Category Archives: Our travels

Our adventures on the high seas and ashore

Go Greece!

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The Crucial Crew, Ragusa day out.

After our top week in the UK, we scooted back to Sicily, leaving Erin behind, as she had to attend interviews for ski season jobs.  We met up with Kim (Carnegie friend) and Ollie (Kim’s son) at Wetherby services and travelled with them to Ragusa where we met up with Sheena (Coo-eee!) (Another Carnegie chum).  This was to be the super crew to help us sail from Sicily to Kephalonia in one hit – three days and nights at sea.

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Ian, Sheena, Kim, Ollie, Sarah
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‘Taylor’ Swift
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Bowline tying lessons en route.

We had a fantastic crossing, great laughs and pleasant sailing on very convenient winds.  We had a stowaway for a small part of the trip…a swift, soon named Taylor, who came into the boat for a sleep and then, as suddenly as she had arrived, disappeared off in the vague direction of Africa.

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Doric lighthouse at the entrance to Argostoli, Kephalonia
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First sight and smell of Kephalonia – bliss.

We arrived in Kephalonia to be greeted by the most amazing smell wafting on the breeze from the island of cypress trees, rosemary and jasmine!  Gorgeous!  The church bells were peeling exactly as we sailed into the bay at Argostoli.

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Sheena, Sarah, Ian, Kim and Ollie.

We were soon tied up and jumped ashore to have a hearty breakfast in one of the many cafes.

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Town Quay at Argostoli where the loggerhead turtles come to feed everyday.

We walked down the quay to see the giant loggerhead turtles that frequent the bay. Simply stunning.  The conservation group were there telling us all about them.  www.wildlifesense.com

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What are ‘Neatness personnel’?

Erin flew in to Kephalonia for a holiday on board and we set off around the island.  (We met her at the airport and saw this interesting sign.)

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New crew – now with Erin too.

Leaving Argostoli we headed south.  Unable to get into the planned port of call on the south coast we had to divert to Zakinthos.  A fortunate diversion it proved to be.  Almost as soon as we arrived alongside, Kostas helped us tie up and offered us discount at his restaurant and hotel and Nicolas arrived on his tractor offering us tastes of his wares.  We ended up buying heavenly olive oil, wine, honey, feta, olives, dried sage, fresh bread, tomatoes and currants!  Perfect.

From there we headed north to Effimia on east Kephalonia.  We were bossed loudly into our berth on the town quay by an officious but efficient marinero/harbour master, who really knew his stuff.  He gave us our best lesson yet in mooring Med style with an anchor and lines to stern.

We pottered further north and stopped en route to swim and relax in a gorgeous bay.  The sea bream were out so grabbing my line and rod and stale bread supplies I set to catching fish.  img_1725Within seconds I had my first bite. Two fish at once.  In the next 30 minutes Erin and I had caught another three.  They were duly gutted, prepared, marinated, and cooked by Sheen, and eaten by us all for lunch.

Next stop was Fiscardo in the north.  We moored stern to the Northern part of the bay with long lines ashore.  And had an anxious time trying to get the anchor to bite and to get the lines ashore in a dinghy with a broken rowlock!

Sadly, after a couple of days relaxing andsic-keph-9 exploring the village, it was time to say goodbye to my mates
and then it was just the three of us again.

Egadi Islands, south coast Sicily and a quick trip home.

favignana-10Due to wifi access challenges I have been seriously delayed in posting details about our travels!  ‘Phew’, you’d be forgiven for thinking.  So, apologies for dumping posts in a row.

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An ‘It is forbidden to bathe’ sign beside a sea full of bathers!
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The impressive entrance of the Tuna Canning Factory Museum.

We enjoyed our stay in Favignana, the largest of the Egadi Islands, despite me falling and smacking/scraping my leg (the previously broken one) against a dirty marble step in the Tuna Canning Museum.  Subsequently, it became rather badly infected and definitely put a bit of a dampener on touring activities.

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The massive tuna net anchors abandoned on the beach in Favignana.

Luckily, I was able to continue the visit to the fascinating tuna factory canning museum after my fall despite a huge swelling on my ankle.

The beautifully restored building

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The huge tuna canning factory and chimney stacks above the charcoal braziers.

was surprising enough, but the installations within were jaw-dropping.  We were particularly impressed with the life-sized screenings of actual workers from the factory describing what their daily life at work involved; plus, wonderful old black and white footage of the canning process, from start to finish. (A process invented in by the factory owner and multi-millionaire.)

What tough lives those people had.  Working in incredible heat, heaving the enormous tuna out of the nets with huge boat hooks, gutting, cutting, carting the meat across to the ovens, cooking and boiling it over rows of huge charcoal braziers, (oh, how it must have stunk!)  placing the fish into tins by hand and completing the canning process by adding olive oil and a lid which was then sealed in a special machine.  I bet the workers never wanted to eat tuna, that’s for sure!

The final exhibit was the Death Room which gave a chilling insight into the last few hours of the tunas’ lives as they became ensnared and entrapped in the series of ‘rooms’ made from nets, until reaching the ultimate ‘room’ from whence they were simultaneously killed and hoiked out.  Amazing.

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Main piazza, Mazara Dal Vella
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Opulently decorated church in M d V.

After Favignana, we headed south to Mazarra Dal Vella which is a crumbling and chaotic town with incredible charm; plenty of palazzi, piazzas and preposterously opulent churches.  One of the most amazing buildings was a tiny wooden opera house seating only 90 people, rather like a miniature Globe Theatre in construction.

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The main piazza M d V.

All the wood around the auditorium was decorated and prettily painted and embellished with gold leaf.  We walked all around the area known as the Kasbah which was fascinating.

After a couple of lovely days here where we were anchored happily in the bay outside the harbour, we were unceremoniously asked to move by the coast guard who hovered beside us in his boat until we did as he requested.

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Incredibly busy beach near the marina in Ragusa on a Sunday in early September.

On to Licata, where we anchored outside the rather pongy fishing harbour and then finally to Ragusa where we were to leave the boat during a quick visit back home for Ian’s Dad’s 80th birthday doo.img_3534

 

 

We had a wonderful time catching up with lovely friends in the Shire, picking up Erin who had come home from Thailand after 2 years on Koh Tao, and meeting up with all the Moulding family

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A top week.

Sardinia to Siciliy

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Towards the middle of August we headed south down the East coast of Sardinia. We were fueled up, watered up, provisioned up and left for Sicily on Tuesday or Wednesday 23rd or 24th August.

The weather had been remarkably settled but just prior to our departure for this long leg of 150 miles it decided to have an eppy. We scuttled into a marina on the east coast and sat out 38 knot gusts of wind.

We departed early on Thursday morning at 0540, effortlessly gliding out of the berth in zero knots of wind. Within a couple of hours a perfect 10 knots of wind arrived from the north east. Out came the genaker and she was pretty much set then until 2000 when we took her down in preparation for night sailing.  The engine did have to go on briefly but from 0200 the Genoa was out and we were doing a steady 6 knots towards our destination and bang on track too!

Twenty six hours later land is in sight. The Egadi islands

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Il Marettimo Island The Egadis, Sicily. Shaped like a whale, the cloud forming a plume, as if spouting from its blowhole.

to the north west of Sicily. We are welcomed by a flotilla of dip-diving dolphins. Lovely.

Later we headed for an anchorage off the south west coast to recover.

We managed 155 miles in 29 hours. Average speed 5.5

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Wind speed to boat speed comparison. Good conversion rate on a run.

knots approx.
Top speed 7.1 kn Top wind speed 15 knots
Amount of sleep – not enough!

Anchored in 7-9 m over sand and some weed in Cala Rotunda, Favagnana Island.

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Entrance to the restored, and amazing, tuna fish canning factory.
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The HUGE anchors that used to be used to weight down the tuna nets. Tuna canning factory in the background.
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Pretty bicycle in Favignana

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Heading to Favignana town next and then off to the south coast of Sicily.

Sojourn in England – August 2016

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Venice and the Grand Canal

I left for Manchester, via Venice! The most convenient route,honest.  During the lay over in Venice I took a quick bus trip into the city, since I have never been, and walked along the Grand Canal for 30 minutes before returning to the airport and my onward travel home.
I met up with Keira at Manchester Airport because she had had to go to Manchester to apply for her visa for China. Together we drove down to Oxford to begin the packing and despatching of belongings and thorough clean of Keira’s student house to ensure that she and her house mates got their entire deposit back.

Job done. I left for Yorkshire with all Keira’s stuff with the aim of squashing it into the house back in the Shire!

Then img_3452commenced ten days of delightful dog, hen and house sitting at Lydia and Paul’s – a huge thank you to them!

Keira arrived on the Sunday and I had a busy few days helping her sort out for her year of teaching English in China and have a final fix of greenery and Yorkshire scenery! And catching up with friends. Bliss.

Then, before I knew it it was time to bid Keira farewell in an emotional parting at Manchester airport.

She will be teaching English in Foshan, Guangdong province in Southern China for a year..  Follow her blog on  https://keiramoulding.wordpress.com/

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Full moon over Isola Del Ogliastra, East Sardinia

I then set off for a day jaunt to see The Hodgson’s and Heane’s before flying off back to Sardinia, via Geneva and Ali and Paul’s for a quick catch up and over night stop. Thanks again!

Nice to be back on Linea with my Skipper!  Preparing for a sail across to Sicily – just the two of us.

From Isola Rossa, Sardinia onwards – Early August 2016

In the interests of brevity, I won’t bore you with the details of the weeks around Northern Sardinia, suffice to say that a certain amount of sailing, swimming, lazing about and reading were involved!

We gradually made our way round the staggeringly beautiful coast of Northern Sardinia, hugging the Costa S’Emrelda like a long lost friend!brandinchi-bayliscia

We saw some big motor yachts ( and, by contrast, an old schooner) and plenty of celebrity look-a-likes, but not Orlando Bloom and Katie Perry who were reported to be there! (‘Who?’, asks Ian.) Budgie smugglers bountiful, though, for added entertainment.

We arrived in Liscia delle Saline near Olbia, in the late afternoon. The Tavolara island’s imposing granite table top providing a stunning backdrop.golfo-delle-saline-2

No one else was in the entire bay! Why???? It was shallow, sandy bottomed and gradually rising to the beach in a most accommodating fashion. Why was nobody else here? We ignored the nagging doubts and anchored anyway. We jumped in the crystal blue waters and swam to the anchor. Beautifully embedded. We sat down in the cockpit to dry off and have a glass of vino when we noticed the planes landing and taking off from Olbia airport, literally a couple of miles away! Oh well!

From here, we tried to suss out a bus to the airport for me. We ended up dinghy-ing to the beach, walking miles and met with a modicum of success. In the end, we decided to go into Olbia Harbour. Although it is a good three miles down the bay to the Town Quay we were hopeful that we could park there for free. In this way, Ian could drop me off and pick up David and Angela in one swift movement.

This we duly did. However, the usual shenanigans occurred.

First, we arrived at the quay and pulled up alongside in a very deft manoeuvre to see signs on the bollards announcing that the quay was to be kept free. On further inquiry it appeared that a very smart, luxury yacht was taking preference for the space.

We anchored out in the harbour. Once the yacht had arrived we went alongside.olbia-3

I radioed the coast guard to ask permission. I was told to take my documents to the office.

I went – it was shut.olbia-1

I set off early the next day – already it was exceptionally warm. The men on the door of the coast guards office by the quay told me to go to the head office of the coast guard right at the bottom of the mole. I walked the mile involved, crossed a huge car park went to one office, was redirected, went out through passport control, in through another door, up a flight of stairs and into a tiny office on the second floor of a circular tower at the end of the mole in the heart of the commercial traffic area.

I exclaimed in my appalling Italian that the office was very difficult to find, which, on reflection perhaps wasn’t the best start to the ensuing conversation (nevertheless, true!) and was met with blank stares.

I battled on; ‘I am on the sailing yacht Linea, I arrived on the town quay yesterday evening and have come to show you my documents as requested.’

The rejoinder was an immediate ‘Perche?’ And a wholly Italian shrug of the shoulders.

It would seem that these coast guards have far more important things to be doing than taking details of small, private sail boats on the town quay. I was sent away!

At 1800 hrs the same evening, two coast guards, smartly dressed as always, appeared by the boat demanding to see my documents and to be given a form and tax docket! Available from a nearby tabacchi!

Humph!

I filled in the form, bought the docket (16€) and returned it to the gentlemen. They said it is possible to stay for three days and after that to move on. Perfect for us – minus a day. Iannew-cockpit-cushion-covers would have to hide in the evening when the coast guards make their customary daily checks! We had time to wander around lovely Olbia and do various jobs before I shot back to UK leaving Ian all alone.olbia-2

David and Angela duly arrived and, by all accounts, a good time was had by all!