XI - Sicily, Life in Marina di Ragusa.
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X - Sicily II, Italy.
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I - Sicily, Life in Marina di Ragusa (2016).
Log Entry Wednesday 30th December - Our modified cockpit takes shape.
We have for sometime lived with a problem with our cockpit build, from day one a water trap had existed, as sealant etc had deteriorated over time the ingress increased, wood rot and corrosion then set in, hidden from view. We are restricted by the type of modifications we can undertake here, but we need to be completely water tight for the pending rains. We strip out the trap and rotten materials, rebuild and seal completely, whilst not our preferred method the repair, it will last us out!
It takes four days to complete, with three good coats of paint over the modifications we will give it some exposure to the weather, see how it settles.
By holding the exact same profile the existing spray hood can still be utilised, or even replaced at a fraction of the cost utilising the existing frame work, as the spray hood too, is very near the end of it useful life. We have reduced the external opening to 60% of it's original size, and, improved the sealing, therefore less ingress of seawater as breaking waves roll down our deck.
Log Entry Saturday 26th December - Boxing Day, time to shake out the cobwebs!
We take our bicycles and take a look out to the east of Marina di Ragusa, following the beach front. The restaurants and beach side cafes eventually disappear as we leave the town.
We call an end to our trip as we reach a beach and cove on the very out skirts of town. It seems to be a favourite for scuba divers, we count at one time, five in the water around the headland. We watch two guys, as they pass us they smile, they carry their catch, three octopuses, to their car. Although I love the flesh I would have no idea what to do with a full animals?
We had noticed the busy lanes, but heading back to the town, the square and promenade are the busiest we have ever seen them since we arrived in September. It seems everyone knows everyone else, we settle in our favourite cafe on the seafront for a couple of hours, as do others from the marina.
Work starts again tomorrow.
Log Entry Friday 25th December - Christmas Day.
Our day is all planned out, open our presents, talk to family, watch movies and relax!
The early morning brings cloud, not that the cloud will be of any significance as we are not going out today. First job, our heating failed during the night, the cause known, an hour will see our first job off our job list!
Ann starts her first glass of bubbly around 1000 hours, the day begins and closes below decks as planned.
Log Entry Wednesday 23rd December - Ann's Birthday today!
As today is Ann's birthday, she gets to choose how she spends the day - obviously! Ann's choice is just to "chill out" around the cafes, enjoying a lazy day. We start off with a birthday breakfast in the Marina Lounge Bar Cafe, Ann's favourite, croissant stuffed with creamy custard.
We then make our way into town, sit in the square and watch the world pass by for an hour or so!
Then, down to what has become our favourite "haunt" on the waterfront, the town today seems deserted, very little going on? A group of guys arrive and change on the beech clearly for a plunge. The plunge is so short we missed the entire event, the next we noticed was the guys drying themselves off? Before we know it it is mid-afternoon, we plan to venture out tonight for dinner but we are unsure if anywhere will be open? I return to Sailaway as we lost our mains shore power this morning, a fault on board needs to be resolved, Ann pops to the supermarket and follows me back.
We get showered and changed and make our way back to town, we find "Quatro Quarini" open on the waterfront to our surprise. We appear to be the only people around, the promenade is deserted, we have a good evening, the food is excellent, the service from the three waiters serving could not be faulted, all three trying to keep themselves busy.
Log Entry Tuesday 22nd December - Our Wedding Anniversary and first trip into town.
Twenty years married to day, twenty five together, tempted to quote the UK murder jail sentence joke but thought better of it?
The Marina and many of the boats have made a great effort with decorations, even the floating Nativity Scene is well lit.
We cycle along the promenade to town, it is much more pleasant to be under blue skies, you do not realise how much you miss it until, until it is taken away? We need to stock up for the coming break, saying that most are only closed for the Christmas and Boxing Day. Nice to get off the boat and change of scenery.
We hit the local market in town, then to the supermarket, well one of the three.
Back in the town Piazza, it is well decorated, and as typical in most European cultures the day sees the gathering of friends and family. It's good to watch the kids causing havoc with their footballs and cycles, no big issue to anyone, just, "kids being kids".
After an hour or so watching the world go by its coffee time, then back to Sailaway. We planned to go out this evening but became too settled below decks - perhaps tomorrow evening?
Log Entry Monday 21st December - Back to Sicily from the UK.
As usual it takes a day or two to unpack everything and repack it away to allow us to move freely aboard Sailaway. We, due to our pending workload, had brought so much additional equipment back it took some time to tidy away. We had heard a statement regularly as people witnessed our packing back home, "You must have everything but the kitchen sink in there?" This time, we actually did bring back a kitchen sink in one of our suitcases, two of our four cases were dumped as soon as empty, initially purchased for the journey from a Charity Shop!
We had left Plant in the Head (bathroom) Sink, sitting in water during our absence, she had shot away a good 50mm in eight weeks - she is now getting too tall to sit down below, a new home may have to be found soon. Baylis, returning from the UK with us, as I never drive a single mile without him in the car is dwarfed by Plants progress, but they seem happy to see each other again? Nothing wrong with us?
The first job is to get the Christmas decorations out, the first time since December 2010! We decide to decorate down below and not above deck as we have to remove our sails and complete some repairs on deck immediately. We formulate our pending job list, some 58 items listed, 40% can only be complete while out of the water, the rest we plan to begin to attack during the Christmas break. Sailaway is tired but she will be back to prime condition once we are finished!
As darkness falls the lights bring a real "Christmas feel" to Sailaway, even the tree in the Aft Cabin (bedroom) has a warming feeling - good to be back!
Log Entry Monday 12th October - A trip to the hardware store late in the day!
We were heading into town for the afternoon shopping, re-opening at 1600 hours, more bits and pieces from the hardware store. It is hard to believe that here we are in mid-October and the beaches are still being used? We are clearly acclimatised as we have now moved on to long trousers and a sweater in the evening!
With our goods collected we stop for a drink at one of the beach front cafes on the promenade, darkness fell quickly, or perhaps we had been there longer than we thought?
Our attention was drawn by a gathering of people and equipment next to us on the promenade, it was a film crew and actors for an Italian Crime Series, I could not even say it, let alone spell it? The whole area next to us was cordoned off in both directions, however we did chuckle as some of the Italian "elders" refused to be stopped from walking along their promenade - people had to work around them. Two of the crew came to the cafe which was now quite full and, in Italian asked for the peoples understanding and asked them for silence. The two "extras" I had been chatting to informed him that not all understood Italian and that we were English. He walked over to us and his exact words were "Listen, shut up, we are going to start filming!" I began laughing, especially at his accompanying body language, as the whole statement just came across as rude in my opinion, and I am not too sensitive! My laughter some what confused him, so I agreed and he walked off shaking his head.
It was time to leave, our cycles were at the other side of the roped off area, we made our way around, but we were not able to recover our cycles until the crew cleared it.
Log Entry Saturday 10th October - Some thing passed through the marina this morning, a tornado perhaps?
At about 0815 hours this morning the marina was hit by a significantly strong gust bring horizontal rain in the air. We were pushed over so far every thing standing up was knocked down below decks, even our fruit bowl slid off the saloon table! Looking out we could barely make out the vessels opposite thought the horizontal water spray. The whole thing only lasted minutes, when Sailaway then returned to a "normal" angle!
Every morning at 0900 hours there is a morning "Net" on the VHF, broadcasting the issues of the day, it always starts with the weather, well you can imagine! Reports of wind speeds of between 63 to 78 knots ( mph = knots x 1.1) of wind were called in, the only explanation for the event that could be found was a tornado passing through the marina! Fortunetly there appeared little damage, dinghies blown off decks and pontoons, marina trollies blown into the water as you would expect? We have never experienced anything like this before, we have been in amongst tornadoes, but luckily, clear of them.
Log Entry Friday 9th October - More work complete, always time for our coffee in town!
Another day at work, off to town for a coffee, I was fascinated at these guys launching themselves from the beach! I had mistakenly assumed they would wade in, climb on and lift the sail - never too old to learn, just gets difficult to remember?
Log Entry Tuesday 6th October - The town of Marina di Ragusa.
The Town of "Marina di Ragusa" is nothing like I imagined, for some reason I expected it to be a new town, a tourist resort. It clearly is a tourist resort, beautiful promenade and beaches, with traditional waterfront bars and cafes, all, I must say seem reasonably priced considering. Many of the beach restaurants are being to close for the winter, so the winter, as you would expect will be quieter. The town has three supermarkets, saying that we have only used one of them, ARD, just off the promenade, a well stocked hardware store and Chandlers, one in the marina and one in town. Material/canvas guys can also be found locally, as can your gas bottles be filled, till now we can see nothing we cannot obtain locally, requiring a trip into Ragusa.
We are already attacking our "winter jobs" list, we have had to restructure them slightly as we are afloat with neighbours, so additional considerations are need, noise, dirt etc. but all manageable. Quite often, late afternoon we pop into town for fresh salad, fruit, or sometimes just a coffee, a change of scenery. It is early October, still people using the beaches, even in the water.
The promenade runs from the marina to the town, the traditional, Italian town square, just off the promenade, most things shut for lunch (1300 - 1600), an evening in town looks interesting, the side streets full of small restaurants. There is a weekly market on a Tuesday, but that begins to close down too at lunch time, we missed it - too much work!
Log Entry Monday 5th October - We begin to settle into Marina di Ragusa for the winter.
Upon our arrival at the marina, we spoke to many fellow cruisers about the yard, trying to find someone who had actually used them was difficult. Most gave us a warning not too and usually an alternative yard to use, some lift out before their arrival, some after the spring - but all else where, Italy, Greece, even Malta? This was somewhat alarming, but the examples sometimes given were not just common to Marina di Ragusa, but common to many other yards elsewhere?
I spoke with the management about our requirements, then after a couple of short discussions I voiced my concern, created by what I was being told by other boaters in the marina. It was explained to me that the yard had predominantly been primarily "antifouling." They had suffered from a number of issues in the past, some examples were discussed, the business plan was now was to move into all aspects of marina work, new people had been brought in recently, to achieve their objectives.
Our first meeting took place on board Sailaway, we need work done primarily on our hull, stern tube assembly, new stuffing box and cutlass bearings and our mast. Our mast needs to be removed, inspected and the sacrificial end caps of our spreaders, manufactured and refitted. Bare in mind that you cannot work on the outside of your own vessel, or live on board while in the yard! After our discussions, it was then for Marina di Ragusa to compile the associated costs and issue the quotations, a really advantage here is that we are discussing carrying out the work within their large warehouse, sheltered from the weather and it's elements.
The quotations were issued, a second meeting was held to refine the quotations of which we are now waiting a further issue of costs. We have, for a number of reasons decided to remain here for the winter and work with the yard. We paid our due winter's fees confirming our intensions to stay, our decision has met with mixed reviews from others, but that entirely up to them, we are confident the yard will deliver it's promises!
The marina has the largest winter population we have ever seen, some where in the region of 90 vessels booked in, there occupants spending varying lengths of time on board over the winter, from 0 to 100%, some of the vessels are spending their fifth winter here! With such a large group, of all nationalities there is a great deal of organisation, from the morning "Net" on CH72, to many social and group events. There is more than enough to keep you as occupied as you need to be over the winter months, even us as "anti-social gits" participate in some things! We are looking forward to the winter here, in Marina di Ragusa, it must be said that due to the layout of the marina and position of the facilities, our cycles are essential to us, they also make the short trip into town very easy.