Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, without a hitch and were pleased to see friends and neighbours from last year. Our arrival coincided with one of the twice weekly happy hours at the Stella Marina Bar so we met old and new friends that night.
Some days later, the Porto Turistico hosted the All-Italy Laser Championships. The first challenge was negotiating out from between the pontoons, heading for open sea.
Since arriving back, we have been full-on busy with boat jobs; fixing, replacing, renewing, cleaning, servicing, removing, repairing and storing.
We have had visits from Alice, Ian and Jon. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to sail anywhere (even if the weather had been suitable) because the sails had already gone off to be repaired.
However, we were able to explore more of Sicily. Touring around to Syracuse, Modica, Scicli, Palazzallo Acredie and Ragusa Ibla – beautiful cities with stunning baroque churches and buildings.
We also drove out to Agrigento to the Valley of Temples and were suitably impressed by the stunning Greek Temples there, which are some of the best preserved in the Med.
We joined a walking group and enjoyed a couple of noisy walks in the surrounding area with forty chattering Sicilians.
I also went olive picking again and have my own bottle of freshly pressed oil from my olives, ready to open in the spring.
Ian welcomed back his road bike with open arms (thanks once again to Nick and Paul) and has been out on it a few times. He reports that it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier each time.
We also enjoyed a few days in Rome, with my old friend Sheena and her family. We walked all round Rome and saw all the main sights and some little hidden gems with our super guide Sheena, who has lived in Rome for 30 years.
Then, it was back to the boat for a few last minute preparations before heading back to the UK for a couple of months where, for the first time in a while, all four of us Mouldings are to be in the same country at Christmas.
So, yes, we are going to be living back in Yorkshire. Staying in a cottage – 26 Linton Falls until the 12th February 2018.
We hope to catch up with as many friends and family as we can. Do pop in if you’re passing.
In the meantime, we wish you a merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy new year.
The depression heading our way has forced an extended stay here in Voufalo, but there are worse places you could be, even if it is raining constantly.
After a productive day; me making new cockpit cushions and Ian doing boat jobs, we set off into the Evia Channel once more. This time the weather was much more like what I ordered and we soon arrived in Khalkis on the south side of the Old Bridge. After completing the paperwork (Ie: complete paperwork, pay the man in the office on the quay; walk round to the port police, show them your paperwork and receipt, which they check. They then issue instructions to be ready on Channel 12 from 2130hrs and to listen to be called individually to proceed through the gap. All noted, we set off back to the boat to eat and wait) and paying the $35 to pass through the narrow gap created by the retracting of the bridge we motored through with a good dozen other yachts at about 2230hrs at night. We anchored in a large bay on the north side and had a peaceful night’s sleep.
Next day, we hoped to make it to the northern tip of Evia and the day after we would be in Skiathos by late afternoon to meet Alice and Ian.
We left our anchorage early and arrived at Orei at midday in flat calm conditions, sun blazing down…now THIS is what I ordered! We re-fuelled, bought a new gas bottle topped up provisions, got rid of rubbish and recycling and stretched our legs. After a brief chat with some Kiwis on Aphrodite we set off again as the breeze freshened – from the North – our precise direction of travel.
We tacked back and forth for hours as the wind really picked up and black clouds moved in. We made roughly five miles headway over the course of four hours in 30 odd knots of wind and big waves. Finally, the wind dropped sufficiently for us to be able to put the engine on. Even so we would still be a further four hours at least until we had covered the remaining 15 miles or so to Skiathos. (In fact it was more like six and a half!)
We motored on, Linea slicing through the waves. As we approached Skiathos the rain arrived – great fat blobs that actually hurt when they landed. By now, we both had our full wet weather gear on as lightning forked around us and thunder clapped away – a proper rousing welcome.
We lowered the dinghy off the back of the boat in preparation for stern-to berthing. Just as I was tidying up the lines I noticed the dinghy belligerently bobbing off its cleat and bouncing silently into the night! A neat abou- face and we managed to grab the escapee with a boat hook and soon had it tied up again, hearts pounding.
As we came into Skiathos harbour we heard a powerful shriek from the quay, despite the howling wind.
‘Saraaaaaaahhhhhh!’ It had to be Alice!
We identified the spot where we wanted to park. Alice and Ian were ready to receive our lines, bravely ignoring the lashing rain.
We rapidly put the boat to bed and Ian rigged the ridiculously short gangplank. I launched myself onto dry land almost kissing it before Alice in my relief to be tied up to something solid!!
It was so great to see our friends after such a traumatic and long journey (15 hours) Nothing that chat with old friends from the Shire, a few beers and a healthy chicken gyros couldn’t help us laugh about!!
On the Sunday we walked around the town and returned to the dinghy at about 1pm. We stopped for a chat with Andy and Denise Hurley on Comet, our acquaintances from Soller, who have lived in Pateley Bridge…so, practically from The Shire. They invited us for a drink.
‘How kind,’ we said. ‘Just the one,’ we said.
But at 2300hrs we poured ourselves into our dinghy and zigzagged our wobbly way back to Linea out in the bay. Well and truely ‘Hurley-ed’!
We spent almost an entire week anchored in the bay, thoroughly enjoying the cool winds that blew into the boat as the thermometer rose to a high of 35 degrees. One morning was spent trying to mend a leaking toilet. One day was devoted to fixing the sewing machine. One morning to fixing a leak on the impeller faceplate. You know what they say about living on a boat? It is all about sailing the seven seas, meeting interesting people and doing maintenance in exotic places!
In the harbour, we met Christopher, a local Sardinian, who is the self-appointed custodian of the Town Quay. He speaks excellent English and is clearly an Anglophile. His favourite drink is tea. (Milk, two sugars) We were assured by Christopher, and by Andy and Denise, that it was perfectly legitimate to park on the town quay and that as long as you used your own lines there would be no charge. However, there would be no services (water or electricity) either.
So, we planned to come in on the Friday so that we would be alongside when the Clements-Hunts arrived. We edged into the tight spot in the far right corner of the quay. I jumped ashore immediately to go to the coast guard office but it was closed. We thought that they might have been on a siesta so I planned to pop back later.
In the mean time a huge pantechnicon truck drove up the wide quay and gradually a whole stage set up was constructed in front of our bow. In town, posters declared that there was to be a gala with various famous Sardinians, so we were hoping for great things.
Still no sign of the coast guard.
We dressed the boat in her finery and plugged in the fairy lights on the bow and settled down for a fabulous concert, viewing from our special front row seats.
A wicked trumpeter raised our hopes and we smiled smugly at each other. Then the compère came on stage….he was still there, waffling on half an hour later! The saving grace was a couple of numbers by an incredible tenor, who finished his (short) set with Nessum dorma, followed, after a further interminable chat, with a couple of other singer’s numbers. The sound check had proved to be more interesting than the main event. Judging by the audience’s response to the chatter, they weren’t all that impressed either! Ah well…at least it wasn’t raining, or muddy, Gillly and Stephen.
Ali, Paul and Jojo arrived on Sunday morning. It was so lovely to see them. We stocked up on provisions, went off to find a bar showing the Wimbledon Final (Yeah! What a joy to watch Andy Murrey’s high quality tennis! )
Next morning, first thing, the coast guard came to us and began asking questions. I am sorry to say that my paltry Italian wasn’t up to the job but fortunately Alison speaks it fluently.
There were lengthy and rapid discussions and finally it transpired that the coast guards office was not in the building clearly labelled ‘Coast guard’ on the quay front. We promised we would go immediately to see the officials. Our combined charms and Ali’s incredible Italian soon had Fabrizio the head coast guard smiling and joking. We were forgiven for parking in the wrong spot and had to promise to leave by 1100hrs We followed our instructions to the letter in radioing the coast guard to let them know that we had left our mooring.
We anchored back out in the bay so that we could have a bite to eat and put the dinghy back on the boat. Then by early afternoon we set sail for Bosa about thirty miles down the west coast of Sardinia.
We had a good quiet sail down there and anchored in 8 metres over sand and weed tucked in behind a huge newly built breakwater.
It was incredibly hot as the sun angled its rays right at us under the sun awning. We spent a lovely evening swimming and snorkelling around the boat. Jojo and Paul even swam over to the rocks and back. We had some nibbles with pre dinner drinks and then between us, rustled up an enormous chicken and chorizo stew.
Despite the anchor alarm going off in the night as our anchor dragged slightly through the weed, we had a comfortable night’s sleep. In the morning we took the dinghy into the town and walked for quite some time before finally finding a bin in which to chuck our rubbish. As we crossed a huge river bridge we glimpsed the surreal sight of two elephants chomping on hay, in a field beside the river. The animal circus was in town and they clearly had a wide selection of animals, including lions, tigers, giraffes and zebras.
After a cooling drink we decided to head back to the boat. A vicious maestrale wind was forecast for the back end of the week. We wanted to be tucked back in against the town quay, safe and sound against the predicted 30 knots of wind.
As we sailed north, hurrying back to Alghero, the wind increased and we we tonking along at a rakish angle with all the Clemmies taking turns at the helm. It was exhilarating. We did have time for a little keel hauling of the naughty crew members!
However, I discovered on trying to use the loo (heads) on the leeward side of the boat that the sink had been slowly siphoning water and the whole vanity area of the forward heads was awash with water. I shut the door! We’ll deal with that later, I thought.
Later on, I checked on our heads at the back of the boat to discover that they were awash with water that had been siphoning up out of the loo! The shower room was full of water. Nice! We are learning that it is important to close sea cocks when the water is washing the windows (port lights).
As previously instructed we called the Harbour Master. He allocated us a spot on the right hand side of the harbour against the Town Quay on Bha Sanita. We went to see the coast guard to double check that this was correct. He assured us that as long as we were 10 m from the corner we were absolutely fine. We settled in for the night and at 0830 hrs in the morning the coast guard was round at the boat demanding to know why on earth we were parked back here when he had expressly told us that it was an emergency area and was not to be encroached!
We explained about the 10m rule. He seemed mollified, but minutes later returned with a tape measure. Alison and Ian decided to go back to the Coast guard office and just see why there was this confusion and seeming lack of communication between members of the same team.
In typical Italian style, Ali upped the ante and became more heated in her vocabulary and her delivery. More hand waving went on and she raised her voice. Almost immediately the Fabrizzio, the head coast guard with whom we had talked on our first visit, appeared and calmed the situation. He assured us that if we moved to the spot on the east edge of Bha Doganale we could stay for an additional 5 nights with no further interference.
We prepared to move. Ian was worried about reversing out of a very tight gap between buoys and boats so I was detailed to be in the dinghy to work as a tug and pull a rope to help steer the stern round. Paul was on slip lines. Jojo on video! I tried to pull the designated rope but succeeded in giving myself a rope burn as it slipped right through my palm. Then, I tried to get round the starboard side of the boat to push it away but in a rush and a panic crashed into a yacht and the quay! I managed to turn the throttle fully and nearly tumbled out of the dinghy backwards, as my feet came off the rib bottom. After I heard myself shrieking and a gathering crowd of onlookers openly laughing at my Laurel and Hardy antics, I scooted away to pull trailing lines out of the water. A lunge to grab the rope nearly had me over the side but I recovered before that embarrassment took place.
Finally, I pushed Linea’s port side so that she neatly slotted alongside the quay in her new position. I jumped ashore, heart racing, pulse thumping and blushing from head to toe. Luckily, Jojo’s video camera had been pointing the other way.
So, the maestrale duly arrived and even in the harbour we noted wind speeds in excess of 30knots. We had a noisy night with water slapping the hull and fenders squeaking against the wall, but we were so happy to be here in the thick of the ‘passegiato’ where families stroll up and down the quay in the evening breezes. Our main activity over the next few days was people watching. Fantastic!
All too soon it was time to say farewell to the Clemmies. They are off for a week in a villa on terra firma. We slipped quietly away from the town quay, waving goodbye to Christopher, and anchored back out in the bay. (More on that another time.)
We landed back in Mallorca and jumped in a cab to take us back to Soller where we met up with a wobbly pair of sailors (David Heane and Chris Plumb) who were to be joining us for the leg of our journey across to Sardinia.
We had ear-marked Monday as the day to prep and wanted to set off on the first sector to Pollensa where we were intending to do the provisioning. However, the mechanics had not completed the work we had hoped would be done whilst we were away and, in fact, we had to wait for a spare part to be delivered. When it arrived at 1500 the mechanics discovered that it was the wrong one! Ah well, they made a temporary fix which will do fine for now.
We anchored in the bay and were treated to a fabulous last sunset. Later, we were able to watch the Iceland England game. Upsetting to be out of Europe twice in one week!
The next day, we prepared to set off to Pollensa and had a good days sailing although a good deal of tacking was involved. We motored into the bay, anchored and were doing a smash and grab raid on the Euroski supermarket by 2030hrs, prior to heading to Ambrosia for a slap up paella.
We slept well, stowed all the provisions and set sail for Sardinia around 0900hrs. Unfortunately, our delay leaving Mallorca meant that we had to miss out a stop in Ciutdadella, Minorca, which we had been looking forward to.
We decided to all be up for the day time watch and after supper at 1900hrs, the first pair would take the first watch from 2000hrs til 0000hrs. Chris and I were awoken with a cuppa and as I popped up through the hatch at 0000hrs. I was amazed to see such an incredible tent of stars above us. The sky was clear and the Milky Way above was like a dark carpet dusted with an arc of icing sugar.
We motored for a while and as the wind picked up decided to put out the head sail. The wind was fairly light and coming from the East, but close hauled we made decent progress and it was mesmerising to sail along in the absolute darkness gazing at the stars and watching the lights of Minorca recede behind us. We silently parted the waves as we sailed under a huge and intricate pergola of stars, the phosphorescence gleaming in our wake. Not another soul was out on the water near us. Suddenly, from nowhere – a sailing boat appeared right on our nose! She had her full sails lit up from the deck, presumably so we would see her. She was approaching so fast that I altered course to be sure to pass her by. I decided to call Ian. He came up on deck still bleary-eyed with sleep and looked hard at the oncoming vessel. Peering through the binoculars minutes earlier I had been convinced that I could see rigging. Ian took a careful look. ‘Ah!’ He announced, visibly relaxing. ‘It’s the quarter moon coming up over the horizon!’ and off he went back to bed!
We handed over to Ian and David at 0400hrs after what seemed like a very brief time.
We managed to sleep in between watches but at 0700 I woke to hear Ian fiddling in the engine housing. On further investigation, it turned out that the engine was not drawing in any water to cool it down. This meant that there was an issue with the impeller. Ian removed the impeller face plate, and wriggled the impeller out. Immediately he noticed that some of the blades of the impeller had disintegrated.
We had a spare one in stock and so Ian changed it and refitted the gasket and face plate ( under my supervision). Thank goodness for our diesel engine course.
Luckily, the water started circulating again and we breathed a collective sigh of relief being 100 nautical miles from any land! Throughout this time, we had managed to continue on our course, sailing along nicely.
We had a slap up breakfast of ‘kitchen sink omelette’ and strong coffee and enjoyed the rest of the day sailing out further and further from land.
The following night we made good progress and awoke to an incredible sunrise. There was another sail boat off to our port side (Red Rooster) and we had a radio chat with them to check what they knew about the weather forecast. They too were heading for Alghero, albeit, much faster than us. We anticipated arriving at 1200hrs.
We had a calm and safe crossing in decent winds and slight seas and were very pleased that it had not proved to be any more challenging than that. Lovely!
The crossing took 50 hours, 22 of which we motored. The top speed was 8 knots and top wind speed was 12 knots. Total distance 250 nautical miles
Job done! Many thanks to David and Chris for their help, energy and company. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip.
On arriving in Alghero, We anchored in the bay in 3m of water over sand and weed, luckily finding a sandy spot to lay the anchor and narrowly missing a bunch of giant clams tucked in amongst the weed on the sea bed. The wind was mild and the bay flat calm. We put the boat to bed and set off into the town to find somewhere to watch Wales in the Euros. As we approached the Town Quay we spotted Comet neatly parked alongside. After brief chats about Andy and Denise’s crossing from Minorca. We wandered off into the beautiful old part of town and found a pizzeria in which to watch the football. David, with his Welch connections, was suitably delighted with their win.
After a leisurely start the next day, we bid farewell to David and Chris and started to prepare the boat for our next set of visitors.
After a not so pleasant-Magaluf holidaymakers-infested-plane journey from Oxford to Birmingham to Palma, Keira and Ian were waiting at the airport with open arms on a warm Saturday evening. We drove to the marina (Club Nautico Palma) where Sarah was waiting on the boat and preparing a cup of tea for my arrival. This was my first experience staying on a boat so it was a great learning curve.
The next day we made use of the facilities at the marina where Keira and I spent an hour in the gym catching up about our holidays in both Cornwall and Spain. Later that afternoon we received our results from university, we were both very pleased and we all celebrated on the deck with the sun setting in the background with Ian and Sarah’s hidden away cava!
Whilst we were in Cabrera, we made the most of the beautiful National Park by exploring the island by foot, walking up to the lighthouse and the castle that dates back to the 14th century. We also did lots of snorkelling and saw a huge clam and many sea breams. Every evening we were spoilt by Sarah’s delicious meals that she barely let us help prepare- what a treat! It was in Mondrago where I had my first Paella of the holiday, followed by a lemon cheesecake looking out onto a deserted beach at dusk- beautiful! After dinner we got on the dinghy back to Linea where we spent one more night before sailing to Calla de s’agulla. After doing our routine yoga on the top deck, we enjoyed our daily muesli and yoghurt for breakfast in the sun before kayaking to the beach, AKA German version of Magaluf! After people watching, sunbathing, bat and ball competitions and swimming, we kayaked back to the boat to have some aperitifs before our night out in the town.
Ian kindly took us ashore and Keira and I got lost in the streets that were aligned with bars and clubs that all looked the same. We had a lot of cocktails and a lot of fun, and being the only British in the whole resort we suspected! Ian collected us at 5am equipped with jumpers for our ride back to Linea, thank you Ian!! The next day, we woke up hungover and unaware that we had travelled 25 miles to Pollenca! The best thing about meal times on a boat is that there is a possibility you can have fresh fish caught from the sea that very day… Sarah caught a sea bream, so we had ceviche with salad for our dinner- delicious! Sunday was my last day before returning to the UK so Keira and I spent the day on the beach, determined to beat our score with bat and ball -we got to 200 I think! Monday morning we went ashore and said our goodbyes leaving behind blue skies and sun, I took a bus to Palma airport and returned to the UK to rain and grey clouds, I had the blues to say the least!
What a fantastic holiday, filled with laughter, fun and games, and wonderful company. Thank you Ian and Sarah for such a brilliant and memorable experience, I will be back soon!