Syracusa & Ragusa and Goodbye to Ann 36:46.867N 014:32.779E.

Charles & Maggie Bevis
Wed 24 Sep 2014 19:48
Sunday 21 September,

With strongish winds blowing from the south, we delayed our departure from Cantania until Sunday, whereupon the winds fell away and then died altogether, so we were obliged to motor in a flat calm for most of the way to Syracusa.

As we arrived off the historic city the wind blew strongly from the south again, so we entered the marina for fuel and to take stock. Hopefully the last fuel we buy this year.

A very excitable young man offered us a berth in the marina but asked us to wait until another boat had completed some machinery repairs. He indicated a waiting berth, to which we made fast, but then he seemed rather cross that we had gone there! Having confirmed that we were not adopting squatters’ rights, he left again and we duly waited for about one hour. He then returned and told us we had to leave the marina as there was no room. He promised to call us later in the evening when space became available, but he never did. So we spent a quiet night at anchor in the bay about half a mile out from the city, which was actually rather pleasant, calm and quiet.

We decided we liked being at anchor, we found it convenient and obviously cheaper. On Monday, Ann and Maggie ventured ashore and explored the old city; Charlie had work to do and stayed on board glued to his computer. The girls called me on the walkie talkies at 14:00 and I went to get them. The winds had picked up considerably within the blink of an eye and the three of us got very wet on the journey back to the boat. Tuesday was altogether more sedate, and the shore party got there and back and only a little damp during the transits. They both greatly enjoyed the wonderful street market, selling all kind of produce, meat and fish, with swordfish and tuna being a speciality of this region. The town is one of the the cleanest we’ve been to and is quite beautiful. The old town houses beautiful buildings and a stunning the main piazza. Together with tiny streets, lovely architecture, nice shops and the inevitable too many to count restaurants, Maggie and Ann greatly enjoyed their meanderings.

Wednesday morning and Ann packed her bags and we all climbed into the dinghy for the trip ashore and arrived only slightly damp courtesy of the wash from a passing mobo. It was sad to see Ann go but we are sure she will be looking forward to meeting up with family and friends at home again after 7 weeks travelling with us.

With very sad news about Maggie’s Dad and his rapidly failing health, we took a chance and sailed immediately we got back on board. The weather for this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday looked less than favourable. As it turned out, we set sail in a flat calm sea, but by noon the wind was coming up, on the nose! Fortunately we were just 6 miles short of our turning point off the SE extremity of Sicily. We then enjoyed a real slay ride as ALKIRA stretched her legs for the last time this year. We fair old tramped along at 7.5 knots with dry decks in sparkling sun shine on a royal blue sea. A lovely day out and to top it all, we made such good time we were able to reach Ragusa at 18:30 and berth before darkness came at 19:30. Maggie has managed to book a flight for a weeks time, next Wednesday to be exact, which will get her back to Manchester.

So we are now here in Ragusa, our home port for the remainder of this year and into 2015. With some 2,000+ miles sailed, much of it under sail too (unlike last year). No significant damage done to the boat, (just one torn sail stitched by Maggie) and how many ports? - I shall have to sit and work that out.

As far as port stays are concerned, the best value was Olbia (free) then Fiumicino (Rome) at 18€/night, the most expensive was 90€/night (anything more than that and we didn’t go there). The best ports were in Italy, probably Agopoli, closely followed by Tropea. Three volcanoes were visited, or at least seen in one month, the star event being the night sail around Stromboli - just amazing. So many memories… Our worst moment was undoubtably the failure of the gearbox cable as we entered the canal at Fiumicino!

The Crew

Matthew’s visit was great. It was lovely to have him join us on board and our only regret, and his we think, was that he didn’t have more time with us.

Sadly, Moy and Andy (Maggie’s sister and brother-in-law) had to cancel due to family ilnesses. We and they have every hope that will be be able to join us for a much needed holiday next year.

And Ann …. well what can we say? Acrobat extraordinaire - her skills boarding and disembarking an inflatable dinghy are a wonder to behold. She make a good deputy galley slave in bad weather weather and is not fazed by gimballed cookers or gas that runs out just at the moment the pasta is reaching its peak. She was deputised as the breakfast chef this year, and cooks a mean bowl of cereal! After Charlie filled her bed with water through an open hatch she was appointed deputy hatch monitor and performed those duties admirably. As to her star act with the Gordon’s bottle this has to be seen and as for the wine, well … that’s more than enough praise for one person.

So now, before Maggie departs next week, we have a very long list of chores to do. Alkira has served us well for yet another sailing season but she’s looking decidedly scruffy now, small wonder after 4 months of sailing around the Mediterranean. Scrubbing, polishing, laundering, sails, ropes, decks, cabins, galley, bathrooms, hull, fenders, dinghy, engine overhaul, oil changes, mechanical maintenance of most moving parts - everything needs to be stripped back and deep cleaned and/or stored away. Once Maggie leaves, Charlie will continue to continue through the list of jobs (which he will hopefully complete), before returning home on the 11th October.

It’s been a great season. We’ve been down up and down the Spanish mainland again, then the Balearic Islands, onto Sardinia, a brief visit to Corsica (which needs to be revisited properly at some point in the future), mainland Italian coast heading south from Rome all the way down to the toe of the big boot, with diversions to the Pontine Islands, north of Naples and the Aeolian Islands. We have been through the Straits of Messina and all along the eastern, and part of the southern coast of Sicily. It’s been a true voyage of discovery and we have loved it all. We are greatly look forward already to continuing our Mediterranean Odyssey next year.

Charlie & Maggie Bevis