So here we are, to para-phrase The Beatles, Back in the MddR!!!
We are loving the community feel and the gorgeous November weather.
On Saturday, Sheena, a great friend from uni, who lives in Rome, came for a quick weekend visit.
We had a wonderful time catching up with her and phoning Anne, Trish and Clare, our other Brudenell Avenue housemates from 2″1981-84!
Sheen had to leave on Monday and so we cracked on with some cleaning detail!
Laundry; in the new mini washing machine!
Polishing; all shackles, blocks and pulleys.
Oiling; anything that can move.
Taking down; all sails.
Removing lines and ropes; Running mousing lines instead of halyards and sheets.
Scrubbing; the bimini and sail bag.
De-barnacling: the dinghy.
Fixing; De-rusting and cleaning the bikes.
Bilges; cleaning and disinfecting.
Kim has been a model member of crew. She has cracked on with allocated jobs with gusto and been a great giggle to boot. In amongst, we have been to the beach, the market and to have a fabulous burger lunch at Burger Art!
On Wednesday 7th November Kostas and his friends came to pay a visit.
So far we have had happy hours, coffee mornings, rugby internationals, drinks next door, dinner with Di and John, trash Monday beach cleaning, a presentation about sailing in French Polynesia and much more. It’s a very active community here.
Now we have less than a week left to prep the boat for winter, socialise with all our MdR friends and get our heads ready for our winter season in the Sutski chalet.
As soon as Kostas had left, we slipped our lines and set off from Pilos for the 350 mile journey back to Marina di Ragusa. On reflection, perhaps not the best plan, but we were anxious to get on to ensure that we had good weather for the entire crossing. Unfortunately, it was really lumpy at sea and we hadn’t really had chance to get our sea legs; so we all felt a bit grim.
We had a fast sail for the first few hours then during mine and Kim’s watch, on a profoundly dark night, a squall blew in and hit the main sail hard pushing it across and breaking the preventer line on the boom. We managed to drop a reef in and stabalise the boat but it was a little scary for a while.
The next day brought really light winds so we were motoring for the entire day and night. Finally, we were able to sail again from about midnight on the third evening. During our watch on the third night a flock of birds appeared and showed off with a dazzling aerobatics display at the mast head. Two birds stowed away on board to rest up before setting off on their migratory flight again in the morning.
Whilst Ian was on watch, he called me up on deck at 0130h as we had snagged the keel on a thick line attached to some kind of fishing float. In a matter of minutes, the boat had slowed from a respectable 4.5kts down to 2.5kts.
Just as quickly, we began picking up speed again and were confident that the line had slipped away. It was a good thing it was so heavy and that we were sailing, not motoring. We did not want that size of rope around our propeller.
As daylight dawned, we could make out the coast of Sicily.
As we neared MdR, we decided to have a swim.
a) To wash off the accumulated grime from the last four days without showering, and,
b) To double check that there were no ropes around the keel, etc., before we made any strong turns into the marina.
We were soon showered, refreshed and dressed in clean clothes. We looked south and noticed some threatening clouds. Kim said that they looked like Dementors. Within minutes, the wind had whipped up to 35kts and the rain came lashing down. We had just called the marina to announce our arrival but called them back to say that we would stand off and come in once everything had calmed down. We waited for 45 minutes, staying head to wind and bouncing along the waves that had built up from virtually nothing.
A much-needed chocolate boost was distributed and gradually our heart rates and the weather began to calm down.
We made it into the marina and to our berth with no problems. Although, Ian later revealed, the alternator had a final, almost fatal, flurry to add to the frisson of the moment! It stopped working briefly but then rallied and seemed to recover itself!
There was a wonderful welcoming committee on the pontoon.
After pizza and a good night’s sleep we felt much brighter and on Saturday began to winterise the boat, as well as complete the huge list of jobs; cleaning, repairing, and, of course, socialising.
Having decided on the perfect weather window to get us across to Sicily, a further problem with the alternator meant that we missed the chance to leave when we wanted to. We then had to wait for a few more days to be sure of a three day window. Regrettably, this meant that we were not going to be back in MdR in time to see Gaye and Chris. Bloody boat and weather!
On the plus side though, it did mean that we could ask if Kim wanted to help with the crossing. She said, ‘Yes’, and within 36 hours was travelling to Athens and on to Pilos. We also met Carol and Paul on Swallow and Claire and Pete on Blue Vigil and had good times with them.
We were surrounded by ‘dead’ yachts that had been abandoned in Pilos. What a waste!
Ian was taken off by the port police because they thought he had been trying to remove some of the equipment on board one of the abandoned boats – as if!
On Monday 29th October, we explored a little more of the town with Kim and had our last ever gyros.
We provisioned up for the trip across to Sicily and then spent the afternoon cooking and getting ready to go.
We did not fancy these though!
The next morning we were up at 0530hrs and preparing to drop the lines. Ian started the engine as he had every morning since we had the alternator fixed. It wasn’t working properly AGAIN!
We rang Kostas who came out for a third time, to have another look and try to fix the problem once and for all.
He took the offending alternator away to repair it in Kalamata. Kindly, he offered Ian a lift to Messini as we decided to purchase a generator in case the alternator should pack up during our return to Sicily. This was our back up plan.
Kostas soon had the alternator repaired and was happy with everything. He is going to Sicily on holiday next week so we have arranged to meet up.
An AMAZING coincidence occurred on our arrival into Marina di Ragusa. We had just tied up and were marvelling at the cloud formations in the distance. Sheen went up to the bow to take photos and stubbed her poor toe hard enough to draw blood. The neighbours on Otoka were alerted and came to offer assistance.
This meant that Sheen got chatting to them. She was surprised to hear that they come from Vancouver where her sister lives and where her brother has family by marriage.
“Actually,” they said, “we come from a place about 200 miles away.” (A small distance by Canadian standards, I guess).
“A place called Quadra Island,” they said.
“I have heard of Quadra island. My brother’s wife has relatives there. I think they own a quarry,” said Sheen.
“Well, there are two people on Quadra who own quarries. Is your sister-in-law’s relative called Eric?” asked our neighbour.
“No! I don’t think that’s his name,” replied Sheen.
“Well, then, it must be me! My name is Nick,” exclaimed Nick.
Chatting further, it turns out that Nick is the brother of Sheen’s sister- in-law. (Sheena’s brother’s wife’s brother!)