Rome - Hi Jinks 41:46.17N 12:13.476E

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Fri 15 Aug 2014 07:50
9 August - we left Olbia for the last time after supermarket shopping and sailed down the East coast of Sardinia to Santa Maria Navarrise, chiefly influenced by a determined effort to get away from the NE of the island, the super yachts and the sky-hi August prices.  The coastline was very mountainous and with stunning scenery.  

We spent the following 3 nights in Navarrise - a very pleasant town with a friendly marina.  The only drawback was the high sea wall surrounding said marina, which turned it into a melting pot after lunchtime with temps in the hi 30’s and no wind!  

On the 10th we caught the local bus for an excursion ashore and ended up in a really pretty village (Baunei) some 500m up in the mountains for a lunchtime pub crawl!  It was pleasant and slightly cooler than the sweltering temperatures on the coast.  The day was finished off with a good and inexpensive pizza.

The timing of our departure from Sardinia was dictated by berthing facilities in our next port, Rome.  To get to our chosen berth on the canal we have to pass under two lifting bridges and time our arrival to coincide with their opening times.  So Tuesday evening we set off at 20:00 for the passage to mainland Italy.  

At dawn on Wednesday our lookout Ann saw that the genoa had torn overnight on the leach near the area of the mast spreaders.  The sail was quickly dropped and Maggie then spent patient hours hand stitching a double sided patch to prevent the tear spreading, but oh dear, the long term prognosis for the genoa is not looking good!  Work was finally finished after 3+ hours hard work in the hot sun, sat on a heaving deck, wrestling with a cumbersome and very large piece of sail cloth.  The sail was finally re-hoisted and we continued on our way.  Maggie is hoping her stitch craft will hold as she’s definitely not looking to do a repeat performance.

By and large we had a good crossing, mostly under sail with some motoring in the not so frequent flat spots, but inevitably, it was very tiring.  However, with three of us on board, the watch keeping was not quite as onerous as our previous two night passage.  We ended up at reduced speed as we approached the coast in order to arrive in the canal at 07:00 Thursday.  We made it OK, one hour early and entered the seaward end of the canal at Fiumicino at 06:00.  

Having gone to great pains to ensure we arrived in the right place at the right time to await the first bridge to lift, disaster struck.  The gearbox linkage failed as we manoeuvred and alarmingly,we  found we could only go astern, no ahead and no neutral!  The only way to then stop the boat reversing any further was to turn the engine off.  Thinks to self “don’t panic!…  After some hairy moments of turning the boat around in the canal proper, we (Charlie) managed to somehow reverse into a basin on the south side of the canal albeit in a rising wind.  We zigzagged though the basin moorings stern first and with much use of the bow thruster.  We eventually made it alongside without  any collisions with the tightly packed boats in the basin.  Very stressful for all of us, but with some real steering skills from Charlie and some very nifty work by Maggie and Ann with fenders and lines, we squeezed alongside safely into a berth we hadn’t intended to take. 

At last some good luck, the first being that we didn’t hit anything – quite good considering that with our long keel, reversing ALKIRA is an art form rather than a science. 

On investigation Charlie found the linkage had broken at the engine but was not repairable.  The second bit of good luck was that the cable is a Volvo Penta standard part and the local dealer was only 50m away, was open for business and had one in stock and at a reasonable price!  

Some five hours later, all is now fixed and tested OK. We are now ready to move on to where we should have gone to this morning, when the two bridges lift again this evening at 8pm.  

One downside is that a local "finger in every pie” gent from the yard in the basin wanted 50 Euro for the use of the berth for 12 hours!  He was seen later in the afternoon by Maggie and Ann exiting a nice restaurant, where presumably we had paid for his lunch. Still beggars can’t be choosers.  

We are now all looking forward to an early dinner this evening and a good nights sleep.  One thing is for certain, there a very few dull moments and every day is different; thank goodness the majority are spent without stress or repairing things that suddenly break.

Sightseeing in Rome this weekend!