SailBlogs
Bookmark and Share
Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
A spell or a harbour?
01/09/2009, Riva Trigoso

This anchorage is marked by Heikell as open and risky in poor weather, but we had a slight offshore breeze and no swell. We anchored comfortably in about 9.8m in sand. We couldn't help laughing at the name: imagine Hermione Granger pointing her wand: Rive Trigoso! - and her subject shrinks to a third its normal size!
It is one of the ugliest towns you could wish to see in such a beautiful area, and, as you can see has this enormous shipyard. Heikell doesn't mention this but it's very conspicuous at any time of day or night and so a useful marker. This ship in the yard was due to be launched the next morning, and we got a ringside seat. A great floating dock was brought in by three tugs and carefully manoeuvred into position in front of the dry dock. We assume that the floating dock can be sunk at sea, to allow the main boat to be fully launched.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Passing Portofino
31/08/2009, Sailing south again

We left Genoa on the Monday, the strong northerlies having finally blown themselves out. We coasted south for several hours with the cruising chute and mizzen in beautiful weather. On the way we passed the fabled Cinque Terri, a truly lovely area. We decided not to stop at Portofino, (or the nearby and cheaper Santa Margherita Ligure) because we wanted to get south ahead of some more forecast nasty wind. This picture is the entrance to San Fruttuoso, the only anchorage on the headland sheltering Portofino.
Our original plan was to travel overnight to the Golfo dei Poeti, the bay leading to La Spezia, but the forecast softened a bit, so rather than arrive in the dark we decided to find an anchorage and push on in the morning.

Life on Roaring Girl
More high views
30/08/2009, Genoa

This is the view of the docks from the roof, which is worth climbing up for in its own right. It also illustrates our description of the complications of the docks here, which stretch a much longer distance in the other direction (west). From one tiny stone quay, the Molo Vecchio, to this huge dock area.
(The photo was taken through the protective screens around the terrace, and one was dirtier than another: hence the different colours.)
Another feature of the museum is the presentation of the architect Renzo Piano's vision for his home city. As one might expect from Piano, it is nothing if not ambitious. He wants to move the airport out to another, artificial island, connected by subways to the mainland, thus releasing the existing area for a major new site of containerage and ship building. In addition he envisages a new string of open space (a great deficiency in central Genoa), a techno-park, conduits re-aerating the anaerobic harbour basins and so on. A big driver for all these proposals is Genoa's position in the trans-European freight networks (TENs), which of course don't even touch the UK.
These are amazingly exciting proposals from a regeneration point of view, though (surprise!) there is no evidence of how such plans might be financed, nor whether they would bring genuine additional wealth to the many people we saw living in poverty in the old city. (We have rarely seen such obvious prostitution, and we visit a lot of docksides!) We hope that the vision can be expanded to address real need in Genoa itself, and that the best bits of such opportunities won't get lost in a headlong dash for old-world-economic growth.

Places and people
Why do they call it a 'genoa'?
30/08/2009, Genoa

This picture gives a clue. The galleys, when wind allowed, hoisted a sail on a tall mast, and here's a wonderful picture of a fleet of them.
For those not nautically inclined, the genoa is a triangular sail at the front of a boat which comes far enough aft to overlap the mast. It doesn't carry a spar along the top like these ones, but does belly out in a similar way when sailing downwind. (And, as far as wikipedia can be relied upon, the genoa, as a large overlapping foresail, was indeed named after the city.)

Places and people
Museum of the sea
30/08/2009, Genoa

On Sunday we went to Galata, the maritime museum housed in the old shipyard, or Darsena of Genoa. And a very splendid museum it is: we recommend it to anyone.
Amongst the highlights was a splendid recreation of a classic Genoese galley. These fearsome rowing machines were used both for trade and for the mercenary fighting fleet created by Andrea Doria. That is a fast-loading gun on the front.
Hiring out these fighters was an important foundation for Genoese wealth, but even here they couldn't resist ostentation; they decorated the stern boards of these vessels, commissioning expensive and high profile painters for the purpose. The other galley-using nations - Pisa, Barcelona, Venice - didn't waste money on such things, but Genoa could afford it.
The galleys were theoretically crewed in thirds: one third slaves, one third convicts and third volunteers. In fact the volunteers were often ex-criminals, kept in effective serfdom by reliance on company scrip, which supported the energetic casinos run on every boat. The slaves were often Moslem, distinguished by shaving their heads save for a scalp lock.
Genoa in many ways was an Eastern looking city, with many of its colonies on the Black Sea, and close relationships with Turkey and the Levant. This shows in its architecture and food and even today in its plurality.
Another great exhibit in the Museum was the story of Italian emigration to America. This was excellently presented, including a tour round elements of an emigrant steamer, from steerage to first class. The peak of such emigration was the last part of the nineteenth century, a little later than Ireland. Emigration was driven by starvation and disease (pellagra in the north and malaria in the south), as well a the lack of democracy in the newly united country. The exhibition commented that Italian emigration laws set a high standard of diet for emigrants in steerage, and this was often better than the food they had had at home.
It was striking to see both similarities and differences from the Irish history.. Men and women were separated, with boys as young as seven sent to the men's quarters. Food was provided, rather than bought by the emigrants from ships stores. Discipline on board was enforced by a Commissioner. In the pictures from Genoa quay (the main port of embarkation), the steerage passengers often look remarkably cheerful and composed, compared to similar pictures from Scotland and Ireland. Despite these differences, though, they look exhausted, hungry and frightened once they reach America.
That isn't surprising. Neither of us had realised before how many tests were imposed on aspiring American immigrants by the middle of the nineteenth century. Detailed health tests, including for trachoma, mental health, TB and so on, plus questions as to your finances, literacy, job prospects and connections in the country. If you did not get in, you would be sent back, in itself a virtual death sentence.
Following the exhibition, Sarah reread Joseph O'Connor's great book, Star of the Sea, where he graphically describes the conditions on an Irish emigrant ship, and the appalling situation when typhoid and cholera led to the hulking and quarantining of dozens of such vessels off Boston, with consequent riots, uproar and additional death.

Places and people
The roofs of Genoa
29/08/2009, Palazzo Rossi

One of the three museum palaces is the Palazzo Rossi. (Guess what? It's red!) On the top floor there's a flat, made of what were presumably originally the servants' rooms. In the 1950's the then curator of civic museums lived in this flat, and the architect Franco Albini (who designed the layout and displays throughout the museum's palaces) designed and furnished it for her. He created a mix of ancient, Renaissance and modern pieces which he saw as distinctively Italian. After she died her own collection was dispersed, and for a while the flat was rented out. In 2005, in completing the restoration of the building, it was decided that this flat should also be recreated, as a part of the story of the palace as a residence.
The resulting apartment is gorgeous, with a wonderful mix of modern Italian design (oh! the coffee table, the fireplace!) some exquisite paintings and ceramics, and a smattering of classical statuary.
The view is an envy as well, looking south across the alleyways, punctuated by churches and towers, and out to sea.

Places and people
Palazzi everywhere
29/08/2009, Via Garibaldi

The Genoese created a powerful mercantile empire on the back of maritime trade and then by banking. They financed everyone, most notably Charles V of Spain, lending enormous sums at very high rates of interest. The other countries paid with the massive wealth flooding in from the Americas.
During the 200 years of its greatest glory, the great princes of Genoa were stupendously wealthy. They moved out of the tiny alleys of the old town, building themselves palaces. Some were along the waterfront, but the grandest of all moved uphill, above the stink of the city to glorious views of the sea. Here there was elbow room.
On what was then called Strada Nuova (now called via Garibaldi) a series of extraordinary palaces were built. It is literally a textbook of Renaissance architecture, as the styles and formats were collected by Rubens into a widely circulated reference. These palaces were all built on the same plan, with an atrium, a colonnaded garden and surrounding grand rooms. Extravagant frescos, enormous mirrors, and spectacular art collections were used to impress and overwhelm; the grand families drew lots as to whom would house visiting state dignitaries.
Three of the palaces are now combined as one museum, containing a major collection of renaissance art, including many portraits by Van Dyck, a number of Rubens', a superb Ecco Homo by Caraveggio and many treasures of the Ligurian school. There is also a fascinating display of coinage and weights which show the hard management that lay behind the sumptuous clothes and exotic jewels.
This is the courtyard of the Palazzo Tursi, a huge wedding cake of a building around this formal frontage. It is also the City Hall of Genoa, and there are signs to the registrary, to the office of the Syndicat and other mundane activities. The main civic building is a mini-Canary Wharf, somewhat west of the old town (and nicknamed the Big Pencil by the Genoese); it's easy to see that any civic leader would want to hang on to such a showpiece as this palace if they could.

Places and people
A special welcome
28/08/2009, Genoa


Genoa Port is enormous. The entire frontage is protected by a breakwater some 4.5 nautical miles (nM) long. Some 2.5 to 3 nM are the container port. There is a marina in there, and it's probably cheaper but it's very industrial. Along the front of the breakwater is an airport especially for water planes.
The other end is where leisure craft and ferries operate. It's not that easy to see on arrival, and the pilotage waypoints are useful to keep you on track. There is a peculiar curved structure, like a large white caterpillar, which is highly visible. It is actually the complex underneath the Bigo tourist attraction; the entrance is about 0.5 nM east.
Once you've found it, it's a wide channel. Leisure craft keep well to the sides: we encountered no ferries but they would surely need most of the space. You pass two marinas on your right, then the route curves right. There is large basin full of ferries (not shown on the two non-overlapping chartlets in Heikell), and a narrow gap, leaving the distinctive Port Authority building to starboard. This opens into a fair size basin. Keep right and you will see a bunch of superyachts, beyond which the distinctive Bigo and the Biosphere appear. If you want the Porto Antico, it is the further on of the two long moles of yachts. Porto Antico has a number of concrete moles sticking out at right angles to the main one.
We had rung ahead and been told to go to space L7. Hah! L7 was well occupied, and in any case did not look big enough for us. A frantic radio call later, we were redirected to E34. 'E34?' we queried. That put us deep into the harbour into really small boat territory. Yikes. We turned round, saying that we were coming to E34 immediately, hoping fervently someone would be there.
Indeed he was, waiting to take our lines. On I34 - a perfectly accessible and manageable spot. What a relief.
Here you get two lines to hold you off, power and water. It's all very smart with good ablutions (though no recycling). It's the first place for which we've paid since Toulon. '50 per night for us, and we forgot to bargain. Ah well - it's cheaper than a hotel would ever be.
And the best thing of all was that our neighbour was celebrating her birthday with a pontoon party. Elizabeta had a great meal and kindly asked us to join them. Her daughter, Serena, spoke good English and told us about her training in circus skills. Elizabeta's partner, Eugenio, owned the motor boat across from us, and is just doing it up. He gave us a loving tour. He and several friends, many of whom are engineers, also became very interested in our stern roller problem and have suggested several clever remedies.
We were interested to discover that at least two Italian boats there flew a red ensign. It is a popular thing to do here, apparently, because there is much less regulation of UK flagged yachts than most other countries. We knew this; for instance, a UK boat need not carry a liferaft, a radio or have annual surveys. Such requirements are placed by many other countries. But in most places, a boat must be registered in the country of nationality of its owner. Obviously Italy is not too bothered about such a rule. So, we won't assume that all those red ensigns belong to British cruisers. (It also says something about English assumptions about how the UK is more regulated than other European countries; in the world of small, non-commercial pleasure craft, that is simply not true.)
So far Italy has been very kind to us, with friendly cruisers and a free place in San Remo, and now a great welcome party in Genoa.

Life on Roaring Girl
Another rolly night
28/08/2009, Finale Ligure


The night forecast was for more northerlies and northeasterlies, with southerlies on Friday. Heading straight to Genoa would see us arrive in the dark (major city, bright lights, complicated port, lots of shipping, Italian), after probably motoring against a head wind much of the way. We decided to stop.
Finale Liguria is a small, tourist-oriented resort tucked under Capo Noli, about eight miles south of Savona. We couldn't get into the marina as it was full so we anchored off the beach in 8.5m of water on sand. The breeze did get up a little, but we didn't feel it as the spot is well protected from the north and west. It is completely open to the south and east, and the easterly swell kept us rolling all night. There was no noise ashore though, despite the evident tourism; not a clubby place.
At 0900 the lifeguard kayaked out and told us we had to move on; the swimming day was about to begin. We sorted ourselves out, hoiked the anchor up and left.
This is written under sail en route to Genoa. It's very hot but we have at most 8kts of breeze and are meandering along at about 2.5kts. If we had more energy we might put the cruising chute up, but we have hope that the forecast WSW F3 will appear to shove us along. So far it's a southerly F2. It is lovely to be actually sailing though, and we're not in any hurry after all.
PS - added the next day in Genoa - we did in the end put the chute up and got another .5 to 1kt of speed for it - evidence, as if it were needed - of the Pardey dictum that being able to keep your boat moving in light airs is as important to a cruiser as the kit to survive heavy weather.

Life on Roaring Girl
Riviera de Flori (& comments on the weather)
28/08/2009, Off the coast


This part of Liguria is famous for its flowers, exported all over the world. You can see here the hothouses and polytunnels that create the industry, and the scars on the hillsides. Something to think about, along with the air miles, next time you buy Italian flowers.
We finally escaped on Thursday. The first couple of hours were a chug into the continuing north easterly which finally veered a little. We got - ooh - about 40 minutes sailing before the breeze died completely and we put the engine back on.
Weather forecasting is extremely complicated in the Ligurian Sea. A depression frequently hovers around the north of Corsica, heavily influenced by highs north east of the Alps, gradients in north Africa, and of course the mistral blowing from the Rhone. The mistral in turn is influenced by pressure patterns in northern Europe and the Bay of Biscay. The exact position of the depression is very important to local spot forecasting, for example whether it is far enough north to create a north easterly or has drifted enough to see a southerly at one's particular point on the coast.
Of course the weather here, as much of the Med, is also closely influenced by topographical features, with winds whistling through Alpine passes, or curving round headlands. Our stay in San Remo has been a useful reminder of the uncertainty of much local forecasting, and the importance of both patience and preparedness.

Life on Roaring Girl
The Gardens of Queen Elena
26/08/2009, San Remo


At the top of La Pigna is a lovely, informal garden of trees and walkways. The area has a chequered past. San Remo rebelled against the Genoese in 1753, shortly after annexation, and in 1754 the new overlords pulled down the castle that stood on the peak. An earthquake in February 1877 made the top of La Pigna unsafe and all the buildings were demolished. The garden was created in 1890 on the resulting open space, and dedicated to Queen Elena, who visited San Remo often.
From the top you get this wonderful view across the town and out to sea. It looks really calm, but this was after a day of unforecast northeasterlies blowing at over 20 knots for about eight hours.

Places and people
Kettles
26/08/2009, San Remo


Over three years ago, just before our civil partnership, Sarah's brother Jonathan complained our kettle didn't whistle. Whistling was necessary, he said.
It's taken a while. Our old Alessi kettle was bought at least nine years ago, and has done us pretty well. But it's big, heavy, dented, and a pain, as the pull-back on the spout picks up the heat.
So, at long last, we have acquired a new kettle. It's a shameless piece of consumerism, and cost a ridiculous amount, but it's solid and attractive. And it whistles.

Life on Roaring Girl

Newer ]  |  [ Older ]

 

 
Powered by SailBlogs