Tag Archives: Liveaboards

Last Legs

Our route from Taormina to Gaeta

Since the failure of the engine, it was with some trepidation that we set off to head north through the Messina straits. This was to be our first leg of seven as we headed to our winter berth 250nm north.

We timed our departure so that we would have the least tide/current against us. We were also lucky with the wind, although some of the time the wind was on the nose.

Last view of Etna.

In order to ensure that the gunky bits from the bottom of the tank had less chance of being sucked into the fuel pipe and delivered to the engine we wanted to keep the fuel tank full. The nearest fuel dock being just north of Messina, at a place called Paradiso.

As we approached the traffic separation scheme in the straits, I had to radio the marine traffic controllers in Messina to explain our intentions. The officer instructed us, in no uncertain terms, that we MUST make an appointment to go to the fuel bunker and MUST NOT hang about in the area, and MUST NOT cause any obstruction to passing shipping.

Next challenge: Phone the fuel dock to make an appointment. In my faltering Italian, I spoke to the very understanding Mario Rainieri at the fuel dock and managed to book in for 1500h.

However, we arrived earlier than expected. We hovered off the long, sharp, pointy, metallic, ugly, fuel pontoon, unsure about where exactly to moor up, or indeed if we even could. We knew that we couldn’t hang about as the Coast Guard would be after us!

I phoned Mario again, slightly panicky and I explained that we were early. He said he was at his house having lunch and would be there at 1500h as agreed and that we should tie up to the pontoon.

We approached the south side of the south pontoon and realised as we neared the structure that, a) it was high; and, b) it had railings all round.

The long and short of it is that we managed to tie up, bruised thighs resulting, and awaited Mario’s return from lunch.

Soon, Mario arrived and was very friendly. He chatted away and forced me to speak Italian. He gently corrected my grammar and pronunciation and was at pains to explain his opening hours, summer and winter.

(June 30 – August 30th open all day. Outside of those dates it is imperative to make an appointment and remember that he will be at home for his long lunch!)

We wanted to go to Scilla on the mainland. This involved crossing the traffic separation scheme. Again, we had to radio the traffic controllers. They told us when it was safe to cross and off we went. We marveled at the weird eddies and whirlpools shimmying and dancing around us. The water was practically boiling. We saw a dolphin swimming in the turmoil and wondered how they manage. We laughed giddily as we surfed one of the currents at an incredible 8kn!

Suddenly we heard ‘Linea’ being called on the radio.

‘There is a ship approaching from the south! Would we like to pass to its bow or stern?’

‘Ummm,’ I pondered, thinking quickly, ‘To its stern I think would be better!’ We altered our course and all was good.

We spent the night on a mooring buoy in Scilla, rocking and rolling behind the breakwater of the small harbour. The town is supposed to be worth seeing but, sadly, since it was raining heavily we decided to stay on board.

Next morning, we set off for Tropea. The swell from last night continued all day today and so when we arrived at the anchorage we knew that it would be a very bumpy night on a lee shore. We elected to continue on to the marina Stella del Sud in Vibo a further 10nm east.

We had a pleasant night here with free showers, welcoming people (the marineros even come on board and tie off your lazy lines for you – LUXURY!) and a bar.

The next day was a biggish hop north to Cetrara. We anchored off and Ian and David went ashore to the fuel dock to replenish the jerry cans. We had a super calm night as the swell had mostly dissipated by then.

The following day saw us head further north to Palinuro. A beautiful anchorage off a National Park. We went ashore and found a beach bar and discovered that it was only a short walk from here to the village from where David could find his way to Naples airport and his flight home.

From Palinuro we planned to do the remaining miles in one hit to get to Gaeta before a few days of thundery and rainy weather were due. However, the swell that had eluded us yesterday evening tucked in as we were in the Bay of Good Sleeps, reared its ugly head and the wind decided to do the opposite of what was forecast. We tacked endlessly across our desired course and made virtually no progress.

Plan B…We headed to an anchorage off Ogliastra and picked up a mooring buoy.

Next day, we headed for Capri where we could anchor off the Grande Marina. We intended to anchor, rest, eat and then set off to Gaeta at 0000h.

However, best laid plans and all that. We anchored in 15m of water. Soon, an Australian yacht arrived and anchored nearby. We decided to go ashore and have a quick look at Capri, since we were here. We set off in the dinghy and were invited onto Ari and before you could say, ‘G’day, mate.’ we were drinking a glass or two of vino with them.

We dodged the numerous ferries charging into Capri and found somewhere to dock the dinghy. The outside pontoon No 1 was bouncing and wobbling like crazy with all the wash from the ferries. One yacht that was moored there decided to leave since it was so uncomfortable.

We walked into town and were shocked at how many tourists there were even in late September. We quickly bought a few supplies and left. I think it is a place to visit in the very low season only.

Back on board we had a quick supper and then grabbed forty winks before upping the anchor at 0930h and setting off into the night.

We were in a race with the inbound bad weather.

We negotiated ferries and fishing vessels, small Spanish sailing boats and the narrow straits of Ischia with its buoys of special purpose and finally we were heading across the Bay of Gaeta. Nearly there now, but would we beat the rain and storms?

We both had a couple of hours sleep in the cockpit and I woke Ian when we were 10nm off. At the speed we were making we would arrive in the dark. We cut our speed to 3kn and doodled along killing time.

Eventually the dawn broke and sunlight peeked over the mountains to our east. We had plenty of time to ready ourselves with fenders, lines and lowering the dinghy.

The marineros came out to greet us as we rounded the bow of the USS Mount Whitney that is stationed in Gaeta Military base.

USS Mount Whitney – Communications flagship vessel for the sixth fleet.

We were guided calmly to our berth with no further incidents!

PHEW! and BREATHE! After a shower, snack, and sleep we needed to stretch our legs. Then, feeling peckish, stopped for some comfort food. No sooner had we sat down than the predicted wind, rain, thunder and lightning came in just as predicted.

And then the sun came out!

Next time, read about our discoveries in our new place of abode.

Time in Split by bus

Ian and I decided to take a quick day trip to Split from our anchorage in Vinisce. This involved a couple a buses from Vinisce to Trogir and then from there to Split. All very easy to figure out. We arrived in Split around midday and headed to the old town. Here we wandered round taking in the sights.

It was of course very warm and we soon ran out of the impetus to wander round much more. We headed for a fabulous health food bistro Step by Step and ordered some yummy salads and ravioli.

Having re-fuelled we felt better and were able to summon up the energy to walk back to the bus station. The bus times worked perfectly for us and although we arrived back after dark there were no problems getting back to the boat.

A good day out.

Guest Blog; Keira and Lucy on Linea

20/08/19-01/09/19

A few highlights from a fantastic two week holiday in Croatia…

After a flying visit to Dubrovnik with Keira, we travelled 4 hours by ferry on Wednesday to Milna on the island of Brač. Sarah and Ian were on the town quay awaiting our arrival and we walked to where Linea was moored. After a long catch up, a delicious homemade curry, and a few glasses of wine, we were ready for bed, and slept soundly for the first night on the boat.

Thursday, we set off to Smrka bay, which was beautiful, it even housed an old Military tunnel left over from the Former Yugoslavia, and an old house left in its ori​ginal state.

The house was complete with an outside shower and toilet, as well as a large open fire in the main room of the house, used for cooking a traditional supper for dinner guests who wish to enjoy a traditional Croatian meal.

Friday, we managed to sail the full 19 miles to Vis as we were lucky with the 5.6 knots of wind in our favour.

The incredible dolphin sightings out at sea- thanks Ian for always spotting them whilst we were deeply involved in our respective books

Saturday was by far the most interesting day as we set off from Vis town by Land Rover to visit three different military bases. Equipped with helmets and headlamps, the tour started in the underground tunnels. We explored the labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers, saw the remains of cannons and abandoned warehouses.

The views from the top were incredible! The tour guide pointed out Tito’s cave and informed us that the leader used this as a Partisan hideout from the invading Nazi forces during the Second World War. We were left fascinated by a tour so rich in culture and history that afterwards, we spent some time discussing it with our guide over a well-earned beer.

The view from the top

Sunday, we sailed 30 miles to Korčula.

I think now it is the right time to mention that England thrashed Australia in the Ashes. Despite mine and Keira’s disinterest in the cricket, I know that S+I will be thrilled that I mention this here, it did create a buzzy atmosphere on the boat and we celebrated by enjoying G+T’s on the top deck and were introduced to ‘Black Mariah’.

The following three days were spent in Lastovo’s Archipelago Nature park- the most idyllic place of all. We were spoilt by the luscious vegetation and marine life that surrounded us. Some personal highlights from this wonderful island: locals who travelled around by dinghy delivering bread and pastries to any anchored vessel, the four of us star gazing on the top deck- mesmerised by the little air pollution, the exhausting yet thoroughly enjoyable 20 mile cycle around the island topped with a fantastic lunch in ‘Fumari’.

Next up was a 30 mile sail to Ston, we spent the evening in a restaurant where a large table of crew members dined from the world’s second largest super yacht named ‘Perlorus’.

The ‘much talked about’ Pelorus super yacht

We indulged in freshly barbequed fish and home grown salad and chips and enjoyed conversing with the crew members and learning how ‘the other half live’! Keira and I spent our last night on the boat in Cavtat before S+I took us to shore to wave us goodbye as we parted ways. A truly unforgettable holiday filled with cultural discoveries, delicious food, some exercise, and great company- thank you Sarah and Ian for a wonderful boating experience. 

I don’t know if you want to put this in the blog but I just wanted to say a special thank you to Ian for teaching me the basics about sailing, I can confidently work out the maths when it comes to calculating the distance, speed, and duration from destination to destination (just about!) Sarah, thank you for inspiring me with your cooking and acting as nurse when I fell over and cut my knee. I am so grateful to you both for inviting me onto the boat, you spoilt me! I look back with such fond memories that will stay with me forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The calm after the storm…and the last part of Paddy and Louis’ week

The storm passed overhead to continue to cause such havoc further down the mainland coast towards Split that it was mentioned on National News sites. Luckily, we slept like logs in the cool air after the cold front had passed.

We awoke at a leisurely pace.  Paddy nipped ashore to buy a few supplies. We set off to go round the headland and south to a lovely anchorage between Uglijan and Pasman.  There was no wind today so we motored all of it.

Having anchored in the protected bay, we went ashore and explored the village.  A cute holiday village.  Next morning, we set off north again.  Despite my ordering calm seas and no wind, there was some swell  between us and the mainland it would be best if P and L could catch a ferry from Preko on Uglijan, to Zadar. Subsequently, they could catch a bus to Trogir and the airport.

I whizzed the boys ashore in the dinghy and waved them off feeling rather choked.  It had been a lovely week for us despite the many thrashings we received at cards!

Next, we venture further north whilst we await the arrival of Keira and Lucy.

The Big Storm!

Muline Bay on the north side of the isthmus at the top of Uglijan Island.

The next day was Friday the 2nd of August, there were a few fluffy clouds present but it all seemed very benign.  We ended up motoring some of the way north in light winds. 

We shuddered as we passed the low bridge between Pasman and Uglijan. Only two weeks before we had seen a charter boat attempt to sail under it with damaging consequences. 

In the mid afternoon, we anchored in the gorgeous tree-lined bay of Pavlesina with protection from a jutting headland to our west and north. 

After a swim and relax, we had time to head to shore and walk across the isthmus to Muline and enjoy a beer.

Louis and Paddy

As we sat under the large Ozujsko Beer umbrella, we saw that huge rain clouds were pummelling  the islands to the north and west of us (Dugi Otok island).  Hmm.  Perhaps they are heading our way afterall.

Getting darker!

We were just setting off back to the boat when Paddy suggested that we go to eat at one of the restaurants in the village.  He commented that the BBQ looked good; and it certainly smelled good.

So, after a little discussion and the toss of three coins, (only with Paddy!) we decided that it would be best to return to the boat due to the forecasted storms.  But, we were sorely tempted; and so ended up sitting down to have a delicious dinner in the Konoba Kod Sime.

The view through the restaurant window

Just as we were contemplating ordering a further carafe of wine we saw worsening weather coming in from the west.

The staff closed the windows.

Rain and waves lashing the windows

The wind and waves opened them again!  We attempted to force them shut.  Torrential rain and waves began to lash the windows.

We were worried!  After all, we had left Linea all alone in the bay to the south.  I asked for a bin bag.  I wanted to try to keep warm and dry on the walk home. Ever the practical one.

We began to stride back across the Isthmus.  Slipping and sliding along the muddy track trying to get back to the boat before she dragged out of the anchorage. 

Louis dancing in the rain

When we arrived back we saw our anchor light and breathed sighs of relief.  We all jumped in the dinghy and were soon back on board assessing the situation.

Luckily, Ian had closed all the hatches so the boat was fairly dry.  Neither of the heads hatches had been closed so the shower rooms were full of water – but they are designed for that.  No problem!

We were beginning to realise just how lucky we were that Linea had stayed where we left her!!

We may take our time with anchoring and making sure we the anchor is well set but it is definitely worth it. 

We played calming games of Bonus Whist and Rummy. 

In the morning, Ian went to survey the sea bed.  We had dragged 2m through the sand but our anchor had reset perfectly.

A German boat motored past us in the morning asking us if we had recorded the wind speed the previous evening. They informed us that another boat had recorded 55 knots of wind during the storm!!!!!  That is quite possibly the most we have ever encountered.  Today, I read a Croatian newspaper article about the mess left behind after the vicious storm on Friday 2nd August which demolished tables, chairs, and umbrellas on seaside quays and weather stations had recorded 150km winds in the area! 

Friends on the other side of the island recorded 72 knots of wind. Clearly the wind had been gathering speed as it travelled South.

Yikes, we had been very lucky.