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I - Sicily, Life in Marina di Ragusa 2016.


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XI - Life in Marina di Ragusa, Italy, 2015.


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II - Sicily, We eventually begin travelling.


Log Entry Saturday 30th April - All finished for sure this time, well as "finished" as a sailboat can ever be!

This week we had two objectives, firstly, pick up a car to stock up for our departure from the larger supermarkets near Ragusa, and, to see a bit of the countryside. Secondly, when the current "blow" passes, get Sailaway out to sea and test her out. The yard has been asking if we have had time to complete sea trials yet, to allow them to check the rigging before we leave?

The first day, shopping was the easy part, supermarket, Brico (hardware store), Lidl, all so easy with the car, the real challenge was getting it all on board and stored away and documented so we know where everything is, and what we have aboard.

The second day was a real disappointment, we had planned to drive up to Licata to visit friends but a stomach upset meant that for most of the day we were pinned down, not able to go far?

Fortunetly by late afternoon "things" had settle down and we ventured out locally in the car, we headed west up the coast to Scoguttie, a harbour and resort area. The drive, on the local roads was uninteresting, we drove through a mass of greenhouses with various crops, reminded us of Turkey.

The marina was quite small and shallow but a number of larger vessels sat on the wall.

The harbour was very much a working one, although the town appeared to be a resort, it was "aged", the town tired, not sure how we would have felt if we had arrived for a week or so? The car was going back in the morning now, we had a good window for sailings as the winds began to fall, as is the norm, finding enough wind was going to be the issue, after a strong blow, there then follows calms with little wind at all, but tomorrow looks good.

We left our berth in light winds around 1000 hours, once out our canvas up and engine off, we sailed due south. Ahead one could see strong winds, whites on the tops of the waves, perfect for us and Sailaway. The first sail after seven months of rest is always a learning experience, it is so easy to forget things - must be our ages? We kept a full main up to put as much pressure on the rigging as possible, in time we reefed our headsail as the wind stiffened. We did about an hour on one tack, then turned and spent about an hour on the other tack. The slight "slime" that had fixed itself to our hull came off completely, very easily in fact. It was then that we noticed that we were loosing a batten from our mainsail, the topping lift had some how attached itself and was easing it out. I feel I must not have secured it properly? We dropped the mainsail quickly on the move, but as we did we lost the batten completely, it shot off behind us and disappeared into the water.

Now, with only the reefed headsail we were still able to make 6 knots, so we turned, put the wind behind us and headed back to Marina di Ragusa. Although the sun was shinning, the wind chill was enough to keep us wrapped up.

As we arrived back, just off the beach we dropped anchor, another check of our systems, there was quite a south easterly swell developing, but we had time for a cuppa! It was much warmer here too as the wind was not too strong as it had been offshore.

We arrived back in our berth extremely pleased at our findings, the only problem encountered was the loss of one of mainsail battens - brilliant, everything else worked great. The batten was replaced within two hours by "SiSail", after I met Palo on the pontoon and explained. I must say after the work we have done, if that is the only problem, probably created by me, that would be great!

We now await the the next window to leave, we have at least 3 days of strong winds and thunderstorms, I doubt if we will leave before Thursday of next week? We plan to travel east along the south coast, turn north up the east coast, through the Messina Straights and on the the Aeolian (Volcanic) Islands where there is still two active volcanos.



Log Entry Saturday 23rd April - We continue to prepare, weather and bad luck against us now!

Our week starts off in a very lazy way, in the back of our minds all is complete, we are ready to go, we just need a decent weather window? We plan to head east along the south coast of Sicily, north through the Messina Straights and up to the Volcanic Islands (Aeolian Islands). Here we plan to visit the active volcano. Today we have strong easterly winds for a few days so we are going no where, time for a bit of shopping, coffee etc. Later in the week we plan to hire a car for a couple of days and head out to Licata to visit friends and the "Valley of the Temples".

We have two gas bottles in need of filling, I also wrongly though all we filled in December? I accompany Ann to feed the cats, the kittens now are very independent and active.

Ann was recommended a recipe by our neighbours who she meets in the market at the fish stall - stingray. An interesting dish, served with vegetables, too many bones for our liking?

While looking in the vee berth I realist that I have not fitted the new artwork, "Sailaway" name and registration details, it takes a couple of days as we need minimum wind, so once the sun warms the hull in the morning we start. It takes a couple of mornings because of the winds. I also get to help our one of neighbours free a blocked lavatory, that fills a couple of hours.

Our first bit of bad luck of the week, out of boredom I decide to start our generator we purchased this one last September and were very satisfied with it. It started fine, gave a DC output but not the essential output! Still should be no problem, it is still under warranty - as usual, nothing is what it seems? We need assistance from an Italian, we have the marina facilitator, Sylvia drive us up to Brico Centre to exchange? No, there only plan was to get rid of us, without the assistance of an Italian we would have just been turned away. The shop assistance, proudly told us not too worry, it has a two year warranty, passed us a telephone number and politely told us to go away! We called the number, no answer, were unable to call the next day, but on day three we were able to check the unit out over the telephone - within minutes we were told we needed technical assistance. This statement clearly astonished me, NOT! Now the the peak of the warranty claim, we are told there is no technical assistance, we have to ship the unit to Catania, the repair could take up to one month, which in our experience could quite easily be two, or even more!

We are the proud owners of a generator with a two year, global warranty, not worth the paper it is not written on!

We have two options, one, throw it away and get a new one - not the same model obviously! My favoured is to strip it down and try to get it to work, the wasted days has seen us miss a suitable weather window, more strong winds coming. I strip it down, this unit is far more complicated than our last, electronic circuit board, motorised throttle. I sat, scratched my head and got stuck in. The first strip down and rebuild gave me a good understanding on how the unit works but failed to rectify the problem? I was truly astonished as it went together with no spare parts remaining - amazing! I left it for another day.


We had again ran the engine, but noticed 5 drops of coolant under the front of the engine. I determine that the coolant pump from seal is failing, we have a spare so best to replace it! Unfortunately it involves removing the front coolant runs along with the drive belts, a six hour job but all good again.

At the end of this week, Sailaway sits, this time for sure ready excluding our generator, with strong winds again and a weather window coming, our trip to Licata may be in question?


Log Entry Saturday 16th April - At 1500 hours (3pm) Sailaway is officially declared finished and ready for the sea!

She is now finished and ready to go, as anyone who has a boat knows there is always something to do, but all can wait, time to rest.

The larger jobs could be broken down into three groups:

1. Sails - to fit or store below our canvas, returned from the sail maker after repair (where needed) and a good washing.

2. Canvas - to repair, refit and waterproof our blue canvas, Ann did a good job with her repairs. We had hoped to replace our badly worn canvas but the cash went on the hull so another year from what we have is important to us.

3. Engine, Gearbox and Fuel System - a good service of all is due, as is the replacement of the engine, camshaft drive belt. After it snapped in Sardinia a few years ago and destroyed our cylinder head we replace it every three years. A good investment considering the cost of replacing the cylinder head!

We had numerous small jobs to undertake, all required but too numerous to mention.

Ann did a run up the mast to replace the lines for the courtesy flags, ours were old and worn. We had struggled getting suitable lines locally and actually ended up having shipped with other gear from the UK , otherwise they would have been fitted before the mast went up. Ann likes the view up there, she can see more!

Thursday had seen Ann finish off the varnish down below, with no galley area we decide to eat out. We had heard a lot about a Mexican Restaurant just off the town square and decide to give it a go. We are met at the door by a rather "fatigued gent" we greeted him but he said nothing so we walked inside. We were then greeted by a very friendly guy who when we enquired abut food he told us "30 minutes" so we agreed to wait and sat down with a beer, we had the whole place to ourselves.

The time passed quickly, we ordered and the food arrived, very good it was too!

Friday night, the regular "Happy Hour" at the Stella Marina Bar is extended into a end of season party, an early farewell party. We decide to go, and arrive early to get a seat, we have something to eat there too. They do great burgers, not sure what it does to your cholesterol levels but who cares occasionally?

By 1900 hours (7pm) the people have spilled out into the street, the attendance is good.

It is an open microphone so anyone can take the floor, we give it a miss this time.


Log Entry Friday 8th April - Our rebuild is coming to an end, at last, preparing for sea now!

Well, all we can say is that the tourist are arriving, clearly it is far warmer to them than us, we are still using our heating first thing in the morning and early evening!

The pictures show our progress over the last few weeks, impossible for us to believe where we were 12 weeks ago?

Not only has our comfort returned, but at least now we can start to think positively about the sailing season ahead. Before we leave Marina di Ragusa at the end of April we plan to disappear in a car for a few days, leaving Sailaway and our achievements behind.

On a further, positive note, although out of the apartment we are, well Ann predominantly, returns to feed the cat and kittens. They are so active now, wandering offer with their mum, exploring the world around them.

This coming week we have the engine and gearbox to service fully, oils, filters, coolant and the camshaft drive belt is due to be changed too. Our sails arrive Monday afternoon from the workshop and storage, they will go on Tuesday. Our dinghy needs a major re-glue, again (West Marine rubbish, well documented) we hope to try and get another year out of it, especially with this years expenditure? Obviously we have numerous small jobs to complete as you would expect.



Log Entry Friday 1st April - Looking more like our Sailaway!

Today, Monday our first job was to restock our food supplies and pickup some needed items from the hardware store. It was a holiday here, that was clear from the people around, busier then when we arrived last September from what we remember? We take our cycles along the promenade, stopping at some of the stalls as we pass, Ann takes a fancy to some earrings and a small clay memento from one of the local art stalls.

We headed straight to the store, I felt strangely excited as we walked in and began to look around? I then realised that I had not been off Sailaway for ten days, other to make the journey to and from the apartment - how sad I thought? With the newly obtained knowledge, ten days without a brake I insisted we sat on the waterfront and drank coffee, watching the world go by. Some what of a lazy morning but well deserved, afterwards we made our way back to Sailaway where we are now spending most nights aboard, much to our delight.

As our mast had not been down for some 17 years I replaced all electrical wiring, including the radar cable, two new VHF aerials were fitted, one for the radio and one for a new AIS plotter we had purchased. All had to be reconnected, I took all through deck glands this time, previously the cables had just been pushed through holes in the roof and sealed with silicone that repetitively leaked periodically.

This week has seen us complete the varnishing in both the aft cabin and vee berth. We had removed all brass locks and fittings, cleaned, polished and refitted them, the brass hinges were also polished up too.

An has been returning to the apartment usually twice daily, to primarily feed the cat but on each trip returned with a full rucksack and cycle box with our belongings which we pack away as we get them. The main galley and saloon area remains to be varnished, that's for next week, Sailaway is slowly returning to our home.

The decks are looking good too, all painted she is looking great if we may say so ourselves!

This week has seen us working just as hard, the jobs are getting smaller, but still numerous to complete all. We are spending more time enjoying life as the "back is broken" on the bulk of the work, about a week away from our first sail! It is good to see the kittens, all eyes now open and very alert to what is going on around them, the mum, although in theory wild, very affectionate. From the owner of the apartment we find out a little more about the cat, she is twelve years old and produces a litter each year, last year all of the kittens were killed by other cats it is believed. This litter is very gifted, mum has a meal twice a day, two of the kittens are already spoken for and have homes to go to when old enough, the other two still available. We are asked but the practicalities, documentation, microchips, outweigh the benefits of ownership.


Log Entry Friday 25th March - The work continues and we have new arrivals to take care of too!

The highlight of the week was Ann's find of one of the wild cats and it's new litter of four. She had gone round to the outside utility area to put some washing on and there they were. The mother had cleared an area on one of the cupboard shelves and made herself comfortable. Ann was straight to the shop to get some cat food, in the mean time we fed her immediately with tuna and milk. Ann returns with cat food both, meat and dried food, the cat had probably never ate so well, we fed her twice daily to support her with her feeding? The caretaker, Salvo appeared and we showed him our findings, he spoke to the owner, who because of last years experience when other cats killed a set of young she pledged they would be move to a safe area until older.

Our work continues, myself with the galley unit, we have the water maker situated under neath in the cupboard to rebuild/refurbish as well as fitting a new seawater tap and sink basin/drainer. This job was initially started 1st January, and had been postponed due to other factors - this is the longest job to complete ever recorded on Sailaway, the haul out, welding ect and relaunch took less time!

Once complete I move on to the heads, new shower unit, the old one died, complete the rebuild of the cupboards and finishing off the room.

A couple of days later, we went round to feed our new family as we did daily, they had gone. It did not take us long to find them they had been moved to one of the small rooms in the adjoining building - with a sea view, what more could they want? The mum is a very pleasant animal as wild cats go, she loves attention. The kittens are beginning to open their eyes, and become aware to movement and noise around them. It would be interesting to see how they get on in the wild, but we will be well gone by then.

Ann focuses on the interior varnish, starting in the Vee Berth, returning the damaged wood to new where needed, then applying a good varnish. Ann also finishes off the area with her "fine touches." The interior is beginning to truly look regenerated with a hard shine to complement it.

Ann then moves onto the Aft Cabin, completing the same tasks there too - that's two cabins completely finished, the heads soon to follow!

While I was working in the heads, there was an area of exposure, a base of a cupboard still missing. As I was working on the new taps I dropped a socket down the aperture - "sods law" we call it. I was unable to reach it, so I stripped the adjacent seats in the saloon area to try and retrieve it, still no luck. Ann thought she may stand a better chance as she has smaller arms, I rebuild the seating area. I heard a shout from the heads, "I am stuck!" At first I laughed and grabbed the phone to record the event, I then realised she was serious, and was beginning to get agitated at her situation. We worked together and was able to free her without too much of a problem - still it was approaching coffee time, it was Ann's turn to make it, what an incentive!

Ann beaten by this small space, a first!


Log Entry Friday 18th March - A busy week, launched Monday, mast up Wednesday and back to Marina Berth on Friday!

Upon arrival at the yard we discussed our position and a required target date to be launched to eliminate further commitments to the apartment. A target date of the 23rd March latest had been put forward by us, that could come forward to today - exactly 10 weeks to the day of our lift out! That suited us, the yard was now very busy, we had concerns that we may become "land locked" due to our boats so we were fine, only a little bit of prep to do, Ann has washed all of our ropes and hung them to dry on the yard barriers, small stuff like that. We got stuck into the few jobs, after lunch we put Sailaway back into the water.

The time passed quickly, the time came and Sailaway was moved to the hoist, lifted off her cradle and finally prepared. Any marks from the cradle supports were anti fouled as was the new skin fitting in which I had mounted our second depth transducer. Mario and Salvo also turned their attention to the base of the keel, cleaning and a good coat of antifoul Mario then turned his efforts onto the intakes, covering the insides with waterproof grease -a first for us but as he said "some protection is better than none!"

A couple of hours later the guys returned to return Sailaway to the water, they dropped her in, as the keel touches the water you cannot help but wonder "will she float?" They paused her in the sling and I climbed down below to check all over - nothing leaking! We tied Sailaway to the dock and stayed over night to continue our work.

The next morning we were disturbed by Porto around 0715, we were already up, Porto clearly looking for his treats. We continued working, in fact we stayed on board a further 3 nights, each morning Porto joined us for breakfast.

We worked Tuesday and Wednesday morning on the mast, replacing all electric navigation light cables, a new VHF aerial fitted and a further aerial for an AIS system. A new wind instrument transducer was also fitted, it's mounting bracket stiffened by Mario on the recommendation of the rigger. Around that lot we lifted our mast step, repainted the area and replaced the insulation as recommended. The rigging bottle screws were also refitted ready for the mast.

Late in the afternoon the mast now complete it was brought outside and prepared for the lift.

The mast replacement went well, I was a little concerned about the cross wind but what do I know? The guys placed the cranes hook mid air and monitored it's movement, they were happy so the installation went ahead.

A perfect conclusion to my (Kevin's) birthday, in the water and mast back up!

On Friday, the last job from the yard, the supply of a new mounting of the wind generator as the old had to be removed to allow Sailaway to enter the shed. We were now really moving, off to the fuel station and then back to our berth in the Marina!


Log Entry Sunday 13th March - 9 weeks from the initial lift out, Sailaway's ready to return to the water.

This week saw Sailaway moved out of the warehouse and out into the yard, there we will continue with our work down below. We have to complete the finer points of the rebuild down below and complete the comprehensive list we had compiled as we travel through Greece. All items needing mainly a little care and attention after years and thousands of miles at sea, we have all the spare parts we need - just work needed.

It was quite amazing watching Sailaway being manipulated out of the shed and reversed into the open yard. The close proximity of the other craft to Sailaway shows how skilled the operator was. A much more favourable point, we now have a "sea view!" The weather this week is due to change, become colder and very wet.

We continue down below, the work on the water and two diesel tanks now completely hidden from sight as returns to normal. Hard to imagine Ann on top of those tanks as she was Last week? We now have all of our storage and tool cupboard back in place to allow us to pack our gear away.

The rain came throughout the week as forecast, in fact periods of hailstones remind us exactly how cold it is outside.

We gradually tidy away all that can be, there still remains the mast work, I started that on Friday and shall complete next week, work includes, the complete rewire the electrics, replace the VHF aerial, add a second as we are fitting AIS and of coarse the repositioning of the new deck light and radar.

With the seating now back in place, we will turn to the finer points, replace pictures, cushions etc. The main outstanding issue is the flooring, we had sections of cushion flooring down the sides of the engine for fear of oil damage ect, the rest had been carpet?. We are unsure what is available here in Sicily, we throw a couple of rugs down to add comfort to the bare wood flooring - another job to find out what we can find to add comfort or at least allow us to walk around in bare feet?


Log Entry Sunday 6th March - We received the final bill for the work, we could not have been happier, thank you!

On Thursday of this week we received the final bill for the work completed in the yard, as a result, Ann & I thanked them for the generosity and understanding of our position. It has been a real pleasure working with the guys in the yard, they are professional, and certainly know their work, nothing we have asked, or approached them with has been a problem or remained unresolved. The businesses approach to the costs were perfect for us, their understanding and generosity unquestionable, we would have no problem putting Sailaway in their hands again! They have even allowed us to delay our relaunch to allow us to complete additional work below decks, perfect!

Log Entry Saturday 5th March - Sailaway's hull now complete, days away from launching!

At the end of this week Sailaway sits awaiting the return back to the water, shortly after this picture good quality anodes were fitted to eliminate a reoccurrence of what we have had to overcome this lift out. The top sides, completely repainted (free of charge, to finalise a good job, Mario told us!) are awaiting the arrival of the new artwork (name and SSR number.) Ann & I never want to see the inside of Sailaway's hull again. We are awaiting a shipment from the UK to complete our work, due Monday/Tuesday of next week. To keep use busy we turn to our list of outstanding work, this winter was always going to be a substantial refit, the sooner we start, the sooner we finish!

One of the "jobs to do" was to open up, inspect and clean our three diesel tanks. We have two large 50 gallon tanks and a ten gallon "day tank" situated above the engine, the day tank we have cleaned periodically, we drain it's sump after every transfer so, over time we had noticed debris. The first main tank, on the starboard side meant that we had to remove the microwave oven and dismantle the work top to access the inspection panel. It was lifted off for the first time in the twenty years we have owned Sailaway, probably the first time since she was launched 25 years ago? We were astounded at the condition of the inside and the debris lying in it's base, Ann set about cleaning it out. It amazed us as to how the engine had been running? It could only have been because of the high position of the tanks "pick up" pipe, allowing the majority of the debris to remain in the base of the tank. The draining of the day tank sump after each transfer and the two filters was clearly instrumental in the process? Once the starboard side was cleaned the tank was washed with good diesel was again closed.

To access the port side tank, I had to dismantle the forward section holding the TV unit, the rear had been removed to give access to welding and the repair (free of charge by the yard) to the water tank, once cleaned and washed, the tank was again sealed up.

Both areas remain to be painted, a two day process, we can then rebuild the interior.


Log Entry Friday 27th February - Sailaway has a further "face lift" and takes shape down below, almost a home?

The guys, Mario and Lino gave Sailaway a "face lift" they painted her topsides, no visibility at all now of the welding, primers etc. It was declared as a "gift" to ensure she looks good at the end, very generous we thought, many thanks!

Our plan was this week to being the rebuild down below, effectively moving every thing off the top deck down below where it once belonged. We started at the front in the vee berth, the holding tank had to be removed as was the port side wall section and part of the floor to allow safe welding - "fire free." The floor was rebuilt first to make it easier to work on. Then the wall, the tank installed, piped and connected up, finally the berths were re-installed - great job!

We then moved back into the saloon area, the shower and "grey water system" reconnected and the flooring/step replaced. It seemed strange being able to walk on solid flooring rather than the cross members we had become used too?

Continuing towards the stern, we replaced the central flooring, no carpet yet obviously.

Next we rebuild the storage lockers under the lounge seating, then the wall and the seats themselves. Ann has cleaned the cushions (seat bases) with "1001" a product Ann swears by! They now also smell lovely but we keep them wrapped up until the dust settles from the rebuild, no point in laying them out only to collect dust?

We installed the flooring down the port side of the engine, reciting the starter engine battery and connecting it up. We now not only have flooring but the tool storage area is back! We then turned to the starboard side of the engine, laying down the floor, and then moving into the aft cabin, again the floor first.

It was now time to rebuild the large storage area under our bed, this time of year we store, amongst other gear our summer clothes. The top deck now is really starting to look clear with all this lot down below. We finalised the rear section containing our rudder, steering and autopilot system.

The guys repaired our leaking starboard water tank, I had fibre glassed it back in Greece where we had discover the "corrosion". Things were clearly a lot worse then we though back then. Again, this was another "gift" from the yard this time, when I enquired,"in with the price" we were told. A great gesture at this point, in time, Ann takes on the task of cleaning out, repainting the inside with epoxy, it always amazes me the places Ann can get into - no job too challenging! I am really glad that when I filled in the application for a wife I did not ask for one of those tall, elegant ones - it would just not have worked?

There is always play time for "Porto" the yard dog, such an affectionate animal. We arrived in late, about 1000 hours one morning. We were told "Porto" had been sitting outside Sailaway, looking up, howling for his treats! We will both miss Porto, bet we end up with dog, I would put money on it.



Log Entry Friday 19th February - Almost six weeks on, Sailaway begins to look like a sailboat!

This week, it feels as if we have truly turned a corner as paint begins to go on the hull, first the epoxy GP primer, with a full coat on walking around and inspecting highlights an issue not considered before. The areas of weld can clearly be seen, those on the waterline and topside visible even when in the water. There is also the issue of the irregular hull skin due to the welding, a trap for growth, never to be naturally washed off.

The resolution is to fill the welds with epoxy filler, the addition cost discussed and agreed in a matter of minutes, false economy not have it done in our opinion. Once the filler is on, including the original welds, a second coat of epoxy GP is added. There is concern from Mario, "Perhaps it may be too fast for us now?"

There are three coats of epoxy 450 Primer to be applied, the second completed on Friday at the close of the week. The second picture, welding in progress is exactly where we were up to last Friday at this time - we are definitely getting there now!

With a second coat of Epoxy 450 on she really does appear sea worthy, down below we have worked none stop preparing and protecting the inside of the hull, again with two coats of epoxy primers (International Interprotect) and two top coverings Danboline Bilge covering, giving a secure top coat for years to come.

Starboard corridor - before, holes, rust and all, and after at the close of this week, one last top coat to apply on Monday.

Port corridor - before, and after.

Central bilge section, before and after, Ann too remains, just not in this picture, must have been sun bathing? Thanks to Ann & Stephen for the vacuum cleaner, the yards large industrial unit cannot get into the smaller areas.


Saloon area, unfortunately we had no good shots of the holes that were welded up, still, all looks good to us!

Taking in some air outside, they lift another boat out, we have seen them come and go in the almost six weeks we have been in the yard. The job list is being worked on, we should begin to start re-building the internals next week. We can now set a target, back in the water in 7 - 10 days, easy, perhaps?


Log Entry Friday 12th February - The welding looks to drawing to a close, poor Plant takes a beating?

This week has seen us cleaning the internal areas, the inside of the hull effectively looking for weakened areas. The aft lazarette is the last area for Ann to literally bash through! The first picture above showing Ann in the storage compartment, she is lucky as she is the only one small enough to get in. Her internal investigation expands the guys findings from the second picture to the third, well done Ann!

Almost the complete internal structure from below sits on deck under cover to protect it from the dust. The above, following pictures show the damage/repairs from the rear, starboard (right hand) quarter around to the bow.

The above section of photographs show from the bow (front), port (left hand) side around to the stern (rear). The repairs are considerable as can be seen, around 4 square meters of plate used, predominately on the port (left) side. Still, it is either that, or sink?

We have cleaned out the bilges, next week will see us complete the cleaning process with solvents then begin the painting to give the required protection to the new and old hull. Four coats in total should see us get another few years out of her yet? To further ensure that we have fitted "brand name" anodes ensuring the quality this time.

Our main mast issue, the wire shrouds cutting into the aluminium spreads have been resolved with the technical support from "Alladdin's Cave, UK". They have also been able to supply new spreader caps for this 25 - 30 year old mast. These caps include the required support holding the shrouds directly off the spreaders. To ensure correct seating we have had to have the spreader taken away and the damage rebuild, welded up and squared off, good for a few thousand miles more. The rigging is proclaimed good too so no issues there.

There is an additional casualty this week apart from us, returning from down below Ann declares "there has been an accident!" Ann, moving the industrial vacuum around caught plant with it's hose and decapitated one of her limbs. There has always been a problem between Ann and Plant, the odd comment like "You speak to her more than you do me!" That sort of thing, I suppose Valentine's Day approaching does not help their situation?


- The work continues, welding this week!

As you look down into the saloon area, what was once our home, no longer exists. We have no floor, no seats, no beds or cupboards below waist height, all removed to allow the welding to under taken with no risk of fire. The dirt down below is unbelievable as one could imagine, still, we hope to save the carpet - that was a joke!

The two guys progressed really well with the welding, there is a lot more than originally thought to repair all sections. The positive way we look at it is that if more is found now, the fewer the issues in the future! The guys explained how they examine the hull using sound (tapping) and "feel" with their hands, quite a comprehensive examination of the hull is being carried out. They should be finished by the middle of next week, all being well.

We then have to paint the interior, having removed as much of the loose, old covering as possible and, of coarse the new steel has to be protected. We have about a weeks work there before we begin rebuilding the interior, a further month or so I believe?

Ann is frustrated, as at times there is little for her to do, I support the welding and cutting ensuring no unnecessary further damage occurs to pipes, cables etc. and of coarse no fires! She is now great friends with Porto the yard dog, I can see us ending up with a dog on board? As the week begins to close, Ann is able to dive into the paintwork preparation as both the bow, vee berth and lazarette is now complete of welding.



Log Entry Friday 29th January - A further weeks progress with Sailaway.

They began cleaning down Sailaway's hull on Tuesday afternoon, our real interest is as to wether or not more corrosion is found during the process. We hope to find as much as possible now for obvious reasons. Sailaway is moved out of the shed, we benefit from good, dry weather all week.

Our week is a little frustrating, so much to do but no access during this part of the process, we spend our time shopping, sitting in cafes, generally passing the time of day as they say. Ann turns to comfort eating, we try lots of the local delicacies, I some times manage to try some too! I must point out Ann did share the chew sticks with "Porto" the yard dog, on our daily trips to the yard to view progress. Ann's teeth are really benefiting from the chew sticks that is clear.


We arrive in the yard, around lunch time Friday, after the daily dog chews we find Sailaway, back in the shed and Mario marking the sections to be cut out. They have cleaned Sailaway down as best possible, a couple of new areas have been identified/confirmed. The old corroded steel will be cut out until good, then new steel welded in. Mario when asked, tells us his Sailaway will last another 20 years. When Ann explained that Sailaway would out last her, Mario told her "she would live a 1000 years and be immortal!" I express my dissatisfaction at his latter comment!

On Monday Mario starts welding on, he travels down from Catania each week, so we will have to start early, clean Sailaway down fully to access and remove every thing we stored down below, back onto the top of the deck. Then Ann will continue with the bilges, I stand fire watch during the welding, and continue on the job list.


Log Entry Friday 22nd January - Most of the inside of Sailaway sits on the outside now, she is unrecognisable.

We sit and reflect over the weeks work, or rather as we call it "destruction!" and of coarse what lies ahead.

We have now exposed all known areas to be welded at this time, no floor, or very little left, no beds, or seating. We clean as we go, as for maximum protection we must repaint all the new steel welded in and the surrounding good steel as most of the internal hull paint is lifting too. It now remains to clean completely the outside of the hull, this will expose any smaller pin holes, which will provide an indication to us as where to clear next below decks!

The clearing is to ensure nil risk of fire during the welding process.

To allow us room to work below, we have had to move everything onto the decks.


Log Entry Friday 15th January - We tear apart our home!

It was now up to us to expose the internal areas where corrosion was evident, firstly ripping up the carpets, then cutting access panels in the known areas. As luck normally goes, the areas of corrosion are under fixed sections of flooring, not accessible without destruction! Our home, is now a completely different place, even with the welding complete it will take a great deal of time, effort and of coarse cash to return it back to how it was?

A little daunting to see "fresh air" through our hull!

The above is only one section, both sides of the vessel are the same at this point, we are going to have to break the bottoms of our lounge sitting area, and galley cupboards, which have just been painted. The black water tank and system will also have to be removed completely for access.


Log Entry Monday 11th January - Sailaway is lifted out, more problems found!

The lift out was straight forward, no problems what so ever, other than the bilge pump emptying our bilges as she was lifted. It had operated automatically over the last week, we put it down to our leaking stern gland finally packed in for good - no worries it is on our job list! We were about to find out where the water was coming from.

The hull was not too bag for two years, especially when you considered the growth we, like many others accumulated in Siracuse. We did have a patch of clam like shellfish, we called them "Siracuse Clams!"

As the cleaning began, we went inside to check out the mast and have a quick look at it's problems.

They had not been busy long when we were called back to Sailaway, they had found something. The first thing they pointed out, as I had commissioned them to "patch" the existing/remaining paintwork, all the paint had lifted off the port side. The starboard side was not quite as bad going forward but the stern was in a very similar position, no paint left. Secondarily, and the most worrying was signs of heavy corrosion in the stern section of the hull, this is the area in which we are most exposed to "electrolysis", corrosion caused by salt water and electrical charge. In one area some aggression gave the indication that there was in fact small holes - this is probably why the bilge pump had been running!

The first thing that attracts my attention as I walk around the hull is the condition of the sacrificial hull anodes, barely worn in what is known to be a high risk area?

The big question now is what else lies waiting to be discovered, and what is it going to cost?


Ann had collected one of the Siracuse clams, quite a size?


Log Entry Friday 8th January - Over to the dock, to remove the mast.

The marina contact us to make arrangements to lift off our mast, we are met and assisted with two mariners, we move Sailaway over to the dock where the rigging crew are waiting for us. With the crew we were introduced to "Porto" the yard dog, so friendly, I see once working in the yard we are going to have trouble with him, Ann is already saying we need to get some "dog treats".

I had prepared Sailaway the best I could, my job was to disconnect the electrics, I tied all the halyards up and prepared the boom, ready to be just lifted off. I had loosened all but one of the rigging bottle screws, one I left for them, it was seized solid and could not be moved with the equipment I possessed.

I watched as the guys worked, in no time at all they were on the way up the mast with the lifting sling, Ann was watching Porto.

The backstay, forestay and remaining two shrouds were disconnected in time, the crane taking the full weight of the mast.

The mast was then transferred from Sailaway to the quay and laid down of trolleys to be wheeled into the large shed.

We took Sailaway back to our berth, a two hour process, she is to be lifted out Monday, today they are servicing the lift!


Log Entry Wednesday 6th January - We move into the apartment, which allows us to complete the larger jobs aboard Sailaway!

We seek accommodation for two reasons, firstly, while in the boatyard you cannot live a board, but more so as the degree of work we have to under taken below decks will make life impossible on Sailaway. With accommodation, we can walk away from the boat (and mess!) each evening, picking straight up in the morning from where we left off the evening before.

Our accommodation is extremely close to the marina and local beaches, around 250 meters. A number of options are available, to suit pocket and requirements from the small development, it suits our needs perfectly, and will be our home for the next couple of months at least. For details, see: we strongly recommend it!

We have a quaint, one bedroom apartment, however it does sleep another two in the lounge if need be.

The first floor has a lounge and small kitchenette, everything a modern "working couple" need in this fast moving world!

The bedroom is on the first floor, fitted wardrobes and has an a joining bathroom/shower.

It is strange re-adjusting to living in bricks and mortar, we move all we need up the short distance on our bicycles. We joke with our friends and family stating "The bedroom is too large compared to Sailaway, we have to sleep in the wardrobe!"

Back on board Sailaway we can now work, completely unrestricted, no need to worry about tidying up the mess at the end of the day! Some of the work to be completed would make it impossible to live on at the same time. Ann begins rubbing all the wood work down, the complete inside is to be re-varnished too.


Log Entry Saturday 2nd January - New Years Day!

"Happy New Year to all our readers, all the best for 2016!"

Well, as usual we had planned to go out last night, but we settled in front of a movie, with a bottle, one movies led to a second and so on, before we knew it it was all over.

We were up early this morning and out on the bicycles, along the sea front into town. The square was the quietest we had seen it, but as time passed people came and went in the normal fashion. Today was to be a lazy day, the only thing we were interested in was the proclaimed "Famous New Years Day Swim!" We have heard daily about it on the morning radio broadcast for the last few days, strongly publicised by the Dutch element of winter live a boards. Our intension was to support as requested not participate.

Sure enough as said, they began to congregate around 1300 hours, it also gave us the opportunity to catch up on the New Years greetings, even a safety vessel was in place for the event.

The group, sharply got dressed, or undressed however you look at it, some of the speed must have been driven by the temperatures, probably around 14/15C.

In no time at all they were in, splashed about somewhat.

There was even time for a group photograph taken from the dinghy, and then back to shore and dry, warm clothes on - well done!


Log Entry Friday 1st January - The work continues, the galley started, sails off and stored and cockpit lockers complete.

Our job list is considerable, 2016 will see the refit of Sailaway to a level so she is able to provide us with another twenty years of good service. No different to owning a house? We will move into a nearby apartment which will provide much greater freedom below decks. Living on board means at the end of the day every thing to be tidied away, parts, and tools to allow some sort of comfort below decks, life will be so easy living in the apartment.

Ann dives into the cockpit lockers, both storage areas, one side for paints and painting materials, the other for cleaning and "helpful bits and pieces!" As Sailaway is constructed of steel, they have to be cleaned out, rust treated and then repainted, a couple of coats is good. We use paint enhanced with anticorrosive products.

Our Galley area has been a problem for a couple of years, the work top has aged, the sink top corroded, we have been managing "leaks" for some time awaiting this purge of major jobs! The major problem has been securing a sink top suitable in size and design to fit our 25 year old, home built unit. Modern units are much bigger and deeper, which would force the relocation of our water maker, something I do not want to do. Underneath also sits a discharge pump (it leaks too) and our water maker, which is due a complete rebuild. We intend to completely repaint all cupboard insides before the galley unit area is rebuilt.

With the complete area stripped out and the new sink top positioned, with help from a friend, Roy a couple of other "improvements" are noted to be added to the job list. We always try to improve the position as we work through it!

Our mast is now due down to complete the needed rework, so we take advantage of the calm weather, as it is due to change soon, and remove our sails. The mainsail requires some refurbishment, the genoa was refurbish last year in Turkey. It is not possible to store the sails down below with the intended workload ahead, so we seek storage, easy to find and very reasonable at 2.5 euro/month/sail - we store all 5 to give us more room down below decks. The guy even picks them up at that price! The repairs are agreed, the main and genoa to be washed also, all to be complete by the end of February.


Sailaway 2015 - Sicily, Life in Marina di Ragusa 2016