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Roaring Girl
The adventures of the yacht Roaring Girl wandering the seas.
Where did we get to?
14/08/2010

This is the church under which we anchored. It is so Greek. And indeed in the little bits of Sicily we've visited so far, you can see everywhere that this was Magna Graecia - the greater Greece of Hellenistic times, when this island and southern Italy were as much part of the Greek world as the Peloponnese.
We anchored on the 10m contour line here in Porto Palo di Capo Passero, whih is about three miles north of Correnti and behind the little island of C O Passero. During the day there were some smaller boats inshore of us, but everyone left by 1800 and for two nights we had the anchorage to ourselves. In high season, in Italy. Nice swimming, good shelter from the south and west, scenic island east of us, and this church and the lighthouse.
Negatives? This was another party town, with a big stage and, what's more, dancing lessons in the mornings at astonishing volume. But we were far enough away that it wasn't too disruptive, and it finished by about 0100 anyway.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
South east corner
13/08/2010

We had a slowish passage from Marina di Rugosa. The first four hours we sailed (drifted) an hour, then motored an hour. Eventually the breeze filled in and we had a good sail. This is Isola della Correnti (actually a peninsular), the south eastern tip of Sicily. We could see boats anchored inside the cape, and the pilot identifies it as a jumping off point for Malta. We kept going a little while, for better shelter.

Life on Roaring Girl
Party town
12/08/2010

Wind's died. It's getting dark. We anchored.
We stopped at the eastern edge of a little resort town called Marina di Rugosa. There is a big porto turistico, but we are comfortable in 5m of water with the anchor well dug in to the mud. Not a place to stay though as there are quazillion people on jetskis and all sorts of RIBs, pedaloes and so on. Most of all, there's a huge group of RIBs tied around a catamaran anchored off the beach which is party central. The music is thumping away, which is ironic as the dancing space must be pretty limited. Ah well, it's not as loud as Bonifacio.
Our current plan is to leave early tomorrow for Siracuse, another 50 miles away, with, we hope, a little more breeze.




Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Platforms and calms
12/08/2010

On Wednesday we left Marsala for Siracusa at the other end of Sicily, another long passage but this time always with the lights of the coast to port. This entry is written underway. So far, we've had a brisk northwesterly, which shoved us along nicely for most of yesterday. It brought a wicked little swell with it though and after the wind died we were left wallowing about. At midnight, after 90 minutes of trying to keep the boat sailing, we gave up and turned the engine on. In the morning we tried again, and spent two beautifully quiet hours travelling slightly less than half a nautical mile. In the end, we powered up again, but this afternoon the breeze has reappeared. It's from the south (not the forecast) but we're breezing along at the world-breaking speed of 3.3 knots. Just as well we're not in a particular hurry!
The major bight on this coast is the big bay between Licata and Cap Scalambri. This is home to Gela, an oil town. From 10 miles away you can see the smog that hovers above its chimneys and factories. Out in the gulf are two offshore platforms, of which this object is one. Gela is apparently a place of few charms, not least notorious for its mafia presence. Aeschylus, the classical Greek dramatist, died here. The story goes that an eagle dropped a turtle on his head, mistaking his bald pate for a stone.

Life on Roaring Girl
Marsala
10/08/2010

Marsala


On approaching Marsala, a man in a RIB came out to see if we were entering the harbour. We said we draw 2m which he declared was no problem. As we followed him in, another RIB came up to us with two youngsters in, also seeking our custom. They were quite harassing: buzzing the boat, looking as if they might try to climb aboard and so on, so we determinedly stuck with the guy who got to us first.
He took us to the very new marina/dock that has been established on the inside of the easternmost breakwater. It only opened in July and shows many signs of being a start-up venture. The very smart new wooden pontoon is criss-crossed by the lines, which lead back to rings on the old harbour wall, making it a marathon of hazards. Added to this, both the electric pods and water are on the inside of the pontoon. The water is unnervingly shallow: the least depth we saw was 2.4m, and at least one large motor cruiser decided it wasn't enough for them. There is no specific office, but rather a bunch of ormaggiatori, who take lines and talk a little English, but who send 'the girl from my office' to take the money and give you a receipt. There are no showers or other facilities. And it cost us EU60!! Incidentally, it is also the first Italian port which has requested to see a passport as well as the boat papers.
So, maybe we should have gone with the bumptious youths, who we think were touting for the older pontoons, known as marina Lillibeo, and operated by a local club. We'd tried ringing them to no avail, and couldn't find the comparable prices, but they certainly had an ablutions block.
From either quay it's about 25 minutes walk to town. We went in, glad to stretch our legs, and had a nice dinner. We even managed to get some Marsala. But, to be honest, we wouldn't bother to return. It's quite sweet, but the marina is way overpriced. It's also a very smelly harbour, between fish, rubbish, sewage and sulphur. Another time, with a calm night, we'd anchor off, if we wanted to stop at all.

Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Currents! Tides!
10/08/2010

At the islands we decided to carry on to Marsala. We wanted to visit it because of the wine. Sarah remembers making zabaglione as a child, which uses it. It's about another 25 miles from I Marettimo, the westernmost of the archipelago.
Heikell says that there is a NE current in these islands, which turns SW in the winter. Hah! It was flowing hard towards the south west while we were there. To cross the stretch of water between I. Marrettemo and I. Favignana to Marsala is a straight line of about 110 degrees, or south east. To actually sail it, we had to aim the boat at about 80 degrees, or east north east, over 30 degrees of difference, and crab sideways to our objective. We tried to take a picture of our chart plotter showing the little boat image sliding sideways, but it really didn't work, so you'll just have to take our word for it.
What's more there's actually a 20cm tide in Marsala. Hardly earth-shattering, we know, but a salutary reminder after three years in non-tidal water.



Life afloat (containing pilotage notes)
Dolphins and shooting stars
09/08/2010

We left Cagliari around midday on Sunday, heading for Sicily. We'd havered about going to Tunisia, as a change from Italy, but in end stayed with the easterly heading. Unusually for us we do have a requirement to be in Malta the last weekend of August, and we hope to meet a friend to sail in to Valetta with us. Sicily will be quicker and much easier for a meeting.
So that gave us about 160 miles to the Isoli Egadi, off the western end of Sicily. We like to arrive at new places in daylight, and the pilot book specifically advises doing so for these islands which have shallow waters and strong currents. It would take at least 36 hours, so off we went.
The first stretch, across the Gulf of Cagliari was ok, though the wind dropped completely off Cap Carbonara, and to get round in daylight we motored a short while. But by dusk the breeze had returned and we had a magical night's sailing. The sea was flat despite the breeze, and we saw only three other vessels all night, so it was a dream-like ride. The following night had different compensations. There was very little wind so we turned the engine on. Shrimp swarmed up to our steaming light, and attracted dolphins. For the hour till midnight, they fed around our bows, blowing and grunting, darting in and out of the light, very serious at the business of the hunt. After they had gone, the moonless sky was covered in stars, so bright that the Milky Way had its own reflection striping the water. There were shooting stars streaking across the constellations, a small shower that went on for ages.
There wasn't a lot of wind though, and on Monday we poled out the jib, which is what this picture shows. We haven't done this very often - the pole is quite heavy and we're not sure about manipulating it in a swell, but this was an excellent opportunity to practise. There's a track on the mast which enables the pole to slide up and down, using an endless loop. An uphaul also leads back to the mast, and the sheets themselves steady the pole, keeping it away from the shrouds (important bits of wire which help keep the mast up.) The aim is to hold the jib open so it can catch the maximum amount of wind, and also to push the boat's centre of effort forward which helps reduce rolling in a swell. It works, but you still need some wind if you're going to sail.

Life on Roaring Girl
Powerful women
08/08/2010

These wonderful images belong to pre-nuraghic Sardinia and are several thousand years old. They are described as the 'divine feminine', believed to be goddesses. Their importance is inferred from their positioning and the huge numbers and range of them in significant sites.
Of course there's lots of academic controversy about matriarchy and matrifocal societies, here as elsewhere. In particular, surely someone has written about the changing representations of women in this archaeological record. From these majestic, passive figures, there seems an abrupt transition to the energy of the bronze statuettes. But there's also a change from these powerful images to pictures of women that are either mundane (the breast displaying camp-follower) or passive in another way. One of the most famous statuettes is a beautiful tiny figure of a woman with her dead son across her knees, as if in a pieta brought about by war or vendetta. Despite their vigour and impact, these women do not have the sense of control offered by their predecessors. Later came the Carthaginians, and then the Romans; sculpture becomes more representational and women take their place amongst more familiar images of home, deity and imperial power.
We loved these ancient women, their stature and solidity. Some are big, maybe 60cm high, but others are tiny. The three dimensional Buddha-figures are detailed and charismatic. By contrast the angular, proto-cubist statues are like alien representations of power.



Places and people
Bronzes and more
08/08/2010, National Archaelogical museum, Cagliari

The famous bit of the archaeology here is the nuraghic bronzes, the many wonderful statuettes made in bronze found in nuraghic sites all over the island. They are full of verve, archers and soldiers, animals of all kinds, hieratic figures armed and praying, while others wear mysterious hats as if walking the dusty roads of inland China.

Places and people
What over a thousand euros looks like
08/08/2010

The new batteries arrived on Friday, and Pip installed them.
This simple sentence covers quite a lot of work. We finally found an electrician who looked over our wiring and pronounced it ok (after Maurice) except for one bit of fridge wiring we have reinsulated and will replace when we can find the right grade wire. Grazie Davide. We also spoke at length to the friend of a friend, Ozzie electrician Mark in Port Napoleon, who was very helpful. Ta, Mark.
Buying the batteries was expedited by the wonderful Walter at the nautical store, who spoke English, understood our problems and desire to get moving, and really pulled things together. So thanks to him.
The hard labour was getting the two old batteries (each weighing 70kg) off the boat, and the two new ones(each weighing 73 kg) on the boat. Each time, the battery was strapped with webbing and then a rope bridle lashed on. We used a spinnaker halyard to haul them up through the forehatch. With people on guys - three ropes steering the battery - we moved it carefully over the water and onto the dock. With a lot of effort we got batteries on and off the dock (thanks to Marine del Sole for renting cars at a cheap hourly rate, in which we got the batteries from the shop), and the dead one got lugged away to the battery dump. Thanks to lots of people on the boats around us for handling ropes, helping with winching and providing muscle power.
The new batteries (Mastervolt this time; that's what's available here) are still AGM, as that's what our battery box is now designed and managed to accommodate. In case you're wondering, the top half of the saloon table then fits over the top of them.
They are each a whopping 270 amp-hours (the old ones were 255) and fit beautifully. Incidentally, we did look at what we might buy in Tunisia, but were not comforted by very limited dealer networks. Alternatively we could have gone on with one battery to Malta, and bought there, but couldn't see this would be cheaper or easier. So 48 hours after installation, all is going well, and we will be leaving Cagliari with battery confidence, but a substantial dent in the bank account.

Life on Roaring Girl
To Cagliari
04/08/2010

From here we headed towards Cap Carbonara, the south-eastern tip of Sardinia. The picture is the lighthouse on the island off the cape. These waters are shallow and filled with rocks. The Seccia di Berni has its double ball back on its beacon, but we saw other, unmarked reefs, mostly very close to the cliffs. An area to be sailed in calm weather and daylight.
The twenty miles across the Golfe de Cagliari gave us another good workout, starting with an energetic, fast six miles under cruising chute and mizzen. Then the wind got up and shifted south so we hoisted the main and genoa and made good time to Cap St Elia
We are now tied up in Marine del Sole. This small marina is fairly laissez-faire, and basic, but is extremely good value by the standards as of Italy in August (EU38 a night for us, including water and power). It's very friendly and we've already made new friends, including another woman singlehander, Lyn of Knight in Gale (not her choice of name!). All these years, and we've not met any, and now two come along in a month.
We desperately need the water: Olbia was great, being free and useful, but pretty grubby and our decks are filthy. Cagliari is also good stop to see the museum which contains many statuettes from the ancient history of the island.
Sardinia has not been particularly kind to us. Since leaving the Maddalena archipelego which was great we've had infestations, evictions, three mistral storms and headwinds. To cap it all off, one of our AGM house batteries died suddenly. On Tuesday night, we realised it was getting very hot and had a rather frightening half-hour while we disconnected all our electrical systems.
It now seems that it has just expired of old age, being over seven years in use. For the first three years we were plugged into the mains a lot, but the repetitive discharge cycles of months on the hook have taken their toll. They're only warrantied for five years. So we took a very deep breath and have bought two new house batteries. They might be delivered on Friday, but it may be early next week. In the meantime, the other battery is working gallantly so we are nearly back to normal.

Life on Roaring Girl
Tack, tack, tacking
01/08/2010

As we'd feared, the afternoon breeze filled in from the south east, and we were forced to beat our way south. This is Pip helming. Sarah sweated on the lines, as a substitute for any more structured exercise.
In the end, off Capo Ferrato we gave in and decided we'd like to anchor in daylight this time, so turned the engine on for the last four miles. This took us to the bottom of the cliffs on the north side of Pt di Cappucini. It's not marked as an anchorage on the charts - wahoo! Wild anchoring. In high season we shared it with one other (French) boat. We anchored in five meters on sand, and again could see the anchor and had reasonable protection from the swell.
In the morning we were, for the first time in a while, able to swim off the boat. This revealed the appalling state of the hull after our ten days in Olbia so we spent an hour scrubbing at the barnacles and weeds, and made some difference.


Life on Roaring Girl

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