Tag Archives: winter berth

Getting to know Gaeta

Once the thunder and rain storms had passed we ventured out. When we discovered that we were the only liveaboard boat we did begin to wonder if we had been right to leave the comfort blanket of Marina di Ragusa and its vibrant community.

Jayne Koehler, who is the port officer here came round to say hello and before long I was being whisked into town to be shown around.

To start with Jayne showed me Via Independenza which is an narrow alleyway full of small shops, stalls, wine merchants, tiellerie, (local pie shops), bakers, butchers, clothes shops, estate agents, bars, coffee shops, stationers, pizzerie, trattorie, casalinghue, ferramente – you name it, you can find it here.

She introduced me to most of the shop keepers and I felt warmly welcomed.

Later that day I showed Ian what I had discovered. We loved the quirky street. It is like a throw back. The signs above the doors have not changed in decades. It is scruffy but beguiling and everyone is so friendly.

The town is literally right on the door step of the boat and I think we are going to be happy here.

The next day, we walked down to the old part of town. The historic centre. The walk is a stunning stroll down a leafy boulevarde, along a huge promenade called the Lungomare. It must be four kilometres in length. Palm trees rustle over head and the tall flat topped pines cast a useful shade under their umbrella fronds.

We happened upon a tennis club which I would love to join….I made tentative enquiries, we’ll see if I’m brave enough to actually join.

We loved the winding streets, the steps and hairpin bends, the churches and old castle walls. We were fascinated to note that their was an international symposium of scholars of ancient manuscripts gathering for a two day conference on the future of studying manuscripts! Perhaps something was lost in translation but it was amazing to us that there even was such a thing!

We came across a talented artist in her ceramics workshop. Soon we were on first name terms. I hope to see her again. Maybe I can try my hand at decorating a ceramic tile?

On the way home we visited the wine shop. Wine is decanted into your own bottles. Luckily, in our bag, there were three we had the foresight to bring with us! We tasted the wine. I don’t know why exactly, as we were sure to buy! They were a bargain at E1.60 a litre!

Things were looking up!

The nearest beach

The next day we walked across the isthmus to investigate the beach. On the northwest facing side of the Gaeta promontory is a massive beach. The beach concessions were in the process of dismantling fencing, umbrella holders and equipment, so, once that is done the beach will be the territory of the winter residents once more.

Looking up to Monte di Spaccata

Our walk the next day was a more strenuous stroll up hill towards the Monastry of the Spaccata. This monastery/church was built into a split in the rock literally hovering a hundred metres from the sea below. The views were incredible from the top and we had the added bonus of people watching the congregation as the disgorged from church.

Big man, small car.

There are lots more walks around the Parco d’Orlando which we will do when it is less hot.

We have now discovered that there will be five other boats arriving for the winter. Of these the crew of three of them will spend most of the winter here. Another boat is being lifted onto the hard but they may visit for a holiday. So there will be a small community here, plus Jayne, the port officer.

Winds batter us and send waves over the pontoon

Today we walked North along the prom into the strong winds buffeting the outer pontoons of the marina. It has been quite wild out and we, for one, are very glad of the breakwater effect that USS Mount Whitney has on our berth.

Dominic the bike guy.

We have bought ourselves some bikes today which Dominic at the bike shop will buy back from us when we leave for half of what we paid for them. Seems like a bargain.

We have also hired a car for a few days so that we can do errands, shopping, gas refills, sewing machine repairs, laundry and most importantly go over the Appennines to Penne, Abruzzo to meet up with my great friends Paula, Lyndsay and Peter.

Sailing back to Sicily and our winter berth at Marina Di Ragusa

img_3518
Crotone to Marina di Ragusa in Sicilia

The huge castle in Crotone

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. img_3525

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.

duomo-syracuse
Syracuse duomo

We spent the whole day walking round this incredible city. syracuse

img_3602

 

 

We visited the Leonardo Da Vinci museum

img_3613
Leonardo Da Vinci models of his inventions

which has large working wooden models of his inventions and was absolutely fascinating. l-da-v-pulleys-to-aid-construction

 

 

 

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.

sicilian-pasta-and-seafood-risotto
Pasta Siciliana and Seafood risotto

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.

syracuse-promenade
Syracuse Promenade

img_3605
Ancient Roman ruins in Syracuse

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.