Tag Archives: blue water cruising

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. 

Back in the MddR!!

Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa, Sicilia, Italia.

 

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.

De-rusting 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.  

 

 

 

 

Marina di Ragusa market on Tuesday mornings. Ian cooked mussels for tea! Yum!

The scrumptious Burger Art for Lunch prior to Kim’s departure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

We return to The Shire on the 19th November!

Sailing to Sicily.

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.

Spot the birdie.

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.

Taking down the Greek courtesy flag and putting up the Italian one.

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!

Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa.

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.

Preparations in Pilos

The harbour at Pilos.

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!

Claire, Paul, Pete and Ian.

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.

So much could be re-cycled and re-used on these ‘dead’ boats!

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!

Last of the three Gyros!!!!

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.

Milos to the Mainland.

Ian’s chocolaty birthday cake.

Having waved off Alice and Ian we awaited a suitable slightly less windy day to shoot across to the mainland.  Meanwhile, I revisited the very interesting Milos Mining Museum to find out more about the rocks and geology of the island.

The geology of Milos.

The mainland is a fair distance from Milos at 80nm; but the winds were favourable and we just hoped that the sea wouldn’t be too lumpy after the last ten days of strong winds.

We set off in the dark on Sunday morning (14th October 2018) and discovered that the boat next to us had laid his anchor chain over ours.  We managed to resolve the problem quickly and, luckily, they were awake so we could tell them.

Ak Maleas – looks benign enough!

Off we set and had a fantastic sail across making such consistently good speeds that we arrived at our anchorage in the last remnants of day light.   Not before being suprised by 40knot gusts off the forbidding Ak Maleas!

Half an hour later and very gusty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next morning, we set off round to Limeni bay where we anchored and had a peaceful night.

Great sailing day.

The next hop was to be round to Methoni on the western most ‘finger’ of the Peleponnese but in the morning when we started the engine we noticed that the alternator didn’t seem to be charging the batteries.

Luckily, we were fairly close to Kalamata where most boat repairs can be undertaken so we started sailing north.  We had a fantastic sail for about an hour and then the wind died down and since it was a beautiful sunny day we enjoyed pottering along.

Deciding it was time to crack on we tried to start the engine.

No joy!

After I had come round from a COMPLETE melt down, we lowered the dinghy and attached it to the starboard side of the boat, put the engine on and pushed ourselves along at a 3 knots using the outboard motor.

Only 12nm to go… we made it… just as dusk approached.

It was relatively straightforward to steer into the marina, although we decided to go in bow first.  On the way there, we had phoned repair people and tee-ed up appointments for first thing in the morning.

Vincent, Ian, me, Find and Dianna

Vincent next door supplied a much needed glass of wine and we were beginning to relax.  The next day, we celebrated Ian’s birthday with some new friends.

 

Soon, repairs were underway.  Ioannis replaced the dead engine battery.  Kostos took away the alternator and fettled it with new diodes.  Ian had climbed the mast three more times to fix on a new tri-colour and anchor light and by Monday evening (22nd October 2018) we were all set.

 

We bade farewell to new friends on Fai da Te, Owl and the Pussy Cat, Lyra and Vincent, and sailed round in the cloud, mist and rain to Pylos and the brighter weather further west.

The lovely Kostos who we hope to meet in Sicily next week.

On arriving, we were dismayed to see that the alternator was still not performing as it should.  A quick call to Kostos and he agreed to come the following day to see what the problem was.  He soon had it sussed and we are now prepped and ready to make the big jump across to Sicily.

On Friday 26th at 0154h there was an earthquake measuring 6.4 – magnitude, 30 miles south of Zakinthos.  I actually felt the tremors on the boat at 0158h four minutes later!  It was a weird feeling being bounced up and down without the force of waves. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage occured.

Pylos marina from the castle

Pylos bay looking west towards the gap.

 

 

Kim will arrive on Sunday 28th Oct to give us a hand and put her newly acquired Day Skipper Skills into good practice.  Yeah!

 

 

 

We are really looking forward to getting back to our winter berth even though we will only have a couple of weeks to put the boat to bed before we set off to the UK.