06/25/2012, Varazze, Italy
Over the 23rd and 24th of June, Trilogy competed in the Beneteau Cup Banks Sails Regatta in the Mediterranean waters off Varazze on the Italian Riviera. Under the banner of the Canberra Ocean Racing Club, Trilogy won the Beneteau Cup defeating all the Beneteau yachts in the race and also took out third place over all the boats in the race.
This was a remarkable achievement given that Trilogy was heavily weighed down with fuel, water, dinghy on the foredeck, outboard on the transom and 150 metres of chain. We also kept the bimini and dodger up to keep the cruising appearance and protect us from the blazing sun. Despite the winds being very light and variable, Trilogy managed to sail away from her own division and sail through half of the division that had started 10 minutes earlier.
This was Trilogy's first race since its launch in March this year. When we tested a Beneteau Oceanis 54 on Sydney harbour last year we were all amazed at how well she sailed even in light winds. However you never know how good a boat is until you race against a very competitive fleet. We were all ecstatic to confirm that Trilogy is a magnificent sailing boat that will carry us swiftly and safely back to Australia when we set off in three years time.
We would like to thank our hosts from Beneteau, in particular Marco and Alessio for their generosity and hospitality. The friendship offered by all the competitors was greatly appreciated.
06/21/2012, Alassio, Porto Luca Ferrari
We departed San Remo in full sunshine for a motor sail that followed the Italian coast passing green mountainous terrain that met the Mediterranean. It was a very pleasant sail as after the maintenance work done in Antibes, Trilogy is now performing well and the scenery very interesting. Scattered along the coast were small towns (all with a towering steeples) and terracotta tinted hilltop medieval villages, towering viaducts for road transport, a train line that followed the contour of the waters edge and on many terraced cliffs there are large hot houses. We have read that this area produces most of the flowers for Italy.
Trilogy was set on a course for Imperia which is relatively a new town, resulting from the 1923 unification of Port Maurizio and Oneglia. Maurizio was very stylish with beaches, excellent restaurants and complete with an old town and cathedral. Oneglia, on the other hand, had a industrial feel and was known for pasta and olive oil production. The marina and was located between the two towns.
As we approached the headland of Imperia, the old town looked inviting with pastel coloured houses clustered on the promontory. The cathedral towering above old town with beach umbrellas and bathers on the beaches.
The marina at Imperia was new and had many areas unfinished, however, the work that had been completed was impressive, although, a recording of an osprey feeding her chicks bellowing out of a loudspeaker every 15 minutes was slightly annoying. We imagined its purpose was to keep the seagulls away. The marina staff were very helpful and maybe trying to justify the highest marina fees we had paid to date.
During our journey we have noted that Sundays are a day for families to have lunch in a restaurant, trattorias or pizzerias. So the crew has adopted this European ritual, and when possible, we do lunch out on a Sunday too. We worked up an appetite by first exploring the old town before deciding on where we would dine. The old town was built with a maze of ancient houses, alleys, covered passageways, silent little squares, flights of steps and arches. It was interesting watching the women hang out their washing (from their windows or balcony) to dry above the pedestrians below.
The Basilica di San Maurizio dominated the old town, however it was only one of 5 impressive churches to be seen during the day. On the waterfront was a very sweet church with fluted marble columns with intricate vaulted arches. Late in the afternoon members of the congregation dressed in various maritime uniforms accompanied a wreath out to sea, to offer it to St Anthony, the saint of the church.
Overlooking the cliff face in the old town was the Convent of Santa Chiara. It was founded in 15th century as a convent for the daughters of the local aristocracy. Later it was opened to the Order of St Francis, and from then on the nuns of the Order of St. Clare have been been living there in strict enclosure. During the day, I attended a service in this church, which was conducted by the nuns and the singing was magnificent.
The church of San Leonardo was founded in the14th century. Under the church there is a small room in which one of the first hospitals for women in Italy was opened in the 16th century.
While descending the many flights of stairs to get to the beach, I came across a small fortified door inserted into the old city wall. This doorway (circa 1560) was apparently for use in case of emergency to reach the harbour below.
As an Aussie it is hard to accept that bathers are asked to pay a fee to enter most beaches. If you wanted to sit near the water you paid 11euros for a cabin, 2.70 euros for an umbrella and 15.40 euros for two reclining chairs. That is approx $45 for a couple to have a day at the beach! The fee was reduced the further away from the water your reclining chair was located. However, despite the fee, the way the beach was set up, complete with garden furniture, coffee table, full length mirrors and pot plants, made it look like a comfortable way to enjoy a day at the beach.
On Monday, we sailed on to Alassio, but before we entered the marina we visited the Isolotto Gallinara for a swim off the back of Trilogy. This small private island is about 3 kilometres from Alassio and has a church, a castle and a tiny harbour. It is now a nature park and the swim in the sapphire blue water, along with the sea birds, made us feel as if we were in a remote part of the Italian Riviera.
Alassio is the location we plan to meet up with Garth and Ros and we are are looking forward to their company for the next 5 weeks.
06/16/2012, San Remo,Italy
We bid a fond farewell to Menton and motor sailed along the picturesque coastline taking care to exchange the French for Italian courtesy flag as we crossed into Italian waters. We were also careful to observe the correct procedures as we were exporting Trilogy from France and wanted to be sure we were not breaching the regulations in any way.
So as we approached San Remo we called the harbour master on the radio to arrange for a berth and mentioned that we were an Australian registered sailing yacht seeking customs and immigration clearance. The confusion began when the Portosole harbour master advised that we must go to the old port where the Customs authorities were located. The next call to the old port received the response that we could not come into the port but must go to Portosole and then walk around to Customs.
With our yellow Q flag flying we berthed and walked around to Customs to be told that we should be speaking with the Coast Guard. The next hour and a half was spent with three less than efficient coast guard officers while they made multiple phone calls, consulted several manuals and then called in a more senior officer.
It came as a small surprise to learn that we needed two duty stamps and we were directed to the local tobacconist shop with a handwritten note from the Coast Guard explaining what we needed. Armed with the two 14 Euro stamps and back at the Coast Guard we were then provided with a folder titled 'Costituto In Arrivo Per Il Naviglo Da Diporto' which contains photo copies of our ship's papers, passports and visas. I take this to be a transit log that we must keep for when we depart from Italian waters.
We have given up on trying to get our passports stamped after three attempts.
It also turns out that San Remo is hosting a very big sailing regatta - the 60th Anniversary Giraglia Rolex Cup - so we have been treated to the latest racing yachts ranging from the super maxi 'Alfa Romeo', now owned by a Slovenian, a maxi from Saint Petersburg, TP 52s and Swan 43s and everything in between. Friday 15th is the last day with prize giving at the San Remo Yacht Club. We were also treated to a major fireworks display which would rival our New Year's Eve celebrations in Australia.
The old town part of San Remo dates back to the Middle Ages and seems to be built like a maze of very small alley ways to confuse the barbarian pirates that hassled the region. Many buildings span these alleys to form tunnels that are so dark they need artificial light during the day.
There is also a quaint Russian orthodox church (San Basilio) which has distinctive onion shaped domes similar to it's namesake in Moscow. It was built in 1912 by Russian nobles who holidayed in San Remo before the World War.
Along the waterfront is a dedicated bicycle road that follows the original route of the coastal railway much like the rail trails in Victoria.