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

Monday, 13 September 2010

Time with Family

Matthew and Sarah with cocktails
Sarah in Porto Rotondo Fathersday Pizza
Dad and the Kids
A Supermaxi at speed
Matt's famous backflip
Matt and Brad - its not all fun Dinner in Olbia
Hi from Clare, Time with Family Saturday 11th September 2010 CRAMPED QUARTERS When I wrote last Saturday we were into day two of the holidays with Andrew’s children and their partners on board Eye Candy. When the kids first talked about spending time with us, we warned them that due to the amount of extra stuff (such as sails, cockpit cushions, shade covers, shopping trolley, computers bags etc) things would be a little cramped. Our lockers and cupboards are full, so the said items usually occupy one of the aft cabins. We split the bulk between two cabins and the kids ended up sleeping on three quarters of a bunk with the lee cloth up to support the extra items with their luggage on top. Not exactly ideal but they managed very well without complaint. HAPPY HOUR MADE EVEN BETTER Throughout the week we pretty well went where the wind took us. Our only plan was to have an easy time and enjoy their company. Saturday we traveled south and stopped off at a few bays for swimming and relaxing. Mim volunteered to be in charge of evening drinks and kept us all happy with delicious and creative cocktails. Fortunately Eye Candy’s fridge can produce a small block of ice daily, so after a thorough beating with the hammer, the ice chilled the cocktails for our enjoyment (Photo 1). FATHER’S DAY Sunday morning the wind was coming from the south so we traveled north and settled at Porto Rotondo. The kids asked Andrew to drop them off at the marina so they could explore the small town (Photo 2). Unbeknown to Andrew the plan was to find somewhere to go out for dinner to celebrate Father’s Day. We had traditional Italian Pizza and they were delicious and so much nicer than what we get in Oz (Photo 3 and 4). After dinner we strolled around the very pretty town and had ice creams for supper. Andrew took Sarah, Brad and me back to the boat which was anchored out a mile away. He then went back to get Matt and Min. However the outboard decided to play up and in no time Andrew reappeared back at the boat after having to row some 100 meters (downwind fortunately). Try as he may he could not get the engine to start. He phoned Matt who went to the marina office and requested help. It was agreed that we would bring Eye Candy to the entrance of the marina and they would bring Matt and Mim out in their dinghy. In the meantime they very kindly got Matt and Mim a chair and a cup of coffee. ROLEX MAXI SERIES The following day we headed further north to Porto Cervo to see the Rolex Maxi Series. There were several classes from 90 ft Mini Maxis to the 150 ft Super Maxis. They were pretty fast doing about 12 knots in 10 knots of wind. (Photo 5) We were surprised at how few spectators were present but at least it gave us the chance to get close up without getting in the way. The Australian cruising catamaran “Tactical Directions” was also a spectator. We haven’t seen Tony since we left Turkey in May and so before leaving Andrew and I went over to his boat for a beer and a chat. NIGHT LIFE Tuesday and Wednesday morning were spent in ideal conditions making the most of the sun, warm water and life on Eye Candy (Photo 6). We introduced the kids to our game of Okey which is the Turkish version of Rummy. So after dinner (Photo7) the evenings were spent playing Okey, cards or reading. Fortunately Sarah, Brad, and Matthew are reading the Millennium Trilogy written by Stieg Larsson. I had been given book one and book three of the series by Sam from “Blue Banana”. I thoroughly enjoyed book one but thought book three would have to wait until I got home to purchased and read book two. However we ended up having two copies of book two on the boat. I couldn’t believe my luck, so my spare hours were spent with my nose in a book. I was going out on information overload by the end of book two and thought I would have a break before tackling book three; I lasted exactly two hours. So now I am happily making my way through book three; what a fantastic series. HOLD ON TIGHT We needed to be back in Olbia by Wednesday night as sadly Sarah and Brad were leaving Thursday morning. The forecast showed that the wind was increasing and by lunchtime it was clear we should travel the last ten miles back to Olbia. It was a pretty bumpy ride and Mim sat in the cockpit with a bucket at her feet looking decidedly sea sick. She managed to keep everything down which was a pretty good effort, well done Mim! Once back on Terra Firma the kids had a look around Olbia and then in the evening we went out to dinner (Photo8) and then strolled around the evening markets. SOAKING WET We accompanied Sarah and Brad to the bus stop on Thursday morning and said good bye. Matt and Mim went on with them to the airport and returned back to the boat around noon. As they didn’t have to leave till Friday afternoon, we decided to leave the wharf and enjoy our final night at sea. We spent a windy afternoon tucked up in a pleasant bay. The wind dropped overnight and we woke to a beautiful sunny day and calm conditions. We enjoyed our last swim and then sadly made our way back to the wharf at Olbia. When we approached the wharf we were under a huge black cloud. Andrew called me up from below where I was reading the last three pages of book two. As soon as I saw the menacing cloud I knew we were in for a drowning. So I ran and got wet weather coats for Matt and me as we would be handling the lines. The cloud broke and down it came, poor Matt was on the wharf squelching around in the only solid pair of shoes he had with him. We both looked like a drowned rat by the time the boat was secure. Matt took one look at my dripping hair and said “I think you will need to put your rollers back in Clare” – a slight understatement! OUR LAST FAREWELL Friday afternoon we saw Matt and Mim off at the railway station and continued on to the Laundromat with the sheets and towels. The holiday was over and we were a little flat after everyone had left. However we thoroughly enjoyed their company and it was great that Andrew had the opportunity to spend Father’s Day with Matthew and Sarah. Now we have to learn to live by ourselves again – scary! Sarah and Matthew bought us a bottle of Limoncello as a thank you gift. This will certainly ease the pain of separation. Love Candy xx

Sunday, 5 September 2010

North East Sardinia to Olbia

Wind, wind, wind Cala Volpe Thats us on the left Great shelter Matt and Mim Mim, Brad, Sarah & Matt
Hi from Clare, North East Sardinia to Olbia Sept 4th WHAT A WAY TO LIVE When I last wrote we were sheltering from 40 knot winds in a bay near Porto Cervo on the north eastern side of Sardinia. The following day saw perfect conditions and we enjoyed a very leisurely 10 mile sail south to another very pretty bay. The houses in this area of Sardinia look very expensive looking with sweeping lawns and gardens to the waters edge. They have lavishly furnished gazebos and often a private jetty where their boat is moored and tended by staff; nice work if you can get it! WE SUFFER FROM WIND The following day we sheltered once again from 40 knot wind and by nightfall we were getting a bit fed up (photo 1). Our recently cleaned and polished boat was covered with salt and grime. So next morning out came the hose and chamois for the second time this week; ‘cut it out mother nature we are supposed to be having fun’. I’LL SHOW YOU MINE IF YOU SHOW ME YOURS We had a leisurely day on Tuesday enjoying the sunshine (photo 2) and getting “Eye Candy” ready for visitor’s later in the week. Late Wednesday we went into the busy town of Oblia and moored up to the wharf along with “Mirabella V” which is the largest single masted yacht in the world (photos 3 and 4). It is 100 metres from the masthead to the bottom of the keel (we are 19 metres). It is 75 metres long (we are 12 metres) and 14 meters wide (we are 4) so as you can imagine it was a humbling experience. Mirabella cost US$50 million to build in 2003 (Eye Candy didn’t cost quite that much). The owner isn’t on board and the boat will be in Olbia for two weeks. Andrew asked one of the crew if he could have a look below but of course they said no. Andrew asked when the owner was returning and said he might invite him over to our boat for a drink. The crew member just laughed – what a cheek! YOU CAN RELY ON YOUR CRUISING BUDDIES We met up with Dick and Ginger from their American Yacht “Alchemy”. We first met in 2008 on the EMYR rally and have since kept in touch via email. They too were on the wharf living in the shadow of “Mirabella”. We went out for dinner and had a great night. The restaurant had been recommended by some other cruising folk and it was very good and also reasonably priced. FIRST IN BEST DRESSED Andrew’s son Matthew and his fiancĂ©e Mim joined us on Thursday after spending a few days traveling in Corsica. They jokingly said they came early to get the best cabin and stake their claim (photo 5). Andrew’s daughter Sarah and partner Bradley arrived Friday afternoon after attending a wedding in the Greek Isles. The wedding was great but they were a little disappointed that it is no longer the custom to break plates at such functions. I’m only glad the plates on the boat are made of melamine! BE PREPARED After stocking the boat up with the essentials for a good holiday like alcohol, food, alcohol and more alcohol we departed Olbia for what is promising to be a good time. It is now Saturday afternoon and we are having a good time swimming (photo 6), sun baking, perving on topless bathers, reading, playing board games, music, snoozing, sun downers and sun uppers (just joking). However it is only the beginning of the holiday so anything is possible. It is great to have the kids on board so I must away and enjoy our time together. Love Candy xx