. I got them out and spent the next hour putting them on timing when I undid the old lines. Once they were on the motion was a lot better.
Two boats on the other side of us were being pushed onto the pontoon by the wind. I tried several times to move their fenders but it didn’t help much and as there was no one on board there was not much more I could do.
As I was going down below to try and get back to sleep I noticed a couple of people a few pontoons across with head torches on adjusting the lines of their boat. I realised that it was the French couple we had helped.
I went into our locker and found some strong line and walked round to see if I could help them. When I saw what was going on again I felt very sorry for them. Now that the wind had changed direction they were getting blown off the pontoon but the water was really choppy where they were and the boat was really tugging at its lines. To make matters worse they had lost the front port cleat and fairlead while they were being towed so their lines were coming across the fore deck and around the pulpit.
They were pleased to see me and thanked me for coming to make sure they were OK. They were in the process of putting more lines on so I helped where I could. They didn’t need the rope that I had so after half an hour I said my goodbyes and went back to bed.
We received a message from Stefano and Emma on ‘Pintail’ letting us know that they and ‘Toy Buoy’ were due into our marina around lunch time and did we fancy going out for a curry later that evening as they had been told that there was a good curry house in Ostia. ‘Yes please’ we said.
While Claire packed ready for us to leave to visit my sister in the morning. I had another go at fixing the temp sensor and rev counter gauges. I took the panel off in the cockpit making sure all the connectors were clean and pushed home in their sockets. All looked ok so I put it all back together but I still had the problem.
I rechecked all of the mooring lines on RR also making sure that all of the covers were on tight as we would be away visiting Karen for three nights.
We saw that ‘Toy Buoy’ had arrived and guessed that ‘Pintail’ would be following in about an hour. When they were both in we walked over to say our hello’s.
It was nice to see them all again. Suzie still had a bad back but was very upbeat about it. We agreed to meet up around 19.00 to walk to the curry house which was in the town centre.
I then sat on the internet looking up yacht forums for help with my water temp sensor and rev counter issue. The rev counter on my engine gets it's ‘pulse’ from the alternator. So I checked all of the connections on the back of the alternator this meant removing the fan belt, taking the alternator off of its mounts and turning it before I could even see it's connections. I tugged each one checking that the crimps were good. They all looked OK so I put it all back together.
Whilst I was on the internet I ordered a new temperature sensor to be delivered to Grace in England so she could bring it out for me. I sort of new it wasn’t the problem but I had to start somewhere.
With Claire’s help I checked the cable from the back of the alternator, through the multi pin plug on the engine to the control panel near the helm. I used a multi meter to confirm that the wire was good from one end to the other. I started the engine to check to see if I had fixed it. I hadn’t. Bugger.
Time for a curry. We had a shower then walked to meet up with the others.
Suzie was missing as she didn’t fancy the walk with her back so the five of us strolled along the sea front, which wasn’t that bad to the restaurant. It looked very nice and the food was excellent. Emma and Claire were especially pleased as they had a large number of vegetarian dishes.
We had a very nice night and a nice stroll back to the boats. As usual we were sad to have to say our goodbyes once again. We were off in the car tomorrow morning to meet up with Karen and Peter with Pintail and Toy Buoy leaving Ostia to move further down the Italian coast.
Saturday 1st July 2017
I walked to the marina reception at 08.30 to pick up the hire car. I was quite nervous as the price was so cheap I started to wonder what we were going to end up with. I passed a very old and tired looking Fiat 500 just hoping that it would be better than that as we had about 300 miles to drive. Each way! It was going to be like driving to Cornwall. Whatever it was I just hoped that it had air conditioning as it was very hot already.
Well I needn’t have worried we had a very new Fiat Panda with A\C. I signed and paid for the car taking a picture of the licence plate in case we parked it in a busy car park and couldn’t remember which one was ours!!
I drove the car back to the pontoon to get Claire and our bags. As we were walking back to the car the French couple we had helped stopped us to say hi and to give us a present for having helped them. We tried to refuse their gift but they insisted on giving us a packet of spaghetti, a box of cous cous and a pack of coffee held together with an old piece of cord!!
By 09.30 we were heading out of Ostia to join the E 18 which took us virtually all the way to Sanremo following the Italian west coast all the way.
As I have said before driving is a pleasure for me once more as I drive so little now that it feels exciting when I get behind the wheel. This time felt even better as it was like being in some kind of time machine as we drove passed all of the places we had visited in Italy on RR. Starting with Santa Marinella, then we passed the Isle of Elba, then Livorno, La Spetzia, Genoa, Finale Ligure and finally Sanremo. It really was funny passing all of those places in 7 hours. It had taken months in RR!!
We followed the route on my Iphone using the App ‘Maps.me’ (Thanks Ian) all the way from door to door. Peter, was there to meet us and opened the gates to the large car park beside the nice looking block of apartments.
We carried the bags upstairs and I gave my sister a shock as I crept up on her while she sat in the sunshine playing a game on her Ipad. It really was good to see these two again. We had spent a lovely three weeks together last summer as we sailed from Spain to France.
They were staying in a very nice Airb&b which had a folding sofa bed for us in the front room, a balcony overlooking the harbour and was just a short walk from the centre of town. Perfect.
Karen and Peter had spent last week with my mum and dad and my other sister Lauri and her husband David in Provence, France but that was just too far for Claire and I to get there from Rome.
To celebrate our reunion we went for a meal in town. Claire and I really liked Sanremo and had good memories of spending time here on RR when we were moored up against the harbour wall for free.
We wandered around the town before stopping at a very nice restaurant that Karen and Peter recommended. The food and company were great.
The following morning we took Karen and Peter´s car and drove up into the mountains behind Sanremo following a very steep, narrow road that wound its way up to a lookout called ‘Monte Bignone’. The views were fantastic and the air was clean and cool after the heat in town. I think we were about 1200 meters above sea level.
On then to the town of Bajardo which seemed to be perched on the very top of a hill with the land dropping away on all sides. It was a very pretty town with an old, derelict church balanced at the very top.
We stopped for a bit of lunch in a pleasant restaurant but with a very limited menu. Karen, Peter and I had beef and potatoes’ which looked bad but was actually very good while Claire had mozzarella and tomatoes. Peter and I finished our meals off with very nice ice creams.
We then drove down to Dolceaqua passing through Aprical.
Dolceaqua was a very nice town with a very pretty bridge crossing a river that flows down from the mountains behind. We stopped for a coffee and Facetimed my Mum and Dad to let them know that we were now with Karen and Peter.
We then drove along the coast back to Sanremo. Fantastic day.
Monday 3rd July we drove along the coast to revisit Diana Marina. I say revisit, Claire and I didn’t stop here in RR but the Williams clan had a family holiday here back in 1968!!
I was 10/11 at the time and have no real memories of the holiday. But my Mum had told me that one day I bought back a towel to the camp site that I had found on the beach. She didn’t have the heart to tell me that I had just stolen a ‘German’s’ towel who was trying to save ‘his spot’!!
I can’t remember how busy it was back in 1968 but the place was packed now with most of the beaches covered in row upon row of deck chairs and parasols. These were not cheap to hire so we walked until we found a scrap of sand just big enough for us to sit down. We all had a swim though which was nice.
We tried to find the camp site where we had stayed all of those years ago. Karen had better memories about walking across a railway line and not too far from the beach. We did find a campsite that kind of fitted the bill but we were not sure if it was the same one.
We stopped in a couple of supermarkets on the way home. I was still looking for Branston pickle hoping that they might stock it because of all the English holiday makers but no.
When we got back we had a bit of lunch and went out again around 17.30 to see the fishing boats selling their catch at the quay. Claire and I had first seen this when we were here in RR. The locals knew when the boats were coming in and they started gathering on the dock. Then when the first boat was moored up they crowded around to buy the catch. It was hard to understand what was going on but things were being weighed, money changed hands and people were leaving with plastic bags full of fish or prawns.
We wandered back into town and stopped at a bar that provided nice nibbles with your drinks. So nice in fact that after two rounds we didn’t need dinner!
While we were there a couple of street sellers walked past and Karen bought a selfie stick and we bought a little hand operated sewing machine and a couple of needle threaders. I know, I know but they were a bargain and the lad was nice. Just to prove that the selfie stick worked!!!!!!!
All good things must come to an end……….we were up early saying our goodbyes to Karen and Peter after a brilliant few days.
We drove the same roads on the way back stopping to fill the two 30L diesel cans from the boat when I saw it advertised for €1.26 a litre.
On the drive back I had decided to try and buy a new Alternator for RR. The existing one was only a 50 A unit and I intended to change it for a larger unit before we left England but my friend Adrian the Volvo Penta mechanic suggested I leave it until it went wrong or when I discovered that it couldn’t recharge the battery bank. Well perhaps it has gone wrong now but I still wasn’t convinced it had. It still niggled me that two separate things had failed at the same time. Anyway if I could get a larger unit perhaps I would kill two birds with one alternator.
So when we got back to the marina around 16.00 I stopped and asked at the reception and they told me about a good auto factors not far from the marina in Ostia. It was near the supermarket, we needed food too so we went straight back out.
The guys in the auto factors were very good and could have a brand-new Prestolite 70A unit delivered to their shop tomorrow morning for €240. Great, we paid a deposit, crossed the road and bought a few bits leaving the heavy shopping for tomorrow.
By the time we got back to the boat we were both knackered. But I was happy. No not because of the alternator. My girl Grace was arriving in Rome tomorrow lunchtime. We were going to get her in the car then spend a few days sightseeing before heading off down the coast.
Grace arrived on time at 12.30. We had stopped off at the auto factors to pick up the alternator on the way to greet her at the airport. We wanted to be there as she stepped through those sliding doors. It doesn’t often happen to us but it really is nice when there is a familiar face smiling at you as you step through into the arrivals lounge.
You don’t have to look like you don’t care that there’s no one to meet you, or pretend that your talking on your mobile, too busy with your call to notice everyone staring as you walk through.
Claire and I received a nice big hug from Grace, she was looking really well. The last time we had been together was almost a year ago at Stewart and Danielle’s wedding.
We stopped at the supermarket and stocked up with all of the heavy stuff, read bottles and cans of drink as we were dropping the car off later that evening.
Back on the boat Grace was happy with the v berth at the front of the boat. She travels very light a skill she has gained after traveling in Asia and Australia for the last 6 months and had no trouble un packing and finding a home for her stuff.
Claire cooked a nice dinner on-board and we talked about our trip into Rome in the morning. We were all feeling tired so we went to bed.
We were up and out reasonably early walking to the bus stop to catch the No 1 or 62 to the train station. We waited quite a long time but had the good fortune to meet Andrew and Karen at the bus stop. They were an English couple that were travelling on their boat in the opposite direction to us. They were also going into Rome. We invited them for a drink on RR later that evening.
When we got to the train station we were dismayed to discover that there was a rail strike with no trains running until 17.00.
Andrew and Karen decided to walk back to the marina and we decided to try and get to Ostia Antica which had been recommended to us by numerous people including Margaret and David, good friends from England.
We waited for the bus back towards the marina getting off at a hotel on the sea front where I went in pretending to be a guest and asked them to call a
taxi for me. In the meantime, Grace was on her phone trying to get an Uber cab.
The Uber came first and we were pleased to be climbing into a brand-new air conditioned 5 series BMW.
It was a 10-minute ride to Ostia Antica. We wanted it to be longer as the A\C in the car was wonderful.
Ostia Antica dates back to about 4bc Sited close to the banks of the Tiber river it started life as a fort to protect Rome from attacks from the sea then grew as trade flourished quickly becoming the main port for all goods entering Rome which is about 30Km away.
The place really was fantastic. A few areas were cordoned off but apart from those you could walk where you wanted. Into buildings that had once been homes, baths, bakers and bars!! You could actually walk on the beautifully intricate mosaics and touch walls that had been decorated with coloured washes.
You could see where grain was ground for flour and put your hands into the ovens where the bread was baked. They were cold now!
The roads weren’t flat but slightly curved so the rain water and other stuff ran down the sides and the pedestrians walked in the centre.
The amphitheatre was great as was the huge open space for sporting activities.
It really was hot, mid 30’s at least so we had a pit stop in the very nice, air-conditioned restaurant on the site.
We walked from there out of the ruins, across the road to have a look at the castle that dominates the small village. It looked really well preserved but unfortunately it was closed.
It was time to start heading back to the boat but there wasn’t an easy route. Grace was / has been brilliant at finding out information on her phone.
Skills she honed during her travels. None of us fancied a lot of hassle getting back so we called another Uber cab which turned out to be a brand-new Mercedes with……yes you’ve guessed it air conditioning.
When we got back we all went for a long cold shower ahhhhh.
Karen and Andrew turned up at 19.30 with a nice bottle of Prosecco. We had a very enjoyable few hours chatting with them. Andrew went through some good places stop on our intended route towards Sicily.
It's a bit embarrassing but I never did ask the name or make of their yacht. I do know that they intended to make their way to the Maddalena Islands and I warned them about the cruising licence required. They were very nice people and I hope they keep in touch.
Up and on the same bus to the same train station but now the metro trains were running. The Italians have a brilliant system in and around Rome in that you by a timed ticket. €1.50 (£1.30) ticket that lasts for 100 minutes. So you can go on one tube journey and as many buses as you like with this one ticket. So we got all the way from the marina into the centre of Rome for €1.50 each. How good is that!
I ABSOLUTELY LOVE ROME.
We have been here before and I just love walking through the narrow streets with so much interesting history around almost every corner.
We had planned a route the night before. Grace wanted to see St Mark’s Square in the Vatican City so we started there.
We stopped at a very nice restaurant for lunch before making our way through to the Parthenon. What a truly brilliant piece of architecture this is. The light streaming through that one aperture highlighting the structure of the dome. Fantastic
We then walked to the Trevi fountain. Very crowded here but worth seeing again.
We stopped in a church called Sant’Ignazio on the way to look at the beautifully painted ceiling by Andrea Pozzo around 1685. It's hard to imagine that the ceiling is flat. The 3D images are fantastic.
On then to the Colosseum stopping on the way for a very nice gelato, funny how Grace knows that’s Italian Ice cream!!
The Colosseum is a staggering piece of construction, the largest amphitheatre ever built. Work began around AD 71 commissioned as a gift for the people of Rome by Emperor Vespasian. It was completed in AD 80.
55,000 people could watch the deadly ‘games’ staged within the most common being man against wild animals such as lions and bears and of course gladiatorial fights between men.
We walked around the outside passing the triumphal arch of Constantine built in AD 312 before walking to the Cosmedin Church to see the ‘Mouth of Fate’ or Bocca della Verita. Myth has it that if your suspected of lying you are asked to put your hand in the mouth of fate which will take your hand off if you are!!
What a brilliant day we made our way back by metro and bus to collapse on the boat with one of Claire’s infamous Gin and tonic’s.
We were off in the morning so we sorted the boat out a bit before crawling into bed.
We wanted to sail to a small group of islands which are actually the tips of volcanic craters, just off the Italian coast called the Pontine’s but more specifically to Ponza.
We were ready to leave by 08.15 which was really good. Grace took us out of the marina with Claire at her side. The sea was very calm and we motored for the first few hours.
By 12.00 the wind started to fill in and by 14.00 we were sailing. Shortly after the kite came out and we had a brilliant few hours before we dropped anchor in Cala Inferno (Nice name) just after 19.00.
We all went for a swim. The water was so clear, so warm it was wonderful.
Our time at Ponza was to be strictly for rest and relaxation. We got the rib off and put the outboard on, we found the lilo and blew it up so Claire and Grace could float about in the sun on it.
It was quite busy but it was the weekend. Monday was a lot quieter and we moved the boat from where we were to a spot closer to town.
I was getting bored.
Grace for those who do not know is a systems engineer and before she left work to go travelling was employed installing very complex control systems into Royal Navy vessels being built in South Korea. She served an electronics based apprenticeship and knows her way around a schematic wiring diagram and a printed circuit board. So I dug out the wiring diagrams for the boat and we went through them whilst RR rocked gently at anchor.
My niggle about the rev counter and temp sensor both stopping at the same time started grace looking at the wiring common to both gauges. We started at the engine end checking the ground or neutral wires as they were common to both units. They all checked out fine but when I tugged a cable that went from the alternator to the starter solenoid one end just broke off!! Could this be it. I exchanged the cable for a new one I made up with new crimp lugs at each end and re attached it. No we still had the problem. Bugger.
I put everything back and went for a swim.
Later that evening we took the RIB into town had a few drinks in a bar overlooking the harbour before going to a restaurant recommended to us by our waitress. The food was lovely, the waiter’s friendly and the wine good. We needed to get some shopping as we were going to leave in a couple of days. Grace and I had a cake each from a very nice place we had spotted earlier. Mine was nicer!!
By the time we were back in the RIB it was pitch dark. We came in via a very small, shallow gap between the rocks. We found it, going very slowly until we were through.
It was OK where we were but all day there had been a constant parade of taxi boats going backwards and forwards to the beach from the town. Every time they passed the boat rocked violently. So the following morning we upped anchor and moved to a new location. This was a nice sheltered spot that had a huge rock sticking up out of the water like a tooth with a giant hole in it.
Grace and Claire went off exploring in the RIB while I sat and thought about my electrical problem. If we had checked everything from the engine up to the control panel by the wheel then it must be in the panel itself. I looked at the schematic diagrams again. I had two to choose from and realised when looking at them again that neither one was exactly right. I had a mixture of them both on RR. Typical. But importantly the ground/neutral we had been tracing up to the panel was different on the other drawing.
I waited until Claire and Grace came back, we had lunch then I began to take the panel off explaining to Grace what I had found out about the schematics. We unplugged the multi connector and put the panel on the table. Grace found the new ground cable and was tracing it through gently tugging on each cable when one of them pulled straight out!! It was the pin of the multi connector.
I got my trusty soldering iron out and plugged it into the inverter. it didn’t work!! The inverter was fine? Blast. Or words to that effect. So I got a butane gas powered soldering iron out and together Grace and I soldered the cable back on. I put everything back crossed my fingers and started the engine………….Eureka the rev counter and temp gauge worked ………..hahahaha…… Brilliant time for one of Claire’s G&T’s.
The rest of the day was swimming and relaxing. We took the RIB to the beach which we probably shouldn’t have done as there were signs everywhere warning of falling rocks. I wanted to see if any of the rocks were pumice stone as I thought that’s what came out of a volcano when it erupted but none of it was. Still we had a nice time.
We were leaving for the bay of Naples in the morning so we had an earlyish night.
I started the engine and the rev counter came up as did the temperature gauge albeit a bit slower as the engine warmed to its task of taking us to the bay of Naples.
The wind was very light and the sea was calm.
Just before lunch we saw dolphins speeding towards the boat. Grace was so pleased as she had heard so many times about the dolphin’s playing at the bow of boats but this was the first time she had experienced it. They didn’t stay for long but they stayed long enough to put a smile on Grace and Claire’s face.
Our course took us past the island of Ventotene which was part of the Pontine’s we tried to sail for a bit but the wind was bang on the nose and we had a long way to go. We passed Isle D Ischia and Procida before dropping our anchor between Fondo Marino and Porto S.Lucia yacht club in the bay of Naples.
The volcano, Mt Vesuvius that caused a lot of problems a while ago was shrouded in smoke. Not I hope the signs of an imminent eruption but more to do with a spate of forest fires due mainly to the heat of the days here and the lack of rain.
We passed the night ok. It was hot and a bit rocky. We were close to a main road in the city of Naples a bit like the Embankment in London so it was noisy too.
That morning we saw the water bombing planes flying down from the smoking Vesuvius to scoop up sea water from the bay of Naples returning to the mountain to drop their liquid cargo on the smouldering trees and vegetation.
We were now in the really expensive part of Italy. The marina charges in this area are extortionate but you need to stop somewhere around here as there is so much to see and do. We decided with Grace’s help to look at marina web sites phoning around to check which marina had the best deal even though we had been told by our friends Graeme and Jayne that Torre del Greco was one of the cheapest and had good links by train for Pompeii, Herculaneum and Naples. We had quotes from other places at €120 a night but at Torre del Greco Club Circolo Nautico it was €100 a night with a third night for €75. There was a chance that we would need to stay even longer as strong winds were being forecast for later in the week.
So on the 13th July we motored the short distance to the marina. We called on the VHF when we were outside but received no answer so Claire took us slowly in. It looked a bit disorganised in there with what appeared to be 4-5 different groups in charge of a few pontoons each.
We were just wondering whether we should phone the club when a guy in red budgie smugglers and a floppy hat called to us and directed us to a stern to berth. We backed RR in and got sorted. I went to talk to our friend but he had no English but kept telling me to wait by using his hands and pointing at his watch.
I went back to RR and told Claire that I didn’t think this was the place we were meant to be in but if the cost was less than €100 a night we were staying even though it didn’t look like they had toilets and showers. They had water and electricity and we could us RR for toilets and showers.
I got the hose washing RR off before filling the water tanks to the brim. I didn’t want to plug us in to the electric or put the boarding plank on until I was sure we were staying.
Grace pointed out a sailing club opposite and said she thought that was the one she had called for the quote because she could see the logo on the wall recognising it from the web page. It looked like a proper club with a bar and everything.
We waited an hour for the boss to turn up. I went to the little hut / office by the sea wall to find out the cost. He had no English either but he kept pointing at the calendar, shrugging his shoulders. I pointed to three or 4 nights from the 13th onwards shrugging my shoulders in a very Italian way I also gesticulated a lot with my hands.
He scribbled in his pad €50 x 4 = €200 and kept underlining it. I nodded and shook his hand.
I went back to tell the girls the good news.
We spent the rest of the day doing jobs, walking to the supermarket and walking down the very grubby high street. I have, at last found somewhere with more rubbish on its streets than England.
Back on the boat Claire cooked us a lovely dinner and we planned tomorrows excursions accompanied by the sound of very low flying planes that were continuously water bombing the fires on Mt Vesuvius.
Friday 14th July
We were up and out reasonably early. Grace had always looked at ‘Trip advisor’ for ideas of what to see and do when she was travelling in Asia. On this site she had seen a recommendation for an underground tour of Naples viewing Greek and Roman architecture that had been buried by mud slides during the huge earthquake of 62 AD.
We thought this would be a good thing to do as we would be out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
We made our way into Naples using the train nearest the marina. I say this because there are two lines that run through Torre Del Greco one is a 10-minute walk with the other twice as far. The train was late due to a fire somewhere with the announcement board telling us that we had over an hour to wait. I walked back outside to see if I could see a taxi but I couldn’t. As I was walking back I noticed the train coming into the platform!! I ran as fast as my old legs would let me just making it as the doors were closing signalling to Claire and Grace to get on as they were further down the platform.
Boy was I out of breath. Not a good way to start the day. The train was very slow but we got out at the station we needed walking through the narrow streets looking for the San Lorenzo Maggiore.
The next English-speaking tour was in an hour at 15.00 so we wandered through the narrow streets looking at stall after stall with the same toot on which was mostly little painted scenes, clockwork models of men chopping wood etc or the heads of funny strange looking men atop a red horn or Cornetto as they say in Naples. These are supposed to protect against ‘The Evil eye’?
We found a little bar and sat outside with a beer looking at the world going by.
We made our way back to join a group of about 25 people and spent the next couple of hours being taken around some really well-preserved ruins that were all underground and at a very pleasant temperature. The tour guide was good and explained a lot of things to us. Such as the odd white piece of marble in an otherwise black path made of ‘Sampietrini’ a black shiny stone traditionally mined from the hills behind Naples. Well?.......It was to help show the way in the dark as white reflected the light better from the oil lanterns carried by people at night.
When the tour was finished we made our way back through the narrow streets to the central train station. Unfortunately the pleasant atmosphere seemed to change the closer we got to the station. The narrow passageways gave way to wider more modern streets. It was like we had walked into another place completely. My ‘looks like trouble’ antenna, tuned from growing up in Peckham, South East London started twitching. I told Grace to put her phone away. We had been using it to find our way. The girls clutched their bags a bit tighter. It's always hard to explain an ’atmosphere’ but I noticed more groups of men on street corners. Looking at us as we hurried past.
A man walked past us fast and said ‘Hold onto your bags around here’?!
We walked as if we knew where we were going, seeing the train station in front and to the right of us was a relief. We crossed the road and walked into the food hall. The ‘bad feeling’ evaporated as we mixed with travellers and commuters alike.
Once again Grace had come up trumps in discovering that there was an evening tour of Herculaneum. This only happened on Friday’s. We got the tickets from a machine then asked an attendant where the platform was. He looked at our tickets and said that we had got the wrong ones really that it was better to go on the other line to Herculaneum. Bugger. We thanked him and walked to the platform. We met an Australian female backpacker that had a long white silky nightdress on and converse boots. Her backpack was nearly the same size as her. I saw Grace look and shake her head. She was going to a hostel in Herculaneum. When the train came I helped her with her rucksack and wished I hadn’t. It was so heavy. She had boots tied to the outside and a great big thick woollen coat tucked into the straps.
We all got off and said our goodbyes. Grace said that she had met lots of people when she was traveling that carried far too much. The girl would have had to check the bag into the hold when she flew anywhere. I felt sorry for her as she struggled to put the backpack on. It was madness carrying something so heavy in this heat.
Anyway we found our way to the gates of the archaeological site of Herculaneum. It wasn’t a pleasant walk from the station. Rubbish and fly tipping everywhere we looked. I suspect that the ‘other station’ was in the better part of town.
We had a little time to wait for the tour to begin so we walked into the nicer area finding a small restaurant full of locals.
While we were eating we started thinking about how we would get back to RR as it would be around 22.00 when we got out. We asked the waitress about this. She said the trains stopped running from the nice station at 22.00 and the buses stopped at 21.30. I said that we would need to get a taxi then. It wasn’t far to the boat. The waitress said that the taxi’s stopped at 21.00!!!!! hahahahaa you couldn’t make this up. The taxi’s stop before the transportation system. I sensed a gap in the market here!!
After a bit of rapid fire Italian between the staff which included mum’s and dad’s the waitress said that one of the waiters would drop us back to the boat for €20. How nice was that.
We paid our bill and walked through the gates of Herculaneum into another world.
If you have been there then you know what I mean. It was far better than I thought it would be. You’re not seeing what’s left of the town, like we did in Ostia. You’re seeing an almost complete town. There were shops on paved streets, houses with roofs on, paintings on the walls, mosaic floors. A pub with a marble covered counter. A bakery with ovens and mills for grinding grain, large jars were found with olives and walnuts in side.
The baths were complete, even the compartmented shelves for your clothes was still intact. If it wasn’t for the 300 or so skeleton’s in the port storage areas and boat houses you could move in without too much trouble!! The level of preservation was unbelievable.
Our visit was a bit rushed but it was getting dark quickly and the guides had a hard job keeping us all together.
We were soon walking out of this wonderful place back to the restaurant to see if our waiter remembered his agreement with us.
We sat down and ordered a bottle of the rather nice house white at 9 Euro’s a pop it was crisp and refreshing, lovely.
We caught the waiters eye, what a strange saying that is, he nodded and 15 minutes later we were in his car being dropped off as close to RR as he
possibly could. What a fantastic end to a brilliant day.
There was no rest for us. The water bombing planes woke us up at 07.30 We have seen them flying every day from morning to nightfall since we arrived in the bay of Naples.
We were on the train to Pompeii by 10.00. We had to walk to the furthest train station and it was quite a way, maybe 20 minutes but all of it uphill!
I think we were all looking forward to seeing Pompeii. We got off the train, ignored the touts that were trying to scare us with stories of an hour and a half’s wait in the queue’s. Promising us easy access and a guided tour.
We bought a guide book and sat in a restaurant with a beer planning our route through this huge spectacle. I am sure you could spend days here if you wanted to.
We did have to queue, but only for 10 minutes.
Walking through the Porta Marina gate into the city was a good experience for me. Pompeii is high on the list of places that I’d heard about all of my life but never thought I’d visit. Like ‘the leaning tower of Pisa’ or the coliseum in Rome. It was fantastic to be walking into this famous historical site.
We had a great time wandering through the streets trying to imagine what life was like here until the 24th August 79AD when it all stopped. Vesuvius erupted destroying the lives of nearly 10,000 people.
There really is too much to write about here. We saw the casts of the bodies suffocated by the ash, the fabulous houses and temples. Incredible.
It's exhausting though so we treated ourselves to a meal out before going back to RR for a well-earned sleep.
Sunday 16th was a day of rest, well nearly. Grace and Claire walked into town to do the clothes washing in a lavenderia it was a long walk but unfortunately the place was shut even though it had opening times on the door which included Sunday’s so when they returned to the boat they did some hand washing instead while I washed the boat down. There were small pieces of ash on the boat from the fires on Vesuvius as the wind had got stronger and changed direction.
The water bombing planes, three of them now were hard at it.
On Monday the girls walked back into town with the washing. We were lucky in that the wind had changed direction slightly which meant we could hang it up on the boat to dry. This we did staying there until it was done, folded and put away.
We had the afternoon/evening free so we jumped on a train (the long walk one) to Sorento. I know I have said it before but the cost of train / bus travel in Italy is so cheap that it encourages you to visit places.
Sorento was nice but full of English tourists. One good thing about a lot of English in a town is that the supermarkets stock English foods and I found Branston pickle. I bought every jar they had!!!!!
My Nephew Roger and his girlfriend Jo intend to get married here next year and we were trying to imagine where the venue would be. There were some beautiful hotel’s perched on the cliff top with lovely views across the Bay of Naples. Well they would have been beautiful if it wasn’t for the haze caused by the fires.
We stopped in a restaurant for a very nice meal watching the sun burnt tourists go by.
We didn’t stay out out though as we were off to the island of Capri in the morning.
Tuesday 18th July 2017
We had no need to get up early but the water bombers didn’t care about us. We all went to the supermarket to help carry the shopping back. We intended to be at anchor for over a week so needed to stock up.
We left for the 4-hour sail to Capri just before midday. Unusually we set all sail 2 minutes after clearing the harbour heading straight for our destination on a very pleasant beam reach in 10 knots of wind. Perfect.
It must be having Grace on board as we have had some lovely sails since she arrived.
We were just off Sorento when the wind dropped away, we put the motor on going to check on a very small sailing boat that was drifting in the busy channel. As we got closer we waved at the two older people on board. They were fine. They had a scrap of sail up that wasn’t doing anything. They seemed to be chatting oblivious to all the large ferries, super yachts and pleasure boats that were hurrying back and forth to Capri.
We knew it was going to busy there and opted to find an anchorage on the South side of the island as light Northerly winds were forecast for the next few days.
We ended up in a nice spot just off Marina Piccola. As soon as the anchor was set we were in swimming in the beautiful clear warm water.
We had a lovely few days here. Exploring in the RIB, going ashore and catching the small bus that took us very quickly, up the twisty roads into Capri. The intention was to stay here for my 60th Birthday which was on the 22nd July but the restaurants were very expensive and the clientele very pretentious.
Claire and Grace were OK to continue so on the 21st July we sailed / motored down the beautiful Amalfi coast anchoring in a very calm spot just off the beach in Salerno.
I dropped Claire and Grace off so that they could do some shopping in town. I visited the four marina’s close to where we were getting a quote for 50 Euro’s a night but the pontoons were very exposed and very wobbly when I walked on them. The forecast was for very light winds over the next few days so I decided to stay at anchor.
When the girls came back they were really happy with Salerno. Saying that it would be a very good place to celebrate my Birthday.
We re-anchored RR so we were more protected by the groin of the marina. We had a swim although the water wasn’t anywhere near as nice as Capri.
About 22.30 the noise started!!!! I say noise you might say music but I doubt it. I think anyone would struggle with what we had to listen to. The compare, DJ whatever he was talked incessantly. Thank the saint of inner ear drums that we had ear plugs as it went on until about 04.00. I did however get some sleep. Most of it was between 04.00and 08.30.
Happy 60th Birthday!!!!! It's not everyone’s idea of how they would like to spend their special day but I was doing OK. It was great to have Grace with us and I know Joy would have loved to have been with me too just not on the boat!! She would have met me when I stepped foot on dry land. As for George he too would have liked to spend time with me on my Birthday but it is especially hard for us to arrange to meet up and I considered it an early Birthday present when we met in Bermuda a month or so ago.
I had cards and presents to open. Grace was still red in the face from blowing up over a dozen balloons. She didn’t even attempt to blow up 60!!! I had a birthday cake and an evening in Salerno to look forward to.
We left the RIB on a pontoon managed by one of the restaurants on the sea front and started the evening by changing a pair of shorts Claire had bought me.
Then we hunted down an Irish bar along the sea front that served Grace and I a very nice pint of Guinness. On then to a nice pizza restaurant called Criscemmuno with seats on the balcony overlooking the town.
Afterwards we walked through the lively town centre stopping at a pleasant bar for a few cocktails and a lovely selection of sweets and fruit all to be dipped in a wonderful dark chocolate sauce.
A very enjoyable night.
We had a slow start on the morning of the 23rd. We left just before midday for another very enjoyable sail to Agropoli. Agropoli is the nearest marina to Paestum which boasts a site with the finest Greek architecture to be found in Italy.
We decided to anchor just outside of the marina for the night to save a bit of money. There was hardly any wind and a slight swell.
Claire had just served our dinner, we were eating in the cockpit when a reasonable sized stink boat stopped and anchored right alongside us. I mean 5 – 10 meters away. There were about 15 people on board with a photographer and someone else flying a drone overhead. It was obviously a rented boat, probably a couple getting married as the photographer kept taking pictures of a couple on the fore deck but he was struggling to keep our washing, which was hanging on the guard rails out of shot.
I glared at the skipper of the boat a few times and after 15 minutes they moved off back into the marina.
In the morning we moved into the marina. They had 6 berths for boats in transit which were free!! There was no one around to help but we were ok. Claire bought us in, I jumped ashore and Grace threw me the stern lines. The idea was to stop here for the one free night your allowed before moving to a berth in the marina. As with Torre Del Greco the marina was made up of about 6 – 8 different concessions. Once we were settled I intended to walk to them all to get the best deal for us.
We had only just sorted the stern line when someone called to us. Talking in fast Italian, shaking their head. I jumped back on shore explaining with Italian type shrugs, saying non comprendi. This didn’t stop the man from going on and on. Eventually he stopped talking to me and started talking into his phone.
It didn’t look good. There was a large sign with a map of the marina and it clearly showed that where we were was for boats in transit.
Soon a little car pulled up and a guy hopped out and started speaking to me in Italian. I went through my act again but this time it worked. He started speaking in very broken English explaining that he was from the port authority, that tonight was the last day of the festival and we couldn’t use the transito berths.
He said he would find me another place but we would have to pay. He said we could come back here for a free night at the end of our stay. He drove off.
After 15 minutes he still hadn’t returned so I started walking up the marina wall to ask the different marinaro’s the cost of staying for a few nights. The first two pontoons had no staff on them. The third pontoon had a guy on who wanted 70 Euro’s I offered 50 and he said 60. I did my Italian shrug and walked on.
I had noticed that a few boats had left the pontoon at the very end of the marina. I walked there and talked to a marinaro that had reasonable English. He got out his phone and I was soon talking to his boss Marzio. He knew about us, evidently the port authority guy had spoken to him but hadn’t come back to tell us!
We could stay in his area. Backed onto the marina wall with power and electricity for 50 euro’s a night. Done.
As well as seeing the Greek temples at Paestum we knew that there was a spell of bad weather on its way and this was a good place to stay.
We moved the boat to its new spot, and got sorted out.
We went for a stroll in town but everything was shut, as usual. When will we learn not to go out between 12.00 and 16.30
We walked back to the boat past a few market type stalls that were also closed.
Marzio the boss came down for our papers and for the first time on our trip ever he asked to see proof of our competency to skipper a yacht. We showed him our RYA yacht-master certificates which he took away to make photocopies. He told us of the festival which would start in a few hours from now.
He pointed to a fishing boat telling us that the statue of Madonna di Constantinopoli, the towns patron saint of sea farers would be paraded from her church high on the hill overlooking the marina, through the town and placed on the back of the fishing boat to be paraded through the marina and out to sea followed by as many boats as wanted to take part.
Soon after he left we noticed people turning up in the marina dressed in their Sunday best. Families, groups of youngsters. There were loads of people lining the railings along the roads that overlooked the marina.
We got ourselves ready, locked the boat up and went to join them. We climbed the steps up onto the marina wall for a better look.
It was amazing. We could see the statue being held up high surrounded by a huge crowd. A band was playing. There was also women with large models of ships on their heads!!
Soon the statue was on the back of the fishing boat and everyone was jumping on board too. The boat looked seriously overloaded but no one seemed to mind.
It left its dock with dozens of boats following it out of the marina. There were many boats waiting outside of the harbour wall preparing to join the end of the procession.
It looked really dangerous but the saint was out there with them so it should all be alright!!
We walked back along the sea wall and up into town. It was like Christmas. The decorations were fantastic. Everyone was out. It was so busy but very good natured and very friendly.
We climbed up the path, then up the steps to the old part of town. We saw the church where the statue normally resides.
Soon we were in a nice cocktail bar overlooking the town. What a great place this was.
We walked back down into town passing street musicians and many people sitting out eating and drinking. We stopped at a fish bar and had a selection of fried fish and calamari’s……Mmmmmm.
We walked back to the boat through the stalls where Claire and Grace had a corn on the cob each.
Marzio was sitting on the boat next to ours with his wife and a few friends. We told him how lucky we thought we were to be able to watch the festival.
At midnight, a fantastic closing fireworks display started. It was lovely for us to be sitting on RR watching this with everyone else.
As we expected people were walking in and around the marina until the early hours but there was no trouble, no raised voices.
We slept well.
Tuesday 25th July didn’t go as planned.
The intention was to visit Paestum. But the toilet on RR had a different idea!!
It stopped working.
We have a Domitec Vacuflush on RR. I fitted it myself before we left England and it has been brilliant. It’s like the ones you get on planes. A vacuum, when released sucks the waste away into a holding tank. Well none of the above was happening. The motor got slower and slower until the circuit
Claire and Grace went shopping for food while I dismantled the toilet to try and discover the problem.
They came back quickly as the supermarket could only drop them back to the boat in the afternoon.
I called the tech support at LeeSan in England. He asked me to check the current draw at the motor which with Grace’s help I did putting a multi-meter in series with the motor. He also asked that I wire it directly to a 12v battery by passing all of the existing wiring which I did. The motor seemed to run OK but I thought it was still struggling.
Claire and Grace went back to the shops.
I flushed the system through with copious amounts of warm soapy water. Pumping it through by hand until only clear soapy water was coming out. That took a long time and was very messy if you follow my meaning.
I put it all back together again connecting it directly onto the battery again letting it run for quite a while. I do think that it was blocked somewhere but I seemed to be able to pump it through by hand ok so I’m not sure.
Anyway 8 hours later it was working again.
Annoyingly I can’t honestly say what the problem was. I need to by some spares as I have none on board but they are very expensive.
I had kept most of the mess in the bathroom and hosed everything down pouring disinfectant everywhere as I went.
When the girls came back I helped them get the bags from the van to the boat enjoying the fresh air. After it was all packed away Claire cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom again even though I had told her I had already done it!!
The toilet was still working so we were off to Paestum.
We walked through Agropoli to the train station for the short trip to Paestum.
Walking down the long track to the archaeological site from the station you pass through a large stone gateway that was a taster for what was to come.
At the end of the track you saw, for the first time one of the huge Greek temples. It really was amazing that this had stood, along with two others for over a thousand years. A THOUSAND YEARS!!!! It was fantastic.
We enjoyed walking around the site. There was not too much above knee height apart from the temples and the amphitheatre but it was a great place to visit.
We had lunch then looked in the excellent museum for an hour before walking back to the station. Our trains were a bit late but we got back to the marina before dark.
Boy have we seen a lot of history since Grace joined us. We are almost ruined out………
Thursday 27th July
We had a reasonably lazy day. I filled up RR’s fuel tank from my two trusty 30L plastic containers. They are the same ones I found in the skip when we stopped in Falmouth, England before we crossed the Bay of Biscay back in 2015. Then took them to be filled at the fuel dock a short walk away.
Mazimo exchanged an empty camping gaz bottle for a full one charging us only 10 Euro’s for the pleasure. The cheapest by far so far!
We generally tidied and prepared the boat ready to leave in the morning before walking into the old part of Agropoli. It really is worth climbing to the very top where you can see two or three old churches as well as a very well-preserved castle which had fantastic views of the surrounding coast and country side.
I took a picture of an old piece of wall where the plaster had fallen away. It really looked like, well to me any way a sinister, scary old man!!
We walked back down into town looking for a restaurant that had good wifi as we really needed to update this blog. We had done sooooo much since Grace has been with us.
We found a very nice place. The owner was OK for us to sit at a table inside next to a power point so we could plug the laptop in. Claire worked for nearly three hours to update the last section. It's hard to do though a bottle or two of Prosecco helped the process.
We walked back through the town just after midnight. We really had enjoyed our time here.
In the morning Mazimo was back with our documents and we paid 200 Euro’s for 4 nights. His wife was with him sporting a new plaster cast on her wrist and forearm. She had tripped over a crack on the harbour wall during the festival fracturing her arm. She was OK though and in good spirits.
We started the engine heading off along the coast to a bay recommended to us by Mazimo. We all waved goodbye to each other. Agropoli is on our ‘must return’ list.
We had intended to go straight to the Isola di Stromboli from Agropoli. It would have meant a 24 hour sail / motor which was OK but Mazimo was surprised that we didn’t want to see more of the beautiful Italian coastline and told us of a good place to stop which would split the trip to Stromboli into two. He was right, the coast line was beautiful and the bay he recommended ‘Baia degli infreschi’ literally meaning ‘the bay of good sleep’ was a beautiful horse shoe shaped cove.
There were mooring buoys all around the edge and Mazimo advised us that it was OK to raft up next another boat on the buoy if there were none free.
As we went in the sea breeze started to kick in. 15+ knots but it was completely calm inside. There were no vacant buoys so I decided to pick a buoy that had a small day boat on it surmising that it would leave sometime before darkness fell.
I prepared the lines as Claire took us in. Grace was on fender duty keeping one between us and the day boat. The nice bloke on the smaller boat helped a lot by taking my line, passing it through the ring at the top of the buoy before passing it back to me.
We were still sorting ourselves out when a 380 Lagoon Catamaran asked to come alongside us. We in turn helped them out and before long we were all settled.
I noticed the couple on the day boat fiddling with their sun canopy. One of the plastic fittings had broken and I assumed that it had happened when we came alongside them. I asked if that was the case but the nice bloke said that it had happened earlier in the day when another yacht came alongside them.
It was a hired boat and I assumed that they would get charged for it when they returned so I offered to have a go at fixing it. I lent him some tools so he could take it off and when I had it I could see that a ‘fix’ was pretty straight forward. I drilled a hole and inserted a small stainless-steel screw between the two parts pulling them together. When back on the boat you couldn’t tell that it had been damaged. One good turn and all that.
We put the RIB in the water and rowed around the small cove exploring all the little caves. We swam, relaxed before enjoying a very nice dinner.
The day boat went just before dark waving as they left.
The cat was leaving at 21.00 and I guessed that he was heading to Stromboli too as he would be arriving there just before dawn which was a good thing to do if you wanted to see the volcanic eruptions. It's not guaranteed of course but Stromboli has been bubbling away for ever.
So now we had the buoy to ourselves. The night was very still as was the bay. I was looking forward to a nice sleep but the Buoy had other ideas as it kept banging into the side of RR as there was no wind to keep us off it. It was big, over a meter tall with a large metal fitting on top.
I got up several times during the night to try to stop it happening. Trying fenders, pulling it tight to the front of RR, lengthening the mooring lines all to no avail. Grace, who was in the front cabin suffered the most. I was beginning to wish we had gone straight to Stromboli. Bloody bay of good sleep!!!!
We were up and on our way quite early. As soon as we were out of the cove we pointed our nose at the Isola di Stromboli which is in a group of islands called the Aeolian Islands. Stromboli isn’t the only active volcano in the group there is another on Isola Volcano.
It was quite a boring trip with no wind at all. We agreed to listen to an audio book to help us past the time. We had a few on board given to us by our friend Shaun Allen deciding on ‘The silk Worm’ by Robert Galbraith. Who it turns out is really J.K.Rowling the ‘Harry Potter’ author.
It was a good thing to do as you could still keep a good watch whilst listening.
We did see dolphins and our first turtles too. We saw two turtles on the surface but they dived as soon as we started to get closer.
As we neared Stromboli we could see white smoke emanating from the crater at the top of the mountain with a darker puff every now and then. When we were closer still we noticed large rocks thrown up and out by a small eruption to bounce down the side of the mountain splashing into the sea!! How exciting.
It was quite crowded in the anchorage but after a couple of attempts we managed to set ours in the rocky, black sandy bottom.
It was great to swim and relax in the sun watching the smoke billow out from an active volcano!!!
The following morning we took the RIB into town to find out about walking to the top of Stromboli to look into the crater. The guy at the desk was very honest about how tough the climb was. It costs 28 Euro’s each. You have to hire walking boots, take food and water, a torch with spare batteries, and spare clothing. It takes about three hours and is almost straight up. He said that the return journey was harder as you are often in black sandy ash up to your knees. Not the best salesman I have ever met but it made us consider alternatives.
I asked about our chances of actually seeing something when we had eventually got to the top. He said we would definitely see eruptions as the volcano was very active at the moment.
There were numerous boat trips at dusk for 50 Euro’s for the three of us which was tempting.
We stopped for a drink to discuss our options and I suggested that as it was such a calm evening we should go in our own RIB? It can’t be that far to motor around the island to the point where you could see the crater.
Well this is what we did. We went back to the boat. Claire cooked some pasta in tomato sauce for us to eat on the way. We had a bottle of wine, glasses and some paper towels. I also took some spare fuel with us.
We left just after 20.00 It actually took us about 30 minutes to motor around so we could see the eruptions. There was a one or two knot current running but fortunately there was a fishing buoy in a good spot that we tied the dinghy to. It was a lovely night. A lot of tour boats were coming around for the show but they were a lot farther out than us.
Within a few minutes we saw our first eruption. Red flames and black rocks shot skywards followed by a low rumble. It was fantastic to be sitting in the front row for this natural display of power.
We got out the food and wine. It tasted delicious and I laughed at what we were doing but I felt we were OK.
We probably saw 6 or 7 eruptions but only managed to catch a couple on camera as they happened so fast.
I started to worry about us getting back as it was fully dark now. We had been tied to the buoy for 30 or 40 minutes. We packed everything away and made our way back arriving at RR without a problem. That’s one night I won’t forget in a hurry.
We left the following morning passing the crater again motoring very slowly. We heard and saw several eruptions but without the red glow because of the bright sun it wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic.
We were heading for Isola Salina or ‘the twins’ because the island has two extinct volcano cones but the island still has subterranean activity.
On the way we snagged a fishing pot that got caught around the keel. We had to be careful un-hooking ourselves as the line on the floats was very thin nylon. Cutting yourself would have been very easy.
There is a little marina called Santa with anchoring outside. There were a few boats already at anchor.
We picked a nice spot quite close in as the sea bed fell away quite quickly. One hidden benefit to being close in is that the sun went behind the cliffs around 17.30 and we were plunged into glorious shadow!!
We spent a very nice afternoon swimming and snorkelling in the beautifully clear water.
We moved on again in the morning. This time to the shores of Sicily.
1st August 2017
We sailed, well motored actually as there is a huge high sitting over Sicily at the moment. We have not seen wind above 10 knots since entering the ‘Bay of very little sleep’. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining that much. It would be nice to sail but my main problem is the heat. It’s been in the high 30’s for a week or so now with no sign of any change.
Anyway we motored to Sicily seeing dolphins along the way in the unbelievably clear water which was brilliant for Grace as I think she loves seeing these beautiful mammals as much as Claire and I. We dropped our anchor 300M off the beach at a little place called Capo d’Orlando. It's so calm I honestly think that if we just turned off the engine we wouldn’t have drifted that far during the night.
We swam for a bit before taking the RIB to shore. The village was very small. We walked and had a drink in a little beach bar where I asked if there was a shop nearby? A guy with reasonable English explained that the next town which was just around the headland had all the shops.
We left and started to walk when the guy pulled up next to us offering us a lift to the supermarket. How nice!
The supermarket was a good one, I asked about a taxi back to the boat but the manager said he had a man that would drive us back with the shopping. I like Sicily!!
Well the offer of a lift back changed our shopping list dramatically in went bottles of Prosecco, Gin, wine and beer. We did buy some food too.
Unfortunately the little van only had one passenger seat so I went with him leaving the girls to walk back. When he dropped me off I got the food into the RIB deciding to motor back down the beach to pick up the girls before going back to the boat as we didn’t have much frozen stuff.
It was quite a long way for the girls to walk and I think they were pleased to see me.
Back on the boat Claire packed it all away. We swam some more before sitting down to a nice dinner.
The heat is incredible. We are all having trouble sleeping as there is not a breath of wind, nothing. Our little fans are running nonstop.
We saw a beautiful sunset. We have seen so many but I find it almost impossible not to take pictures of the spectacle.
We left the following morning after a swim and a sort out.
We were heading to Cefalú. Another very beautiful anchorage. We motored all of the way seeing just one other yacht. The sea is completely devoid of sailing craft with only a couple of fishing boats and two or three motor boats spotted during a 5-hour trip along this wonderful coastline. Where is everybody!! I find it very strange given the fact that we are in the holiday season here.
When we reached Cefalú we stopped at the fuel berth to top our jerry cans. This gave us a chance to look at the anchorage. It looked perfect. The sea wall extended a long way past the marina and fishing harbour giving good shelter from the prevailing NW winds should they ever decide to blow again!!
There was one yacht already there so we went to the side of her. This is where the 300m rule is a bit hazy. You couldn’t be 300m off the coast line and still be in the anchorage!! Oh well. It really was beautiful here and we decided to stay a couple of days.
More swimming, snorkelling and book reading.
We went into town on the 3rd August as there is a lot of history in this place.
We took the dinghy ashore paying 5Euros to leave it tied to a boat hire company’s pontoon.
We had a pleasant walk into town. Cefalú has been inhabited for a very long time.
First records are from around 396 BC. As is the case with these old places everybody seemed to have occupied it at some time.
I think we were all surprised by the busy, bustling town we walked into. Grace stopped at the first ‘Gelati’ shop and she and I had a wonderful ice cream before carrying on up the street where we walked into the main square which is dominated by a huge Norman cathedral considered to be the best example of its type.
Construction commenced in 1131 by order of King Roger, who wanted to give thanks after deliverance from a ship wreck.
After Claire and Grace had a look in the cathedral, there was a wedding taking place so access was restricted we walked on through the town down to the old harbour which is also an alternative anchorage. We stopped on the way to by some cannoli. I had never had one before but my brother in law Peter absolutely loves them so we posted a picture on line to wind him up!!
We decided to walk back to the main square for a drink passing a medieval laundry site on the way. Again this was a surprise to find in such a touristy town.
Back in the main square we sat at a very nice bar. I had G&T, Claire, a prosecco with Grace deciding on an Aporol spritzer. I first had one of these in Padova when we visited my friend Neil back in January. I didn’t like it at all!!
We sat there for an hour or so, watching the bride and groom leave the church in a three wheeled tuk, tuk bedecked in flowers.
We wanted something to eat before we returned to RR so we stopped in a restaurant with lovely views over the town and coast line.After a very pleasant meal we walked back to the tender and RR. What a great day.
After a swim we sorted the boat out for the next hop to our next anchorage at Porticello. The pilot book is a bit off putting in that it describes the harbour as ‘dirty, smelly and oily due to the large fishing fleet´. As we approached we could see the fishing fleet as well as cranes and lorries all along the harbour wall.
To our right was a very attractive bay under a high headland that had boats at anchor so we went there instead. The water was deep when we were the regulation 300m off the beach preventing us from seeing the bottom but we dropped the anchor anyway giving it a good tug with the boat to make sure it had set.
We spent a quiet night there staying on board, swimming when the heat became unbearable.
Grace had booked her return flight to England from Palermo on the 7th so our next stop needed to be in a marina near the airport.
Palermo is the obvious choice with a couple of places to choose from but I didn’t fancy being in the middle of a large city in this heat. Plus Palermo, unfortunately is a bit seedy struggling with an influx of illegal immigrants that are not helping the situation.
I had read in Captain’s mate, an online resource from the cruising association about a small harbour around the corner from Palermo that was only 4km from the airport. After a brief discussion, we headed for the town of Terrasini.
During this sail Grace received some bad news from England regarding one of her friends. She was quite tearful and very sad.
As this was to be Grace’s last trip on RR this time, she has told us she is coming back for more!!! We tried to sail as much as we could. We had the kite up in light winds before picking up a strong following breeze after rounding Capo Gallo. We were soon doing 6+ knots dead downwind with just the main up.
This lasted until we entered the bay where Terrasini nestled underneath a high rocky terrain.
We wrestled the sail down before putting out all the fenders and getting the lines ready. We didn’t really know where we were going and the wind aided by the sea breeze was touching 25 knots now.
In the pilot book it shows a fuel pontoon as well as concrete quay opposite. Our first plan was to get on the fuel pontoon to ask where we could go but that had a boat already on it. So Claire swung us round into wind bringing us briskly into the quay. Fortunately for us the wind was right on the nose when we were tied up here so we had no issues getting off again should we need to.
It was 17.00
I left Claire and Grace to look after the boat while I went to find out if we could stay here. It was very small with RR easily the biggest boat in the place.
I first asked a group of men who were dressed in logoed polo shirts and they said RR was too big for their section of the marina. They pointed me to the Guadia civil building. I rang the doorbell and two uniformed men came out. I asked them the same question. They shook their heads saying we couldn’t stay where we were and we would be asked to leave in two hours!! One guy did point to the last small marina concession so I went to ask there.
‘No problemo’ came the reply to my questions. We could stay as long as we liked for 50 Euro’s a night inclusive of water and electricity.
He indicated that we were to back onto the long pontoon at the end but we must lay out an anchor as we approached stern to!!!!
All of the exclamation marks at the end of the last sentence indicates our nervousness at this request. We have never had to do this manoeuvre before. So, we needed to back into the berth as normal dropping the anchor onto the sea bed when we were about two boat lengths out. Paying out the chain until the back of RR was nearly touching the pontoon before throwing the lines to the marinaros.
It sounds pretty straight forward and I suppose it is after you’ve done it half a dozen times. Ideally you need three people for this and as it happens we do have three at the moment.
The other problem is the wind. It was blowing at 25 knots at right angles to the pontoon. We were the first yacht in so we couldn’t even use a berthed yacht to ‘nudge up to’ while we sorted ourselves out.
I thanked the guy and walked back to tell the girls the good and bad news. Claire liked the good news. ‘yes we could stay as long as we wanted for 50 Euro’s a night’. She wasn’t very happy with the bad news ‘we have to drop an anchor going in stern to’.
We had a walk to the end of the quay where we could see where we needed to be. We talked through what we needed to do but the wind was the problem. It was still really blowing.
I only found out the above a few days later when we watched an experienced skipper do it!!
What we were going to do was wait on the quay for our allowed 2 hours hoping, with everything crossed that the wind would drop before we had to move.
Using a translator (you do understand that all the previous conversations were by sign language and Italian type shrugs!) on our phone I wrote down in Italian that we had never laid an anchor going stern to before so we were going to wait to see if the wind died down a bit before we attempted it. But we would be no longer than 2 hours.
I walked back to the marinaro, showed him the note. He just smiled and nodded.
Back at the boat I ran through what we were going to do a couple of times. We were so lucky that Grace was with us as I normally sorted out the lines while Claire stayed at the wheel but I was going to be at the bow with the anchor so Grace got my job which she was happy to do.
Unbelievably the wind started to ease.
By 18.00 we were seeing 5 – 10 knots. Time to go.
We moved off the quay with Claire setting us up for a stern to mooring. Grace had the stern lines sorted and I was at the bow ready with the anchor.
Claire bought us in perfectly, the marinaro gave me the nod to drop the anchor which I did. The only problem was the boat was going too fast for the motor on the windlass and the chain was being ripped through the gypsy rather than being fed through. I shouted to Claire to slow down a bit which she did. Grace threw the marinaro the lines hitting one of them in the face but we were in, Perfecto!!
Drinks all round.
As we were sipping our G&T’s a large passenger ferry pulled into the quay where we had been…….so that’s why we were told that we had to leave in two hours.
We tidied up the boat. I hosed RR down washing all the salt and dust off her then filled the water tanks.
The electricity went off a couple of times during the day with the marinaro’s saying that parts of the town go out every now and then because of the higher demand due to the influx of mainly Italian tourists.
Grace was talking about flying home a couple of days early because off the bad news she had received. We really didn’t want the trip to end on such a sad note but wanted her to feel free to decide for herself. She spent a lot of time on her phone talking to and messaging her friends.
Later that evening she told us that she had decided to stay until her flight on the 7th which was great news for us.
There was two or three clubs along the front which were probably going to keep us up to the early hours anyway so we decided to cheer Grace up a bit by going out,out.
We left the boat just after 23.00 already a bit tiddly after more than a few drinks on board, walking to the bar at the end of the beach.
It was really lively with cocktails for €5 each. You had to pay for your drinks at one till before queuing again to get your drinks.
I had a long island ice tea which was like rocket fuel. They don’t use measures out here they just pour in the alcohol until the glass is full. Very soon I was performing my ‘walk to the dance floor dance’ for Grace and Claire which is a Peter Kay sketch / thing. The Italians didn’t get it at all…….
We had a few more drinks there before making our way back towards the boat.
Luckily I found one of those poles that are stuck very deep into the ground. I am sure they go almost to the centre of the earth. To sober people they look just like any other street sign but when you’re drunk you recognise them for what they really are. They are like the masts that hot air balloons used to tie onto to stop them floating away. We all hung on for a while before we let go to float on down the street.
Grace stopped at a bar called Sinus she spent a few minutes trying to persuade the bouncer on the door to give us the WiFi pass word as we could ‘see’ them from the boat. No luck whatsoever.
We made it back to our little marina at about 03.00. I thought we were all doing really well considering. The marinaro/night watchman must have thought differently because he escorted us down the wobbly pontoons and up the plank onto RR to make sure we didn’t fall in!!
Grace wasn’t feeling to good. I wasn’t either and I think we were both sick at some stage during the night / morning. Thankfully Claire wasn’t so bad and she looked after us both.
Needless to say we had a slow start the following morning. I am very lucky in that I don’t suffer from hangovers but unfortunately Grace didn’t inherit those particular genes from me and was suffering quite badly.
Later that morning we were lucky in being able to witness a right way and a wrong way when berthing stern to with the anchor in a strong cross wind.
First the right way.
A lovely boat, a Riva 48 entered the marina being helmed by a slight woman with long grey hair. The marinaro’s informed her that she needed to drop the anchor before coming in stern to.
She set the boat up pointing away from the pontoon at a 45° angle about two boat lengths out with the front of the boat in line with where she wanted to end up. She then asked a male crew member who didn’t seem very experienced at all to drop the anchor laying out the chain as the wind slowly swung her round and towards the pontoon. When her stern was close to the pontoon she threw a line to the marinaro’s who tied her stern on stopping her swinging any further taking in any slack on the anchor chain at the same time……simples.
Now the wrong way
Later that same day a 48 ft Jeanneau came into the marina and was told the same thing by the marinaro’s.
On the helm was a middle aged man with his wife and five teenaged girls who we assumed were his daughters and some of their friends.
His solution was the same as ours in that he set himself up about two and a half to three lengths out reversing very quickly while his wife dropped and paid out the anchor chain. The difference between him and us was the wind.
Very quickly the wind was pushing him towards the recently arrived Riva 48. He started to turn the stern away from it increasing speed at the same time but the windlass couldn’t keep up. All of a sudden there was a lot of noise as the chain went tight as the anchor dug in stopping the boat dead!! I was expecting to see the windlass ripping out the front of the boat.
The wind spun the stern around narrowly missing the Riva.
The experienced lady helm on the Riva immediately started her engine because she knew what was likely to happen next.
As the Jeanneau swung past they started dragging their anchor as they were lifting it at the same time. Their anchor snagged the chain of the Riva lifting it clear out of the water. What a nightmare for the helm on the Jeanneau.
The marinaro’s were brilliant they were quickly out in their boat lifting the Riva’s chain off of the Jeanneau’s anchor before dropping it back in the water.
The Riva’s helm pulled in the slack chain using her windlass while keeping the engine in slow ahead to keep her stern off of the pontoon.
A marinaro boarded the Jeanneau, talked to the skipper who reluctantly went to control the anchor while the marinaro set up the boat in a similar fashion to that of the Riva earlier. Dropping the anchor to let the wind blow the stern around and onto the pontoon.
You can learn a lot by just sitting quietly in a marina!!
An hour or so after all this drama another yacht came in. The wind had dropped by now so they just reversed up to the pontoon ignoring the marinaro’s instruction to drop their anchor. There were two men and a woman on board.
The marinaro’s had just finished tying their lines when a woman asked in English ‘how much a night?’ 50 euros came the reply. ‘How much for the year’ she said in the very next breath!! The marinaro, quite rightly was confused by the question so she asked again but louder. He said the marina was closed during the winter. She raised both her hands in frustration let go her lines and motored off.
Grace was OK by early evening. We wanted to eat out as it was to be her last evening with us. We went for a stroll through the town. Ending back at the bar we frequented the previous night for the ‘hair of the dog’ (we wondered where that saying comes from? Apparently it's to do with being bitten by a rabid dog with the only cure for rabies being a drink of some sort which must include ‘the hair of the dog that bit you’)
Anyway I had a Long island Ice tea, Grace had a beer with Claire opting for Fanta.
We all agreed that we needed something to eat so we walked back to a pizzeria that overlooked our marina.
We had a nice table outside on the balcony. We had just been given our food when all of the lights went out. There were candles on the table and Grace shone her battery pack light through a blue water bottle for a bit of added ambiance.
We really enjoyed our food with Grace and I having a coffee cream dessert to finish it off nicely.
We made our way back to the boat for a well earned rest.
The following morning we walked to the Floria Park hotel which was up on the hill overlooking the bay. Claire wanted to visit the spa and while she was in there Grace and I were happy to sit in the hotels lounge in air conditioned happiness.
We had a Panini in a beach bar before making our way back to the boat so that Grace could pack her things
We were all a little subdued because she was leaving us.
Grace has been on RR for almost 5 weeks. She fitted in well with our routine which I suppose wasn’t that hard given that we don’t really have a routine more an alternative lifestyle.
She added to the enjoyment of everything we did together. Helping with her suggestions of what and when to look at the many sights we had seen after consulting the internet on her phone.
She quickly learned to do things around the boat without being asked a second time.
Helping me to find the wiring fault was a massive thing as it was slowly driving me mad.
I am very proud of her.
I will miss her smile.
I won’t miss her eating all of my biscuits though!!
Her taxi arrived at 19.15 after a few hugs we waved her off.
I was a sad Dad.
Tuesday 8th August
We had a few jobs to do before we could leave the following morning.
The first was washing. We had two lots of bedding to do as well as a lot of clothing. The marinaro told us of a lavanderia in town so we stuffed everything into our two large rucksacks and a shopping bag before trudging up the hill into town.
It was another blisteringly hot day, easily 40° with very little wind. We have had three weeks of this weather now!!
Anyway we found the lavanderia but it wasn’t a self-service one, we had to leave it for the mum and daughter who ran the business to do which was sort of alright but they said it would be ready by Friday. That was no good at all. We wanted to leave in the morning. The mum who spoke reasonable English took pity on us saying that we could have it back in the morning but it wouldn’t be dry. That was ok because drying clothes in this heat was not a problermo.
Next we went to a mini market for some food. We couldn’t get all we needed in one trip so we got a few things and made our way back to the boat deciding to do another trip to the shop later in the afternoon when it might be a little cooler if a sea breeze developed.
Later we went back to the shop which was a twenty-minute uphill walk away. Needless to say it was still very warm. We had a lot to get and I asked the young manager about calling us a taxi to drop us back to the boat. His English was as good as my Italian but he understood well enough to say that he would drop us back for free. ‘No Taxi’ he said with a shake of his head.
We got all that we wanted in his shop as well as a few things we didn’t want after he told us that this or that was grown on his father’s farm. One of the things was a big purple, white vegetable thing. We have no idea what it is.
I also asked him about ice as I wanted to help the fridge onboard RR cool all of this food down as it was currently struggling in the heat.
He shouted for one of his staff, spoke to him in rapid Italian and I was off following this lad who was pushing a shopping trolley down the road turning the corner at the end. Soon we were outside a fresh/frozen fish shop more rapid Italian then a big lad came out with a huge sealed plastic sack full of ice!! He wouldn’t take any money so I ran into the shop to buy some frozen salmon fillets as thanks.
We pushed the trolley back to the car where we loaded everything into what turned out to be his sisters car. He drove, stopping right outside the marina entrance, helped us unload the car before driving off waving away all my offers of payment!!
I really like Sicily.
We got everything back on the boat packing all the bottles / cartons that were to go into the fridge in a collapsible bucket covered in ice.
I still had over half a sack full of ice so I dug a hole in its centre placing my pint of G&T in it to cool while I filled the tanks with fresh water.
We were off to Isola Favignana a small island in the Egadi marine reserve of the coast of Sicily near Trapani but first we needed to collect the washing.
We walked back up the hill to the lavenderia.
The mum had everything ready for us when we arrived. It was in 4 large plastic bags that were quite heavy as all of the clothes / bedding was wet.
I started packing it all into the rucksacks ready to carry back to the boat. We had done this many times before but the Mum was having none of it.
She kept shaking her head saying it was too heavy, too far and too hot to carry it to the marina.
I didn’t want to be rude but I did want to get going as we had quite a few hours sailing in front of us so I kept trying to pack the rucksacks.
The Mum talked to the daughter and soon we were bundled into the daughter’s car to be driven down to the marina. Again there was absolutely no question of her accepting payment for this very kind service.
Can you imagine that happening anywhere in today’s England!!
We paid and said our goodbyes to the marinaros before Claire dropped our stern lines while I wound in the anchor chain with the windlass.
The anchor came up without a problem.
We have had a brilliant time here in Terrasini.
Sicilian’s have again proved themselves to be the most kind and considerate people.
Within 5 minutes of leaving the harbour the sails were up and the engine was off. We were reaching in 10 knots from the SW. Perfect.
We had a boat full of wet washing so Claire strung washing lines up below hanging the bedding out to dry first. We also strung a couple of lines in the cockpit rotating the clothes as they dried. Not very seaman like but needs must.
By the time we turned the corner at Capo san Vito it was all dry which was great as the wind was starting to build, unfortunately the new course bought the wind bang on the nose.
I wound the genoa in but left the main up before starting the engine.
I didn’t moan too much but sat there with everything crossed hoping that it would slowly veer to allow me a sail as we passed Trapani on the approached to the Egadi islands.
We were about three hours out and I couldn’t stand it anymore. We had 20 - 25 knots south westerly and by bearing away slightly I could sail almost in the right direction.
We put a reef in the main and genoa before turning the engine off. Great.
We were heading for the southern tip of Isola di Levanzo.
The sea was dark blue with white tips everywhere.
There were a few noises from down below as some of our stuff settled into new positions as the boat heeled in the strong breeze.
There are a few very shallow spots around Trapani but they were all well marked as it's quite a busy industrial port.
We went in as close as we dared to Isola Levanzo before tacking back out.
It was a busy piece of water. Nothing like the Solent on a Sunday afternoon but enough to keep things interesting.
RR was enjoying it as much as we were. I wanted a sail in strong winds to help wash away the memories of the hard sail we had to Ostia a month or so ago.
Soon it was time to tack again as we headed for the harbour / marina at Favignana.
It looks like we found all of the yachts that we had been looking for these last few weeks as we sailed around the North coast of Sicily. They were all here crammed into the small harbour.
As we were wondering what to do a RIB approached us offering to take us to a berth in the marina. That was kind of the man I thought. I asked how much? ‘Only 120€’ he said. ‘That includes Water and electricity’ I should hope so!!
We thanked him for his kind offer and looked for somewhere to anchor. The harbour was already too busy so we went just outside. The water was clear so we looked for a nice patch of sand in between the large beds of sea grass. It took 3 or 4 attempts before we were happy. We sorted the boat sitting for our customary G&T and Prosecco while we looked at the other 6 -8 yachts anchored around us.
It was a very nice spot with an Aragonese castle perched on the highest hill.
We had a nice night on board sleeping well as the slight swell rocked the boat.
Our fourth wedding anniversary.
The day didn’t start too well as we had to move RR. An official looking guy in a large wooden tender asked us nicely to move. When I asked why he pointed to a large-ish tanker that was heading our way. Most of the other yachts around us were already moving so we pulled the anchor, motored a hundred meters or so before making sure it was put back down in a nice patch of sand.
We ended up quite close to another yacht. It was an Xc-42 called ‘ Le Tre Sorelle’ The people on board were speaking English and I waved to make sure that they didn’t think that I was too close.
The tanker came in stern first dropping his anchor before the guy in the wooden tender took a couple of lines to the shore.
I have rarely seen a little harbour so busy. Apart from all the yachts, RIB’s local fishing boats and Guardia civil zipping in and out there were two car ferries a day, one large passenger ferry a hydrofoil every half hour from 07.00 to 21.00 as well as a fast cat service every hour.
The water never got a chance to be calm. It was ok where we were but Claire didn’t really want to leave RR to go ashore. Now that we had re-anchored we needed to give it a few hours to make sure we weren’t dragging.
The weather forecast was for stronger winds to come in later that afternoon so we decided to stay on board which was a shame as I wanted us to have a nice meal out by way of a celebration.
Our first anniversary was in Harlingen
Our second in Lisbon
Our third in Barcelona
And it looked like our fourth was to be on board RR anchored off Sicily. Oh well.
We had a nice surprise when we received a call from Johan and First mate Millie congratulating us on our anniversary. We were lucky enough to have them share our second in Lisbon. They are a very nice couple.
Our decision to stay on board proved to be correct as by late afternoon the weather changed for the worst in a very unusual way.
Very low cloud, moving quite fast swept over the hill to our left. It clung to the hills swirling through the gaps in the rock, obscuring the castle completely. It quickly blanked out the sun before moving across the sea towards Trapani. The cloud was in a long straight line which reminded me a bit of the squall line that we went through while sailing with Steve and Fiona on ‘Supertramp’
It was quite creepy really looking like something from an old ghost film.
Then the wind arrived, it was strong with gusts shaking the rigging quite violently.
By nightfall I started to see flashes of lightening accompanied by the low, menacing sound of thunder rumbling and reverberating around the hills. It started to rain. It should have been something to celebrate as we haven’t seen rain for months but it just added to the apprehension I was feeling about the night ahead.
There was nothing we could do really. We had our anchor drag alarms on which would hopefully sound off if we started moving.
Claire cooked us a nice meal which we ate whilst watching a film on the laptop. The boat was being pushed around but the alarms stayed silent.
The wind started to ease about one in the morning before coming back from a completely new direction. Not as gusty though but strong enough to make sure we had a restless night.
We did eventually get some sleep.
One good thing about this change in the weather was that it was a lot cooler. I remember reaching for a sheet to pull over me in the cabin as I was feeling chilly!!!! I haven’t done that for about 6 weeks.
We planned to move on in the morning.
Friday 11th August
The wind was still blowing 15+ knots as we left the anchorage. We put the main and genoa up with a reef in each.
We had a gusty reach along the shore of the island before turning down wind onto a run that lasted hours until we reached our new anchorage at Mazzara del Vallo which is on the main island of Sicily. The coast was very different here. Gone are the dramatic rocky hills rising just behind the coastline that we had seen virtually since leaving Ostia. Everywhere was now flat with some stretches reminding us of Essex.
There was a yacht already there so we dropped our anchor a bit further out. There was loads of room and we were very well protected by the long sea wall. We feel safe in our new location and after dinner we fell into bed for a very long sleep.
Saturday 12th August
The water is a lot colder here for some reason!!
Claire normally just jumps straight in whereas I go down a step at a time but she didn’t here. I was sort of pleased to hear her squeals as I knew that our fridge would be working more efficiently, using less battery power to cool its contents.
What a kind and considerate man I hear you say!!
We saw the couple on the boat next to us. It was an aluminium lifting keeled Ovni about the same size as RR called ‘Anori’. They got in there tender to go into town. We waved at each other as you do.
When they returned a few hours later we called them over inviting them onboard for a coffee.
They were a Swiss couple called Miya and her partner (unfortunately we cannot remember his name). Luckily for us their English was good enough for us to have a decent conversation.
They had bought their boat in Greece and were sailing it back out of the Med with intentions of crossing the Atlantic in her.
Neither had any real experience sailing yachts and we talked about their experiences so far. They loved Greece finding it hard to leave after spending 11 months there both agreeing that it was the perfect place to learn and practice their sailing skills.
They were a very nice couple and we agreed to have a drink on their boat the following day.
After they left we also went into town. We took our tender into the marina. Passing a whole fleet of large, ocean going trawlers moored in the huge harbour. Apparently this fleet is the largest in the whole of Italy.
The marinaro’s in the yacht marina were happy for us to leave our tender there asking nothing for the favour.
Mazzara del Vallo was a very pleasant town. It was a little touristy but for the Italian market. We heard no English spoken at all.
After dumping our rubbish in the re-cycling bins, we walked a few meters down a side street before we were stopped by a man who after discovering we were English indicated with very few words that we should go and walk through the doors which were about 20 meters away.
There was nothing about this guy that rang any alarm bells with me so we went and I am so glad we did.
We walked through lovely old wooden doors into this beautiful little theatre. It was so small but perfectly formed.
The wood panelling forming the upper tiers looked like it had been rescued from ships planking as did the wooden ceiling.
There was no information on its history or anyone to ask but I will find out a bit more about this lovely place when we get a decent internet connection.
We then found our way to the high street stopping for a coffee to watch the world go by.
When we were done we walked to the supermarket to buy food and drink to last us for a few days as we intended to go into a marina soon.
We walked back towards the harbour past an old stone arch which is all that’s left from a Norman castle built in 1073.
Back on RR we had a nice meal and a relaxing evening as well as a very good night’s sleep.
Sunday, a day of rest.
Out of respect we did little or nothing except read a bit.
Later that evening we took our RIB over to ‘Anori’ clutching a bottle of white wine and some lemonade.
After the obligatory three kisses we explained that in England it is customary for the invited to bring a bottle to the gathering as they seemed surprised that we had bought wine. We have had this before mainly with the Dutch. When they invite you it's to drink and eat their offerings. It's almost an insult to bring your own as you’re sort of suggesting that you’re not going to like what they have got for you. That said everything normally gets drunk anyway.
Their boat was so similar to ours, inside and out that we all agreed that it was as if they had been designed by the same man. We felt completely at home.
We had a very nice time. Laughing long into the night. Sailors are, almost without exception very nice people.
We both intended to leave in the morning with us moving further South and Miya and partner intending to stop at Isola de Favignana before looking at a crossing to Sardinia.
We said our goodbyes, I hugged instead of kissed but that’s OK. We were friends now.
In the morning it was so still.
We had a very restful night probably helped by the alcohol.
I laid in our bed and tried hard to feel the boat move. Nothing, it was as if we had been picked up and placed on shore during the night.
I got up, put the kettle on and stepped outside to find that the water was like a sheet of glass, transparent without a single ripple to spoil the illusion.
I looked down at the sea grass 6 meters below and it was as if we had been picked up during the night and placed in a field of long grass. It was really weird.
I tried to take a picture but it was almost impossible to capture the illusion.
The squeal from the kettle whistle broke the spell and I hurried below to turn it off before Claire got up to do it.
We were soon on our way, we said our goodbyes motoring away in the general direction of Sciacca.
The trip was uneventful.
We anchored just off the harbour wall outside Sciacca marina. Our intention was to go in as we were running low on water but when I called they said they were full. They also told me that there was no Aqua to be had at the fuel berth either….Mmmmm.
I was surprised that the marina was full as we had seen very few yachts during our trip around Sicily apart from those in Favignana.
The weather was very calm so we decided to stay where we were for a couple of nights whilst being careful with our water.
Tuesday 15th August
By 16.00 we were in our tender motoring into the harbour. Again the marinaro’s were happy for us to leave it tied up in a corner for no charge.
We walked through the slightly run down area around the marina and up a huge flight of steps that took us into the main part of town. We were standing in a very nice paved area overlooking the sea. There was a temporary stage at one end, I remember hearing music of sorts last night. With lights, speakers etc which I assumed was being dismantled.
We walked up through the town which was full of narrow streets, shops and restaurants. Everything was closed though. I was a bit fed up as we had left it late in the afternoon hoping that the shops would be opening at 16.30 – 17.00.But It looked like a ghost town.
We found a little bar stopping for a beer and a sandwich.
We sat there for an hour catching up with stuff using their WiFi.
We paid and left certain that the shops would be open now but no. Everything was still closed. It was a Tuesday??
The strange thing was we didn’t need to go into any of these shops but the place felt really dead with them closed as there were no people about.
We did a big circuit of the town walking past the thermal baths which have been used in one form or other since the Greeks realised that the warm waters and vapours had healing properties. Apparently the Greeks carved seats into the stone. Inscribing above each seat a particular disorder that may be cured if a patient were to sit in that particular place!
Claire and I wanted to go in but they were closed. Shame.
Our walk bought us back into the centre of town which was still very quiet with nothing open apart from a few bars.
We were standing opposite the large Basilica / Cathedral wondering what to do when a man walking past stopped saying ‘I heard you speaking English right’ in an American accent. ‘Yes’ I said. He carried on informing us of the big festival that was happening in the town that evening with a large marble statue of Mary Magdalena being paraded through the town at 19.00 before the music and fireworks started. The whole town will be out on the streets. We thanked him for the information as we walked away.
That explains why everything was shut. The whole town gets the day off to prepare for the festivities.
We decided to walk back to the little bar and have another drink while we waited for the parade to begin.
We passed a strange tower like building that had an information plaque fixed to it.
The plaque explained that a Baron Porello fearing for his life due to a disagreement with another family in the town appealed to King Charles V for help and protection. King Charles sent his master at arms Jerome Statella and his family to the town to protect the Baron but shortly after his arrival the tower was attacked and everyone inside was killed and thrown out of the windows into the street where we were now standing…Lovely.
We slowly made our way back to the basilica to find that the doors were open with people going in to look upon the Madonna before she was paraded through the streets starting at 19.00.
We went inside to find the large and obviously heavy marble statue being decorated with many glittering garlands, ribbons and trinkets.
We sat in the cathedral for a while as it was quite cool in there before going outside to find a spot where we could watch the goings on.
The large square was slowly filling up. Band members materialised from the crowd clutching their instruments.
Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best even though it was a Tuesday. Large women were wobbling around on small shoes.
A group of older women stood in front of our position which was on a shop step giving us a slightly better view. They never stopped talking. As a new member arrived they made a space in the circle without drawing breath.
It was close to the time now. The band struck up with a few jaunty tunes. Police, ambulance men and a lot of men dressed in blue went into the church.
The old women had noticed that we were on a step. With a few sweet smiles as they elbowed me in the ribs I was suddenly on the pavement with two of the smaller women now on the step. Claire was still up there but relinquished her position after being made an offer she couldn’t refuse….you have to remember we were in Sicily!!
All eyes were on the church doors as the Madonna emerged being carried on the shoulders of about 50 men, who were straining under her weight.
They paused at the top of the steps before plunging, quicker than planned it seemed down and into the middle of the huge crowd.
They carried her out of the square and into the streets. Everyone was following so Claire and I went too.
There was a fantastic atmosphere, No pushing and shoving just following the people in front.
We ended up in the large piazza overlooking the sea. The Madonna was off again after the men had a bit of a break. We were getting hungry and the waitress in the bar had told us of a good restaurant which was on this Piazza.
We ducked out of the crowd and were lucky to find a table that looked over the marina. I realised that I hadn’t left a mooring light on and RR was very hard to spot although I do have a small solar light that would be seen by other boats on the water.
The food here was delicious
After we had eaten we went back out to join the crowds. A band was playing on the stage. Claire and I had a little jig about before starting the long walk down the steps to our tender and RR.
What a great night.
We woke, had a cup of tea then readied the boat for departure. We need to find water so decided to stop at a place called Porto Empedocle.
There was very little wind as we motored along the coast. The coastline was interesting with many changes in the colour of the rock formations. It was also quite shallow in places which was usually highlighted by RIB’s with their blue and white ‘divers in the water’ flags flying.
We entered the marina and was hailed by a marinaro on a very small and crowded pontoon. He was disappointed that we only wanted water and not a berth for the night. For a minute it seemed as if he was going to send us away so I asked him how much for a night while Claire backed us in to the only available spot which was a corner of the pontoon. He handed us the water hose and asked the length of our boat before going into his little shed.
The water was pouring into our tanks and I was hoping that he would take a while before coming back out as Claire and I didn’t want to spend a night here.
Some other people came down the ramp to talk to him which delayed him a while longer. By the time he got back to us we were over half full. 85 Euros he called out. I shook my head saying too much, quickly adding that I would give him money for the Aqua. That seemed to cheer him up a bit. Claire had 5 Euros in change which I handed to him as I passed the hose back after both tanks were filled to overflowing.
We motored just outside the marina dropping our anchor between two large breakwaters. It wasn’t a proper anchorage but the night was so calm that we felt we would be OK.
We had nice long showers before going to bed.
We left in the morning for Licata. As we motored away from the anchorage our eyes were on the mainland as there was a Greek temple to Neptune, very similar to those we saw at Paestum close to the town of Agrigento that could be seen from the sea. We finally spotted it perched on a ridge. Once again I find it incredible to think that it has stood here since being constructed in 582 BC.
We have noticed as we moved down this southern coast of Sicily that we have had a very helpful 1 -2 knot tide with us.
We were intending to go straight into Licata but the weather was so calm and peaceful that we decided to stay outside at anchor for a couple of nights to save a bit of money.
We pulled the anchor up after preparing RR to go into the marina. Another British yacht had joined us the day before and as we motored past we slowed to say hello. The boat was a nice looking Bowman 40. The couple on board, Ross and Lisa asked if we were going into the marina as they were going to stop here for the winter. We told them that we were considering it for a winter stop also. They said that they might be able to get us a better discount by saying that we were part of their group.
They were going in too so we agreed to wait to talk to them before going to the office.
Claire bought us in and we sorted ourselves out.
Licata had good reports from many sources about the very well protected marina. The supermarket was very close, less than 5 minutes walk. The town was less than 10 minutes away on foot and there was a Lidl here as well. The toilets and showers were clean and very modern. It had a well stocked chandler on site as well as a launderette. A yard was close by where we can be hauled out and airports at Palermo and Catania an hour or so’s drive away.
If the price was right I think we would be happy to stay here.
Both Claire and I are ready to stop soon which is very different from the year before when we entered Olbia towards the end of November.
We both feel like we have had a busy year which is a bit cheeky seeing as we are both retired. When we look back at 2017 our adventures started with Jayne and Graeme exploring Sardinia. In January we had the brilliant trip to Venice with Neal and Erica, then to England for a month before joining Steve and Fiona in the Caribbean. Sailing over 1500 miles to Bermuda then onto Hampton, Virginia. The drive up from there to stop in New York for a few days before flying back to Sardinia to continue in the Med picking up Grace in Rome on the way.
I know I’m getting old but I feel like a rest.
Soon Ross and Lisa came in and we went with them to the office. Ross explained that we were one of the boats in his group and should be included in the discount.
Ideally we would like to stop from September to the beginning of May which is 8 months! that seems a very long time I know.
The girls in the office who were brilliant by the way gave us a month for free as we were members of the Cruising Association as well as an extra 10% off for being part of Ross and Lisa’s group. So it worked out at 1450 Euro’s for 8 months, about 6 euro’s a day. Water and electricity was not included but unlike Almerimar where you paid 3 Euro’s a day no matter what your consumption here you have a prepaid fob which you top up as and when required. Which for RR I expect to pay less than a Euro a day.
So we signed up.
By way of celebration and to make up for missing out on our 4th wedding anniversary we asked the girls in reception to recommend a good restaurant in town. After a bit of quick fire banter between them Alessandria picked up the phone and reserved us a table for 20.00 at a little restaurant in called the ‘Donna Rosa’ which was a 10 minute walk from the marina.
We met Ross and Lisa thanking them for helping us to get an extra 10% before walking around the corner to the large Conad supermarket that was surrounded by other stores within a large air-conditioned shopping centre.
On the way back we stopped at the chandlers where I bought a large anode. When we got back to the boat I ran a wire from a bolt on the engines gearbox, fiddling it through the engine compartment out through an air vent before attaching the new anode to it and dropping it over the side.
My reasons for doing this is that the anode on the underside of the boat is nearly gone. It has been eaten away by galvanic action. As it should be but I am worried that my propeller will be affected unless I replace it but I can’t replace it without lifting the boat out of the water which is expensive so my solution is to wire a temporary anode back to the same connection as the permanent one, leaving it there until I do lift the boat later in the year. Fingers crossed that it works.
Later that evening after a long shower we walked through the town, which unsurprisingly was in the middle of a fiesta to the restaurant. It didn’t look that clever from the outside but inside it was perfect. We had a table outside, the service was great. The food and wine delicious and I had the best tiramisu I have tasted so far in Italy. Wendy and Alan treated us so thank you very much x
I think we are going to like it here.
Sunday 20th August
A slow start before going back to the supermarket for a big shop.
Our winter deal started from the 1st September and until then it was 55 Euros a night so we planned to visit Malta for a week or so before returning.
We had also been invited to a BBQ by the live aboard community which apparently was a regular Sunday occurrence.
The rules for the BBQ were that you took along something for you to eat, something for everyone to share and of course something to drink.
It was held in a shady purpose built tiled area with two BBQ pits and a sink with running water. There were also wooden picnic type tables and chairs all clean and in good order.
There were about 16 – 18 people, mainly French and English. The atmosphere was very friendly with all offering food and drink to each other. We sat with Ross and Lisa and enjoyed talking to them.
After we had all finished we cleaned up and left it as we had found it. We went back with Ross and Lisa to carry on drinking on their boat.
Claire had clothes washing to do.
I decided to see if I could stop the ingress of water that appeared to be seeping in through the stud that went through the hull to the anode.
I assumed that as the anode was now almost completely eaten away the seal had been affected. I took all the covers off around the engine cleaning around the stud. I sat and watched it for a few minutes hoping to see exactly where the water was coming in.
To my surprise it wasn’t it wasn't coming from the stud at all but from up higher running past the stud to give me the impression that it was leaking.
I followed the drips back and upwards to where they were coming from under the fuel tank?? I first thought it was condensation but the tank was completely dry.
Claire was back now so I got a tea spoon and asked her to scoop up some water out of the bilge and taste it. I thought she was going to say no!! but she did it without hesitation. She confirmed that it wasn’t salt water so where was it coming from.
I thought it may be from the shower that is outside on the back of the boat. I took the thing off but couldn’t see anything really so I emptied the stern locker which was no mean feat before removing the panels which gave me a good view into the stern of the boat. Everything was completely dry???
So back inside, it was sweltering by the way. I removed the bed completely and all of the removable boards which exposed the whole fuel tank as well as the hot water cylinder.
I could see a line of wet along the side of the fuel tank which I traced back to a connection that was leaking on the hot water cylinder. Eureka. I remade the connection changing the jubilee clips and checking all the rest at the same time.
All I needed to do now was to put the boat back together again.
A well earned rest for an hour or so before we walked to a bar to update this site.
The Wifi in the marina was OK ish but not fast enough to update this site so we went into a bar that overlooked the marina where the wifi was a lot better. It still took Claire over 4 hours!!! I think we need to update it more regularly.
We went to bed tired but happy. We did good jobs today.
We were woken by a huge ‘BANG’ about 01.30 in the morning!! As I was moving out of the cabin the very loud noise came again. I made my way into the cockpit still half a sleep to see the beginning of a very loud fireworks display marking the end of the festivities. I had to smile as I sat there watching as everywhere we have been in the Med almost every village or town have these crazy festivals for some saint, the Madonna or whatever else springs to mind. It hardly ever starts or finishes at a weekend so the people need to have days off work to celebrate and recover. It's often not just once a year either.
We were off today.
Claire wanted to get a few more bits from the supermarket while I wanted to get fuel and walk to the yard to get a rough idea of how much a lift out for RR would be.
I got the fuel in my two jerry cans. This was a bit of a mission as there wasn’t a fuel dock in this part of the marina so a marinaro took me to a petrol station in town in a van before helping me get the cans back on RR.
I grazed my leg and pulled a muscle in my side doing this which would plague me in the days ahead.
I then walked to the yard. It was about 10 minutes away. The man to see at the Oceanica Naval Cantiere was Giuseppe. He was a young friendly guy with good English. He told me that to haul RR out for an hour or two for me to change the anodes would be 350 Euro’s cash or plus tax if we paid by card.
I was happy with that although I might need longer than a couple of hours if I wanted to treat the prop with anti foul too but it was a very good place to start as yards in Olbia, Sardinia wanted 1500 Euros although that was to be propped up for a few days.
Opposite the yard was another well stocked chandler which could prove to be very useful if I needed something while the boat was out of the water.
I made my way back to the supermarket to help Claire carry the shopping back to the boat.
We were on our way by 11.00
Instead of crossing straight to Malta Claire took us along the coast to a small marina called Scoglitti. We motored most of the way but had a really nice sail for the last couple of hours dropping our anchor in the lee of the marina breakwater.
A boat came out to us offering us a spot inside for 50 Euros but we were happy where we were, besides we wanted to leave early in the morning for our trip to Malta.
I was in contact with Grace during this time as we had decided to sell our much loved VW camper ‘Ruby’. Grace had been using it since we left England but she too was planning on being abroad soon so we decided to sell her. It was a shame but it was the right thing to do. The money would help replenish our reserves, replacing what we spent going to the Caribbean etc. Oh well.
We sat in the cockpit watching the sun go down on another great day.