Taking it Easy in Brindisi – Des pite the Weather – To Bliss in O rtiga

Sat 26 Sep 2015 05:36

Well first we were baked alive with temperatures heading to 40°C with very high humidity, then came storms and high winds. Thankfully no locusts, frogs or plague yet!

We did hire a car and visited the white city of Ostuni and historic Lecce but I think Alberobello and Matera impressed us so much that these other sights of Puglia seemed a bit tame despite their baroque grandeur.

Seven thirty on Monday morning we have just said our goodbyes to Liliane who flies back to Belgium today. The three remaining crew of Pamarzi a little subdued over our morning tea whilst the 50 knot gusts of north easterly wind have our boat heaving about at her moorings. Tuesday, the forecasts said “winds will ease”, they didn’t!

But at 07.30 on Wednesday morning we motored out of a silent Brindisi past the old fort, past the moored cruise ships, past the oil refinery and finally past the chemical works into the open sea. There we found no breeze at all which is slightly disappointing when you have a voyage of over three hundred nautical miles before you. On went the engine and on stayed the engine for all three hundred miles! We occasionally hoisted the main when there was a slight wind shift and motored sailed but the wind gods were persistent in their desire to rough us up. The wind built up to thirty knots but from exactly the direction we were travelling which meant (for you non sailors) that given our speed through the water the apparent wind was close on forty knots. The waves built up to two metres, water crashed over the foredeck seawater running the length of the boat gurgling down the deck drains, the occasional ‘big one’ hurling right over the foredeck and smashing into and over the spray hood. Through the daylight hours and throughout the night we plugged on. With high hopes for a better wind angle we rounded the heel of Italy only to find the wind had made the same decision, on the nose again! Three hours on, three hours off Rob and I stood watch on watch. We passed the ‘toe’ of Italy  lunch timeish on Thursday to be greeted by and even more confused sea as waves created by storms in the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea crashed into waves built up by the south westerly wind, still we plugged on through this uncomfortable melee. Lynn amazingly coming up with regular delicious meals despite working in a galley that was continually on the move and where no pot, pan, plate or spoon stayed put unless held.

A bright moment on this engine testing voyage was being overtaken by the magnificent 220 foot super yacht Vertigo. She is available for charter should you feel so inclined. Include fuel, docking fees and staff gratuities and you can have a week aboard for as little as €450,000. Finally at 21.00 hours we reached the sheltered harbour of Syracuse. We are familiar with this anchorage and quietly and confidently we slipped through the darkness to find a suitable spot to drop the anchor. In nine metres with plenty of room to swing the hook went down, fifty metres of chain out, snubbing line on and that first beer never tasted so good. Thirty minutes later the crew of Pamarzi were abed and a blissfully still eight or nine hours sleep followed.

Much refreshed we breakfasted on eggs and pancetta next morning before moving into the marina where I had booked a berth. Completing our med mooring routine we set about washing down the boat to rid her of her crust of salt, five hours work but I felt much better as she returned to her normal state of gleaming perfection. We are here for three nights to enjoy yet again the delights of ancient Ortiga before continuing on to our winter berth at Marina di Ragusa.