Thursday, 25 November 2010

Tunisia, London, and Oz

New apartment, Monastir Next door building site plus sheep
Faluccas leaving Monastir Marina
Canal near Matt & Mim's appartment
Mim, Matt & Dad -Morning tea at market
Blue roses at flower market
Jean & Keith at the local
Windsor Castle in 3 degrees
Hi from Clare, Tunisia, London, and Oz Wednesday 24th November 2010 MATTHEW’S VISIT We enjoyed having Matthew (Andrew’s son) with us for a few days before leaving Tunisia. His presence stopped us focusing on the boat and inspired us to do some sight seeing. We hired a guide to drive us to the capital city of Tunis. Here we saw the Phoenician city of Cathage which dates back to 814BC, the Bardo Museum which has the world’s best collection of Mosaics, the Madina which is the largest market place in Tunisia and finally the 13th century cliff top town of Side Bou Said which is one of the prettiest spots in Tunisia. Fortunately our guide had a thorough knowledge of the city. To try and do this trip with a hire car would be a nightmare. The city streets are congested and chaotic, the road sign are written in Arabic, French and sometimes English. In the city centre, the modes of transport include cars, busses, trucks, bicycles, tractors, horse and cart and man and cart. The subway was at a stand still so everyone started blowing their horns. The car next to us had three sheep in the back seat with their heads hanging over the driver’s shoulder. The car windows were shut; I can’t imagine what it must have smelt like in there. (Sorry, no photos are available as I have left my photo stick of this trip on the boat). We also had a good walk around Monastir visiting the Madina, the castle dating back to the 8th century and the mausoleum which was built to house the body of Tunisia’s first President, Habib Bourguiba. He is known for finally throwing the French out. By this time Andrew and I had been in Monastir for three weeks and only ventured into town for business. It was good to take some time out to actually see the place. The town is a mixture of new and very old. It is not unusual to see a modern apartment next to a completely dilapidated building (Photos 1&2) or a sparkling French patisserie on a dirt road in the flea market. The population is just as varied with large numbers of French, North Africans, Tunisians, Arabs and a splattering of other Europeans. The day before Matthew departed, the marina management put on a BBQ lunch of fish and salad. There was also talk of a regatta of some description for which we would be busses to at 9.30am. After the regatta we would return to the marina by bus or by Felucca in time for lunch. Sounds like a plan, yes? Well not exactly because we are now working on lay back Tunisian time. Nothing happened until 11.30am when the marina staff lit the BBQ (which was a 44 gal drum cut in half). They were having difficulty getting it to ignite and smoke was billowing out across the tables. The management team was fanning it madly to no avail until one creative thinker came out with a hair dryer; that fixed it! They then covered the flames with a curled up piece on building reinforcement wire and threw the fish on. The first lot cooked was charcoal and it didn’t really improve much. The salad was diced like coleslaw but no utensils were supplied. We did get a plastic plate and cup, so I tore my cup up in an attempt to make salad scoops. The fish we ate with our fingers and tore a chunk of bread off the loaf before passes it along the table. I don’t know what happened to the “regatta”. Around 5pm there was an opportunity to sail out of the marina on one of 5 feluccas. (Photo 3) Andrew and Matthew and some others followed the fleet in a small fishing boat and as I waved them goodbye I imagined I wouldn’t see them for some hours. They were back on Eye Candy within the hour – I think that was the regatta! HELLO LONDON We left sunny Tunisia on Thursday 11th November and headed for London for a week. The airport at Monastir is strictly no smoking except for immigration. All the no smoking signs were on display but our immigration officer was puffing away. I wanted to leave the country so I decided not to say anything. We arrived into Gatwick and made our way to Victoria Station and met up with Matthew. We decided to travel to his home on the Double Decker bus giving us a great view of the city buildings, shops and Piccadilly Circus. Matthew and Mim live on the third floor in a lovely new apartment building by the canal in Angel, Islington. The lift got stuck between 1st and 2nd floor and we had to wait an hour for the repair man. The three of us sat on the floor and listened to Bill Cosby comedy on Andrew’s laptop. Eventually we were set free but we didn’t use the lift again. The next day Andrew and I ventured into Oxford Circus on the train. I needed to buy some winter woolens. It was freezing in London and before the week was out we experienced thick fog and 3 degrees. That night we went to a lovely English pub on the canal. We had Steak and Kidney pie for dinner and guess what, it had “steak” in it and “kidney” in it; proof we were back in a first world country. The following night we went into Regent Street in the city to see the Christmas lights. It was truly magical and the shops and window displays were stunning. We came back to Angel and went out to Matt and Mim’s favorite Indian restaurant for dinner. After several months of Mediterranean cuisine, Indian was a taste sensation. The following morning we walked along the canal (Photos 4) to the fresh flower markets (Photo 5). It was great listening to the vendors calling “five quid or free(3) for a tenner” and the flowers were lovely; I have never before seen blue roses (Photo 6). The next three days were spent at the home of cruising friends Keith and Jean from “La Liberte” (Photo 7) We had a wonderful time and were thoroughly spoilt with Jean’s great cooking, a dinner at their local pub sampling different beers and sight seeing trips around the district of Churtsey. We also went to Windsor Castle but as there was an investiture going on we didn’t get to see the state rooms. (Photo 8) The tickets allow us to return anytime in the next 12 months so the plan is to use them before returning to Tunisia early next year. We also caught up with Colin and Denise’s son Shane Wilson and his lovely bride Tory. As we often say “It’s a small world” and as it so happened the Wilson’s live ten minutes away from Keith and Jean, how convenient is that? NO PLACE LIKE HOME We flew into a very warm Sydney on Thursday 18th November and since then have been busy catching up with family and friends and settling back into Kiama. It is wonderful to be home and fantastic to be with Colin and Denise. I am enjoying having order back in my life. My clothes are ironed; my shoes are lined up in the wardrobe. Things don’t slide off flat surfaces and I don’t have to lift the couch cushions to get to the pantry – life’s good. This is my last newsletter for 2010. We hope you will join us again on our next year’s adventure. Love Candy xx

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Central West Tunisia

John & Jan from "Brigantia" Roman Amphitheatre at El Jem Berber houses underground Berber Tea and bread 74 year old oasis worker Canyon in the Atlas mountains Roadside rubbish Off to market?

Sheep grazing in town Roadside fuel

Hi from Clare Central West Tunisia Thursday 4th November 2010 SIGHTS TO SEE With most of the work behind us we now have time to do some sight seeing. Our English friends John and Jan on “Brigantia” (Photo 1) came with us on a three day land tour of the central west of Tunisia. We traveled some 1200 km and saw an amphitheatre (Photo 2), an art and craft museum, a museum on the history of Tunisia, a Berber village (Photo 3 & 4), Bedouin tents, a cultivated oasis (Photo 5), canyons in the Atlas Mountains (Photo 6), a waterfall, camels, The Grand Mosque, souvenir shops and a carpet shop. LOST IN TRANSLATION We had a great time and lots of laughs with Jan and John. The three days were full on from 6am to 6pm. Our guide spoke five languages but English was his weak suit. We had to really concentrate to understand what he was saying. Fortunately Jan could speak French and so with her interpretation and John’s imagination, whatever was lost in translation was certainly made up for in laughs. WOE IS ME Our guide Hammet or affectionately dubbed “Ham Head” talked non stop about his broken marriage and women. By nightfall we were bored stiff and plotting how to avoid him. We considered asking him not to dine with us, he had other ideas. He joined us for dinner and pre dinner drinks in the bar each night and then left us to pay the bill – smart move. HOW DO THEY DO IT Hammet said the average wage is 300 Dinah a month (a Dinah equals 80 cents). The prices in the shops and supermarkets are equivalent to Australia. However the Tunisian people look well dressed and well fed. Something doesn’t add up. Maybe there are two different prices, one for tourists and one for locals. BAKHSHISH We were told by other cruising people to expect to pay Bakhshish to officials when entering Tunisia, We also heard that they would come on the boat and ask for spirits (alcohol) or some other form of gift. We have seen very little of this but as wages are low we do tip everyone who offers a service. RANDOM OBERVATIONS Firstly, I have never seen so much rubbish. It is in the streets, the paddocks, building sites, the neighborhood, the market, rivers and waterways. Plastic is everywhere (Photo 7). In Monastir and every town we passed through, there are endless Caf├ęs with men sitting around drinking coffee – there are no women present. Smoking is permitted in most places and a lot of Tunisians smoke. Public rubbish bins are not washed and stink of “bin juice”. You smell the bins long before you see them. There are a few beggars on the street and children come and ask for money, I’ve seen sheep in the backseat of the car (Photo8). They are brought into the busy town to graze on a little patch of grass (Photo9). The sheep leave droppings, but no one removes them. In the country there was a market day for second hand clothes. Everything was piled on the tables in a disorderly fashion and women were foraging through it – no waste here. Petrol in Tunisia costs 1 Dinah a litre. However petrol is brought across the border from Lybia for one tenth of that price and sold in 20 litre cans on the side of the road (Photo 10). The children in the country seem happy and wave and speak to you. They certainly haven’t been taught about “stranger danger”. I guess it’s not necessary. The young Tunisian people are very good looking. Many of the girls are so gorgeous it is hard not to stare at them. There are plenty of attractive young men also. They don’t seem to keep their good looks as they grow older though. SO WHAT NOW Andrew’s son Matthew is flying in tonight from London to spend four days with us. His workplace has a policy that if you don’t use your leave you loose it, so Matt has decided to take his two remaining days and run them into the weekend. We will have a look at Monastir tomorrow, Friday we will take a tour to Tunis, which is the capital and has much to offer. Sunday there is a regatta of sailing boats and a BBQ. Matthew will fly back to London on Monday and we will fly to London the following Thursday. We will spend a week in London firstly with Matt and Mim and then with cruising friends Keith and Jean from “La Liberte” We have also arranged to see Shane and the new Mrs Wilson in London before flying to Sydney on 17th November. This is my penultimate newsletter. Love Candy xx

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sicily to Tunisia

Leaving the Egardi Islands in early morning
Trapani and Favignana Is behind us Pantelleria Harbour
A Mausoleum in Monastir, Tunisia
Hi from Clare, Sicily to Tunisia Sunday 24th October GOOD BYE ITALY, HELLO NORTH AFRICA We left the Egardi Islands on 14th October to travel 150 miles to Monastir Tunisia. The first part of the trip was to the island of Pantelleria which is about half way between Sicily and Tunisia. We had around 16knots of wind on our beam having a good sail and completing the 65 miles in eleven and a half hours (Photo 1 & 2). We spent two nights on the fishing wharf at Pantelleria waiting for a 30 knot blow to pass over before continuing on our way Photo 3). The fishing wharf was crowded leaving only one spot for yachts. So we rafted up five deep outside two racing yachts that were on their way to Malta for the Middle Sea race. The racing boats left at first light the next morning and then two large fishing trawlers behind us went out to sea leaving a big space in the corner. TAKE ACTION CAPTAIN The blow was due that night. Late in the afternoon six more yachts turned up. There was an English yacht that rafted up to us, a French yacht that decided to leave and a group of inexperienced Polish people in four hire yachts. The Polish contingency rafted up against each other in the corner. But as it happened they only had one stern line to the shore holding the four yachts. When the storm hit at 2am this line became detached and the four yachts swung around and ended up across our stern and the sterns of the other three boats rafted up to us. Andrew was on the wharf in the pouring rain giving instructions to the stunned Polish contingency. They didn’t have any idea what to do or even that they had to do anything, so Andrew became very directive and shouted over the noise of thunder and rain, “GET A ROPE – TIE IT TO THAT CLEAT – GIVE IT TO ME – GET ANOTHER ROPE etc”. By this stage it was like watching a game of “Simon Says”. I was waiting for Andrew to shout “NOW JUMP IN THE WATER”. I think they would have done it! Fortunately for Eye Candy, the yachts rafted to us on both sides were a little longer and so the Polish contingency was resting on their sterns and not ours. The following morning the Polish people were full of apologies and thanks. OUR FINAL SAIL We left the following afternoon at 4.30pm to travel the 85 miles to Monastir Tunisia. We wanted to leave and arrive in daylight due to the number of fishing nets near both harbours. Once again we had a good sail, this time on a broad reach. We made such good time that before daylight we had to drop the main and continue with only a very small jib to slow the boat down. It was a little sad knowing that this was our last sail for the season. MONASTIR FOR WINTER So we have been in Monastir for one week. For the first three days we had 30-40 knot winds so we couldn’t do much to pack the boat up. We spent the time checking into the country, organizing flights home, finding our way around and catching up with friends who are also wintering here. The last four days however have been very busy. We have stored away the sails, removed all the halyards and sheets. Andrew has done his engine maintenance, calibrated the fuel gauge and pickled the water maker. I scrubbed the dodger, bimini, side panels, boom bag and stowed them away. I then polished the stainless and washed the deck. I have also kept the laundry busy running back and forwards with doonas, quilts and lots of linen. We wanted to get these jobs done before the rain came again. We achieved our goal as today it is raining. We are having dinner tomorrow night with the English couple who were rafted up to us in Pantelleria and a Dutch couple who are next to us in this marina. All six of us are keen to do some land travel and so this will be the topic of conversation. I haven’t had my head in the right space to take photos of Monastir as yet (Photo 4). I also haven’t seen enough of it to form an opinion. I can confirm that the marina is good. We think the boat will be very safe in the water here. We have two ground lines to the front cleats, two ground lines to the centre cleats and six lines attached to the stern of the boat to the pier. We have American friends who are spending the winter here too. Andrew has agreed that they can store some of their sails inside our boat while we are at home. In return they will keep an eye on our lines and Eye Candy in general. SO WHAT NOW Hopefully we will do some land travel. The marina organizes trips for four or more people with English speaking guides. So all we need is to enroll another couple in the possibility and we will be off. Love Candy xx

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Tunisia, North Africa

Hi from Clare, Tunisia, North Africa Saturday 23rd October 2010

We arrived in Tunisia last Saturday. We are both well and happy but I am too tired to write a newsletter. We have been busy packing the boat up for the winter months. I will write soon.

Love Candy xx

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Monday, 11 October 2010

Favignana, Egardi Islands

Eye Candy on the wharf House below ground level Grand residence from the Tuna days "Mother" Church and Brass Band
Hi from Clare, Favignana, Egardi Islands Monday 11th October 2010

THE WAITING GAME We have spent the week waiting for a northerly wind to carry us down to Tunisia. At this stage it looks like we will head out on Thursday or Friday; we will keep our fingers crossed.

While we wait we have completed some of the annual maintenance jobs in preparation for leaving the boat. Andrew has scrubbed the bottom of the boat in 21 degree water - a bit chilly. He then polished the sides of the boat and cleaned out the holding tanks - yuck! I have washed the cushion covers from the three beds, polished the deck, cockpit and transom. We will keep chipping away at our work list hoping to have some spare time for sight seeing once we arrive in Tunisia.

MAKING THE MOST OF IT The weather is cooler but we still like to go for a swim and make the most of the sunshine so we anchor out as much as possible. At the moment we are on the town wharf while a southerly front comes through (Photo1). It rained yesterday and last night.

We have taken three separate bus rides around this small island. The most interesting thing to see, once out of town, is the way some of the houses are built. The island has a lot of soft rock (we think it is tufor) which is used for basic houses construction. The building blocks are cut out of the ground. By the time there is enough for a house the area of land is just one big hole. The house is then built in the hole, the end result being the roof of the house is at ground level (Photo 2). The ground must be fairly porous as the holes are not water logged. They would also be well protected from the wind. It is not very attractive as there is a lot of exposed rock and very little greenery.

THE GOLDEN YEARS The town of Favignana is a mixture of old and new. In days gone by the town was very prosperous with a large tuna processing plant. Some of the older buildings are lovely (Photo 3) and back then the streets were made from large marble blocks. The old town houses are multi level and close together. Entrance to each house is through a private garden courtyard. The few we have seen are lush with greenery and flowering plants.

THE PEOPLE The community appears to be middle aged. I think the young ones would head over to the mainland for work. The shops open from 8am to 1pm and then 6pm to 9pm and the place has a siesta in the afternoon. Most of the locals seem to do their shopping in the morning. One morning I called into the butchers and it was crowded. It was a narrow shop and the customers were lined up out the door. I shuffled in with about twenty big round Italian Mumas who were all talking at the top of their voices. It was quite a social occasion and clearly they all knew each other, I was the odd one out. I was amused watching a customer shouting her order across to the butcher who I thought at any minute would put his fingers in his ears and scream 'shut up' to the lot of them. However he just kept smiling and going about this business. After waiting in the still crowded shop for fifteen minutes one of the Italian women pointed to herself and then to me indicating that I was next. Thank goodness because as the shop emptied and refilled I had lost track of the sequence. I feared cutting in on someone and being trampled underfoot by twenty irate women. When I stepped up to the counter all eyes were on me. So above all the noise of the chatter I pointed to the chicken fillets, held two fingers up and asked for "polo, duo". The women all nodded and looked at each other saying "Ah English, English". I next pointed to the pork chops and held up two fingers, all heads turned to where I was pointing and then twenty Italian Mumas did the talking for me. I couldn't help but smile and they all nodded and smiled back.

THE TRADITION The town celebrated a religious festival the other day. We think it was the blessing the fishing fleet. The Madonna statue was removed from the Mother Church and brought down in a procession to the wharf (Photo 4). There was a brass band playing throughout the day and at night we had amplified music and fireworks. We had front row seat from the boat. The music was choreographed in time with the firework explosions making it the best display we have seen in the Med.

SO WHAT NEXT Hopefully I next time I write we will be in Tunisia. We know a few people who are spending the winter months there in the marina so we will have some company.

Love Candy xx

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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

West Coast Sicily

Church Towers in old town Mazara Museum, Mazara Cathedral, Mazara
Garabaldi Gate, old town Marsala
Town Hall, Marsala Marsala, old town residences
HI from Clare, West Coast Sicily Sunday 3rd October CHANGING SEASONS So it is now October and autumn has arrived. The water temperature has dropped from 28 degrees to 22 degrees and the air temperature is usually in the mid twenties. The days are still lovely and sunny with a cool breeze so it’s a great time of the year for sight seeing. However, not good for sailing as the weather is unpredictable. We can spend days at anchor waiting for the wind to die down. PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE We stayed in the harbour of Castellammare Del Golfo for five nights waiting for the wind to change to the north east. It was fairly unpleasant as the sea swell caused the boat to roll day and night. We went ashore each day just for some relief. We got plenty of exercise and then sat around with the locals drinking far too much coffee. In my last newsletter I mentioned that we would watch the film Ocean’s 12 again and see if we could recognize the parts filmed in this town – we could not. WE KNOW BOATS We headed back to Trapani on Tuesday morning. Our hot water tank had sprung a leak so Andrew had it welded for the third time. It still leaks a little but we can live with it for the moment. I stayed on the boat taking advantage of the calm conditions to catch up on some domestics. COOL, CLEAR, WATER On Wednesday we sailed across to the Egadi Islands to enjoy some swimming in crystal clear 22 degree water. If we were at home in Jervis Bay we would say “22 degrees beautiful”. But we are Mediterranean squibs now so we have a quick dip and get out (cold) to lie in the sun. A FISHING TOWN The wind had changed to the north with a southerly forecast to follow in a few days. So Thursday we headed thirty miles south to Mazara del Vallo on the west coast of Sicily It is one of the most important Italian fishing ports and is well set up with a natural waterway extending well into the township. This waterway is crowded with fishing vessels, some in good repair, some very rusty, others are totally cluttered and look un-seaworthy. One smaller vessel had sunk some time ago and just left. Along the wharf there are large bundles of fishing nets and boat junk. The area stinks of fish, diesel, decaying matter and urine. SOME SIGHT SEEING AT LAST It seams that in places dating back to BC there is a new and an old part of town. So when we are approaching the harbour we have learnt to look for the old church towers so we know where to go (Photo 1). The old town in Mazara del Vallo is beautiful with grand old buildings and churches (Photos 2 & 3). The town square would have once been crowded but nowadays it is almost a ghost town with just a few tourists wondering around. AND THE SIGHTS YOU SEE However, step outside the gates of the old town and it is bedlam. We bought an ice cream and sat at a roundabout to watch the traffic driving past Italian style. It is hard to spot a car without dents. The boom gates at a rail crossing came down. Not just one gate on each side of the track (like we have at home) but two gates to block the entire width of the road. However, that didn’t stop the people from ducking under or through the barriers to cross the road. People of all ages, some chatting in groups, some talking on mobiles, but the best one was a mother who pushed her small child onto the tracks telling him to run and then she followed - we were astounded. SWEET MARSALA By Saturday the wind had changed to the south, so we headed ten miles north to the town of Marsala. The town is especially known for its fortified wine which I’m sure most of us have tasted at some point. I can remember my first taste sneaking some from the decanter at home; fairly sweet from memory. I guess had I got caught, it wouldn’t be a sweet memory. Marsala is a huge town with lots of high rise accommodation and industrial development. It looks fairly unattractive and we almost turned away. It is a twenty minute walk from the marina to the old town. The road along the foreshore is hot, dusty and deserted so we went one street back to get some shade from the buildings. This street is vastly different with fashionable shops, outdoor restaurants and plenty of traffic. It is in total contrast and yet only fifty metres apart. The old walled town has four large gates (Photo 4) and the streets within are made of marble. The buildings and churches date back to 11th century but since then have been restored or rebuilt on Norman foundations (Photos 5 & 6). We were there during siesta time so most of the shops were closed. We walked up the winding back streets and the shop fronts are very old with crumbling brickwork and doors like horse stables. But inside the buildings are totally refurbished to 21st century standard; totally unexpected. BACK TO THE ISLANDS Sunday we came across to the Egardi Islands to sit out the southerly wind. We anchored in a well protected bay along with twenty other boats. Most of them were locals enjoying the weekend so they left in the late afternoon. Today we have the bay to ourselves. It is a fabulous spot with aqua coloured water, sandy bottom; we can see our anchour in six meters of water. The wind is blowing 25 knots outside and there are plenty of white caps out there. But we sit here in calm conditions enjoying the day. We will be here for a few days waiting for the next northerly to kick in. Andrew is busy cleaning the dinghy and removing rust spots off the boat. I am supposed to be polishing the deck, so I better get to it. SO WHAT NEXT We have decided not to see Malta this year as the wind is not favourable to then go on to Tunisia. We will do Malta at the beginning of next season. We will go to Tunisia on the next northerly. We will be there around the middle of the month and this will give us some time to do some exploring. Love Candy xx

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Trapani and Surrounds, Sicily

Clare & Norman Castle at Erice
Foot Bridge and paved streets Gothic Church 1314
Red coral decorations
Trapani Town Hall
St Agostino Church 14th Century, Trapani
Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, Trapani
Sandstone Quarry, Favignana Is
Old Tuna Factory, Favignana Is
Coastline, Nth Sicily
Castellammare del Golfo, Nth Sicily
9th Century Castle, Castellammare
Hi from Clare, Trapani and Surrounds Friday 24th September 2010 A VERY PRETTY WALLED CITY On Sunday morning we went into Trapani and took the cable car to the ancient fortified town of Erice which is situated 750 meters above sea level on top of a mountain overlooking Trapani and the sea. Erice dates back to 5th Century BC but most of the buildings today are from the middle ages. Three hundred people live in the town and on clear days the view is spectacular. It has many churches, a castle, medieval towers and lots of lovely patterned cobble stone streets (Photos 1, 2 & 3). The houses are joined together and have internal garden courtyards behind stone walls giving the residents total privacy. We were told by our friends Sarah and Chris on “Tulu” that it was a must see and they were right. ON THE BUSSES - SOMETIMES I’m not quite sure whether it was fortunately or unfortunately for us, but as there were no busses running on Sunday we ended up walking 5 kilometers to the cable car station and then after walking around Erice for a few hours we faced another five kilometers back to the boat. As you can imagine, we slept very well that night. Thankfully, the following morning we caught the bus to the Conte Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum. With the help of the Tourist Guide Book to Trapani we could identify all the important paintings, sculptures and precious artifacts. The pieces crafted from local red coral were interesting and certainly different. The coral reef was discovered in the sea of Trapani in the 15th Century and was in great demand for the next three hundred years (Photo 4). BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS We walked around the town of Trapani. It has a very beautiful old town with well maintained buildings dating back to the 13th Century. One of my favorite buildings was the town hall. It dates back to 15th Century and has been renovated a few times. The clock and the datary were added in 1827 along with the statues of the Madonna of Trapani and of Saint Alberto, the patron saint of the city (Photo 5). GOOD OLD LEO We also went to a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in the 13th Century Church of Agostino. There were many models of Leonardo’s inventions along with reproductions of his art works (Photos 6 & 7). I wonder if the guy ever slept, his mind must have been running at a million miles an hour. YUMMY ITALIAN FOOD Tuesday (back to reality) we did a few boat chores and met up with Sharon and John from the American yacht “Seraphim” which had anchored not far from us. We joined them for drinks and dinner that evening in the fashionable centre of town. They had been recommended ‘the best pasta restaurant in Tripani’ but unfortunately it was shut on Tuesday night. We had to settle for the second best pasta restaurants in Trapani and ended up having a delicious dinner, even though we couldn’t read the Italian menu and had to point and hope we got something we liked. AN UNEXPECTED PLEASURE So Trapani was a wonderful surprise and we thoroughly enjoyed the historic buildings, the wide marble streets with fashionable shops, the food, the people and the comfortable blend of past and present. NOT SO BEAUTIFUL Wednesday we moved across to the Egardi archipelago eight miles off the coast of Trapani. There are three islands in the group and we went to the largest one Favignanna. It was once a working island with the large tuna factory but is now mainly low key tourism and is known for its many lovely clear water bays. We stopped in a bay for a swim; the cliff face was sandstone and had square vertical walls. It looked like it had been mined in rectangular blocks for building. We noticed other bays like this around the island (Photo 8). The main town has the remains of the tuna factory and a prison (Photo 9). While we were tying up to the wharf the Guardia Penitentiary boat arrived. We think there was a new arrival as a guy was escorted to the waiting paddy wagon which then disappeared in the direction of the prison. After checking the town out, we moved to the other side of the island for the night and enjoyed the peace and quiet. BLUE SKY, SPARKLING SEA On Thursday we motor sailed to the northern side of Sicily. The area has high mountains and the coastline is stunning. Unfortunately the camera does not capture it as well as the naked eye (Photo 10). The weather was warm and sunny and we had a good trip arriving late afternoon. As we approached the harbour at Castellammare Del Golfo a guy from the marina came out in his dinghy to meet us. He told us we couldn’t anchor in the harbour and we had to come into the marina. We asked him where could we anchor and he pointed to a beach about a mile away. This has happened to us before and so we ignored his suggestion and anchored behind the breakwater one hundred meters from the harbour - nothing more was said but he does drive by daily to check on us. We went into the marina and met Steven a lone sailor from Melbourne. We sat on his boat chatting for a while before having a look around the foreshore. Friday morning we went into town to have a better look around. The wharf was very busy with locals buying fresh fish from the boats as they came in with their early morning hauls. It was interesting to notice that all the customers were men, there wasn’t a woman is sight. SPECTACULAR SCENERY The town of Castellammare is built on steep slopes connected by stairways, bridges and steep alleys. It is in the most beautiful setting with dramatic mountains all around (Photo 11). We discovered at Ocean’s 12 was filmed here and so we will be interested to have another look at the DVD and see if we can recognize some of the scenery. BYRON STREET, CASTELLAMMARE We went up to the 9th Century Castle which housed a wonderful museum where individual rooms were set up showing objects of daily use for blacksmiths, cobblers, masons, carpenters and tinkers in the past (Photo 12). They also had old household items and Andrew kept saying “we had one of those in Byron St” or “we had an older one than that in Byron St” I just had to get him out of there! Last night we had a gale warning, a thunder storm and plenty of rain. We will stay here until the weather eases. At the moment we are rolling quite badly and so I think we will escape by heading into town. Love Candy xx

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sardinia to West Coast Sicily

Limestone Cliffs, East coast Sardinia The Urchins of Gnone
Site visit gets approval
Off they go to the next victim
35 knots, East coast Sardinia
Sunset on our way to Sicily
Trapani, with Erice above
Hi from Clare, Sardinia to West Coast, Saturday 18th September 2010 We escaped the busy town of Olbia late Saturday afternoon and traveled a few miles south to the lovely pristine and peaceful bay of Brandinghi. This is the first bay we stayed in when we arrived in Sardinia in late June. We have been back to the bay a few times to enjoy its charm. It is a very pretty and peaceful spot but this would be our last opportunity before we left. Our mission now was to move down the east coast of Sardinia exploring new territory. BUT WHERE DO YOU GO? There are very few bays for overnight stops on the east coast. The coastline consists of miles of sandy beaches or steep cliffs (Photo1). We stopped at the town of Cala Gonone about one third of the way down the island. The harbour was packed but after trying to settle outside in a rolling sea, we re entered the harbour determined to find a spot for the night. There were two large fishing boats on one wharf and so we planned to tie up alongside. We considered that if we had to wake up at 2am so they could go fishing that was still a better option than anchoring outside and getting no sleep at all. THE URCHINS OF GONONE A number of local kids, who we affectionately named ‘The Urchins of Gonone’ helped us tie up against the fishing boat (Photo 2). We gave them 5 Euros for their trouble and they asked if they could clamour aboard and have a look at our boat (Photo 3). They could barely speak English but somehow we managed to communicate and have some fun with them. However our association with ‘The Urchins of Gonone‘didn’t last long as the Coast Guard came along. With his hands clasped together in prayer position he told us “it was impossible for you to stay here”. However for a much greater fee we would be allowed to stay on the fuel wharf overnight. The financially better off ‘Urchins of Gonone’ then befriended the Coast Guard and got a lift across the harbour (Photo 4). They were never seen again! YOU CAN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ The following morning after a good night’s sleep we continued sailing down the coast and anchored overnight in the small bay of Porto Frailis. This is half way down the coast and just south of the town of Arbatax. The Cruising Guide canned this bay saying it was anything but peaceful. They mentioned loud music from the nearby vast holiday village, jet skies and pedalos churning the water and strong katabatic wind off the land at night. Not surprising there was only us and two other yachts in the bay. The wind was gathering outside but we spent a very peaceful night in flat calm conditions and with no noise whatsoever. IT’S NOT ALL FUN Wednesday we sailed 55 miles to the south end of Sardinia. We had the jib poled out and with a maximum wind speed of 35 knots we averaged 6.2 knots for the trip with a maximum boat speed of 8.2 knots (Photo 5). The sea condition was lumpy and we had large rollers behind us. At one stage we dropped the mainsail when a rain squall can came through. So as you can imagine we were very glad when we arrived at Baia Carbonara on the southern end of the island. A CLOSE SHAVE Our Cruising Guide recommended where to anchor as the area is a nature reserve. It advised that mooring buoys were planned and should be used in preference to anchoring. Well, there were no mooring buoys but there were a couple of local boats anchored in sand off the beach. We asked one of them if it was OK to anchor overnight and he said “Usually no but now yes”. We gathered that he was referring to the lack of people on the beach due to the lateness in the season. However no sooner had we anchored, the Guardia Costiera motored over from the marina with his blue light flashing. Much to our surprise he booked the two local boats and sent them on their way, but didn’t come near us. He then parked a few hundred metres away. That was enough for Andrew, he was feeling very uneasy. So we took our anchor up and moved out of the bay and went up around the corner. We passed a Marine Parks boat coming from the opposite direction and then the penny dropped. Once before in Italy we were booked for dropping an anchor in the wrong place. On that occasion firstly the Marine Parks boat gave us a leaflet informing us that we couldn’t anchor there and then immediately the Guardia Costiera booked us $200. We think on this occasion the Guardia Costiera was parked a few hundred meters away waiting for the Marine Parks boat to arrive and give us the leaflet. Fortunately we escaped in time – just a bit too close for comfort. WEST COAST OF SICILY The following morning we took off for Sicily. There was absolutely no wind and so we motored the 150 miles (Photo 6). We would much prefer to sail but we knew we had a one day window of opportunity before a strong southerly wind would blow for a few days. So now we are settled safely in the harbour at Trapani on the N/W corner of Sicily (Photo 7). It has indeed been very windy for the past two days, but it is dropping down now. We have made friends with an English couple Sarah and Chris on a new Lagoon 420 catamaran, Tulu. They left England a few weeks ago to start their full time cruising adventure. Andrew is over there now helping Chris with his radio. We have had drinks with them the last two evenings and we are planning dinner out tonight. Trapani looks very interesting and Sarah lent be a tourist information book about the town. There is both a new and old section of town with many lovely buildings, churches and museums. There is also the ancient town of Erice which dates back to 5th century BC. This is located behind Trapani on top of a mountain 750 metres above sea level. We plan to go up there by bus and return by cable car. All we need is for the wind to drop, but it is looking promising. Love Candy