Cracking on

Jim / Elaine Soens
Sun 13 Sep 2009 15:53
Since the last update we have been cracking on at a good pace after a very stormy night on Wed.  We were surrounded by thunderstorms which we kept trying to dodge but to no avail.  We were eventually completely surrounded and nothing else to do but keep going and hope for the best.  The lightening was truly spectacular forking into the sea all around us but luckily we were OK. Thursday morning was amazing, blue sky and not a hint of the storms from the night before. D & I were entertained by a pod of Dolphins at first light who swam and played in our bow wave for 15 mins. cheekily looking up to see if we were watching them. That sight is something that never fails to excite you no matter how many times you see it. We had a much more comfortable day and the weather was quite balmy so we all enjoyed being on deck and experiencing the sort of cruising we all imagined we were going to have. Friday was mostly the same and on D & I's early watch we got our first sight of land.  Two small islands just west of Sicily.  It was incredible to actually smell land about 40 miles away, a real earthy smell after only smelling sea for the last 3 days. We sailed close to the coast for the whole day and were amazed at the size of some of the cities we passed which consisted only of large ugly apartment blocks painted various colours. We eventually arrived at our anchorage in Empedocle at 17.20 a very uninteresting town with the same boring architecture as the rest of the island, sailed in past a very long breakwater to a very calm anchorage.  It was good to be still again with no engine noise.  G&T's all round and the bliss of hot showers and a change of clothes without having to keep your balance.  We had dinner and played Mex. Train Dominoes on deck in a really warm balmy evening (Yes, D won yet again) How I wish he had as much luck with the lottery!!  J had just remarked how peaceful it was when a strangled female voice came from the shore where she was obviously trying to entertain people. She screeched for the rest of the night but we had to laugh at how bad she was. She definitely wouldn't get past the first audition of the X factor.  All in bed by 23.00 for D & I our first night in our very comfy beds since Majorca, what bliss.
Up this morning for a am departure. Had a good days sailing, still off the south coast of Sicily - didn't realize it was such a large island.  Had a  bit of a drama mid afternoon when the starboard prop caught something. We had to shut engines and take the sail down &  J had to don his crash helmet & goggles, harness and rope and go under to see what was up.  The wind and tide was all wrong for going under so we had to turn round into the tide to slow down enough (no engine or sails) for him to do it.  He came up seconds later with a huge piece of industrial polythene, probably from the many Poly Tunnels on the island and thankfully no damage to him or the engine.  It's now 21.30, just had dinner and we are heading for Siracusa on the east coast of the island, had intended to stop a couple of hours ago for the night but the general consensus was to keep going and have 2 full days there where there is lots to do including probably a trip to Mt. Etna. Hopeing to anchor up by 23.00.
Till the next time
Cpt'n Jim & the crew send regards to all.