the blog entries from the past month were a bit of a disappointment
(we’ve had a few complaints) – they were meant to be just
‘pins in the map’ to show where we were. Anyway, here’s what
we’ve been up to.
leaving Messolonghi we went to Cephalonia – Sami, Poros, then Argostoli
– ready to jump off for Sicily. We met up with Rauol (HORIZON) from
Messolonghi in Leo's bar in Argostoli and had a bit of a music night –
even got a free beer at the end! Does that make us professional musicians?
nestling at the foot of a ravine – impressive from the sea, but actually
not much to see on land.
– land of pizza, basil, ice cream, red wine, limoncella, 100 types of
tinned tomatoes and pasta...
Argostoli we headed across to Syracuse (Sicily). It was a bit of a rolly
passage and we had to motorsail most of the way but made good time (49 hours).
We had company on both nights of the passage – tired little bramblings
who arrived at dusk, and tottered around the deck before settling down on the
floor of the cockpit to sleep. They flew off again at first light. They were so
tired that they couldn’t be bothered to be frightened of us. One was
really keen to settle down on the seat in the cockpit tucked under the
sprayhood, but I had to move him ‘cos that was where I wanted to sit.
before entering Italian waters, we went to look out the Italian flag –
which was hiding – and is still hiding somewhere really safe. We
eventually gave up the hunt and I recycled an old red ensign and an Irish flag
into an acceptable Italian flag (by hand as it was too rolly to get out the
makeshift Italian flag (co-ordinates nicely with the Welsh flag, don’t
crossed the Southern Ionian Sea we spotted Mount Etna, a ghostly, snow-capped
island apparently hovering above the clouds.
Etna – a ghostly apparition hovering in the sky.
was lovely – a maze of narrow streets and honey coloured buildings in the
old town – and lots of Greek and Roman remains scattered between the
ruins among the shops in Syracuse.
good to be back in Italy, and we had a pizza and some Sicilian red wine to
be relieved to hear that the Italians haven’t lost their touch with
a couple of technical hitches in Syracuse – I had a job with a tight
deadline but the only internet we could get was in internet cafés, which meant
traipsing backwards and forwards from the marina to the cafés. We had a couple
of days in the marina, but it was too expensive to stay long, so we had to go
to anchor (and traipse backwards and forwards to the internet café by dinghy).
Then the generator wouldn't start, so I had no power or internet. Then the
outboard engine stopped playing, so we couldn't get in to land from where we
were at anchor. We were with Colin and Moira (TASMAN), so they ran us around a
bit (I don’t think they minded, but I hate having to rely on other people
like that.) Eventually the generator and internet got sorted, my jobs were
delivered and I caught up on sleep.
and Bryn decorated boiled eggs for our breakfast on Easter Sunday.
first for the chop?
architectural style in Sicily is predominantly Baroque – basically as
many twiddles and fiddles as is humanly possible to carve into every cubic
centimetre of stone. The façade of the Duomo (Cathedral) was amazing – a
fancy wedding-cake of a building made out of pale honey-coloured stone.
ornate Baroque façade of the Duomo in Syracuse.
more impressive was finding the ancient Greek columns from the old Temple to
Athena incorporated into the building.
Doric columns of the Temple to Athena were incorporated into the Duomo walls.
caught up with Terry and Emma (LIBERTINE) in Syracuse and, with TASMAN, kept
the anchorage awake until the early hours with classical Messolonghi guitar
Syracuse for another really rolly passage to Marzamemi a little further south.
We glimpsed a shark (quite a large one judging by the size of the dorsal fin)
on the way – very exciting! The next bit of ‘excitement’
occurred when the main engine stopped for no apparent reason and wouldn't
restart. B, B & I sailed the boat towards Malta (at quite a decent speed I
have to say) while David went into the engine hole and eventually managed to
clear the fuel pipes of disgusting lumps of slimy black stuff. Obviously the
diesel with which we had filled our tanks in Sami had been dirty. The indignity
of it – not only pink, full price and VAT paid – but dirty as well!
With clear fuel pipes, we chugged on to the planned destination of Marzamemi.
In hindsight we should have carried on sailing towards Malta.
it was really rough as we came into the marina and we managed to prong TASMAN's
dinghy with our anchor as we tried to get in to the berth. Colin and Moira were
calm and philosophical about it. The next day was spent on dinghy mending
duties, and draining the fuel tanks and double filtering all of the fuel as it
went back in (diesel leaves your hands very soft, if a little greasy…).
We were stuck in Marzamemi for a couple of days with lots of wind and swell. As
we were warned by the pilot book, there wasn’t a huge amount at Marzamemi
and we had difficulty finding a bar open the first night – the phrase
‘ghost town’ springs to mind. We eventually found the (barely open)
tourist area – an old tunny canning factory with lovely buildings turned
into (expensive) bars.
tourist centre of Marzamemi. I’m sure that it buzzes with life in the
children built a den on the beach out of bits of driftwood, old tyres and
abandoned fishing net. They found what they thought was a bomb on the beach
– and Bryn poked it with a stick (typical!). It turned out to be an old
– luckily spent – Italian navy smoke flare…
a den on the beach in which to store old bombs.
the wind and swell dropped to a manageable level, we sprang and fended (OK,
what is the past tense of to spring and to fend?) out of our very tight parking
space, and headed for Mgarr in Gozo. We were able to sail some of the way
– poling out the genoa using the spinnaker pole and goose winging our way
the first time that we have used the spinnaker pole correctly to pole out the
was lovely –- not much there at all, but a sparkly clean harbour with
traditional Maltese boats and the ferries from Malta (very considerate, didn't
cause wash in the harbour).
turquoise water in Mgarr harbour.
a berth on the same pontoon as the sea plane.
along the rocky shoreline we found salt pans cut into the limestone, lots of tail-less
lizards and two snakes (Maltese black whip snakes).
across the rocks and paddling in the salt pans.
limestone punctuated with fossilized shells.
tracked down free wi-fi and cheap beer in the Gleneagles Bar, and found
Marmite, cider and almost-British bacon in the local supermarket. We caught an
old bus into Victoria (nearly all the buses in Malta and Gozo are old), the
capital of Gozo.
the old buses in Gozo.
isn’t sheltered from the SE, and with a bit of a SE blow forecast, we
left Mgarr behind and headed for Valetta in Malta.
down the north-east cost of Malta.
installed in Msida Marina, we had a busy few days catching up with TASMAN and
LIBERTINE, playing a bit of music, celebrating our 3-year anniversary of
leaving Aberystwyth, seeing Malta vs. Latvia in rugby, and watching the
Firework Festival in Grand Harbour (Malta vs. Italy). It's weird being
somewhere where English is spoken, there are red pillar boxes and post boxes,
we can read all of the signs, and they drive on the correct side of the road
(which now actually feels like the wrong side!). The buses are brilliant
– they’re frequent and easy to use, as well as cheap – 47c
per person per trip.
carried on with work, and David carried on with boat jobs. We finished off the
repair to TASMAN’s dinghy; David replaced the wooden bit around the top,
and filled and sanded the fibreglass repair. As there was no way we were going
to be able to match in the repair with the white hull, I made a feature of it
with a bit of a paint job...
finishing off the wooden bit around the top of the dingy, and refitting its
ironmongery; note the attractive fibreglass repair.
starting to disguise the fiberglass patch.
finished paint job.
been exploring Valetta. We caught a glimpse of THE MALTESE FALCON in Grand
Harbour, and tracked down evidence of the Knights of St John in the
Co-Cathedral, and lots of stuff about WWII in the War Museum – all in the
name of school of course.
MALTESE FALCON trying to hide in Grand Harbour.
week in Msida Marina we moved into Sliema Creek in search of cheaper
accommodation. We were moved on from the first four sets of buoys! Never mind,
it’s good for the children’s and my boat handling and
buoy-picking-up skills – we have only ever picked up one or two buoys
before. Luckily, the outboard is behaving – most of the time – so
getting off the boat and round and about isn’t too traumatic!
and Paul (PAX NOSTRUM) have now arrived in Malta and we’ve been catching
up with them and the gossip from Messolonghi. We’d really like to head out
to explore the anchorages around Malta and Gozo, but the weather is still
really unsettled and blows keep coming through every couple of days.
Can’t believe we’ve been here nearly a month! Anyway, more to
like to thank Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Ltd who are kindly sponsoring us
by providing charts and pilots for our trip www.imray.com.
know that family and friends are following our blog, but just out of interest,
is there anyone else out there? Please e-mail us comments and questions smith
dot cape at gmail dot com.
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