Freya & Us

Vessel Name: Freya of Wight
Vessel Make/Model: Westerly Oceanranger
Hailing Port: Portishead
02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM
12 May 2016 | Bristol - 5,553 nm
27 April 2016 | Crotone - 5,481 nm
20 April 2016 | Roccella Ionica - 5,413 nm
16 April 2016 | Isola Vulcano - 5,295 nm
11 April 2016 | Cetraro - 5,182 NM
10 April 2016 | Camerota - 5,143 NM
07 April 2016 | Agropoli - 5,106 NM
28 March 2016 | Gaeta - 4,998 NM
13 March 2016 | Gaeta - 4,998 NM
30 November 2015 | Bristol, 4,998 NM
11 November 2015 | Gaeta 4,998 NM
29 October 2015 | Gaeta, 4,998 NM
27 October 2015 | Pozzuoli, 4,958NM
19 October 2015 | Pozzuoli, 4,958 NM
11 October 2015 | Nettuno, 4,869 NM
01 October 2015 | Rome, 4,842 NM
20 September 2015 | Pisa - 4,687 NM
11 September 2015 | La Spezia , 4,656 NM
03 September 2015 | Genoa, - 4,592 NM
Recent Blog Posts
02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM

Alone at Sea

Things are going well at home, but we will need to be in Bristol for two or three more months at least. As we enter the summer season the marina fees in Italy become eye-wateringly expensive, so Freya had to move. I (Paul) flew out to Lueca and after a day recommissioning the boat, set off on a 125NM, [...]

12 May 2016 | Bristol - 5,553 nm

Back Home at Short Notice

We had a really exhilarating sail to Santa Maria di Leuca,. For the first hour or two there was no wind, but as per forecast it picked up and for nine hours we were sailing at around 6.5 kts with the wind on the beam. Two great sails in a row and we thought we were on a roll.

27 April 2016 | Crotone - 5,481 nm

Stones and Flowers

Roccella Ionica marina was very nice, peaceful and very friendly set between miles of white sandy beach and surrounded by pine trees. Unfortunately, it's a long way from anywhere! We cycled into town but discovered there was very little to see and very few shops. We bought groceries in a tiny supermarket [...]

20 April 2016 | Roccella Ionica - 5,413 nm

Be Careful What You Wish For!

When we woke up in the morning we found ourselves anchored in one of our most spectacular anchorages, right under the active volcano of Gran Cratere on Vulcano and beside the hot mud pools - not to mention a very strong smell of rotten eggs. Around us the sea was bubbling and white, where fumaroles were [...]

16 April 2016 | Isola Vulcano - 5,295 nm

Volcanoes on Vulcano

One of the great things about sailing this early in the season is the wind, often too much and unpredictable, but great sailing. But not this year, we've now done 6 passages of between 4 and 9 hours and have only been able to turn the engine off for 2 hours!

11 April 2016 | Cetraro - 5,182 NM

More piles of stones

One of the main reasons for stopping in Agropoli is to visit the ruins of Paestum. We couldn't find a map of Agropoli and so headed off, a bit later than intended, to find the train station. Half an hour later we bought our tickets only to discover the train wasn't due for over 2 hours! We wandered back [...]

Alone at Sea

02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM
Sunny & Hot
Things are going well at home, but we will need to be in Bristol for two or three more months at least. As we enter the summer season the marina fees in Italy become eye-wateringly expensive, so Freya had to move. I (Paul) flew out to Lueca and after a day recommissioning the boat, set off on a 125NM, 20 hour passage to Preveza in Greece, where 9 months was the same price as a 1 month stay in Italy.

This was my first ever solo passage and I was excited and apprehensive in equal measure. My biggest fear wasn't being at sea on my own, coping with the lack of sleep or even encountering heavy weather, it was leaving our Italian berth and parking the boat at the other end. Mooring a boat is easier with two people and it makes sense for the physically stronger of the two people to handle the mooring lines and for the other one to steer the boat. So generally Lorraine takes the helm and I've handled the ropes. It's been five years since I've parked Freya and to cap it all I had to do it on my own.

There was very little wind as I left Lueca and leaving the berth was undramatic, but as I motored out of the harbour I had to dodge a few fishing boats in the entrance that seemed to be doing their best to force me into the shallows by the harbour wall. Once in clear water, I hoisted the mainsail, but not the jib, as there was very little wind and set course to Preveza. The seas were calm, the wind almost non-existent and my next course change was 122 nautical miles ahead, it was going to be fine. Half an hour later I spotted a motor boat approaching me at speed. It was the coastguard in a heavily armed 20m patrol boat. There were two guys in the wheel house and another manning the large gun on the foredeck. They slowed to my speed and ran parallel to my course staying about 100m to starboard. I waved and they ignored me. I slowed slightly and waved again but they still didn't respond so I ignored them as well. They ran parallel to me for about 5 minutes and then waved and headed back to shore at great speed. I'm not sure what it was all about, I assume they read the name of the boat and were checking ashore that I wasn't too dodgy or something.

The next excitement was the sight of a lone dolphin playing in the water, and then all was quiet until the evening when the challenge was to nap for no more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. If you can't see anything on the horizon, you have about that long before you need to check again for any passing boats or whatever else you might hit. Using an alarm clock, which I was constantly resetting to ensure I didn't oversleep, I managed OK. I love nighttime passages and the moon didn't come up until the early hours so I was treated to a wonderful star studded sky. At one point I turned off the navigation lights for a few minutes to enjoy Freya's phosphorescent wake and the sky in all its glory - truly magical.

I approached Preveza just after sunrise but the low sun made it difficult to see the buoys that mark the entrance channel into the bay, made even harder by the hordes of tiny fishing boats that were out at the time. I weaved my way through all these obstructions and just off the boatyard came to a halt to tie on the fenders and put on my mooring lines. Just as I wondering where exactly I should berth, the security guard came to the harbour wall and pointed to a slot. I managed to go alongside exactly where he wanted me and bought the boat to a stop. I stepped off the side, handed him the forward line which he secured while I did stern one. It was my lucky day, you would have thought I knew what I was doing.

The boat was lifted the next day and Arran, Lorraine's nephew, who lives and works nearby came and helped me put Freya to bed. I spent the following night with Arran who showed me around Nidri where he lives, before I returned to Bristol the following morning. An enjoyable few days away, (3 countries in 5 days) but it felt very strange being on the boat without Lorraine.

With fair winds we may be able to return to Freya for a month or so at the end of the season, but if not she is securely berthed for as long as is necessary.

Picture is of Arran in Nidri, not sure if he was desperate for the loo or something;-)

Click here for the interactive map of our travels

Stones and Flowers

27 April 2016 | Crotone - 5,481 nm
Sunny Spells and Windy
Roccella Ionica marina was very nice, peaceful and very friendly set between miles of white sandy beach and surrounded by pine trees. Unfortunately, it's a long way from anywhere! We cycled into town but discovered there was very little to see and very few shops. We bought groceries in a tiny supermarket and bought pizzettas for lunch by the beach but that was pretty much Roccella done.

We thought we'd explore further afield and so the next day cycled into town and caught the train to Locri - this area of Calabria is called Locride, after the town, and so it should have things of interest. We got off the train and wandered for a while but soon realised that apart from a few more shops there wasn't much else. We knew there were ruins close by and so thought we'd find a bus - there wasn't one! We got a taxi there hoping it wasn't too far as we didn't really know where it was! The Greek ruins of Epizephyrii were, as always, interesting given our fascination with old piles of stones. It was quite a sizeable site dating back to the 8th century BC but not a lot remained. The most amazing sight though was the spring flowers, often completely obscuring the ruins but they were stunning. It was worth the trip and the entry fee for them alone. Thankfully, the walk back to town was about 5 km and along a path beside the beach and so very pleasant - we did have to take our shoes off and wade through a stream at one point though!

We successfully retraced our path to exit Roccella without going aground again (the dredger was just starting work!) and motor sailed to our next stop, Le Castella, 40 miles away. This area of Italy doesn't seem to have the lovely old towns so full of character, along the coast that we've come to expect and Le Castella was no exception. Not only did it have little character but it was very much closed and had a sad and empty feel. It's saving grace was its beautiful Aragonese castle built on a causeway out of sand coloured stone giving the appearance of a giant sand castle.

We only stayed 1 night before heading for Crotone, 20 miles away. At last, we had good wind and we sailed properly, for the first time this year, all the way, averaging 6.2 knots. The sea was a bit choppy but we were both smiling. The mooring in Crotone was interesting as the wind funnelled into the marina giving us 30 knot gusts as we tried to reverse into our allotted space! Not text book but any mooring with no damage is a good one!

We arrived here on a national holiday celebrating Italy's liberation in the 2nd world war and so Crotone was very, very closed on our first explore. We opted for a long, delicious lunch instead - when we eventually found a restaurant open.

Crotone is a largish mostly modern town spread along a long seafront, but it is capped by a ruined castle and old town. We enjoyed exploring it all and found some wonderful views from the castle and narrow alleys to get lost in. The shopping was good so we treated ourselves to some new clothes and generally chilled out for a few days.

We are moored in the old port and from the castle we could look down into the new commercial port, where we could see half a dozen large motor and sailing yachts run aground by the harbour wall. They all looked relatively new and expensive. Our Italian may have let us down, but we understand that these boats were carrying migrants and were illegally dumped there after they offloaded their passengers in the harbour. This is our first firsthand experience of the current problems in this part of the Med.

The winds that greeted us when we arrived seem to be a feature of Crotone, while there are calmer spells the wind has become more than a little tiresome, however after five days here it looks as if we will have a window to move on to St. Maria di Leuca, 70 miles away tomorrow. Leuca will be our final stop in Italy before we get to Greece.

Click here for the interactive map of our travels

Be Careful What You Wish For!

20 April 2016 | Roccella Ionica - 5,413 nm
Warm and Sunny
When we woke up in the morning we found ourselves anchored in one of our most spectacular anchorages, right under the active volcano of Gran Cratere on Vulcano and beside the hot mud pools - not to mention a very strong smell of rotten eggs. Around us the sea was bubbling and white, where fumaroles were steaming on the sea bed. After our late arrival we had a leisurely start to the day before going ashore. The village of Vulcano had a very relaxed Bohemian feel although I'm sure it's very different in the summer. We found a very nice bar and sat for a couple of hours interneting and drinking coffee which then turned into lunch. We felt we had to try out the mud baths - it had to be done - which were pleasantly warm depending on how close you got to the bubbles but, I have to say, they were very smelly and a bit disgusting with all the slimy mud and who knows what else! From there it had to be a quick dip in the sea which was initially freezing but you could change the temperature by moving around the fumaroles. The only trouble is you were then covered in the gloopy mud excreted with the bubbles which we then discovered didn't come off!

We're always fascinated by volcanoes and so the next morning we climbed to the crater at around 1,000 feet. It was a hot and dusty climb and, in places, the paths had been washed away by the winter rains but it was so worth it. It was a 'proper' volcano with the deep round centre and hot sulphur steam hissing out all around. And the views over Vulcano, the other Aeolian Islands and Freya anchored in her bubbling bay were truly stunning.

The biggest island in the group is Lipari and it was very close by and so we headed over there later in the day. The marina is a little way out of town and so we walked along the coast - a very pleasant but a very energetic day after our volcano climb earlier - for an evening wander and drink. I should imagine it's heaving and very commercialised in the summer but now it was a very pretty old town with a pretty harbour in which to enjoy a glass of wine and nibbles.

We left at about midday the next day in order to arrive at the start of the Straits of Messina with the start of the southerly current. The Straits of Messina have a reputation for fierce unpredictable winds and whirlpools. In ancient times many ships sunk here and in the Odyssey, Odysseus had to choose between which of two sea monsters he had to face in the Straits, been driven by the wind into Scylla a six headed rock monster or face Charybdis a whirlpool. They lived up to it. From the forecasts it looked like we would be sailing at last, even if the winds in the Straits would be quite brisk, but not to bad.

Fifteen miles from the Straits the wind increased and we were off. It was very exciting for about half an hour but then it dropped before becoming squally and from all directions which makes for very frustrating sailing. About ten miles out the sea started to build but seemed to settle a little on the entrance. After several attempts we managed to check in with Messina VTS (Traffic Control) and we were in. The winds picked up averaging around 35kts, gusting 45+ knots, mostly on the nose, and the seas became huge, breaking over the bow, soaking us and making it difficult to see where we were going - Paul as his glasses were covered in water and me as my eyes stung from the salt. After all our careful calculations the southerly current never seemed to appear and at one point we were only making 1.5 knots. We had 3 reefs in the main, no foresail and were being tossed around like a washing machine - but Freya took it all in her stride - apart from finding a couple of new leaks in the hatches. It took us 5 hours to get through the Straits and then it all became very flat and benign as we motored, yet again, through the night to Roccella Ionica on the bottom of Italy's foot.

We knew the marina had problems with silting and so we'd exchanged a few emails with office and were assured all was fine! We later discovered the planned dredging hadn't actually happened. It was 7.30 in the morning and so we weren't surprised there was no answer on the radio and so we took the entrance very wide and very slowly trying to avoid the sand bank when there was a loud crunch and we were aground! We were bobbing right in the middle of entrance but stuck fast. All of a sudden there were people on the radio telling us they'd tried to call us! The Italian Coastguard then appeared, first in a van which wasn't much help, and then in their rib with flashing blue light and pulled us off. They told us to carefully follow them in, along a route scarily close to the rocks on the harbour entrance but we were in safely! It was all done with smiles and no damage done. We later discovered an email sent after we left Lipari telling us not to enter without calling and giving us a phone number. They were going to send out a dinghy to show us the way!


Click here for the interactive map of our travels

Volcanoes on Vulcano

16 April 2016 | Isola Vulcano - 5,295 nm
Warm, still and sunny
One of the great things about sailing this early in the season is the wind, often too much and unpredictable, but great sailing. But not this year, we've now done 6 passages of between 4 and 9 hours and have only been able to turn the engine off for 2 hours!

When we arrived in Cetrara, Paul went off to check us in, sometimes this is very quick other times it takes a little longer. When he got to the office a party of school children were being shown around and so he wasn't seen for around 20 minutes. I was obviously beginning to think this was one of the slower check-ins. We needed some new fuel filters and an antibacterial additive to kill the diesel bug, so after the check-in was completed (very quickly) Paul asked where he could get some. Very helpfully, the marina manager rang round a few places and a few minutes later Paul was waiting in the car park for a guy from the local chandlers who "would be there in five minutes". Thirty minutes later he turns up, but it turns out that he can't help. Meanwhile Lorraine has given Cetrara the record for longest check-in time, previously held by Smir in Morocco. While Paul was waiting for the chandler, he got talking to Mimo, who had lived in Cambridge for 25 years and spoke good English. As the chandler couldn't help, Mimo made Paul "an offer he couldn't refuse", bundled him into his car and spent the next hour driving him around the back and beyond to find the bits. Once it became clear that it wasn't going to be quick, Paul borrowed his phone to call me, just before I was about to start searching the water in case he had fallen off the pontoons. Nearly two hours after leaving the boat, Paul returned with the check-in complete and the filters, exhausted and overwhelmed by the kindness of the people in Cetraro.

Cetraro, is again, in a lovely setting surrounded by green hills and cliffs. Unfortunately, we never made it to town! The marina is a few kilometres outside and we set off to the supermarket (Lidl, very exciting - sad but true!) which we thought was 70m away but turned out to be 700m along the road. By the time we did that we couldn't face the same walk again but further.

Yet another wind free day for our 50 mile trip to Tropea. We left with wind but before we could get the sails set we were surrounded by sea mist and spent the rest of the trip motor sailing in our own big bubble. It would've been quite boring if not for the pod of dolphins which were clearly following us and kept coming to entertain. We had breaching quite close by, surfing in our bow wave and lots of teasing at a distance - just love seeing the Dolphins and our first of the year. The only other event on passage was a momentary panic when there was a jolt, followed by a change in the engine revs and then slowing down. We thought we'd managed to collect something around the prop but a quick burst of reverse cleared it - phew, the water is still way to cold for a swim!

Tropea is another lovely old town in a beautiful setting above the marina - 200 steps above! But it was worth it and we had a lovely wander around the winding streets and finding the lovely views followed by dinner before the 200 steps back down.

We left early afternoon the next day (would've been a bit earlier but we had to wait on the fuel pontoon for an hour!) for yet another motor sail to Vulcano via Stromboli. We've used about 20% of the diesel we used for the whole of last year in 2 weeks (!) but we can't afford to wait for the wind and meet our deadline in Greece for a wedding. The plan was to arrive in Stromboli at sunset and watch the show as it exploded and glowed red in the night. It certainly is a very active picture book volcano and we could see the steam from the crater 10 miles before we arrived. But very (very, very) disappointingly no pyroclastic show for us that night. We motored on to Vulcano arriving just after midnight and anchored in the bay - quite scary in the dark. This morning we can see the volcano on Vulcano steaming above us and smell the sulphur.......


Click here for the interactive map of our travels

More piles of stones

11 April 2016 | Cetraro - 5,182 NM
Unsettled
One of the main reasons for stopping in Agropoli is to visit the ruins of Paestum. We couldn't find a map of Agropoli and so headed off, a bit later than intended, to find the train station. Half an hour later we bought our tickets only to discover the train wasn't due for over 2 hours! We wandered back towards town thinking there must be a bus too. We found a bus stop that looked as if it was heading in the right direction and Paul had a long, 'interesting', conversation with 3 elderly ladies which we thought we mostly understood! We followed what we thought were the instructions to buy our bus tickets in the tabbacchi. Back at the bus stop after a quick coffee stop a bus duly arrived and was going to Paestum - but didn't take the tickets we'd bought. We now had 3 sets of tickets - luckily they were only a few euros! And we made it to Paestum.....

The site has been inhabited for many thousands of years but the ruins go back 2,500 to 3,000 years starting with 3 huge, mostly intact Greek temples. The surrounding city was later taken over by the Romans and you can see the roman style with inner courtyards and mosaic floors as you wander around imagining the bustling lives preceding you. The Romans also added the amphitheatre, meeting rooms, temples of their own and the forum. We still haven't tired of the amazing history of Italy and really enjoyed a few hours exploring the ancient city. Followed by a long leisurely lunch before heading back. The train was the first to arrive and so we used one of the extra sets of tickets we'd bought to get there - although they clearly said Agropoli to Paestum and we were going the other way and we know the Italian guards can be very strict as it's mostly a system run on trust. Luckily the guard passed us twice but didn't check and we had no idea how we'd explain!

Our next stop was Acciaroli. It was only 18 miles and so had a leisurely start. The lovely flat seas we had recently had changed into a rolling, uncomfortable swell but we had some wind and so we motor sailed for an hour or so before having a proper sail with the wind on the beam for a while - until we turned the corner where the wind died and we motored the last hour. All reports we'd read on Acciaroli suggested it had a problem with silting and so we'd rung a head to check and were assured it was no problem. We were met by the ormeggiatori who helped us moor bow to on the quay. The swell was finding its way in and it would've been a very uncomfortable night. On top of this he wanted 50 euros with no facilities as the electricity was broken! He suggested we could go along side on the transit quay for nothing if we didn't like it. We tried this but the swell was even worse and as well as a sleepless night I think we may have damaged Freya. We decided to leave which was a pity as it's supposed to be a pretty town and yet another of Hemmingway's haunts - it didn't look that impressive though. We motored on in the swell to Camerota, another 3 hours. To add insult to injury it started to pour with rain just before we arrived and the entrance was silted up giving us only 0.5m at one point! But we're now safely moored on a pontoon with facilities, friendly help and no swell.

Of course the diesel bug is still here and after nearly 40 miles of motoring, the fuel filters need changing again, luckily we carry a number of spares, but they are not cheap. You can buy 'medicine' to add to the fuel to kill it, but we are now in the back and beyond and decent chandlers are few and far between. Fingers crossed that we can sort it before we have serious problems.

Camerota isn't the most inspiring town but it's in a lovely position surrounded by lime stone cliffs with crashing waves and lots of caves, green hills and mountains behind. We had a good walk around town, along the beach to several caves and then up the cliff with lots of wild cyclamens for great views over town.


Click here for the interactive map of our travels
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