And so to our winter home-August 30th – September 29th

We crossed from Ibiza to the Spanish mainland with Mike and Nicola which took about 8 hours. There were storms to the north which caused us some concern, we watched them, but thankfully they didn’t come closer. The weather can be unpredictable, we hear tales of fellow sailors getting caught by sudden storms so we were relieved.

We went into the marina at Denia just for the night. We found Denia’s main pedestrian street which is canopied by trees. It’s very attractive and a focal point for people. We enjoyed a drink there before our dinner which our resident chef ( Mike) cooked! All his meals were delicious. He cooked for us most nights ( future visitors note!).

We made our way down the coast. El Portet near Moraira was our favorite. A lovely bay with aquamarine waters. We anchored. The boat was close enough in for us to be able to swim to the beach, which Nicola and I did, a couple of times as we were there for 2 nights. The little village was clean and attractive with a lovely sweep of clean soft sand.

We had to visit Altea didn’t we!

Mike and Nicola left us there to return to the Uk. We were sad as we really enjoyed their visit.

Simon’s sister’s apartment is in the above pic.

We anchored under Calpe rock

The other side!

Went past Altea again!

We spent 5 days in a lovely little place called Campello, waiting for some unfavorable weather to pass.

Campello had these breakwaters that you could walk out on – at your own risk, the sea was spraying as it crashed onto the rocks. This pic doesn’t really show it well.

There’s an island called Tabarca off the coast near Alicante. We visited but weren’t impressed. They cater for trip boats, it could be a very attractive place, they’ve missed a trick. As it was it lacked something (soul?)

We stopped at Torrevieja to catch up with some friends. and more friends-

Sylvia and Roger made us very welcome. We were initiated into the pleasures of paddle tennis, cornholes and Panacula- a card game. Fun!

The next day they joined us for a sail around which they both enjoyed but poor Roger suffered.

Then into Mar Menor under a road bridge that opens every 2 hours. Mar Menor is a vast inland sea. We made for an island and were absolutely dumbstruck by the number of jellyfish. You could barely see an inch of sea for jellyfish-horrid!

We gave up as we couldn’t get our anchor to bite so went into a tiny marina called Los Nietos. The place was dead!

We left the next day and found a place to anchor at Los Alcázares. This was better! We enjoyed the sunshine of the last few days before our winter stop. There were lots of military training activity from the nearby airport. We walked the long flat esplanade that skirts a lot of Mar Menor. We didn’t swim in the sea!

We left, agreeing that we would return over the winter to explore the long thin spit of land that is La Manga.

And so to Cartagena. Our Sea Dew is in this picture, safely tucked up for the winter.

Vicki and David visited us so we explored a bit together as well as having a day sailing:-

As you can see , Cartagena has a Roman Amphitheater- including a house underneath that dates back to the 1st century. There’s a lot of history here that we will enjoy exploring it in the months to come.

We arrived whilst a major fiesta was occurring- the Romans v the Cartagenians which traces the history of Cartagena back during the time of Hannibal to when the name was given to the town by the Romans – who won of course. There’s a series of plays and re-enactments, the Romans storm the town by boat, there’s lots of marching in huge numbers, the costumes are authentic, people wander around the city all week in costume, down to the little children! They are so proud and pose if you ask for a photo

It culminated in a huge battle, with cannons, horses, archers, spears, fire, grappling irons and then hand to hand combat. The spectacle is stunning and we were so pleased to be able to witness it.

There were a lot of ‘dead’ at the end- but no one got hurt- which was amazing as the archers let their arrows fly and the ones that landed on the grass stuck in points first.

He let me hold his sword- it was quite heavy!

Everyone was friends at the end. It was the most amazing fiesta I have seen – over 9 days! From September 21st. It happens every year.

Then, Sept 30th – we flew back to the UK to greet our first grandchild. Who is SO beautiful, of course. Ivy Catherine joined the world on October 2nd. All are well, her grandparents are besotted!!

Ibiza Aug 7-30th

Ibiza was a very pleasant surprise. We liked it very much with its beautiful coves, beaches and anchorages. It has very interesting and attractive cliff formations and colours. The interior has gently rolling pine clad hills which look and smell very inviting. It’s a party island where anything goes. In San Antonio the young people (and older!) wander about scantily clad, not only on the beach, often tattooed too! . On the beaches, there’ll often be a naked man walking the surf and you look around and he’s not alone! There’s a buzz about the place, obviously especially in the two main towns- ‘San An’ and Ibiza Town. We enjoyed exploring Ibiza Town more than San Antonio. San An has a 13th C church, an esplanade, some fountains, plenty of night clubs and a trendy place to watch the sunset. Ibiza Town has so much more. The castle was very worthwhile a visit for the views, the narrow streets of the old town are full of life and great clothes both bohemian and expensive trendy. This years trend is clearly for white crochet dresses of all lengths worn with dark skimpy swimwear! The swimwear was high end- lots of gold and stringy bits. And the footwear!! Lots of embellished espadrilles, all sorts of ankle boots , some with no toes and long boots with all sorts of cut outs and tassels and furry bits. It was fascinating! We found the bar that did ‘the best Mojito’s in Ibiza’ – they were pretty good so we re visited that one. The water front is full of huge superyachts, some with guards. So everyone wanders along looking in – bit like in a zoo! We were impressed with the amount of richness here more than anywhere. But also there are the nightclubs. In this town no one wandered around in beachwear, they wore cover ups. We couldn’t get into any of the 4 marinas, so we walked through them – they’re full of big expensive boats and superyachts. Absolutely loads of them. Some friends visited. Chris was newly qualified as a day skipper and wanted experience. They became pirates! They took over the boat for 3 days. We weren’t allowed to do anything except enjoy ourselves! Can you imagine- they even did the cooking!! (They can come again!)We had a visit from Simon’s brother and wife, Mike and Nicola. It’s great to share our boat/yacht! They were very impressed and have loved Ibiza as well as the sailing. They will accompany us across to Denia. We’ve been here for 3 weeks. Time to go. Espalmador :- An island south of Ibiza and north of Formentera which is really just a sandy spit. It’s privately owned but the owners don’t mind people visiting as long as their privacy is respected. AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! It’s like the Caribbean with turquoise sea and white sugary sand. There’s a shallow connection with Formentera which people wade waist deep across but really, there’s no roads and the only way to visit is by boat. And boy do they come! We went along boat motorway to get there, power boats whizzing everywhere. There’s certainly money here. We anchored and swam in. There were sand dunes and a wild side on the east side. So wild and unspoiled. Both sets of visitors loved it. As did we. Formentera Another bit of icing on the cake. We visited lovely Cala Sahona ( 3 times) , again swimming in. There’s a lovely little bar where we enjoyed several drinks on separate occasions. And then swam back- me inseparable from my pink rubber ring!! We visited the blue bar on Cala Migjorn , which was another piece of paradise. The Blue Bar- started by hippies in the sixties did a great and healthy lunch with the best views. A dolphin visit. Mike and Nicola are the only of our visitors over two years that have seen dolphins- and what a visit it was. They played under the bow. Nicola and I just happened to be sitting up there and we saw them bask and roll under the bow so close to us. It was really exciting. Such a privilege. Images from Ibiza:-The bays on Ibiza often have sweet little boat sheds, often a bit rustic. We’ve never seen this anywhere else. Crew at work:-!Not so good things:-Nothing to report!!!


Me in Pollensa. We landed on Majorca at the bay of Formentor where we had holidayed many years ago. We took up a buoy, there were many to choose from- we thought it was going to be busy. We had been there half an hour when this went to thisIt was a microburst, right over us. Thunder, lightning, torrential rain, the winds- Simon estimated 60mph- our boat spun and spun. Thank god we were on a buoy – the first one this season!! It was quickly over and the sun came out as if nothing had happened!! lovely blue uninterrupted skyA view of our selected part of the beach – which is known as The Bounty Beach as the first bounty bar ad was filmed there on a tree that leaned out onto the beach. Us on that beach – We were there for 2 days as we liked it so much. No one asked us for payment for the buoy. Then into Puerto Pollensa, to the PortsIB marina, right next to the beach- which we visited- several times! My new best friend- the pink rubber ring. It will feature again…Pollensa is the place to visit. We took the bus. Pollensa has retained much of its olde worlde charm with it’s narrow twisting streets. After 1229 the Knights Templar began the building of the main church – Nostra Senyora dels Angels. It has a rosette window but the interior is quite dark and the alter is several stories high The pride of the town is the beautiful Via Crucis ( Way of the Cross).You have to walk up these 365 steps to the little chapel at the top. Which was enchanting. It’s called the El Calvari chapel and it houses a Gothic statue of Christ. There was also a Roman bridge imaginatively called Pont Roma. It was left by the town’s founders and spans the Torrente de Sant Jordi, which wasn’t even a trickle when we were there!Then we progressed around the north coast to Soller. The journey was magnificent. The mountainous backdrop to Porto Soller was picturesque. It’s situated in a valley, sheltered by the Serra de Alfàbia mountain massif and overshadowed by the lofty Puig Major. (4740ft) It has a plentiful supply of orange and olive groves and vineyards thanks to the irrigation canals built by the Arabs in the 8thC. We anchored without problems. There’s a tram, a vintage tram which we took into Soller. There were a couple of interesting buildings – the Chuch of Sant Bartomeu and the Bank of Soller both designed by a disciple of Gaudí. The Botanical Gardens containing plants native to the Balearics,were good. It showed us how plants survive the climate. So there were a lot of dead looking plants! But also some good ones- and this view:-That evening there was a celestial event- after a beautiful sunsetwhich we watched with interest from our beach restaurant . You CAN see Mars with the moon. The big thing to do in Soller is to leave it! By going on this vintage train to Palma. Well it’d have been rude not toIn Palma, we walked.There was much to seeThe Plaza Mayor with its lovely archways, which is very lively with street entertainers and restaurants in the evening. We had a coffee..found this fountain with a column supported by turtles. Poor turtles!We thought this boulevard looked a bit like Las Ramblas in Barcelona By Gaudí Hats! So I bought one! We we’re quite lucky to see the Changing of the Guard at midday. It was quite a spectacle. Including a band and lots of drumming. Had to be done!!!The Cathedral was well worth a visit- it was HUGE and had a ceremonial canopy designed by Gaudí. Cathedral Le Seu dates from 1306 and is considered the most precious architectural treasure of the Balearics and one of Spain’s most outstanding Gothic structures The reflection from the other Rose stained glass windowFlying buttress on the Cathedral. Next we went into the Palace de l’Almudaina, a former royal residence built after 1309 using the walls of an Arab fortress. It is still King Felipe VI’s official Palma residence. Three fireplaces in the Castle and below one of the sumptuous tapestries View from the CastleThe Cathedral from our beer stopWall Muriel by Joan Miro and below:- the Arab Baths- Banys Arabs from the 10 th C. The main room, here, is covered with a dome resting on 12 columns. This is one of the few architectural reminders of the Moorish presence on these islands. The next pics are from our trip back round to Alcudia Alcudia old town, a couple of anchoragesgoing south. Then our bow going into the national park of beautiful Cabrera, which had such good snorkeling- we were surrounded by beautiful fish. But no shark! Then Cala Portal Velli, where we found cave carvings. Then Santa Ponsa, where once again we anchored in a bay. We met up with Sam and Rose from Zora and enjoyed their company for a while and a meal. From there we jumped to Ibiza…Not so good:-We had a contretemps with a PortsIB official who accused us of lying to try to get onto ‘his’ pontoon. We’d booked on line and payment had been made, all of which he refuted despite being shown proof. We had to leave and go anchor, are now trying to reclaim our money, which he denied having but the office in Palma, whilst agreeing with this man(!) have now found and say they’ll refund us. Once we have our money- a strong letter of complaint will be sent. He was SO rude. Don’t suppose it’ll do any good.

Menorca in pictures

Our anchorage in the bay of Mahon called Teulara. It’s the only place where anchoring is allowed near Mahon and it’s free! The cheapest alternative is a floating pontoon, no electric for 110 euros a night! – the anchorage was quite busy!! Our trip to the supermarket!! In Es Castell. Teulara from a walk Mahon from the sea- we went in our dinghy – 35 mins! a typical street and little artisan shops in The CloistersThe Menorcan sandalsour beautiful anchorage in The Fornells Lunch with some friends from Leverstock Green Cricket ClubOur anchorage in the cosy Port Addaya- we liked it here and stayed quite a few daysJulie enjoying the waterSimon mastering the paddle board Arenal de Castille – a popular holiday resort We went on a walkHad a partyFound a deserted beachsailed into a patch of blue sea Binebeca Bay. We could have swam in to this beach bar only Simon had cut his finger quite badly when detangling and cutting rope away from the prop. Not a nice job and not an easy one eitherSimon got us into a great position in a really crowded anchorage at Cala Galdana Cala Galdana- pic from the Pilot Guide that is our bible. It tells you what you need to know about each area, marinas, anchorages, where to get fuel, water, supplies, where is quiet and deserted, what is in each places, a bit of history, everything. As well as keeping us safe. So he deserved a beer! Usually we sit on the boat and look at the beach. Here for a change, we sit on the beach and look at our boat.Beautiful Son Saura- our favorite. It was a big wide unbusy Bay with pale sand , aquamarine sea and a wooded area with paths. It was a conservation area, allegedly with tortoises and hedgehogs as well as many birds. No bars and beachcomers had to walk a way to get there. Then on to Ciutadella I’m standing where the Meteotsunami flooded. It’s the end of the channel up from the sea. As you can see the channel funnels in to a very narrow low area which widens out and is very gently sloping. We could just see how it would have happened. A big swell would swamp that area for quite a long way. The Cathedral I liked the modern stained glass window Interesting gold workWe enjoyed Menorca enormously. Now, if you’ve got to the end read this next bit:-Things that weren’t so good:-Battery problems- which meant running the engine s lotGear stick problems – which caused us to hit the dock when we went in for waterRope around the prop – which caused us to lose steerage way until Simon dived down to cut it off – which he doesn’t really like doing and he cut his finger quite badlyDragging / we had a 45 kph gust and it caused the anchor to come out. We weren’t the only ones- there were 6 or so at the same time! We re anchored and when we came to leave- blow me down we couldn’t get the bloody thing out!! So a helpful Dutch man dived down. We were caught on an old chain mooring on the sea bed! Typical! So thankfully he was able to release us. Having 2 rude, angry, shouty, violent out of control Frenchmen board our boat. It was a frightening episode, the police were involved, Simon was hit on the arm with an oar and threatened with all sorts. We think they were drug crazed. Nothing else explains their behavior. We’re ok now- it’s in the past to us now. It’ll be a story to tell.

The Wings of a Goose!

This was Simon’s idea for the title- you’ll see why!We left Trapani at 9.45. We’d checked the weather- all ok – no sea sick conditions. We passed the Egadi Islands and could see them for hours. Two pods of Dolphins accompanied us. One of small ones and the other of big ones. They seem to jump out next to the boat to have a look!! Turtles also floated by- right in the middle of the Ocean!! We watched the sun set and the full moon rise. Then Simon went to bed at 22.00 and it was my watch. We wear life jackets and are clipped on when we’re on watch so that the other person doesn’t have to worry about ‘man overboard’. Then at 22.15 the engine spluttered and cut out. Back comes poor Simon!! We’d had poor wind (hence the engine), but just at that moment the wind picked up big time. So Simon helmed. It was dark and the boat was moving around a lot and it was difficult to steer by the compass so Simon saw a star which he kept to his port side bimony frame rear section. So he was steering by the stars. Eventually I had a go and Simon got some sleep. So we sailed through the night, watching the stars and the sun rise. Not much sleep was had by either of us! We took it in turns to rest until Cagliari was in view. Then decided to bypass Cagliari ( thanks to a suggestion by sailing friend Anne Gilpin) and thereby save ourselves lots of miles and many hours. So we landed in Tuelada several hours later. At about 19.00, phew! That was a 33 hour journey. It was a very small marina but had the basics. Showers!! Heaven! Water! We filled up. ( we take 750 gallons in 3 tanks. It takes 45-60 mins to fill from empty),, We slept. Thank god we slept!!The next morning we ‘slipped’ ( technical term!) ay 6.30. We knew the journey would take about 38 hours, it was 218 miles. The wind was great, sea also, right behind us urging us on. This has happened a couple of times before- in the caldera on Santorini when Brian was helming and in the Ionian when Sam was helming. Each time we goosewinged , which means having a sail out to the left and the other sail out to the right, thereby catching the maximum wind possible. Usually helming is quite precise in this configuration as if the boat nods one way too much, the boom will swing across and both sails will be the same side. The boom swinging too violently is called ‘crash jibing’ and is a bad thing!! So I suggested Goosewinging! And we did. Practically the whole way. The auto helm managed it without crash jibing. Simon put out a pole to keep the headsail or genoa right out wide. Here he is doing just that. We were sailing into the sunset, which was very romantic. Again the moon rose, lovely and big. The sea had a swell, quite big, which saw big waves coming up the back of us. They break on the top. It looks like it’s coming into the cockpit from the stern. Then it gently lifts the boat and under it goes. Or over you go! We actually managed to rest overnight in turns, not sleep. The sun rise was very welcome. It gets boring. It’s all the same. So I listened to my audiobook which has the advantage of me being able to be lookout. Not that there’s much to see. The odd tanker on the horizon- but you need to look. We finally arrived in Menorca, into the Mahon channel, turn right, behind an island and there was the anchorage. We’re motoring by now. You always take the sails in before arrival. It was 19.30. 36 1/2 hours, mostly sailing but some motoring when the wind died. We wanted to make sure we arrived in daylight. There were our friends on Sacre Bleu, we anchored 1st time ( sometimes it takes a few tries depending on what’s on the seabed). Lovely anchorage, flat sea!! I instantly got off the boat!! I swam across to Anne and Peter on Sacre Bleu for a beer. The next day we popped our heads up and there was Zora- another friend from Lefkas. Sam and Rose arrived from Sardinia at 2 am! We’d still been having engine problems. Sam knows a bit about diesels so later, he came aboard and helped Simon to bleed the air from our system so hopefully that’s fixed it. You need a reliable engine even though you’re sailing. Thanks Sam. Then Free Spirits 11 arrived with Heather and Roger. It was quite s reunion!! We enjoyed a few days here, getting together with our ‘mates’. But that’s another post… xx

The end of Sicily

After dropping our friends to Catania, we planned to work our way across the north coast of Sicily to the most westerly point that is closest to Sardinia and possibly visit the Egadi isles to get even closer. I’m not a fan of overnight passages, but 2 more we’re unavoidable. We resolved to only cross in THE most favorable conditions remembering our trip to Malta when I was sea sick.

We had a hire car and visited Tyndaris, one of the last Greek colonies founded by the Syracusans in 396BC. It prospered under the Romans and Christians and was then destroyed by the Arabs. We visited the archaeological site which gave many insights into the everyday life of the inhabitants.

The Black Madonna

The Greek Theatre sits on a slope facing the sea. The Church houses the famous (?!) Black Madonna. There are the remains of a Roman villa and baths – with almost intact beautiful mosaics.

Also there is a view of the Laguna di Oliveri , a sand bar, below the Promontory of Tyndaris, celebrated by the poet and Nobel prize winner Quasimodo. No- I didn’t know that either!

Then on to Palermo- this sight seeing business is tiring!!

We went into a Marina right in the town , once again arriving by boat put us in the heart of things!

We only had a day but we managed to do a lot of wandering. We usually head for either the tourist info or the Cathedral. Here the centre can easily be walked around. As we reached the Cathedral the heavens opened- so we had somewhere to go didn’t we?!

The fountain- Fontana Pretoria was known as the fountain of shame due to the nude statues- backing the 16thC.

The Cathedral dates back to the 12thC. In my opinion it was beautiful and different on the outside. The inside was beautiful too but it was the outside that was interesting due to the many cupolas with majolica tiles, arched crenellations and a mixture of styles. You can also walk high up on the roof- which we did – of course!!

And we saw these on a market stall – they’re courgettes apparently

On to Trapani- our launching point for Sardinia.

I like this boat with all its sails up.

We had heard that the best thing about Trapani is the medieval village on the hill. Well, Erice is another village, a bus ride plus cable car journey away, up the very big hill! So off we went.


It has an interesting history, for centuries it was a sought after destination for sailors and boaters being strategically placed. It is suspended between heaven and earth ( according to my leaflet) and is like a treasure chest with 3000years of history, rich in art, culture and myth. It also has 18 churches plus the Cathedral Madre many of which have become venues for scientific and cultural activities. Simon was in his element – 18 churches!!!

The cloud level was low when we visited, hence one or two eerie pics. We liked the castle and the little castle tucked below built by a scholar and archaeologist as a refuge. Today it belongs to the town. It’s called Pepoli castle.

We also liked the beautiful paved streets.

Simon wasn’t keen on the tourist shops!I like to look. I liked these.

Back to Trapani :-

It’s built on a narrow curved promontory ( its name is derived from the Greek word for sickle), that juts out into the sea opposite the Egadi Isles. There’s a long long beach and lots of narrow streets ( there’s a pattern emerging here) and a Cathedral- which is a bit out of the old town. We had a beer in a pedestrian street and got tangled up with a wedding in the church immediately opposite, across a path really, not even a road.

When the couple came out, there was a mime artist that organised a little ‘tableau’ and a veiled dancer. Then they released, by popping a big balloon, lots of little heart shaped balloons. What will they think of next?

Later the wedding party turned up at the marina for pics, which we’ve seen several times in Italy.

We again only had a day here, but we certainly packed in the sights! Next – we depart for Sardinia

The conditions were deemed good enough – but I was nervous…

Cold ridge dwellers seek warmth! June 11-20th

Well I’m trying for a catchy headline! Gill and Brian joined us in Catania 2 days after our previous visitors left. The intervening time was an orgy of washing ( by hand), cleaning and shopping. Lest you start to feel sorry for us, I should add that we had an afternoon on the beach.

The Coulshed’s ( the name means dwellers on a cold ridge) love the sun!! Wonder why?! They joined us last year and have come back for more! As they arrived in Catania, so did a ship carrying refugees- which parked next to our Marina. Police everywhere, containing the situation, very well. So well they tried to stop us returning to Sea Dew. Lots of gesticulations and the word ‘marinero’s’ later, they let us pass. Could’ve been tricky with us expecting visitors!!

As we left our mooring, we could see the poor people both on the ship and on the dock and in the Red Cross tent, loads of them. I think Italy was taking these ones as there were lots of coaches waiting. The lucky ones. Our guests relaxing.

We planned to get to the Aolian Islands via the Messina Straits. Which we did, after quite a long 2nd day. The Straits were interesting, with opposing currents making the water swirl with whirlpools (Charybdis according to Homer in Odysseus, a giant whirlpool which swallowed ships or a ‘sucker downer’!) and bubbling with breaking waves in all directions.

wierd sea state

( there was also ‘Scilla’ – said to dwell in a cave atop of a sheer cliff with 12 feet and 6 horrible heads which plucked sailors from passing ships)

Well thank god we got through there!!!

Brian did a grand job of helming in a slow sea for hours and got us to port.

We stopped at a place called Milazzo, overnight. It has a castle and a ‘Venus pool’ a natural swimming pool at the end of a very long arm like promontory which gave the marina protection from the sea. It’s worth exploring. We didn’t. Our eyes were firmly set on the Aolians!

We reached Vulcano- the nearest.

According to ancient mythology, the fabulous island of Vulcano was the workplace of the god of fire and blacksmiths, Hephaestus. You knew you were there by the smell! Sulpher- not too strong thankfully. We anchored and then had a lovely few hours just chilling and sunbathing.

Eventually we went in on the brand new dinghy with a shiny brand new outboard. We now have to find a safe place to chain it up ( unlike in Greece). We wandered, planning the next day over a beer and I succumbed to a street seller and bought a ‘cover up’ – desigual style shirt for 9.50euros. Can’t argue with that! In Desigual it’d be over 80.

The next day we walked up the Volcano which has a visible smoking crater. Quite a climb but worth it.

dunked ourselves in the therapeutic mud / a panacea for everything and jumped in the nearby sea with hot volcanic springs around the stack.

Our boat anchored in the background and here at anchor enjoying a sundowner!


anchored again. Beautiful place. The smallest Aolian island surrounded by cliffs and stacks. We walked into town in the evening for a meal and to watch the ‘fireworks ‘ from Stromboli. But it had a thick cloud and we saw nothing. Damn! Dashed, we walked ‘home’ .

Lipari –

the main Aolian island and the largest – we were on on a jetty. Simon had to do some remedial work on the boat – the instruments all failed. It’s not fun when you come into anchor or moor without a depth meter. But he fixed it! Well done Simon. You should’ve seen the boat as he had to trace the wiring – cupboards open, beds dismantled etc good job we went out to explore Lipari.

It is a charming town with a laid back island vibe which although it’s the main town hasn’t sold its soul to the tourist trade.

There are quaint streets in the old town

A cathedral and a castle within walls

Old huts 17th C BC!! Get your head around THAT!!

A lovely port where we had beer and a triumphant Simon joined us.

Then, after a barbecue on board, the next day, we had to return to Sicily as the cold ridge dwellers had to go home. They still craved more sun!

We landed at Sant Agata, the staff there helpfully arranged our car hire ( in Italy we’ve found that very few people speak English even the ones who are tourist facing, – you should hear our Italian!)

Leaving Sea Dew

We drove our guests back to Catania and were sad to see them go. They were great guests and we so enjoyed their company.

Our consolation was the drive back , through the mountains, which was very picturesque and beautiful and green.

We visited a few villages around the western base of Etna( which had its hat on!) , the most interesting of which was Randazzo.

Octogenarians walk the plank!- and – some boat problems.

June 4th – 11th

It’s taken a while to get them here. Maureen said ‘ my son has a yacht- I must sit on it and have a gin and tonic’!!

So they came to Syracuse- and to our surprise they made a belated decision to sleep on the boat too. As they are in their 80’s, that’s very adventurous/ we must admit to being a bit concerned about it and checked out nearby Airb&b accommodation.

Not that one Maureen!!

That’s the one!

Adventurous is the word though. They managed the gangplank ( with help), the stairway, the cabin, the LOO(!!), or head- which needs pumping, no flush button!!

Gin and Tonics were consumed!! As we’re Aperil Spritz’s.

We explored Syracuse,

having a lovely birthday meal for Maureen in the very attractive and grand cathedral square.

There’s a really good market.

which we all enjoyed perusing.

We did a tour using the hop on hop off bus ( only 5 euros), getting off at the Catholic wig wam cathedral and the archaeological site.

We hired a car to have a look at Sicily’s interior. Simon and I visited Pantalica, leaving Maureen and David in a cafe in nearby Sortino village as it was too much walking. They were on their 3rd beer when we returned!!

The tombs, cave dwellings and hermitages date from the Middle Ages when Arab invasions and constant wars led the locals to seek refuge in the inaccessible canyons of this beautiful limestone gorge. There’s also a very attractive blue pool.

Then we went to a beach, in a beautiful cove. Spiaggio del Minareto.

Maureen went in the sea! David didn’t!

We were moored on the elegant town quay ( not so good when they have loud parties at night!), then in the nearby marina after a SAIL! Just for a couple of hours. But we got the sails up and turned off the engine and sailed.

They wanted the experience of anchoring out, so we did that for a night. A calm one. We barbecued, watched the sun set- it was lovely. They enjoyed the gentle rocking of the boat, it’s very restful.

We played Bridge of course!

Then, with their encouragement, we took them on a day sail up the coast to Catania, nearer to the airport and nearer to our next destination ( the Aolian islands). It was their last day. We had to motorsail, due to lack of wind. They both took the helm.

All was fine- then the engine started struggling, just as it had with Sam in the Aegean. And then it CUT! Typical! Just when you don’t want it to! So we were sailing towards our destination- rather slowly. Simon got downstairs to the (very hot) engine and got to work. It took a while, but he fixed it! He’s so amazing!! He seems to be able to fix anything.

Previously, when moving from the Town Quay at Syracuse into the Marina, we’d had a problem with the anchor chain wrapping itself round the gypsy – the mechanism that helps it haul out. So there we were, swinging around our anchor while Simon was trying to sort it out. Lots of huffing and puffing and straining – and the anchor was on board! The part that encourages the chain to leave the gypsy had broken. Simon subsequently repaired it, by filing, grinding, re drilling the bolt holes, re cutting the threads , re screwing the bolt in with new washers. All in the boiling hot sun whilst the guests had their siesta!! He saves us so much money and inconvenience.

With the engine working better than ever, we arrived smoothly to our berth in Catania. Showers were had, a taxi was called and we went into Catania centre for a farewell meal, which was lovely.

Maureen made a conquest!!

Lots of over 80 year olds wouldn’t step outside their comfort zone. Not these two. There’s no holding them back! They wanted the experiences, trying new things. Nothing was a problem. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit. What an amazing and very enjoyable couple.

Malta – May 23rd – 30th

We needed to buy a new outboard as ours was stolen in Taormina. ( Theiving bloody so and so’s!) ( our 1st day in Sicily too) The dinghy was crap too so we decided to get both. Malta is the place to go for this – we were advised!

So off we went. A 12 hour crossing which was awful. After we left the protection of land, the sea became officially ‘ rough’ , the wind gusting 30 knots – for 9 hours – and I was sea sick – for 7 hours. Ghastly. Best forgotten. But we will be much more careful about the weather, knowing that I can’t tolerate it.

Arriving in the harbour- the engine wouldn’t start – more misery. Simon sailed in to the marina, the boat came to rest against the bows of several boats, I fended off – and there was a Lefkas friend thank goodness. Irenka and Woody, otherwise known as The Haddocks with their 3 lovely children. Irenka and Woody climbed onto our boat, over their bow and helped us. ( the sail was still up!). Eventually the marina sent the promised help and we were berthed. I never want to experience that again.

BUT, I looked around ( when I had gathered my wits). We were in such a good position, right opposite Valletta old town was uninterrupted views across/ no other boats in the way. It should’ve cost us a fortune, but it didn’t. Some good friends invited us for dinner. The next day inviting me for a whole day ‘retail therapy’ around the English shops. Lovely.

Malta was brilliant. So many beautiful buildings, such history. We saw as much as we could using their cheap and easy bus system. We even had a day on the beach.

Here are some images:-

This fountain is the first thing you see when you walk from the bus into Valletta

The route into Valletta. Then we just had to walk up these steps!

To the Upper Barracca gardens. They fire the cannons. We saw it happen! Here you get fantastic views across Grand Harbour. ( that’s not where we were- that’s only for super yachts)

Random beautiful buildings- and these funny statues, which were all over the place! They are all about funny proverbs. This one is about not sticking your nose in other peoples business.

St Johns co Cathedral- the no 1 sight in Valletta, testimony to the wealth and importance of the Knights of Malta who created a stronghold of Christianity in the 16th C. It was impressive, I loved the decorative floors, which were the tombs of the said knights and the gorgeous painted ceilings by Mattia Pretti. There were even a couple of Caravaggio ‘s, with interesting historical background.

In one ear and out the other!

The Grandmasters Palace and Armoury. Simon found some dodgy friends!

That car in the middle was parked!

Siege Bell Memorial , erected in 1992 to honor 7000 people who lost their lives in the WW2 siege of Malta 1940-43 and Recumbent figure by Michael Sandle for the same reason.

A piece of Apostle St Paul’s wristbone in The Church of St Paul Shipwreck. Not to be missed!

We learnt a bit about Malta’s history- they’ve been belted from all sides, had thousands of bombs dropped on them during Ww2 but kept up their resistance.

We went to Medina , where the apostle St Paul was thought to have lived after he was shipwreck here. and Rabat also dates back 4000 years


Rabat :-

With it’s lovely old streets.

Malta is quite built up but they do have some green cultivated areas and poly tunnels. We didn’t discover what they grow in them. And a beach day- Golden Bay

We left on a much calmer day. The forecast was for winds 12-15 gusting 20 – in the right direction and wave height 1 m. I was just about ok, little bit nauseous at times, so this is the upper limit for me. We have to wait for the RIGHT weather window for our longer passages. Just like everyone else does…,

This passed us en route. Looks a bit top heavy!!

Syracuse May 16th – 23rd

When we got back to our dinghy after our day in Taormina- much to our dismay- the outboard has been cut off the dinghy and was gone. Damn damn damn. Theiving so and so’s. On our first day in Sicily!

So we had to deal with it. S borrowed an oar to get us back to boat and then went off to report it to the police. He found there was no one there!! So next day we moved to the next town and tried again, successfully in about 2 hours!!

There’s not much chance of getting it back.

We moved on to Syracuse via Catania. Our friends on Sacre Bleu were there so we anchored there and had a very rolly night. There was a swell. Next day we were given permission to come onto the Town quay. Pic above – our boat is there! 1st on right! Lovely wide pedestrian promenade. The anchorage was a bit far to row in!! We’re missing our outboard.

In Greece you just find a space on town quay ‘s, here you have to ask. And it wasn’t busy. And it was free for 5 days.

So now we were comfortable. Simon looked around for dinghy /outboard shops. We were very well positioned , by Ortiga, the old town. Entrance below. We explored. It’s easy to walk around. We found the Temple of Apollo, the brilliant market, the Cathedral, lots of lovely alleyways and sides trees, fountains, proper modern clothes shops. A wigwam cathedral.

We hired a car for 2 days to explore. We had a brilliant trip to and up Etna

It felt warm herebut cold cold cold here!!

which involved a cable car ride, a 4×4 bus ride and a walk with a guide. It was fairly remarkable! And enjoyable.

Trip to a Gorge. Where we waded rather than walked the gorge. And I took walking footwear!! My guidebook let me down there!

The time passed quickly. We watched the Royal Wedding and thoroughly enjoyed it. Such a happy day. It was also our wedding anniversary, same day. 39 years. I was hoping for an invitation!! Instead we had our friends Anne and Peter round for dinner and will go out for a meal together eventually.

We’re having trouble sourcing a dinghy etc. The advice is that we may have more luck in Malta. So , after checking on line and talking to yacht chandlers there, we decided to try our luck there. Plus we get to see a new place!!