Marina di Ragusa Sicily to Argostoli Kefalonia at Last
At last the day had come to cast off.
We had been all set to fly out to Pamarzi on the 24th April, looking forward to spending a couple of weeks in Sicily getting her ready for the seasons cruising but five days before our flight Lynn’s right knee ‘collapsed’ and a visit to a consultant confirmed that a total knee replacement was the only option. Foregoing the NHS eighteen week wait we managed to arrange for Lynn to have the operation on the 12th May. All went well and despite the setback of an infection in the wound and a fair bit of post-operative pain Lynn felt able to fly out to Sicily with me on the 31st July. We spent a pleasant few days in Marina di Ragusa provisioning the boat and enjoying the company of John and Midge of SY Calico and Samantha and David of SY Elle R. Final preparations complete and a reasonable weather window meant that we were able to cast off on Sunday 6th August for our 320nm crossing to Kefallonia. In the preceding days I had felt the tension as Lynn became more and more apprehensive that her first taste of sailing this year would be a two day two night passage with a still gammy knee although she did her best to hide her concerns.
Waving farewell to our friends we were guided by Rosario the ever helpful marinero through the entrance to the marina which is once again silting up making it ever narrower for our 2.9 metre draught. Out into calm seas we motored, hardly a breath of wind to ease the hot (44 degree centigrade) turgid air and for the rest of that day the sweaty crew of Pamarzi motored along the south coast of Sicily seeing only one other vessel but noting the numerous grass and brush fires inland; dark smoke rising vertically in huge plumes until the slight south easterly at altitude banded the smoke westward as far as the eye could see.
By early evening Sicily had slipped below the horizon and we chugged on in the heavy, stifling air making seven knots at 1800 revs in the slight seas. I rested for a couple of hours, Lynn taking the watch till 21.30. Our instruments showed a sea temperature of 31degrees and as the sun set and the air cooled slightly and a heavy dew developed soaking decks and crew as if there had been a down pour of tepid rain. My sodden night was uneventful and uncomfortable as we continued to chug away the miles. Lynn took the watch at 05.00 and I managed a couple of hours sleep whilst she navigated Pamarzi through a belt of warm, wet fog. But as the sun rose on our daughter, Georgia’s birthday so a light north westerly breeze came and with full main and genoa aloft we easily made 7 knots in the twelve knot breeze. It was ‘champagne’ sailing all day long followed by a lovely night, one day short of a full moon we silently slid through the gentle seas, ones thought expanded by the sight of the cosmos as the night hours ebbed by. The strengthening wind stirred me from my contemplations as I sought to reduce sail to keep the boat’s angle comfortable for Lynn and to reduce our speed so that we would arrive in Argostoli in daylight. Lynn took the watch at 06.00 under reefed main and genoa. I had three hours of blissful sleep and awoke to find her navigating the entrance to the wide bay that leads to the town of Argostoli. Past the imposing Doric styled lighthouse and turning through 180 degrees we approached Argostoli. The hook went down in five metres, 290 metres off the town quay at 10.00 (11.00 Greek time) A relaxed day followed as we caught up on zzz’s.
Well rested we took the tender ashore next morning, Lynn struggling a bit getting in and out with the new knee but leaving her at the Captain’s table restaurant where we had decided to have breakfast, ship’s papers in hand (or rather in my rather smart Longchamp document bag kindly given to me by friends Rob and Liliane last year) I headed for the Port office to check in. Blue uniformed, jack booted officials checked and copied my papers, stamped the copies twice, handing them back to me with the instruction to proceed to the tax office at the other end of town. Dripping with perspiration after a two kilometre hike along the waterfront in temperatures in the mid forties I eventually found the Tax Office in a side street and was instructed to climb to the second floor. On the second attempt I located the correct room where I was presented with a sheet to enter much the same detail as I had given the Port Authority. Nonetheless I scribbled away and this new paper was twice stamped and I was told to proceed with it to the office on the floor above to pay 50 Euros. This done I started the hike back to the Port Authority office with my ever growing sheaf of papers pausing on the waterfront momentarily to admire several large turtles feeding on scraps thrown to them from the local fishing boats docked there. Back in the dingy, paint peeling Port Authority office I was pleased to see that the officer’s pistol was still securely holstered. I smiled and proffered my bundle of stamped paper which he scrutinised and instructed me to go to an office (portacabin actually) at the other end of the port where I was to present my sheaf of newly stapled papers and pay 15 Euros. On arrival at said office there was a queue and I was told to wait outside. Fifteen minutes later my sun tan now much improved I was called in to pay the fee and receive a receipt which to was stapled to the bundle. Fear not dear reader we are reaching the finale! Returning to office number one, poorer now by 65 Euros I presented my bundle of stamped documents and feeling familiar now with my surroundings and fatigued from my exertions in the heat I pulled up a chair to the desk and smiled I hope encouragingly at the official. He produced a sixteen page document which he proceeded to write in and satisfied with his entries stamped the document no less than eight times before presenting it to me exclaiming that this was my Depkah. As I left with some relief and looking forward to my breakfast I saw him take my stapled bundle to a cupboard where it was dropped into a large dog eared cardboard box along with hundreds of similar bundles doubtless never to be seen by human eye again.
There is a blow coming in at the weekend so we decided to stay put as Georgia and the children are flying in on Tuesday and we quite like the little town. A dinner at the Portside restaurant last evening brought back memories of last year and particularly of our meeting with Tony Deden with whom we had more than one laughter filled evening.