Monday, 16 May 2011

West Coast of Italy to Ponza

Hi from Clare                                                             Sunday 15th May 2011   

So when I last wrote we were attached to a mooring buoy in a small bay 60 miles south of Sorrento on the Italian west coast. We stayed there for a couple of days moving from one side of the bay to the other sheltering from the roll of the sea.  The weather was cold and raining and so we sat below and weaved some more cones on to our sea drogue. The tally is now 82 cones attached and 34 to go. We are feeling a lot happier now.

On Wednesday we sailed 30 miles north into the wind to Agropioli and we got a fair beating in the process. The sea was rough and the wind gusty and changeable. We were thrown around like a cork on the ocean. The cupboard doors flew open (even though they were locked) and things fell out.  One of the toilet sea cocks was accidentally left open and sea water came back up the toilet outlet and flooded the aft bathroom and ran into the bilge. We cleaned up the water we could reach but when we tacked (tipping the boat over in the opposite direction) the water we couldn’t get to ran out from under the cupboards and across the saloon floor. Just to add to the mayhem, not   expecting the trip to be so rough, I started to do the washing in the forward bathroom. I had filled the shower area with water and washing powder and intended to soak the sheets and towels during the trip. Once at sea I had washing water running out the door and so I canned that idea and drained the water out.  By the time we got to Agropoli we were worn out from sailing but it took a further two hours to complete the washing and sort the boat out. We think “Poseidon” has given us yet another clip under the ear to remind us - not to sail to windward.

       Entrance to Agropoli                                                  View of Agropoli from Castle

Agopoli Town Mall

We love the Italian town of Agrolopi.  It has a marvellous town mall where the locals and tourists enjoy coffee shops, outdoor restaurants and boutique shopping.  It has a very relaxed and family orientated feel to it and the locals are friendly and helpful. I was really looking forward to having a quiet meal there and once again enjoying the atmosphere. Unfortunately the mall was in a state of disarray as the paving was being replaced. There was fencing erected along the length of the mall catering for men with picks and shovels and an excavator to work around the clock. – Oh well it just wasn’t meant to be!

We stayed in the harbour with and an English couple Colin and Jane on their Oyster 39, “Hydaway” on one side and an Italian ex policeman on the other side of us.
We all got on very well together stopping for lots of chats and drinks in the evening. We sat on the wharf behind our boats in the shade of the sea wall. Yes, you read correctly “shade” we actually had a first hot summer’s day in Agropoli. It was magnificent and since then we have had a few more sunny days too.
Friday we sailed another 50 miles to the Island of Ischia on the north side of the bay of Naples. Once again the wind wasn’t playing ball and we spent most of the day adjusting sails, putting the spinnaker up and down, turning the engine on and off and adjusting sails etc. However it was a lovely sunny day.
We had arranged on HF radio to meet up with some friends in the evening. Alan and Sally on “Artemis” were travelling south arriving at Ischia at 5.30pm we were travelling north arriving at Ischia at 7.30pm. We haven’t seen Alan and Sally since 2008 when we did the EMYR rally together. We dropped anchor off the Ischia Castle (in photo) and they very kindly hosted drinks and nibbles on their boat. We spent a few very enjoyable hours with them that evening before going our separate ways in the morning.

Yesterday we had a fabulous 45 mile spinnaker sail to the Italian island of Ponza. It was a beautiful sunny day and once we had the spinnaker up we didn’t have to do much until we arrived at Ponza in the early evening.  We lay in the sun and read for most of the trip.

Ponza main street
Today it is cooler with a little rain. We will stay in Ponza and wait for Colin and Denise to arrive on Wednesday for a couple of weeks. We are expecting strong winds tonight which will last for the next day or so. I will be glad when the wind starts blowing for at present we are rolling rather badly.  At least we have plenty of room in the anchorage as there is only a handful of visiting boats here.  I think most Italian boats have gone back to their marinas due to the strong wind warning.

Once Colin and Denise arrive we will probably go to the Italian Island of Elba and then onto the mainland and the Cinque Terre area.

Love CANDY xx

Monday, 9 May 2011

Sicily to West Coast Italy

Hi from Clare,      Sicily to West Coast Italy      Sunday 8th May

When last I wrote we were anchored in the large bay of Siracusa.

Siracusa Bay

Otiga town Centre


Monday morning we set off to the fresh market, a coffee in the beautiful town square and to recharge our sim card for the dongle. It was rather lovely being back in familiar territory and not having to search for the post office, supermarket, ship chandler, telephone office etc.   We now have internet access on the boat so have total communication with the world, family and friends.

The weather is still cool with average temperatures in the mid twenties and the sea temperature is a measly 16 degrees. This is great for sight seeing but no basking in the sun or swimming yet. So far Andrew has been in once and that was to dislodge a piece of twine which had been sucked up into the propeller.  I got the better end of the deal - to stand by with a hot shower and warm clothes.

Andrew, Arjan & Evo

We knew most of the yachts in the bay at Siracusa having spent time with them in either Malta or Tunisia.  Our Dutch friend Arjan from “Aquadraat” was moored next to us in Tunisia for the winter. He and Andrew kept in touch when at home regarding the instability in Tunisia. We left Tunisia before he returned and so we thought we may not see him again.
Then Arjan arrived in Malta when we were leaving.  We shouted across the boats and arranged to meet in Sicily.  Cruising people are very friendly and cups of coffee, sundowners and good company is not far away.

We left Siracusa early Wednesday morning to travel up through the Messina Strait. This is the narrow bit of water between Sicily and Italy. It can be pretty nasty with currents and unpredictable wind. We spent the night at Reggio Calabria (Italy) on the town wharf and then motored through the narrowest part of the strait early the following morning. The sea was flat and with the current behind us, we just focused on dodging the many ships - all was well. We had a very pleasant spinnaker run for most of Thursday.  We spent our time working on assembling our newly purchased sea drogue. We have to weave 116 cones on to two ropes.  It is a slow process but we now have 26 cones done and 90 to go. The idea of the sea drogue is to slow the boat down when in following seas. The cones fill with water and these act as a brake. We are preparing this for the Atlantic crossing at the end of this season and we sincerely hope we will never have to use it.  Thursday night we passed Stromboli Island and the volcano was quite active, we saw a number of explosions and small red lava flows.  Last year when we came this way Stromboli produced only one puff – this year was quite spectacular!

Andrew, considering his options                                  Passing Stromboli under spinnaker

So now we are on a mooring buoy in a small bay 60 miles south of Sorrento on the Italian west coast. We arrived here yesterday morning and having had three hours sleep overnight we spent a lazy day enjoying the sunshine and relaxing. I could imagine this bay would be packed in summer; yesterday we had a dozen or so local boats in here.  People were relaxing, reading and enjoying the sun. Today is much cooler weather and we are here alone.

 Our solitary bay                                                                Confusion

This year we are having a lovely time with a new Ipad and Kindle added to our comprehensive wardrobe of electronics on the boat. The only problem is that we are constantly getting confused as to which application we are using. We have been guilty of unsuccessfully trying to use the “Ipad touch screen facility” to operate the computer and Kindle - the computer mouse to operate the chart plotter at the navigation desk and the “Ipad touch screen facility” to operate the chart plotter in the cockpit. It always surprises us when stabbing at these screens just doesn’t work!  

We will have a quiet week waiting for our Aussie friends Colin and Denise to arrive from London for a holiday. We will catch up on emails and phone calls and with a bit of luck we will attach some more cones to the sea drogue.

Love CANDY xx

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Malta to Sicily

Hi from Clare                                                             Sunday 1st May 2011

Mike, Grace, Clare and Kiwi

When last I wrote we were enjoying life in the Msida Marina at Malta. We had a BBQ on the New Zealand boat “Wired for Sound” with our Kiwi mate and Canadian couple Mike and Grace from “Two Moons”. We all contributed to the meal, ate like Kings and after some lubrication sang along to Kiwi’s favourite tunes from yester - year.

Queen Victoria Monumrnt

Valetta housing

The following morning we caught the bus to the Capital city Valetta. The Knights of St John occupied the area from the early 1500 to late1700 and are mostly responsible for the building of the walled city and fortifications. We spent a few hours walking around looking at the architecture, housing conditions, monuments and parks and gardens. It is very impressive with stunning views over Grand Harbour to the south and Marsamxett Harbour to the north.

We went to a museum style presentation capturing scenes from the life and times of the Crusading Knights. Plenty of dummies in manacles being tortured, blood dripping off them and arrows and spears dug into them – all pretty gory!   After that we decided not to go to the World War II museum and went to the Maritime and the Aviation museums which were very interesting.

Fighter Ace Andy

The Aviation museum, although small, was particularly good because we could get up close to things and have a good look. There were restored World War II Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and Andrew got to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet designed for the EU – it’s a wonder I ever got him out of there!

Executioner's house

Another day we caught the local bus to the old city of Vittoriosa. This area pre dates the Knights and some of the buildings although renovated are still in use today. We walked up narrow streets and came across the home of the executioner of the times.  This was depicted by two axes carved in the stone work above the front window.  I couldn’t help but wonder if he had small children and what it would be like to come home to that reminder.

Vitoriosa streets

On Friday we left Malta at 7am to sail the 85 miles to Siracusa in Sicily.
Andrew took a photo of our chart plotter showing the AIS targets around Malta. Eye Candy is the boat in the photo with the red and green line running off the bow. All the other grey triangles are large ships. The largest being 1200 feet long, another was a large drilling platform. The cruise liner Queen Victoria was there too, but she is less than a 1000 feet long so not a problem.  Later in the day we had a large ship on a collision course with us and only 1.2 miles away. Andrew called him on the radio and told him where we were and asked what he was doing – fortunately he changed course.

AIS targets around Malta

It was a good sail albeit slow at times. We had to motor the last twenty miles and arrived at 2am Saturday morning.  We listened to the Royal Wedding on the BBC via HF radio along the way. The reception wasn’t brilliant but we could gauge the excitement and we heard Kate and Wills exchange vows.  Our friends Colin and Denise are coming to Eye Candy within the next fortnight and bless them for they are bringing glossy magazines. So I will catch up on all the gos then.

Since arriving we haven’t been off the boat. The wind comes up every day and going ashore pretty well means getting wet on the return trip. Tomorrow morning (Monday) we will head in and get a data plan for the sim card we got here last year so we will have internet access on the boat.  This means I will be able to post photos with the newsletter.

We will stay here until the wind can carry us north through the Messina strait to the coast of Italy.   We did all this area last year with Colin so we will probably fast track up the coast and meet them further up this time.

Love CANDY xx