Tag Archives: Italy

Back in ‘The Shire’.

An Aerial shot of the Porto Turistico Marina di Ragusa.

We pulled into our winter berth in the

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.

 

ALl Italy Laser Championships in Marina di Ragusa

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.

Scrubbing the bottom of the tender clean; one of the many jobs to do.

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.

Ian, me and Jon above the stunning Ragusa Ibla.

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.

A temple and huge bronze statue at Agrigento.

 

 

 

 

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.

Visiting Agrigento – The Valley of Temples with Alice and Ian in our little Fiat 500!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caltagirone National Park (Ancient Oak Forest) with the Kalura Walking group.

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.

Steve and Laura busy picking some of the 200kg we picked that day.

 

Kangaroo Sky above Pallazzallo Acredie

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.

Ian and Sheena. (Love how ancient columns are incorporated into newer buildings.)

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.

 

 

2017 – The Stats

Total nautical Miles 2488

Sailed miles 1212 –  49%;  Engine miles 1276   – 51%

Engine Hours 319;  Total nights at sea – 6                                                              Nights anchored – 92;  Nights on a town quay or in a marina – 72

Nights in the boat yard – 9

Our final crew, David and Michael.
Most frequent flyers!

Number of guests – 21 – Bill, David, Ang, Lizzie, Alice, Ian, Sam, Rory, Bryn, Jill, Louis, (plus the rest of the family for dinner and drinks,) Jane, Alice, Ian, Erin, Josh, Keira, David, Michael, Alice, Ian

 

Litres of wine consumed – Gallons!

Yacht A – 340million Euros to build. The masts are 90m tall.

Number of Super Yachts seen – 1 – to beat all

Days of sunshine – 168  Days of rain – 12

Deepest water  – 3600m;  Highest waves – 4m;   Strongest wind – 38kn

Hottest temp – 36;  Lowest temp – 24

Fish caught – NONE;  Dolphins seen – Lots;  Turtles seen – 2;  Star fish seen – 1

Pitta Gyros consumed – Far too many!!

Times up the mast – Ian Masta-Climbing;  me pulling!  11

Genaker out – 15

Number of boat mechanics met – 10 plus the crane driver

Our Yorkshire Flag after a season in the windy Cyclades!

Number of flags and pennants shredded – FOUR –  Greek flag, Cruising Association Pennant, British Ensign, Yorkshire Flag.

A memorable year!

 

 

 

 

Setting sail – the first two legs of Season Two.

Marina di Ragusa resort and harbour wall

The boxes finally arrived after having had their own personal  ‘Giro d’Italia’ – having being sent to a marina in Reggio Calabria on the mainland, by mistake.  So, with them safely stowed, it was time to set sail.  Ian handled the boat superbly as he maneuvered out of the marina with the marinero guiding us safely out. (There had been an incident recently where a boat went aground so everyone was being super cautious.)

Me and my crew!

Heading  300nm East.

En-route, the engine suddenly stopped spitting out water with the exhaust and the bilges filled with blue coolant.  This was not good. Luckily Bill has a mechanical know how and between them, he and Ian had the problem  sorted and the engine going again!  It could have been a lot worse.

On the way we had two visitors, a gold finch who slept on the book shelf all night and a baby owl, no less than 60 miles from land, who had a brief rest on our dinghy.

We arrived in Argostoli at 0300hrs, parked up in the pitch dark and crashed out.  In the morning, Bill left us and we picked up Lizzie and Ang.  By noon we had set off for Zante to meet up with Bryn and Jill on Fly the Coop for dinner.  After a slap up breakfast in the morning we bid them a fond farewell and we went our separate ways for the time being.

We began the next leg of our journey aiming to get the Heane family to Aigina.  Our first excitement was to sail under the Rion-Antirion suspension bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world with a span of 2.252km.  We had to radio the bridge traffic personnel to ask permission to transit under the bridge.  We were given clear instructions to transit under the central arch.  ‘Keep two pillars to your starboard side and two pillars to your port side.’  We had air clearance of at least 20m where we sailed through.  The vehicles on the bridge looked like little dinky toys as they passed overhead.   It was quite spectacular running before the wind with the headsail only and achieving an impressive 8 knots of speed.

We had a pleasant stop in Galaxadhi, from where we were able to visit Delphi and then we only had one more overnight stop before going through the Corinth Canal.  (See earlier posting of Ian’s time-lapse video.)

The strong winds from earlier in the week had died down and we enjoyed a gentle potter down the canal taking a slice through the history, geography and geology of the area.  We paid €225 for the privilege.  €70 per mile.

We were able to squeeze into a berth on the town quay in Aigina and had a fabulous meal from a restaurant near the fish market.  Next day, it was time to bid farewell to the Heanes as we set off towards Skiathos to meet up without next visitors – The Daggetts!

Back On Board

Having survived, not only the ski season, but the return coach journey from Val d’Isere to London Victoria, and from there the train journey up to Preston we spent a happy few days with Ian’s mum.  After packing our boxes of essential purchases for the boat we posted them to ourselves as we ourselves set off for Manchester Airport at 0430hrs to catch a flight back to Catania, Sicilia.  Friends from Marina di Ragusa, Bryn and Jill on Fly the Coop) picked us up and we were whisked to Decathlon for Ian to buy his latest mode of transport; a push along scooter, on which he can bomb about the marina. (Much to the amusement of Keira and Erin!)

We passed a delightful lunchtime at Donnafuggata eating mussels baked in the oven with a pizza lid, washed down with beer and wine, as we whisked off our socks and shoes and basked in the spring sunshine – great company and a warm and welcome meal to mark our return to Linea.

We were delighted that the boat was fine and the bilges perfectly dry and clean.  Just a little dust and sand on deck but otherwise in great nick.

For the next few days we would be gradually reversing the winterising process: trying to remember where everything went and prepping the boat for the sail over to Greece.  This included food provisioning for the trip and visiting The Fratelli Mazza wine wholesalers.  We now have 50 litres of wine stashed in every available locker.

Soon our crew arrived for the sail across to Cephalonia.  David Heane on Friday afternoon and Bill Dear during evening happy hour.  A good few beers were consumed.

Today has been spent putting the sails back on and we are very pleased with our repaired Genoa which is now trimmed in a sand coloured UV strip to match the spray hood and new bimini, so we are looking very smart. (The sail bag is on next year’s expenditure list!) Also, we are delighted at our newly upholstered saloon cushions, which look clean and fresh and are super comfy.

So, we will set sail as soon as our parcels arrive.  The boxes we dispatched from home are now subject to a delay due to public holidays in Sicily.  A five day delay – In getting them from Milan to us! Hey ho!

Today, we are watching Optimists bob about the bay as they race to be the champions of Sicily; the monthly angling competition and large numbers of scouts milling about building tents and bridges and all manner of structures.  So, ‘Molti manifestioni’ as they say here.

We will be back in Sicily in October/November.  It has been wonderful to catch up with our new MdR fellow yachtie friends and we look forward to catching up and exchanging stories when we return.  In the meantime, there is plenty of sailing to be done.

Top Time in October and November

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We arrived in Marina di Ragusa, our winter berth, and within minutes had been invited round to neighbours for a coffee.  We rapidly realised that this is a super friendly and sociable place to be holed up for the winter.   This was going to be a great opportunity to catch up with the blog, www.madabouttheboat.com, and all the jobs we had been putting off.

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Ian up a make shift ladder stripping olives off a tree.
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Sarah wearing her kangaroo pouch olive collecting haute couture!
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Antipasti to keep the workers happy.

Our first outing was a day trip to a farm near Palazzolo Acreide where we were to spend the day olive picking.  Gorgeous people fabulous food and great fun!  We had a wonderful meal and were delighted to have picked about 40 kilos of olives which in turn will make about 8 bottles of virgin olive oil the colour of pale lime juice and tasting like fresh cut grass!

What with happy hours, beach exercises, volleyball, beach combing, Italian lessons, there was only just time to fit in a rigorous regime of cleaning, sorting, fixing and fettling!!

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Messina
Aurora arrives in Messina.
Aurora arrives in Messina.

On the 7th November we hired a car and set off north to Messina where we were due to meet Ian’s parents Harry and June at their cruise stop off in Messina.

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The famous clock.
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The date sun clock.

We had a lovely day with them, chatting, walking and eating.

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First glimpse of Mt Etna.
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House swamped by lava floe.

We waved them off and drove through the deepening gloom to our overnight stop in Randazzo.  Passing deserted lift stations as the rain and night descended made us feel slightly disconcerted as we spotted dark lava floes and a distinct lack of vegetation.  We pulled up into the village and found our B and B (thankfully not the derelict building first identified on Google maps) and were welcomed by Rosario.

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In the presence of volcanic ash.

We walked miles around the town to find that the restaurant he’d recommended was closed so we finally came across a pizzeria and tucked in to, what else? a firey pizza named Etna!!!

next day we drove up the slopes of the volcano and after a few dead ends found the main cable car.  The cost a a return trip to the summit being 63 Euros each we decided against going up.  The view was better from where we were.

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Dry lava walling.
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Snow on Mt Etna where there are 5 ski pistes and various lifts!

We thoroughly enjoyed the change in temp – well for a few minutes anyway!  and were so glad we’d taken a coat and hat! Down on the coast it had been a comfortable 20 degrees.

 

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Sky line of Noto.
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Spectacular church facade in Noto.

Next stop was beautiful Noto, with its incredible array of baroque buildings and over the top architecture.  Literally a church on every block.  Stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cleaning the bilges.

 

After our lovely two day trip it was time to get down to some serious work
on the boat to prepare her for winter in the Marina.

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Mess making!

Completing our top tips for winterising a boat:- Cleaning everything, polishing all stainless steel, washing the anchor and chain and anchor locker, washing and sterilising bilges, winterising the engines and generator, flushing fresh water down the heads, removing and washing all lines, (using mouse lines to track the route of all the lines) and generally fixing stuff that we have broken over the summer.  More on this later.

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Threshfield Moor.
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The Wharfe in full flow.

Before we could blink it was time to return to the UK.  We had a LOVELY week catching up with friends and family.

 

 

Perfect preparation for our season in Val d’Isere!