Tag Archives: Brindisi

Brindisi and Beyond

A little bit of Black Sheep Wine!

We had a further visit from the mechanic on Saturday morning but when he couldn’t fix things immediately he was understandably anxious to get on with his weekend. We went to the boat yard to pay the bill, at their request, as they were probably concerned that we would abscond with our new starter motor.

On Monday Angelo arrived about midday. He began to do some tests just as Ian had done, following valuable advice from friends on Marina Di Ragusa Liveaboards Facebook page and the No Foreign Land App. Thank you all!

We concluded (using Google translate!) that the solenoid was kaput, the fuse was kaput and the ignition switch was kaput; all due to a corroded wire falling on to the engine and causing a short.

It was our good fortune that we already had the ignition switch in our spares supply and Angelo was able to source the solenoid and fuse easily. Some vital support came from Vito Capriati (An electrical engineer) who happened to be visiting the boat next door and knew Angelo. Very kindly, he came to assist and he knew his stuff! (Tel:- 3384352279)

Literally, the moment that everything had been checked and re-tested we were ready to slip our lines. We needed to get to Otranto and a late departure meant arriving and anchoring in the dark.

Luckily, we had been in here before so we had some idea of what it looked like, but approaching somewhere, even when you know it like the back of your hand in the day light, presents a whole new set of challenges when you do it in the dark.

The first challenge was negotiating all the small amateur fishing boats that come out in force in good weather. At one point, in our immediate vicinity, I counted twenty five of them…and that’s just the ones that were properly lit!

The second challenge was identifying the lights of the harbour and the surrounding lighthouses.

Usually we can see the lighthouses more easily as they are often stuck on the end of a promontory or cliff in the middle of nowhere. There is an extremely clever system with light houses. They have a specific flashing signal pertinent to them in that location. So, on Capo d’Otranto to the south of Otranto the lighthouse is labelled on the chart as Y FL (1) 5s 60m 18nm

This means that it flashes yellow once every five seconds, is 60 metres high and visible from 18 nautical miles off shore.

Once we had honed in on that we culd begin to focus on the light bloom that was shining from the city. You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to mistake traffic lights or car tail lights for harbour lights against the millions of lights given off by a town at night.

In the meantime, we had the traffic separation scheme to negotiate as we entered. This is devised to ensure that traffic entering and leaving do not do so on the some course.

As we neared our harbour for the night we were able to make out the flashes from the red (port) marker on the end of the huge breakwater. R Fl 1 3s 11m 8nm. (Flashing red once every 3 seconds from a height of 11 metres and visible from 8 nautical miles away.)

To the north of the harbour is a very clever ‘sector light’. This glows red for only a few degrees of its arc. If you approach from a dangerous angle, ie: towards rocks between the sea and the shore, then you will see the red light, if you see the yellow light then your approach is safe from that angle.

By now, we had seen all the major lights and could begin to head into the bay. We spotted the starboard hand marker which indicates the channel to take towards the marina or town quay. We peered with scrunched up faces into the gloom of the anchorage. We managed to focus sufficiently to see four, no, five, no six! anchor lights. We followed our previous track from last time we entered on the ipad navigation software, Navionics. Lo! and behold, we were able to find a space to anchor only metres from where we were in June. We dropped the anchor in 7m of water and put out 35m of chain. We were holding well when we tested the anchor by reversing.

That was at 2110h – by 2130h we were sitting down below eating spaghetti carbonara and drinking a well earned glass of wine!

The next morning we were up early and went ashore to have a quick wander around the old town of Otranto. Clearly a place that the residents take great pride over. It was very bonny place with amazing views out over the marina and bay.

By 0930h we had weighed anchor and set off to Santa Maria di Leuca further south.

Cape of Santa Maria di Leuca

Another fairly big day. We anchored off the marina in 5m of water and luckily had enough wind to hold us into the swell so it wasn’t too rolly until the wind died and that changed.

Red bean, lentil and fava mini burgers served warm with toasted garlic alioli

Having checked the weather we decided that the wind would be more favourable if we waited another day here. I even had time to rustle up these yummy vegan polpetini.

However, in the morning Ian double-checked the forecast. Tomorrow’s forecast was now for 28kn of wind. And, as we sailors know only too well – there is always at least 10 knots more that forecast. So, we upped the anchor and set off at a pace.

Luckily, the wind was at the perfect angle for sailing and with the waves helping us too for a split second of our crossing of the bay of Taranto we were scooting along on the crest of a wave at some 17 knots!!!!!

By 1600h the sky had grown increasingly dark and menacing! We put the navigation lights on, so dark was the gloom! Was that a squall? We put our electronic items in the oven as forks of lightning were cleaving the waves around us.

We had already brought the genoa in but had a full main up. We both put on our waterproofs. Then BANG! The wind came; the rain came. I kid you not, it was biblical!! If frogs had bounced on to the deck I would not have been surprised. Ian could hardly see for the water pouring down his face. We had 20m visibility around us. The thunder and pounding rain drops were deafening.

We had put the engine on and gunned it almost to full revs. (Once the engine is on even if we get struck by lightning it will continue to work! – Who knew that? – Useful!)

In the midst of all this mayhem we managed/had to put three reefs into the sail, although some damage had already been done, we thought.

The rain and wind continued to lash us for the next 35 mins. We maintained our heading into the wind and sat it out. I was a quivering wreck clinging to the metal winches under the sprayhood until the thought that if we were to be struck by lightning that perhaps clinging to a large clump of metal wouldn’t be the best idea!

The boat was tossed about like a cork and she weighs about 15 tonnes. At one point, the gunwales on the port side were so completely covered in water that I feared the cockpit would flood.

Ian shouted encouraging things at me as I melted down. ‘Wind’s easing now!’ ‘It’s nearly passed us!’ Don’t worry we’ll be fine!’ and other such NONSENSE…..because I knew – WE WERE GOING TO DIE!!!!!

Well, okaaay – we didn’t; neither did the boat flood; the bimini rip, the mast get struck by lightning or either of us fall overboard. Below decks the worst that went on was that an errant box of red wine slid about the floor.

It was all actually fine; once the sun had started to make a brief reappearance and the nasty clouds and lightning had decided to play elsewhere; clearly we had been fortunate. Although my inner voice and I continued to have a conversation along the lines of OMG! Never again! Why do I do it? until the wee small hours of the morning.

Once things had calmed down we had a good sail towards Crotone and arrived in the port at 2330h in almost flat calm conditions.

After a deep night’s sleep, we went to the office to pay. I negotiated in my fledgling Italian and managed to get the price down from 122E to 70E, so I was very pleased that we were paying the same amount as we had three years previously.

We headed into town. Within minutes of leaving the marina we came across a nice looking restaurant. On a mission for some comfort food we piled in.

What a great place! We had avocado and prawn salad, baked olives, tomato salad appetiser, grilled calamari with lemon, squid ink spaghetti with calamari and mushrooms, and perfectly cooked fillet of beef grilled with black salt and lemon.

Washed down with a gorgeous local wine from the ‘Nappa Valley’ of Calabria and smartly followed by chocolate and hazelnut moose cake and a tiramisu. Totally yum and just what we needed.

From thence, we went to the supermarket to restock and took and taxi back to the boat with our hoard.

Next morning was another early start. 0500h up and at ’em. 0530h motoring out of the marina into a lumpy sea.

We wanted to arrive at Rocella Ionica before dark. We made it.

The last leg is to head across to Taomina on Sicily to meet up with David Heane who is coming to explore the Aolian islands with us before we head to our winter berth.

Next time, read about our trip to the Aolian Islands and Stromboli.

Montenegro to Brindisi

The Appian Steps

Having motored out of the bay of Kotor we found that the wind was pretty much perfect for our crossing to mainland Italy. 130 miles to the SSW. a journey we expected to take around 26 hours. To begin with we sailed with the main and the head sail but soon Ian was itching to fly the genaker.

In 12 knots of wind we were tonking along at around 6 knots which is a great conversion speed…At this rate we would be arriving in Brindisi in the early hours of the morning!

For some hours the huge mountains of Montenegro continued to be clearly visible on the horizon behind us.

Although the sea wasn’t particularly lumpy I wasn’t feeling too good. I must have lost my sea legs in the Bay of Kotor. At dusk we took down the genaker and put the genoa back out. We continued to make good time and Ian was able to grab a little sleep during the evening and then take the midnight watch. The almost full moon was up and gave off its comforting glow well into the night. There was very little traffic about, in fact we didn’t see another vessel until about 35nm off the Italian coast.

I woke at 0400h to go up and keep Ian company. The moon had disappeared and the clouds had gathered on our port side and behind us and we were watched the ensuing lightning show with some trepidation: Hoping that the wind would blow the storms away from us.

Finally, the sun came up and we could make out the low lying coast ahead.

We needed to run the engine for a while because the auto pilot uses such a lot of the battery power. We started the engine but after about 20 mins noticed a strong smell of burning and a great deal of heat coming from the engine bay. Ian’s first thought was that the alternator had developed a fault, as it was that which had caused us problems towards the end of last season. We shut down the engine and wondered if it would be okay to start the engine again without causing further damage.

Anyway, we sailed on and decided that we would sail as far into the harbour as possible only putting the engine on to steer into a mooring in the marina.

Outside the harbour wall, which is HUGE, at least 2nm long, we dropped the main sail. We were going to sail the remainder of the way with the head sail only.

On we went, I called the marina to book a berth. I made a few snacks to eat and prepared the boat for mooring.

As we rounded the inner harbour wall Ian started the engine…..NOTHING!

He tried again….NOTHING!

After I had a melt down we tried to decide what to do. We could get the dinghy off the davits and use it to push us into the berth, we could call the marina to ask for assistance, we could sail in!

I called the marina up and asked for help. They said they would be there in 5 mins.

We managed to lower the dinghy into the water but it was just to tight on space to give us time to put the engine on and attach the dinghy to the side of the boat.

We tacked back and forth in the bay playing for time.

The marinero called us on the radio to say that their rib was not working and they couldn’t come to help. Argh!!! We were instructed to come in port side to the second pontoon.

I rigged more lines. We tacked at least six or eight more tiimes so that we could get sufficiently up wind. I certainly got my work out that morning winching and pulling repeatedly. The wind was fairly strong at about 17kn. Ian reduced the amount of head sail that was out. Finally, we were in a good position to be able to head towards the pontoon at the right angle.

We were about 50m from the pontoon when the marinero told me to lower the fenders. I had about 20 seconds to undo them and re-position them all at the most crucial moment.

I then had to dash back to release the genoa sheet to reduce our speed. I threw the bow line; Ian adding pressure by saying it was a one chance throw and to make sure it was a good one.

It was!!

Ian threw the aft line and we were secure.

The marineros were fantastic and neighbouring boats were also giving a hand to slow us down and fend us off. We were secure 23 hours after setting off.

I think, after all that, I was perfectly entitled to swear loudly in Italian!!!

Phew! Mark and Jan of Lyra of Beauleigh, (whom we had met last year in Kalamata after the engine wouldn’t start) happened to be in Brindisi and welcomed us. We were in no fit state. I certainly could barely string two words together! We neither of us had had much sleep.

We agreed to catch up later.

First, we had to put the boat to bed and tidy up all the lines. The electrician would be coming round soon and the boat looked like a bomb site. I set to tidying up and cleaning. We decided to have a nap whilst we waited.

Marco arrived and we woke up with creases embedded on our faces.

As he worked, we slept on.

He was finished…it was the starter motor that was the problem. A corroded cable had caused a short and the starter motor was kaput.

Marco left to order a new one.

Passport control sign

We had to then muster the energy to go into town on the bus. It is a requirement to register with customs and the port police having entered Italy from a non EU country. Luckily, the bus would take us right to the port police. Except, it didn’t. so we ended up walking about 3km. Paperwork was duly completed and we had a quick look round the old town of Brindisi before heading back to Linea.

We needed pizza so I made delicious tortilla pizza using a new stove top method. ( Courtesy SV Kittiwake) I am pleased to report that they were delicious. They took mere minutes to cook, saving us gas and added cabin heat from the oven.

On thursday we met up with Mark and Jan for coffee. After a good night’s sleep we were feeling back to normal. We enjoyed having a catch up with them and met up later for dinner in the marina restaurant.

On Saturday Marco came to fit the new starter motor (900 Euros plus labour!). All was going well. The engine started; the alternator seemed to be producing electricity and feeding it into the batteries; the instrument panels appeared to be in working order. Fantastic. Marco gathered up his tools and shook hands with us. Grazie! Grazie!

Just as he was about to step off Linea, Ian tried to switch the engine OFF. No joy. the connection to the fuel solenoid seemed to be broken. Marco climbed back on!

He spent a couple of hours trying to figure out the problem. We await his return.

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!