Capella in the Med

09 October 2012
28 September 2012 | Marsala
20 September 2012
20 September 2012
20 September 2012
19 September 2012 | Cefalau
07 September 2012 | Back to Sicily
03 September 2012
03 September 2012
01 September 2012
28 August 2012
28 August 2012
20 August 2012
20 August 2012
12 August 2012
12 August 2012
12 August 2012 | Southward bound

Licata - the last Chapter

09 October 2012
After a night at anchor we headed gradually south - some excellent sailing but lots of beating to windward - more effort but good for us!! Only one dolphin came to visit us. At Sciacca we met up with Muskrat last seen in Sardinia two month ago and enjoyed their hospitality for the evening.
Tuesday was to be our last sailing day. We set off after the other two crews also going to Licata. Once out of the harbour we realised that it would be a brisk and breezy sail with a swell as well. We motored straight out for a while so that hopefully when we hoisted our spinnaker the wind would not be dead on the stern. Quickly the spinnaker went up and we were off - doing 6 kn. Throughout the day the wind gradually increased and after about 40 miles the auto helm was struggling as the waves kept knocking us off course. Bob then took over the steering but eventually the wind speed was up to 23 knots so the spinnaker had to come down! After an hour with just the genoa we sailed into an extremely windy Licata harbour. Our friends from Sciacca were there on the pontoon to help us moor and we were able to return their hospitality!

At Licata there was an eclectic mix of boats - yachts in transit and live-a-boards -lots of different nationalities - mostly very friendly and keen to chat.
Wednesday was the usual blue sky and HOT. We did yet more jobs on the boat and Isabel had her final Mediterranean swim. Back on the pontoon Martha from New Zealand had decided that there should be a "dock party". So after 6.30 pm various crews arrived with bottles and glasses and the fun began. There were about 30 people from USA, Austria, France, NZ, Canada, and Belgium - to name a few! Tall stories, tales of Atlantic crossings, cheapest ever marina and future plans were all discussed as the sun gradually set. Even yachts that just arrived joined in the fun! Third party night in a row!

On Thursday morning Giuseppe arrived on time and we motored over to the shipyard that was to be Capella's home for the next 7 or so months. He explained that next year he was going to get a travel lift. (For the non-sailors - a very user friendly crane than takes boats out of the water and moves them around the boatyard. How we wished he had one this year! We drove not to the part of the boatyard that Bob had seen but next door. Capella was gently backed up to the shore by a combination of ropes and rowing boats and we started to put the slings for the crane underneath the boat. Then the cranes started to move - it was all very slow and painful and when the lifting frame started to touch the shrouds we were a little concerned. Eventually all was well and Capella was chocked up on the land ready to be hauled on some railway type rails on Monday.
We had permission to spend the night onboard so we set about our jobs - sanding the propeller, antifouling the bow thrusters and so on. Although we worked very hard - there is still plenty to be done before launch next year.
It is very strange being onboard a yacht whilst it is on land especially when it isn't level - there are new noises and vibrations and of course the disposal of water (and other liquids!) is a problem. After a lovely last night meal and a walk through the narrow streets and past the feral dogs we headed back for our final night this year. So the blog is now finished! We hope you have enjoyed it and if you now have the "sailing blog bug" follow our friends Iain and Fiona as they make their way across the Atlantic! http://www.sailblogs.com/member/s34ruffian

We have not made any plans for next year yet - we will get work and start saving up again! It's been a lot of fun - five different countries and cultures - good company especially our visitors. Our only regret was that we never managed to catch a tuna - but we can keep trying....




Of Opera and Chemicals

28 September 2012 | Marsala
We said "good bye" to Catherine and were awaiting Isabel's sister Barbara in Palermo when Bob discovered that "Madama Butterfly" was playing in the Theatre that very evening. So come 6.30 pm we were in our best clothes in a box (no less) waiting for the overture. As you would expect from the home of Puccini the singing was sublime, the orchestra were luxuriant and the ending so sad! But no time to cry we dashed out of the theatre onto a bus to get to the airport bus station just in time to collect Barbara.
On Friday we set off for Castellemare del Golfo - although it was quite calm Barbara was not at all well and when the sea sickness pills eventually stayed down she fell asleep and missed our lovely spinnaker sail to the anchorage inside the harbour. A few days of swimming (Isabel) and culture followed before we headed to the harbour in Cabo Lo Vito. Barbara had now acquired a sea- sickness patch that literally worked miracles - we now had a three day sailing window! Cabo was extremely busy for the Capona Festival - lots of fish and activites to celebrate the end of the season. There was a concert but for once it didn't keep us awake. There is a fantastic beach here with lovely swimming (only me again). Eventually we had a rough old motor sail to our favourite anchorage under the castle in Trapani. Here Isabel talked to port control as instructed but couldn't get the man off the radio and even had to give her mobile number - what for????
On Barbara's last full day we headed upwards to the hill city of Erice. This was named for the daughter of Venus and founded in honour of Venus because of some spring waters. The cable car was closed because it was too windy (story of our lives). For 5 euros you can visit more churches than you could possibly imagine in one place! The town is amazing - every street is cobbled and literally there is a church on every corner. There were big ones, white ones, small ones ornate ones and finally a monastery. On the windward side of town we could hardly stand up as we were almost blown over by the wind - from the leeward side we could see over the plains of Trapani and the rough seas we had sailed the day before. It was almost like being in a helicopter the view was so fantastic. There is only one bus down the hill per day and as the cable car was shut there was a typical bun fight to get on it but we have been in enough Italian ski-lift queues to know what to do and managed to get seats. The drive down was hair-raising as we went down one hair-pin bend after another!
So after a week of sibling companionship Barbara headed thankfully back to dry land (England - a dry land??) and we headed back to our anchorage and then up early for a sail with the wind on the nose to Marsala. Tonight we shall enjoy a cold glass of the famous fortified wine - created surprise surprise by the English.



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Volcano 2

20 September 2012
Next day we decided to be tourists. Having done the mudbaths 15 years ago and only recently got rid of smell I decided to give them a miss. We rented a "vehicle" - see picture and drove around the island going to all the different viewpoints. The fit ones (Bob and Catherine) climbed the steep path to the crater whilst Isabel rested her dodgy knee and did the water taxi bit. The swimming was excellent - with goggles you could see the sulphurous rocks and the bubbles of hot water escaping and then feel the hot water. There were still lots of fish... A fisherman drove round the anchorage holding up a tuna trying to sell it - 15 euro a kilo..
Whilst gently watching the world go by a huge British sailing yacht "Hamilton 11" anchored up quite close to us. We googled her and found that that she was a charter boat with a crew of 6, plasma screen TV etc and was a snip at a mere £53,000 per week! They didn't stay long - I think the punters didn't like the smell!
Up early (yet again) to try to sail to the tiny island of Filicudi - this involved sailing around Lipari and Salina. With mostly very light winds we did quite well and arrived in the harbour of Porto Filicudi at around 4.30pm. We declined the offer of a buoy at 40 euro and anchored off for the night.


Volcano 1

20 September 2012
Up early determined to face the wind and waves and get to Volcano. Actually neither were bad but we did have several extreme downpours of rain – drops making lovely patterns on the sea. Early evening we arrived into the anchorage. Volcano is a unique island. Its most memorable feature is its pervasive smell of sulfur and sulphur dioxide. It has a large crater puffing out gases, several odorous mud baths and many above and below sea fumaroles causing hot springs. After several attempts we managed to get the anchor down satisfactorily – the bottom was very uneven and rocky in places. Whilst anchoring we were plagued by what seemed to be mutant mosquitoes that had vicious bites - I think they must breed in the sulphurous vents.

Cefalau

20 September 2012
Cefalau
We were too optimistic about the weather – we thought one night would be enough at Cefalau – unfortunately the wind blew, gale warnings abounded and it even rained. We went and looked at where we had anchored the previous night – it was now in the surf zone! We made the best of it with a walk up to the ruins at the top of the rock on which Cefalau is built. We were stopped half way because of wind and rain – only experience of “health and safety” in Italy. On day two we caught the train back to Palermo and “did” the Royal Palace (including Sicilian Parliament) and the Cathedral. The Royal Palace included a fantastic chapel – totally covered in mosaics – mixture of Arabic, Byzantium and Norman designs.
The “marina” was a pontoon with no facilities. As the wind increased swell worked its way round into the harbour – the pontoon began to start moving – all the yachts started moving and eventually the pontoon was like a Queen Mary pontoon on a windy day – rocking and rolling and waves. When we went to bed it was like being inside some giant noisy machine moving up and down, side to side, jerking and catching as the springs and lazy line creaked and groaned! Not good for sleeping. At 3.00 am I was just about awake when Catherine came to tell us that a Sunsail yacht had just come in and we needed to move our spring. She had seen them circling and the night man from the marina had waved them in. She said they didn’t do a very good job of it and no wonder. The yacht had been out for 20 hours struggling to get to Palermo. The crew all jumped off the yacht – staggered off with their luggage – trying to get a taxi for their flights back to Poland from Palermo and just left the yacht! Apparently conditions had been “terrible” – so maybe we were right to stay!

The weather hits us

19 September 2012 | Cefalau
Wednesday 12th
Paul left early to catch bus to the airport. Catherine and Paul were "intercepted" by a feral Rottweiler - lots of stray dogs in Palermo. Early start for the 40 M to Cefalau -mostly motoring with a little sail at the end. We anchored off the old town and went in to the old harbour in the dinghy to be met by feral children who chucked sea water at us! We had a good walk round the town and found yet another wedding going on. Weddings seem to be a growth industry in Sicily. It seems to be a real industry here - everywhere and everyday is a wedding.
The bride (and groom) walked out of the cathedral to an artistic rice and rose petal heart on the ground and then down the stops to the popping of champagne and release of dozens of balloons! We made do with some ice cream and back to the boat for a rolly old night.



Vessel Name: Capella
Crew: Bob and Isabel Joce
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Capella's Photos -

Gibraltar to Sicily 2012

Who: Bob and Isabel Joce