From Crotone to Croatia

Thunder clouds heading south and away!

We continued to hop along the coast of Southern Italy and made it as far as Brindisi.  The thing about hopping along the coast to arrive at a destination some way off is that it means you are doing very long days and when you arrive you have no energy to go off and explore. This means you probably need to stay at least two days to be able to see any of the places you stop at. Each time you anchor it is necessary to lower the dinghy into the water and reverse the process when it is time to go – so its a bit of a pain.

As it happens, we have only managed to go ashore in Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi.

In Brindisi, we moored stern to the quay in a fab location by the Appian Way steps; the boat was thoroughly put to bed; we had completed our log updates; changed into our shore clothes and even applied a little lippy (Just Sarah!), we were just getting ready to disembark – so some considerable time had elapsed…when an official in a Brindisi to Corfu Ragatta 2019  T-shirt showed up and told us emphatically that we couldn’t park there.  Grrr! Where was he when we came in??

So, we headed off again, this time to the marina.  We were tied up securely by about 7pm.  After sorting out the paperwork with the office (all in Italian!) and getting ship shape we decided on a pizza supper in the marina restaurant.  (42 Euros per night, laundry, more sinks at various heights and showers and loos than I have ever seen in any marina, friendly marineros and staff, just a bus ride out of the main town.)

Our plan was to carry on up the east coast to Vieste and then a short 50 mile hop across to Croatia. By now we has spent a lot of time motoring and looking at the weather for the next five days we would be doing a lot more motoring, we decided that the best possible chance of sailing to Croatia would be the following day.  So plan A was abandoned in favour of a crossing direct from Brindisi. The following morning whilst Ian sorted out an issue with the batteries and filled up with water, I headed to the mini market to stock up on supplies for the thirty hour crossing to Ubli, Lastovo, Croatia.

We managed to sail all day and all night and then motored the remaining 30nm when the wind died to 6 knots. 

En route we saw a couple of pods of dolphins and some big fish swam with the boat for about an hour. 

Now that we have given up fishing after the fishing line debacle in Syracuse, we see fish! I could practically have scooped them out with a net! Typical!

Lastovo is absolutely GORGEOUS! We found the check – in process to be smooth and efficient. The people were lovely. The place is spotless. We hired bikes from Dado at Rentacarlastovo and he brought them right to us. We enjoyed a big day cycling all round the island although we did find 5km of up on a gravel road in 35 degree heat quite a challenge!

We arrived back about 1800h in time for a refreshing beer with our new friend.

We didn’t even mind paying the National Marine Park fees of 200Kn/night. That’s about £25.

After three days we had a great sail north to Korcula and a pretty anchorage on the east side of an isthmus. Then the following day we managed a nice motor/sail east and round to an anchorage south of Korcula Town.

We have been here three days and its going to be hard to leave. We are in a fab, safe anchorage. It is only a short dinghy ride to Korcula. There is a pleasant breeze. The water is crystal clear.

Now, THIS, is what I signed up for!

Setting off to Croatia

A map of the south east corner of Sicily showing the main places we visited.
Marina di Ragusa is just out of shot to the west.

On May 17th we were ready to head off towards mainland Italy (and from there to Croatia) with Angela and David.   We were escorted out of the narrow canal from the marina because during the winter the waves had transported an entire nearby beach and deposited it all around the mouth of the marina entrance!  A dredging operation had created a new channel with least depths of 3m, so we were fine.

We motored-sailed for a while and then noticed that the rev counter was flicking about or not working at all.  This had occurred before and the consequence then was that the engine would not restart! So, regretfully, we decided to head back to MdR to get the problem fixed once and for all. 

After a discussion with the manufacturers of the alternator and chats with various friends around the marina, we decided that dampness had affected the rev counter and all was well. Phew!  Unfortunately, we had no more chance of sailing before the Heanes had to leave.

Keira and Sam arrived back after their week of touring the East of Sicily.  We grabbed some bread and filled up with water and were off once more: Heading east.

We hopped down the South Sicilian coast, stopping in; Pozzallo, Porto Palo and Marmamezi before arriving in Grande Harbour, Syracusa. 

Keira and Sam braving the chilly and slightly dubious waters of Grand Harbour.
Day Skipper practice.

We stayed here for a few days exploring the city of Ortigia and visiting the market and our favourite restaurant.

Ortigia, Syracuse.

However, it is never plain sailing with us it seems. On the way in to Grande Harbour we managed to snag a fishing line round the propeller and our BRAND NEW sail drive/gear box started to let in water!  To add insult to injury, it was our own stupid fishing line!

Ian retrieving as much of the line as possible from around the propeller shaft.

After some  investigation and further challenge for my (poor) Italian, we found a yard that could lift us out and awaited the arrival of the Volvo Penta engineer.  This gave us more time to explore this great city and its bustling market. Keira and Sam had to depart but we hope they will be back in September.

Linea in mid air!

Salvo from Sud Yachting in Comiso arrived on Monday morning and we were lifted, washed, fixed and returned to the water in record time – three hours only.  Fantastic!  Antonio and his father in the boat yard near Lakkios Marina could not have been more helpful and kind.

The wind was favourable for a departure to the main land on Wednesday 4th June 2019. We decided to leave at 1600h to take advantage of the brisk southerly wind. Our first hop – 90nm to Roccella Ionica would take around 18 hours. We flew along for the first few hours at a spanking 7.5kn.  We arrived about 0930h the following morning in the marina which meant that we had time for a snack, a nap and an explore by bicycle of the nearest town.  It was a beautiful setting for a marina with a 3km bike track into the village. A railway line direct to Rome and all mod cons. Laundry was 4 euros a load so we cracked on with some jobs too. A bit pricey at 60 Euros per night in early June but it was worth it.

Flat calm. My kind of sailing!

The following day we completed another 70nm hop up to Crotone to Capo Rizzuto which is an extensive marine reserve and enjoyed a peaceful evening there with wafts of pungent juniper drifting over the water.

Ian going off to check the anchor.

Having gone through the long winded and nonsense application form on line, which required not just a picture of my passport but a picture of me, my place of birth, in Italy, my address in Italy and my tax code in Italy….all of which I made up….We managed to book a mooring buoy in the marine reserve.  The idea being that the sea bed does not get damaged by anchoring.  

There are tiny designated areas for anchoring but no coordinates, so it is difficult to know if you are in the right spot.

When we arrived in early June there were no mooring buoys in sight, despite the fact that I had just paid 20 euros to reserve one for the night! 

Striped like a flag… sky, cliffs, sea.

We anchored off!  As all the other yachts had done. 

Start of Season Four 2019

One of the many boat preparation jobs. Re-greasing the winches.
Ian, June and me chatting to Erin on What’s App.

After our long and busy winter season in the Alps, we were happy to be returning to the UK to stay with Ian’s mum, June, for a while.  Especially as she had given us a bit of a fright the week before, having been admitted to hospital!  Now, she certainly seems to be on the mend and back to her normal routine…so that was a big relief.   Whilst there with June, we had a lovely video chat with Erin in Australia, the ease of which June marveled over.   It was good to see Erin and to hear that she has been making progress on the job front and is enjoying life in Melbourne.

Alice astride the Essex policeman’s motorbike on Tour de Yorkshire Day.

We squeezed in a couple of wonderful days in ‘The Shire’, watching the Tour De Yorkshire fly past and enjoying one of Mr Brennan’s fine pizzas cooked to perfection in his new pizza oven, in only 50 seconds!  Now that is a HOT oven!  On the Bank Holiday Monday we had a lovely day at Alice and Ian Daggett’s with lots of friends from around the Dale.  It was such a wrench to be leaving so soon.

Our return coincided with June’s birthday, so we were able to have a lovely evening out with most of the family to celebrate.

On the 8th May we woke at ridiculous o’clock to catch our flight back to Catania, Sicily and then to the boat which has been in Marina Di Ragusa all winter.

She had survived well, although she was covered in a sprinkling of fine orange dust which had blown up from the Sahara. 

We began the process of rebuilding her ready to sail away.  Re-threading the lines and halyards; putting on the sails (freshly laundered…I kid you not…they smell lovely); cleaning and polishing everything; greasing the winches; replacing the spray hood and bimini; (that word again, Michelle Firth!!).  Busy, busy, work, work!

Ian’s chipped tooth.

We had a minor accident in those first few days, whilst Ian was trying to retrieve some batons from the boom.  Keira and I lent a hand and pushed the recalcitrant baton down the boom towards Ian.  Unfortunately, his front tooth was in the way and the result was that he lost a chunk off the corner of his tooth.

Like new.
Water feature.

A quick trip into Ragusa (and a chance for Keira and I to nip to see the old part of town) to dentist Dr. Aldo Miano and half an hour later it was all rebuilt! Cash job only.

The Cathedral of San Giovani.
Outside the P.O.
The first view of Ragusa Ibla.
Then a quick detour to the wine merchant; Fratelli Mazza for a few supplies.

During this jobs week, Keira cracked on with her studies for her Day Skipper Qualification.

It was lovely to catch up with friends who had been in the marina all winter. We also enjoyed a Fiat Cinque Centi rally. The weather was very unsettled during this time and we had cold, very windy and cloudy days with little sunshine.  Most unusual for Sicily!

Just a few Cinque Centi!!

The Heanes arrived on Sunday the 12th May.  There were still jobs to do (thanks to David for cleaning the fenders…they are like new!) and, since the weather was unpleasant, we decided to stay put in the safety of the marina for a bit longer.  

Delicious meal at Marisco
Bonus Whist Results.

There was a great deal of Bonus Whist to be played. And the delay in MdR meant that we could sample a spectacular fish meal at the Marisco restaurant and one or two of Burger Art’s delicious burgers. Almost as good as a pitta gyros! Eventually, it was time to leave and start the 2019 adventure………off to Croatia.