08/17/2013, Laconia, Arzachena Bay, N. Sardinia
We have stayed now several days in a sweet little anchorage behind a small rock island with a line of rocks just below the surface extending to land. A couple of them poke up enough for a seagull or two to land. This small barrier protects us from the swell and most of the boat wakes arriving from the passage lying about a mile north of us. That is the main passage from the west to the east side of Sardinia. There is a fine statue on the rock island looking out into the Bay of Arzachena.
We first anchored here with friends and weathered a light blow before heading off to explore the La Maddalenas. Now we are here again to prepare for our sail to Cagliari at the south end of the island, 200 miles away. We refueled and loaded our water tanks at the end of the bay when we first arrived. We then bicycled around the Nuraghi villages inland a few miles. These Nuraghi people lived in this area 3800 years ago and were still here just before the Romans came in 300BC. They knew the Egyptians and probably traded with them. They may still be living here as many Sards still live in the mountains and have little to do with the modern world.
Beside our anchorage is a small dock with a pontoon. It is painted a bright turquoise. It is owned by one of these mountain families. They probably always kept a little fishing boat here. There is an old traditional wooden boat tied to a buoy near us, mostly likely the grandpa's boat. Now the whole family comes down for the summer and they rent the space on their small pontoon to the smallest powerboats and the largest dinghies. They are all here! We thought there was a hamburger joint at their dock when the family lined up for lunch! There are at least 20 in this brood. They allowed us to tie our dinghy to their dock with the understanding that, should they rent all their space, they would pull our dinghy up on their beach. They offered us cheese and bread and some kind of white lightning one day when we came up. We are not sure where they all stay. They have a 24' sailboat with ragged sails that at least a couple of them sleep on.
They also attached a fine mooring ball to a strong chain and a concrete block about 8' x 8', I believe thinking we might prefer it to being at anchor. We would but we are anchored in good sand and the ball might command a high price this week in the middle of August. Down by the marina they want 10€ per square meter of boat. They don't have many takers. Besides if there were to be a storm we could latch on to it from our boat. We tag it every time we drift past. We have new friends that have rented a mooring ball beside us for a month. The electrical storm we experienced a week ago ruined this mans alternator and he is awaiting parts being shipped from Germany. He has an annual contract in the marina for all but the month of August when rates go up to an extreme price, most likely 100€/ day.
This man and his family are enjoying being tied to the mooring. It's not far to the Sard families dock. A good thing since his family uses 200-300 liters of water per day. They have a 200 liter soft bladder that they fill at the dock. It lies like a beached whale in their dinghy. With a hose and a small pump they can easily refill their water tank every day. This family includes Max and Piña and their 3 children, Mikala, who will turn 18 next week, Luka, who looks to be about 13 and Traicha, the only girl, about 8. The boys look very Italian and take after their mother, a pretty woman, whose family is Italian from Calabria, far down in the toe of the boot. She was born in Germany, however, and Max is German as are the children. Both boys are very Italian looking with handsome dark features, the little girl has long blond hair. She loves horses and all three kids love the boat. Oddly they do not like sand and much prefer swimming off the boat to hanging out on the beach. We have enjoyed visiting with them. They sun and play in the water and take their nice rib for a spin most days. We sit and drink wine with them in the evenings.
Just day before yesterday some friends arrived in our bay and we have had a few visits. The girl, Gabby, left to fly home to Germany for a week, so we have been visiting up with Paul, a very interesting British fellow. He and Gabby met up nine years ago in Turkey. Both were single handers, a boat phase for sailing alone. Gabby s boat was a roomy large steel ketch which they kept, only changing the paint job from pink to maroon. It is a nicely kept boat. Gabby made her living sewing canvas for boats in Turkey and still does a little canvas work. I could have used some advice on my Bimini top. She got away too quick! That's a whole 'nuther story but I will be sewing another one while we are home this year! Paul was a university professor and facilitated many boater discussions last year at MdR. He and I originally connected at a weather seminar since we both taught meteorology in a previous life. We shared our weather observations from this summer. They also have a sweet older dog named Linda. Linda enjoyed the spaghetti dinner we had last night. She opted out for the fireworks in the evening however. Such a cute dog. She rides on the side pontoons in the dinghy like a person. She has lived all her life on a boat.
Now I see my blog for today is long winded. We sailed to Porto Cervo today and are tied to a buoy. This is the center of the Costa Smeralda, the most exclusive superyacht community in the western Med, next to the French Riviera. We are enjoying the big boats. And it is naptime!
Enjoy your day and keep those cards and letters coming. We love to hear from all of you!
Barb & Doug
I should qualify that "back to France". It's only 5 miles from the northern Maddalenas of my last post to Lavezzi which is in France. Our friends on Fabuloso roundevoux 'd with us around 9 am and we buddy boated over to Lavezzi. The southern anchorage that we decided to enter was kind of tight so we tied onto their big cat and they tied to a big rock in the middle of the anchorage. We also set an anchor because Plankton is too heavy to tie onto most other boats. And we put out a stern anchor. Doug was very nervous about the rocks etc etc. but fell asleep that night before he had too much time to worry about it. We had a great afternoon, swimming and playing Mexican Train and visiting with Phillip and Cara. They were a bit behind schedule (they are crossing the Atlantic this fall) and needed to stay on the move so we were planning to part company next morning. Wellllll it was only 5.8 miles to Bonifacio, their next stop. So we decided to tag along for another day. Besides Phillip knew the harbor and where we could tie up. Everybody always said we should visit Bonifacio and this was our last chance!
Wow Bonifacio! Before you arrive, you sail along for a mile or more with a sheer white cliff beside you and you can see 5 story buildings hanging on the edge of the cliff and the walls of the old fortress and a very strange photo painted on the outer wall. Impregnable this fortress. To enter you passed into an extremely narrow passage to the harbor which is long and narrow and very steep on both sides. Watchtowers and small windows for cannons, guns, etc are everywhere along with houses in the rocks, huge bollards from WWII for ships and, I did mention?, a very narrow channel with lots of traffic. A couple of superyacht s almost got scuttled by the big Moby ferry with a five whistle! Horns blew, a sailboat was stuck in the channel when they failed to get their anchor up, lots of boats milling around, some waiting for the fuel dock, mega yachts in places where boats half the size of Plankton belonged! Whew! Good thing we were following Fabuloso in.
As soon as you enter the harbor, a cove opens to the left, our anchorage. It's narrow too. Luckily a boat was leaving and Fabuloso maneuvered in, followed by Plankton. Doug had to jump in the dinghy and tie Fabuloso to the metal eye bored in the rocks, while I kept Plankton from drifting into any other boats. Finally I slipped Plankton alongside Fabuloso and Doug passed our shoreline to me from the dinghy and we were tied up! We had a great view of all the action in the channel and of the fortress walls across the channel. Prime location, as Phillip put it! Afternoon entertainment.
After all that we headed into town where we climbed up to old Bonifacio on the cliff, entering the city thru a gate with a moat. Great views and lunch followed by a little grocery shopping. I found Cote de Rhone wine and Milka chocolates with caramel. I had been looking for that chocolate for 3 years, ever since Portugal! Back at the boat Doug made salsa while the rest of us had a cool refreshing swim! This was followed by a nap, then a late afternoon round of RummiCube. Next day we visited the tourist office for free wifi, sat in the bar to cool off followed by lunch, a big pot of mussels and a cheeseburger! Doug and I took a hike and did a little more grocery shopping, followed by the same as the day before..swim, nap, RummiCube, and pinacolatas! We all turned in early since we all really were leaving VERY early the next morning. Our friends had a 75 mile run to make..that's 15 hours, maybe 11 with a good wind.
About midnight the fireworks started. Doug and I crawled back up on deck and watched a very nice show. An hour later some bad weather moved in. It started with gusty wind, then it sprinkled, then it rained hard and blew some more. Then we thought Plankton had broke her rope line but it was our next door neighbors boat swinging wildly about because it was not tied tight enough. There was lightning so Doug thought to get wet and retreive our GPS from the cockpit. As we settled back to bed we heard a little hail. Then a lot of hail, all pebble size. And, before we knew it, it was 6 am and we were all back on deck to break loose and sail away.
We said our goodbyes and followed Fabuloso out into the channel. With one last wave they turned west and north and we turned east and south back to the La Maddalenas. As we left there were still storm clouds all around but the sky was clear above us. It was a beautiful morning. The wind was light and we had 15 miles to go back to Porto Palma bay to wait out one more day of strong wind. The wind usually picks up around noon to 2 pm. By the time we got there it was blowing 20 out of the west, behind us and it wasn't even 10 am! We hoped Phillip and Cara had made their turn to the north before the wind picked up. We anchored and spent the rest of the day catching up on our rest!
Hope you enjoyed the tale.
The picture is Bonifacio from outside the harbor. Anybody know what the two actors picture painted on the fortress is about. He has bees on his face! Maybe this is from a movie?
08/02/2013, Isola Budelli, La Maddalena islands, Sardinia
Woke up this morning and 5 minutes later I was at the helm moving to another mooring buoy. Got to get them when you can! Anyway Mario and Lillian grabbed our lines making the tieoff a breeze! Then I hung up a little laundry. It is so pleasant drying clothes on the line. All the pretty colors blowing in a light breeze ! I see Halekai has their laundry out too.
Then I sat down for my cup of coffee and an almond cookie. Oh dear tomorrow they will all be gone! It will be a week before we get near a pastry shop again! The water here is crystal clear. A lot of fish are hiding under our boat. Doug threw out some bread crumbs and about 50 fish swam up! As I write a seagull is floating about 10 feet from me and catching his lunch.
Now to my main topic... tah tada!
I jumped in the dinghy tied to the back of Plankton and put on my gear which includes a floatie so I can just float along looking at the bottom. This floatie has very narrow tubes and a basket so I can double it over under my arms and swim. It's also handy for throwing in my fins and mask when fish, big and small in less thI am thru. It's best feature however is that I can sprawl on top of it and float over rocks a foot under my body. This becomes important when sea urchins are lingering there! How I digress! Anyway I had only snorkel end about fifty feet from the boat when a small jellyfish stung me. I returned to the boat while Doug went to the bathroom for the meat tenderizer. So I came out of the water and waited for it to do its magic.
Snorkeling adventure II
This time Doug dinghyed me to show and I flopped on my wonderful floatie in one foot of water and snorkel end away. Wow there were lots of fish in two feet of water. The bottom close in is rounded rocks with moss and short grass. Then sand and grass and rocks, big rocks with fish under them and big crevices with little schools of fish swimming thru right underneath me. Black Sea urchins cling to the rocks.
Have you ever eaten one? Yesterday Doug and Mario collected some and we had them for happy hour! The spines aren't sharp unless you step on them. Lillian cracked open about 30. You pick it up, squeeze a little lemon on top and dig it out with a spoon. They are delicious!
While snorkeling I went around a rocky point. The water deeper to 20 feet. The bottom was littered with rounded rocks that looked like a nest of dinosaur eggs! And about then another little jellyfish got me. I am a slow learner and he got me good, wrapping two tentacles around my arm just above the wrist! I yelped. Doug was around the point so I started finning fast as I felt the burn of the sting rise in my arm. Luckily my sweetie was already on his way to check on me! He dinghyed up, I climbed aboard and I think I have had enough of Jellyfish Hole for one day.
I am taking our friends to Doug's private white sand beach on the other side of the bay in a little while so I will report on that before I link this to Facebook.
Trip to Doug's private island. We took two dinghys across to Santa Maria island to this pretty little bay with a white sand bottom. It was shallow enough to stand up in parts and a pretty place to snorkel. The guys were totally entertained with locating sea urchins. I swam around looking at fish and a few jellyfish (ugh) that moved into the bay today. They were pretty too, pink and they would lie upside down on the bottom to filter feed. I was wearing fins so I was not worried about them or the urchins UNTIL I got stung again! I getting use to this. The sting goes away in a few minutes. After an hour or so we hopped in the dingys and headed back over to Jellyfish Hole to eat urchins. Lillian jumped out and plopped down in the sand at the waters edge and began rubbing sand on her legs, arms, neck, feet. Nancy and I thought this was a good idea so we all exfoliated. Lillian said its something island people do. She should know. My skin is smooth as silk tonight. Wow. I'll have to this again.
We ended the day with homemade pinacolatas on Plankton and an exchange of travel gifts (like travel books, cruising guides, sim cards) since we part tomorrow in different directions. It's been a fun meetup. Doug and I are going to hang on our mooring ball here for another 2-3 days. I' ll check in again if I can find anything to write about.
Meanwhile keep the cards and letters coming!
The picture is Jellyfish Hole taken from Plankton's prime mooring ball!
08/01/2013, La Maddalena Islands, Sardinia
With the best of intentions I started this blog when we left to go cruising in 2009. I made a post this spring, again with the intention to keep it up at least every week. Where did the summer go? It's August first and this is my second blog post!
Anyways we have been having a good summer visiting islands and motoring north along the west coast of Italy. But we turned around about a week ago and sailed (I did use that word, sailed!) south to Lavezzi, an island at the southern tip of Corsica. After a couple of days we sailed Porto Palma, a well protected anchorage in the La Maddalena islands to meet up with our friends on Fabuloso. We had a fabulous time swimming, snorkeling, sailing and eating. Both Doug and Cara are great cooks so we ate well and played RummiCube in the late afternoons. They left us and headed back to Olbia for some boat issues and we located our pals, Lillian and Mario, both Maltese and Canadian (after living there 30 years). When we put their position in our GPS they were only 3.6 miles south of us! So we pulled up anchor and sailed down for a visit. We last saw them in Malta this spring while Plankton was hauled out.
Arriving in Laconia on the Sard mainland deep in a bay where we planned to wait out a blow in the Bonifacio Straits, we met Halekai with Nancy and Burger aboard. They are in Seven Seas with us and also left their boat at MdR for the winter BUT we never met! They were away when we arrived and did not return until we had left. So we finally meet. Burger and Nancy have now circumnavigated the planet! We meet interesting folks out here! We all are now sailing around in the islands trying out new anchorages every day or two.
Now back to Snorkeling, Swimming and Sailing! So Plankton, Maltese Falcon and Halekai are all sitting in a beautiful anchorage with MF and Plankton on mooring balls. It's a huge anchorage caught in the shallows in the middle of three islands so you get great wave protection. There are lots of pretty rocks and coves and beaches to visit in your dinghy or you can just jump off your boat for a swim! Temperatures are very pleasant, not hot at night and warm enough to find pools of bath water for Doug to play in. He does not do cold or even cool water!
It seems as we get deep into the summer I care less about seeing castles and fortresses and churches. I become lethargic and prefer to just nap all afternoon in the cockpit. I have no need for towns of any kind, other than for buying groceries. I pretty much limit my activities to dingy riding, swimming and snorkeling, punctuated by our almost everyday sail to a new anchorage. They are never more than an hour or two apart. The sun is warm, the breeze is heavenly. Sometimes I play games on my Ipad down below in the shade of the salon, both hatches open with a fine breeze on me. We don't eat much. We drink lots of fluids.
What are we eating? For breakfast we each have an almond cookie and coffee. These almond cookies have no flour in them. They are made of almonds ground into a flour and egg whites. There is no way I can tell you how good they are! For lunch it's usually sandwiches and we try to have a hot meal with a salad for dinner. This is topped off with either chocolate or limoncello and a game of Mexican dominoes.
That's it for life on a boat in August. We limit boat work to squirting a little fresh water around the stainless and on the solar panel, cleaning the windshield about once a month and washing dishes and clothes. Anything that needs fixing gets a healthy round of duct tape!
That's all for today and possibly for months! Now I have to remember how to post this and hook it to my Facebook. Encouraging words will go a long way here!
Hope everyone is having a great summer. Life on Plankton is at its best right now.
04/06/2013, Marina di Ragusa to Scicli to Donnalucata
So blogging is new to me. Doug and I are learning to ride our electric bikes. Last week we went 31 miles and climbed 2600 feet. Sadly the batteries played out and we had to push uphill for about an hour. Not fun.
Today we went 27 miles and climbed 1400 feet. We came home with full batteries! WE were not biking into strong wind unlike last time. We also have learned the value of pedal assist, especially on hills. It is easy to pedal uphill with the help of the battery and you don't lose your charge if you are pedaling. So we did better today.
It was a beautiful day. We did not need our jackets and got some sun. We biked along the seafront and the water was great today. If Plankton had batteries we would have sailed away today. Two boats left this morning and joined us on the net from the sea. Gentle winds and seas. A good day to go, just not Planktons. We expect our batteries to arrive on Tuesday...
The bike ride took us from the coast up onto a high ridge with views into the valley beyond, actually vistas. Green fields, old farmhouses with barns etc. Glorious roadside flowers, mostly yellow with a some patches of purple and a few red poppies here and there. The olive trees are putting out minurature olives, reminding us of the new Schindler olive grove back home.
There were cows and goats enjoying all the tall fresh green grass and plenty of evidence of the Arabic presence once in Sicily, noted by all the water canals extending along the side of the road on the ridge crest. There were also quite a few old WWII gun bunkers up there.
We descended into Scicli (the name comes from Arabic), a 5th century BC town, totally wiped out by the 1693 earthquake, like 60 other towns in eastern Sicily. The upside of that is that it was rebuilt as a Baroque city with many lovely churches, a castle and a monastery and 3 convents and a lovely stone canal with stone bridges running thru the town which lies in a ravine. Scicli is a UNESCO World Heritage site. All the churches were closed but one and it was outstanding.
We had an excellent lunch after being refused pizza at 3 places. Whats with that? We are in Italy! Turns out they have wood fired ovens and just fire them up in the evening. In the summer when the tourists arrive they will have pizza during the day.
After lunch we headed out of town and DOWNHILL to Donnalucata. They have a pretty waterfront like our town. We went to the fishing store and Doug got some swordfish lures after I showed them a picture of a swordfish. Then we had some awesome ice cream and were entertained by some locals and a dog with golden brown eyes.
The ride back to Marina di Ragusa was right along the coast and pretty pretty. Our last stop was DiMeglios supermarket where we picked up a roasted chicken for dinner and some ricotta things for breakfast. Our pal at the meatcounter insisted we eat a couple for free so I enjoyed mine with a free expresso. At the front of the store we sampled two local wines with local Ragusa cheese.Yum. This all made up for the awful lettuce and asparagus that we bought on the roadside coming home. There is a pet turtle in the marina that is getting BIG treats from us tomorrow.
We ended the day with a couple of pals onboard for happy hour and a game of Mexican train after dinner. Life is good. Hope to be sailing soon!
Maybe I will try to load some pictures tomorrow.