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

Medina:-

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!!

Taormina – May 14th

What a picturesque place.

We anchored and looked up at Taormina towering above us. ‘. How the hell do we get up there?’ I said. We couldn’t see a way, or any buses coming past. And there was s railway line along the beach edge. Etna was there too but the cloud concealed it. Shame. So we slept on it.

Next morning we dinghied in towards a little beach bar. There we found a tunnel, which led us to a foot path – up! So up we went. The views back to our boat and others anchored were brilliant.

Taormina is spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain. It’s steeped in history, touristy and expensive, popular, with high end boutiques sporting beautiful clothes I dare not look at!

Founded 4th Century BC, it used to be on the Grand Tour, visited by aristocrats and bankers. It has many attractions:-

Like the Greek Theatre, a perfect horseshoe shaped theatre suspended between sea and sky. It’s the most dramatically situated Greek theatre in the world. With the superb Mount Etna soaring beyond. It’s stunning. D. H. Lawrence lived here for a bit.

The Main Street. Such a delight to wander through. Pedestrian friendly, the building housing the Tourist Office dates back to 10th C. There’s a huge Piazza. (IX Aprile) with panoramic views. A 12thC clock tower with an arch inviting you through to the old town, Borgo Medievale), a 13th C Cathedral,

lots of inviting passages and fragrant courtyards- the jasmine is out and the bougainvillea.

Is Simon expanding or is that a tiny passage?!

Monte Tauro 378m and a tiny chapel partly built in a cave, which we climbed up to. On a proper path.

with views.

And many more historic and attractive buildings.

We had a lovely day here. This place is well worth a visit or even a weekend break.

Gallipoli- May 10th

I fancied a visit here as we were so close. It’s just around the corner from the tip of Italy’s stiletto, towards the instep.

Founded in ‘ancient times’ by Idomeneus of Crete, it was mentioned as taking part in battles 265BC, so it’s old!

The old town is on an island, connected to the mainland by a bridge. It has a castle built in the 13th C by the Byzantines. Which we spent some time looking around as it was so interesting. It had a big dome and a smaller dome. When you stood right in the centre your voice was amplified. Fun! Good job we were there early season.

With views

14thC walls which you can see in a picture above

A Baroque Cathedral -St Agata

Spiaggia la Puritate beach under the city walls

Greek Fountain 16thC once thought to be 12thC

Which we missed!!

And the usual maze of interesting streets

So – we had a good day out , if tiring as it was a diet day. ( we do the 5-2,) We stopped for coffee. Here, whenever you have a drink they bring you at least 3 bowls of nuts and bits and a plate of something cooked. Then they add it on the bill!! So we had to say- drinks but no food!! I expect they thought ‘mad English!’ We didn’t explain.

Italy!

Weds 9th May

Yesterday we crossed the line into Italy. It was a non event as we were at sea!

First we paid a visit to Orthoni, an island north west of Corfu and if you think ‘island in the outer Hebrides ‘ you won’t be far wrong. It was lovely, wild, unspoilt, quiet.

We decided to rope Mike (Simon’s brother) in to our safety mechanisms. With his agreement we will tell him when we embark on a long passage so that someone knows if we don’t arrive. We did the crossing to Italy in about 6 hours and were out of sight of land for a few hours so we told Mike our plans. Luckily we arrived ok at Marina Di Leuca, right on the heelof Italy ‘s stiletto. So he didn’t have to alert the coastguard this time. Thanks Mike for being our safety valve! X

A little visitor along the way. I think he needed a rest poor thing. He stayed for 10 mins or so, kept trying to get shelter from the wind so he hunkered down in front of our spray hood. Then he flew off to god knows where, we were miles from land.

Marina do Leuca was another quiet place but more developed. Maybe it’s a high season place. We found a place for a drink on the promenade, which is very long, but we didn’t find a town centre. Even the next morning when we went for a run, no town centre. Which is unusual.

At last today we’re sailing. I hate motor sailing. Sailing is so peaceful. We saw dolphins in the distance. We saw them briefly yesterday too.

My new iPhone 7 ‘s camera has decided not to focus. I don’t think I can do anything about that until we return to the UK, so I’m using Simon’s and sending the pics to me on Whattsapp, which is a pain. It’s ok for selfies though!

This is to show you the mid match of our clothing- I’m wearing 2 fleeces, long jeans and waterproof over trousers- (and socks- sorry!) Simon isn’t!

As we’re sailing we’ve been discussing our itinerary so I’ll update the Itinerary post. Now we’re actually on the way! We were sad to leave Greece 😥 and hope to return. If we do decide keep the boat and visit it for holidays, it’ll probably be in Greece.

Bookings and Itinerary

(Under construction)(organic)

Bookings

June 4th – 11th Maureen and David to Sicily. Organised. Syracuse. They just need to book flights and accommodation

June 13th – 20th. Gill and Brian – in and out of Catania- organised

August 18-26 Chris and Hilary – then

August 20-26 Dave and Sue join us too

Potential Itinerary

Corfu – End April to beginning of May

Italy- 1st/2nd week in May- Syracuse about 15/05

Sicily and Aolian Isles – middle May till middle June(

Sicily to Sardinia is a bit of a long sail for us. But we think we’ll go for it. It’s 160nm from an island west of Sicily to Cagliari

Sardinia- 3rd week in June

Sardinia to get to Menorca is 190nm- 32 hours sailing , ish

Menorca – in about 1/08 maybe earlier

Majorca – been before so skate over this if time is short.

Cabrera – meant to be a high point

Formentera

Ibiza- 18/08-1/09 roughly

Spain – September middle of?

Cartagena Spain. Late September home.

I wonder if we’ll do all of this??!!