We have been busy since arriving here in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily; not just with jobs to get the boat repaired and shipshape after all the miles this summer but with our plans for what we wanted to do in the winter.
We reviewed the finances and concluded that in order to continue cruising we would have to earn over the winter, or at least stop spending. Rather than returning to our previous roles, we investigated some interesting alternatives. House-sitting,pet sitting, contract housekeeping for someone with two homes, jobs back home in the Shire, jobs abroad.
In the end, we decided that we could combine our love of ski-ing and the mountains, our enjoyment of food and cooking by applying for a few roles with chalet/ski companies which operate in the Tignes/Val d’Isere area. Since Erin is going to be working in Tignes this winter, we thought we could work in the vicinity and thus be able to see more of her than we have during the last two years that she has been working in Thailand.
We are delighted to have been offered positions as chalet hosts with renowned company, Powder White, in Val d’Isere We will be running a chalet for them!
Very exciting and just a little bit daunting.
Hopefully, there will still be time to fit in some ski-ing. We look forward to catching up with any friends and family that come to Val!
We spent a couple of days in Crotone and enjoyed having a wander round this town with its huge castle and imposing town walls.
We enjoyed briefly meeting fellow sailors on Three Times a Lady (try spelling that with the phonetic alphabet!) and early the next morning we slipped out in the calm morning breeze and wove our way out between the gas rigs and set off south and a reasonable lick. The wind was as fluky as predicted across the Golfo di Squillace and so we slowed right down. The night passed much better than the trip from Corfu and apart from one incident when two sailing boats appeared out of the darkness rather closer than I would have liked, the crossing went smoothly.
We then hit strong winds on our approach to Syracuse but coming right at us on the nose so we had to tack considerably further than we wanted to.
However, we arrived safely after two days and one night at sea and motored towards the incredible bay of Syracuse. We followed the procedure for gaining permission to enter and were allocated a berth, along with one other yacht on the massive town quay. Soon after we were tied up we visited the coast guard to do the necessary paperwork and were pleased with ourselves for doing things right. Next morning the Coast guard came round to check our papers. We were rewarded with a warm handshake and welcome to Syracuse.
We spent the whole day walking round this incredible city.
We visited the Leonardo Da Vinci museum
which has large working wooden models of his inventions and was absolutely fascinating.
The market was fabulous as Italian markets always are. Seeing all the fish and fresh produce made us hungry, even o soon after breakfast, so we had an amazing Sicilian lunch in a little back street café.
I had Pasta Siciliana which is made with a sauce of anchovies, pinenuts, sun dried tomatoes, oil, garlic, and sprinkled with herby breadcrumbs. Mmmm. Ian had Seafood risotto with saffron.
We need to go back to Syracuse because it was just beautiful and there we were, just parked on the promenade in the most enviable spot.
After a couple of nights there we just had a short hop round to Marina di Ragusa to complete. A longish day but do-able. We calculated 56 miles. We ended up doing 81 miles as the wind was, once again blowing right at us! We made it in, in the dark, and tied to the fuel pontoon ‘til morning. The security guards, alerted by the barking guard dog, flew round in a car and quizzed us. Once we had told them that we were booked in for the winter they gave us vigorous handshakes and lots of ‘va bene’s and shot back to their security posts.
Next day, we oh so smoothly, parked the boat in our winter berth – L16. Within minutes we had been invited aboard the opposite boat for coffee and met up with Carl, Amanda, Mark, Peter and Catherine. This is the most sociable place with 162 boats and around 300 live-aboards staying for the winter. We soon heard about a daily radio net, Yoga, knitting and tai chi classes, Italian lessons, olive picking experience, dinner out en masse, happy hours (3 of them per week), music making group, Halloween party, and much more…
What a fantastic, welcoming and friendly international community.
Due to wifi access challenges I have been seriously delayed in posting details about our travels! ‘Phew’, you’d be forgiven for thinking. So, apologies for dumping posts in a row.
We enjoyed our stay in Favignana, the largest of the Egadi Islands, despite me falling and smacking/scraping my leg (the previously broken one) against a dirty marble step in the Tuna Canning Museum. Subsequently, it became rather badly infected and definitely put a bit of a dampener on touring activities.
Luckily, I was able to continue the visit to the fascinating tuna factory canning museum after my fall despite a huge swelling on my ankle.
The beautifully restored building
was surprising enough, but the installations within were jaw-dropping. We were particularly impressed with the life-sized screenings of actual workers from the factory describing what their daily life at work involved; plus, wonderful old black and white footage of the canning process, from start to finish. (A process invented in by the factory owner and multi-millionaire.)
What tough lives those people had. Working in incredible heat, heaving the enormous tuna out of the nets with huge boat hooks, gutting, cutting, carting the meat across to the ovens, cooking and boiling it over rows of huge charcoal braziers, (oh, how it must have stunk!) placing the fish into tins by hand and completing the canning process by adding olive oil and a lid which was then sealed in a special machine. I bet the workers never wanted to eat tuna, that’s for sure!
The final exhibit was the Death Room which gave a chilling insight into the last few hours of the tunas’ lives as they became ensnared and entrapped in the series of ‘rooms’ made from nets, until reaching the ultimate ‘room’ from whence they were simultaneously killed and hoiked out. Amazing.
After Favignana, we headed south to Mazarra Dal Vella which is a crumbling and chaotic town with incredible charm; plenty of palazzi, piazzas and preposterously opulent churches. One of the most amazing buildings was a tiny wooden opera house seating only 90 people, rather like a miniature Globe Theatre in construction.
All the wood around the auditorium was decorated and prettily painted and embellished with gold leaf. We walked all around the area known as the Kasbah which was fascinating.
After a couple of lovely days here where we were anchored happily in the bay outside the harbour, we were unceremoniously asked to move by the coast guard who hovered beside us in his boat until we did as he requested.
On to Licata, where we anchored outside the rather pongy fishing harbour and then finally to Ragusa where we were to leave the boat during a quick visit back home for Ian’s Dad’s 80th birthday doo.
We had a wonderful time catching up with lovely friends in the Shire, picking up Erin who had come home from Thailand after 2 years on Koh Tao, and meeting up with all the Moulding family