A rest after a long journey
03 August 2010 | Porto Ercole, Tuscany
Well, sorry that it's been 70 days since I last blogged, but Wi-Fi has been very scanty in western Italy. We were warned about it in Roccelle Ionica, but we didn't listen. Now we're paying the price. The title of this blog applies to this in a way...
Anyhow, now we're in Porto Ercole, our longtime destination since our friends Michel, Joyce, and Alexandria are coming here soon (specifically tomorrow). We are busy now trying to clean up our boat in preparation as well as fix new problems that were just created last night (instruments aren't working anymore after my dad took the wind instrument out to try to fix it).
If you want an update since we left Syracuse, read on. It promises to be a long blog...
We left Syracuse and went down to Portopallo on the SE corner of Sicily where we planned to jump off to Malta. Unlike what usually happens, the plan went right! We did a long day-sail down to Malta in crystal clear, aquamarine water. I mean, the water was like something you might expect to see in the S. Pacific!
Valetta, the capitol, was amazing. Unfortunately we didn't see a whole lot, but we did manage to see the big tourist attraction - St. John's co-Cathedral. The reason it is a co-Cathedral is that there is the first cathedral on Gozo. Instead of naming it for a different saint (St. John is the patron saint of the Maltese islands), the Maltese ruler called it a co-Cathedral.
The rest of the city was pretty cool. It was all just several big forts. We didn't see them all, but when we were entering Grand Harbor it was just walls, walls, walls on all sides. Most of the forts were built while Malta was gaining power so when the Turks came to squash this powerful nation, the forts were completed. It didn't stop the Turks from laying siege to the city (Valetta) for five (?) months. That siege is referred to as the Great Siege.
Valetta was under siege again during WWII, but that was eventually lifted when the Allies managed to get a food freighter into the port. As with every other holiday (there's usually one every day), the Maltese government pays for fireworks since the citizens can't shoot them off themselves.
After Malta we sailed down to Monastir, Tunisia. It was cool to see a different continent, but it wasn't a place I'd want to do back to - either for a holiday (as many tourists had) or just to visit. However, I'm glad that we went there the one time. The market is a lot like a stock exchange building - people shouting, shoving and just generally making a ruckus all over the whole building. Didn't understand a word of Arabic, but we did manage to procure some eggs, chicken, and some very delicious oranges.
We spent a night in the marina at Monastir before heading on the Yasmine Hammamet. The next day we went into town, but didn't find anything interesting before leaving on an overnighter to I. Pantelleria, Italy.
Since we didn't spend much time in Pantelleria, I will go straight to Mazara del Vallo, Sicily where we stopped after Pantelleria. When we got into Mazara at around 6 am, I was asleep. But the breakwater for the marina extends out a long way so we were able to anchor easily. The next morning we tried to leave to Trapani, but the wind was too strong so we turned back. However, the next day was good, so we left in the morning. Well, the wind built and so now we were in 20 knots going upwind. )-: But we made it, and soon we were at anchor in Trapani harbor. Because we didn't have a dinghy motor we didn't go into town and so soon we were under way to Palermo.
We weren't very impressed with Palermo. We had to stay in a marina and we were having a tough time figuring out where to stay when this one guy waved us over to his dock. We were lost and grateful for some direction, so we tied up there. It turned out that it was an expensive place to tie up - and that's about all it was. The water was not potable, there wasn't any Wi-Fi, and I don't think there was any electricity.
We cleared out of Palermo quickly and went to Cefalu (I think). We stayed there for two days because we needed laundry done. We got some Wi-Fi there, but only enough to send some e-mail messages.
From Cefalu we went to the first of the Aeolian's, Filicudi. On our way there we noticed some cool-looking rocks sticking out of the water and so we stopped by there. The snorkeling was good, but we got our chain wound hopelessly around the underwater rocks. The anchor wasn't even doing anything! It ended up with my dad swimming and directing us to get the chain off the bottom. I turned out OK, but it was bout sunset by the time we got done with it.
From there we went to Lipari for lunch. Our windlass broke then and so we were stuck there for a while before we got it repaired enough to get the anchor up. We moved around the corner to some rocks because of the wake in Lipari bay for the evening. But before the sun went down we decided to go to the nearby I. Vulcano.
The next morning we hiked up the mountain to the summit. Granted, it isn't a very big volcano, but we were still puffing hard when we got back to the boat. It felt so good to go swimming, despite the jellyfish!
We left in the morning for a short sail to Panarea. We found a nice anchorage there and spent a peaceful night. In the morning on our way to Stromboli we saw a mega mega-yacht with a helicopter!!!! We saw that mega-yacht two more times at places I can't remember, unfortunately.
Stromboli is an active volcano, so there was a continuous stream of smoke coming out of the crater. Supposedly if we were to go around to the north side of the island at night we could see the lava flow. We didn't and we heard from a guy who did that on the night we were thinking of doing it that he couldn't see it very well.
Mainland coast (Tropea - here):
We left Stromboli rather early in the morning on our trip to Tropea. Tropea was only 30 (?) n.m. away, but it was almost 6 by the time we got in. We pulled up the most cove-like bit of coast we could find and settled in for the night. The only problem was that the waves were running perpendicular to the coast while the 2 knot current was running parallel to the coast. Around 8 or 9 p.m. we got out our stern anchor and set that. We spent a peaceful night after that.
We had Wi-Fi then, and so we made full use of it by staying the rest of the day before setting off at sunset for Naples. We couldn't make Naples the next day, so instead of going there we went to the Amalfi coast just south of Naples. We stayed there for a night (the mooring buoys were â'¬60 per night!) at anchor and moved on the next morning.
That afternoon we arrived at the place that would anchor us for the next week - Baia. It was there that we found the Fiart manufacturing company and where we had our dinghy motor repaired (it works fine now! Yay!). We took little excursions out from there and saw Procida, Ischia, Capri, and Ventotene - little islands around the bay of Naples.
The dinghy motor was finally repaired and we took the overnighter that eventually got us here by way of Santo Marinella.
That is the events I remember happening between here and Syracuse (with a little help from mom's notebook).