Marina di Ragusa
36 46.8 N 14 32.7 E
Ragusa Marina Sunday 21st September
We were able to do our customs check out on Saturday evening and returned our electronic key just before 2200 to the marina office; this was important as we wanted to make a really early start in the morning. We had been to a small town inland for supper and a folk concert which was most enjoyable. There were dance groups from Sicily, Poland and Gozo as well as a local band and singers. The show took place in front of a large Church which had a big forecourt with steps leading down to a piazza where the audience sat on rows of chairs. We had a taxi to take us and collect us which was very convenient but we needed to ensure we were back at the marina office before it closed.
We were up and off the quay by 0630 and soon rounded the north east headland of Gozo and made our course for the marina entrance at Ragusa some 46 miles to the north. The wind was NNW force 2 for several hours with hazy visibility and we were able to motor-sail comfortably into a fairly flat sea; however as we approached the mid- section of the channel between Gozo and Sicily the wind died completely. We crossed the busy shipping lanes and had to alter course twice for very large container ships and for one small Italian Navy vessel. We had a two brief encounters with dolphins but they were more interested in chasing fish which we saw jumping high out of the water to avoid the dolphins!
Later in the afternoon the wind backed to westerly and gradually increased to Force 3 which gave us a good sail for the last couple of hours. Having previously reserved a space at the marina we called up on Channel 74 when we were just off the entrance and were then met by a rib and escorted to our place on pontoon D. There were two hefty mooring lines allocated to us and a very solid pontoon to moor on to. There were about 6 boats on this pontoon the day we arrived but by the time we were lifted out there were 9 on the north side and 8 on the south side, with just a few spaces left. (it is quite obviously a very popular marina for winter berthing.)
We spent 2 weeks afloat here and were able to explore the town, getting to know where the supermarkets were situated and where the good cafes and bars were. The promenade is a lovely place to cycle along and stretches for more than a mile with plenty of places to stop for a drink or a paddle! The marina staff were very helpful and so too were several people who regularly winter their boats in this marina. Happy hour at the marina café was on Jacky’s birthday so we attended and met more live-aboard folk, the following evening we had some on board for drinks and birthday cake. Next to the marina is a very fine beach where Jacky went swimming most afternoons once the day’s job list was completed. Obviously we had to get the boat ready to leave for 6 months and in addition we needed to get some work done – a new main sail cover and repairs to the bimini being the main ones. We were introduced to a guy called Sam who works here for 8 months looking after a fleet of privately owned Oyster yachts; he was able to put us in touch with a canvas worker and sail maker both of whom we have now contracted to get the necessary work completed over the winter. We decided to rent a car for the last few days of our time in Sicily and so on Sunday 5th of October we took the local bus to the inland town of Ragusa and then the connection to Catania airport where we collected the car and drove back to Marina di Ragusa. The bus ride was interesting as we were able to see some of the inland country side and we were surprized at the variety, with some rolling type hills a bit like the South Downs, whilst other parts were rugged and arid. We saw many vineyards and olive groves and on the flat low lands there was much evidence of market garden cash crop produce being grown. Before reaching Catania we were quite high up and as it was a wet and misty day we were almost in the clouds. Our view of Mount Etna was somewhat obscured due to this.
On Monday morning Arwen was lifted out and thankfully the keel was fine as was the hull, which once power washed looked very clean so not too much work will be required come the spring before our re-launch. We moved into a small apart-hotel about a mile from the marina and spent the next couple of days packing up the boat as well as exploring locally. We drove to Licata another marina to the west of Ragusa where we met up with several friends from Crete. We also went to find the film locations of some of the Inspector Montalbano TV series which are dotted about this area.
We fly back to the UK on Thursday 9th of October so this will be the last blog for 2014 – quite an up and down year for us all in all!