After clearing out of the Eurozone at Brindisi we set off for the 137nm crossing of the Adriatic at 1600 in 20kn southerly winds for our overnight sail to Dubrovnik. It was a wild sleigh ride in sloppy seas as we encountered a 2kn south setting current along the eastern coast of Italy.
When Trilogy overtook a coastal freighter heading in the same direction we decided to reef the mainsail and partly furl the genoa to slow our progress and to ensure that we arrived in Dubrovnik after sunrise. We averaged almost 9kn for the passage which was remarkable considering the current that opposed us for about half the time.
The entry into Gruz (the port at Dubrovnik) was spectacular as we slotted in between a sister ship to the infamous Costa Concordia and a Club Med 'sailing liner' under directions from the port authority.
I was a tad apprehensive about clearing Trilogy into Croatia but the Customs Officials and Port Police were very efficient and welcoming and we received our crew list 'Vignette', a registration sticker for Trilogy and stamped passports for each crew member before sailing about 2nm upstream in the Ombla River to the very well appointed ACI Marina.
The river flows out of the side of the mountain range only 1nm further upstream and it was heavily guarded as it had been extensively attacked during the civil war being the main water supply for Dubrovnik.
We couldn't wait to see the medieval walled city and after a 20 minute bus ride we walked through the walls into this amazing World Heritage listed city of about 40,000 people which rivals Venice as a tourist destination.
Dubrovnik is believed to have been founded in about the sixth century AD as the remains of a basilica from that era were discovered under the present day cathedral. During the crusades, from 1205 to 1358, it was ruled by the Venetians before becoming a republic right up to 1808 when Napoleon's army marched in.
The walk along the top of the wall takes about 2 hours and provides spectacular views of this spectacular medieval masterpiece although there is some evidence of the careful reconstruction that followed the significant damage inflicted by the Serb- Montenegrin forces during the bloody civil war between 1991 and 1995.
And it was time to sadly farewell our delightful guests. After a lovely meal overlooking the old harbour Sam and Fiona headed off to Istanbul. We then farewelled Jean to the sounds of a great jazz trio during another dinner in this fabulous city.
Early the next morning we met the ferry from Bari bringing my son Adrian, his wife Karlee and two grandsons, Owen and Simon, who will be with Susan and me for the next phase of our Adriatic sojourn - affectionately (or aptly?) named KAOS.
|Delivery to the Adriatic|
Messina Straits, the boot of Italy and the Ionian Sea
As we departed the Aeolian Islands we passed a volcanic crater releasing gentle clouds of ash and it appeared to be waving farewell to SV Trilogy. While motoring along the coastline of Sicily, Mt Etna was clearly visible and the crew took take turns at helming, as Trilogy's instruments had stopped working. Not having our reliable auto pilot wasn't an issue, however it was a little unsettling not being able to read the water depth.
As we approached the Straits of Messina, the two red electricity towers (one on the toe of Italy and the other in Sicily) clearly let us know we had entered the Straits, a stretch of turbulent water that separates mainland Italy and Sicily. In Messina we managed to have the instruments fixed and celebrated by dinning out in a superb Sicilian Restaurant. The females on board even had a red rose purchased for them!
The following morning we navigated our way through the busy shipping channel of the Straits of Messina, passing Reggio di Calabria, the town reputed to be one of the principal recruiting grounds for the Italian mafia. The land on both sides of the Straits had a high mountain range as a back drop, with continuous development along the water edge. Both sides have experienced frequent earth quakes and heavy bombing during WW2. Needless to say the housing was post WW2 and generally uninteresting.
As Trilogy rounded the toe of Italy we entered the Ionian Sea and made our way to Rocella Ionica, located just south of the ball of the foot of Italy. This was the closest port to the relatives of Sam and Fiona, who we planned to visit the following day. This meant hiring a car and driving inland to the mountain villages of Oppido, where Sam was born, and Dellianuova, the birthplace of Fiona's father. Both villages were about 20 km apart and had relatives that both Sam and Fiona shared! To reach the villages we drove for an hour, winding our way up the National Park mountain range, through 3km long mountain tunnels (with a 90 km speed limit) that exited onto a massive viaduct that gave us the feeling we were driving along a treetop forest highway. As we came closer to our destination we turned into a minor road, passing olive groves that Sam said were over 3,000 years old, relics of Roman aqua ducts and herds of sheep that shared the road with us.
Sam and Fiona's relatives greeted us in true Italian style with a day of endless introductions, hugs, food, singing around the lunch table, site seeing and more food, and more food! The moment that will stay with me, is actually visiting the room where Sam was born! It was a day of sharing the warmth of family and also a day of over eating, but who could not resist, when we were being treated to authentic Italian cooking at its best. At 8pm we thought we were saying our farewells, but the extended relatives decided to follow us back down the windy Italian mountain to farewell us at Port Rocella Ionica, with more farewells, hugs, kisses and a few tears. This will truly be a day etched in our memory.
The following day we had an 8 hour sail around to Crotone. Geographically, this is the ball of the foot of Italy and was famous for being where the Greek Mathematician, Pythagoras made it his home in the 5th century BC and established his Pythagorean School for over 30 years. Crotone once attracted artists, scholars and medical practitioners. Today it does not have much to show for its ancient glory, although there are signs the town is being revived from jobs provided by the 4 off shore gas platforms and from tourists coming to the beach in Summer.
The next morning, Trilogy continued north across the Golfo di Taranto to Santa Maria Di Leuca located on the stiletto heel of Italy. It was a long calm passage, with the interruption around dusk of a surprise visit from Guardia Finanza (Finance Police) who wanted to know where we were going, how many people were on board, and their nationality. Our late entry to Santa Maria Di Leuca was a little challenging as we docked around 10 pm and our sailing skills were put to the test in the darkness of the night. The morning light revealed Santa Maria Di Leuca was a prosperous town with its architecture showing a strong Northern African influence. It had the feel of a beach tourist resort with very grand villas and a monumental stone staircase built by Mussolini, as a ceremonial gateway to Italy. The lighthouse on the headland (the heel) is known to be the second (to Genoa) most important lighthouse in Italy . Our departure from Santa Maria Di Leuca took us past limestone cliffs that house grottos and beyond them, our entry to the Adriatic Sea.
Our passage from the Tyrrhenian Sea, through the Straits of Messina and the Ionian Sea, was full of fun, laughter, great company, food and wine.
|Delivery to the Adriatic|
05/07/2013, Aeolian Islands, Sicily
DOLPHINS AT SUNRISE
We left Trilogy in the tender care of Cantieri di Olbia in Sardinia for the winter and, as we do not winter our yachts in Australia, it was with some trepidation that we saw Trilogy being prepared for launching. But our fears were groundless and she looked very smart in a new summer dress of light grey antifouling paint below the waterline.
The launching went smoothly and a team of cleaners descended to remove layers of North African dust that blows in on the Sirocco. Then some gremlins in the electrical systems began to appear and we spent the next two days chasing technicians to help us solve the problems.
Rigg Sails looked after our sails and made some minor repairs to the mainsail batten cars and reefing lines. They also made up two jackstays (to clip on our tethers when we work on the deck at night or in risky weather).
To make up some lost time we decided to go directly to Lipari in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. This is a passage of 290 nm and we set off mid-afternoon on Thursday 2 May in light winds and some sea fog that softened the boundaries between sea and sky.
Fiona had prepared a wonderful Italian meal and we toasted our departure and the gods of fair weather. We collectively may have asked for more than we needed as the next two days were spent casually motor-sailing straight down the rhumb line to the island of Lipari on a languid sea of greys and mauves, pinks and blues.
Night watches were set as 2 hours on and 4 hours off and we followed the tracks of shipping on the AIS system to ensure our safety. It was a beautiful sail (albeit mostly under motor) with some memorable moments that included Jean waking up the Skipper at about 0300 to report a light that was getting nearer and almost directly ahead. Rick rushed to the cockpit by which time the identity of the light source became more apparent above the sea mist. It was the moon rising and, after confirming that there was no collision risk the skipper repaired to bed.
As the sun rose we were greeted by a pod of dolphins who played around Trilogy with several young leaping in the air to keep up with their mothers. For some time we were accompanied by a small bird similar to a starling. We were surprised to see it so far from land and it became apparent that it was quite tired and was circling Trilogy looking for a safe spot to land. Sam's head was the obvious choice so the little bird rested for a short time on Sam's cap before heading off towards the Italian mainland. We were later visited by 3 of these little birds who found Trilogy a very convenient resting place.
We finally arrived in Lipari and berthed at Pignataro before walking about 1.2km into the main township. It is a lovely city that traces its origins back to the Neolithic era with many civilisations occupying it at some time.
Rod Heikell, in his excellent Italian Waters Pilot, mentions that around 580BC the Liparese practised a form of communism whereby all land, housing, ships and goods were held communally and redistributed every 20 years in a huge festival. Their pickings from piracy were also distributed equally when the ships returned.
We toured the island by taxi and saw the remnants of mining for pumice and obsidian. This was the main industry on Lipari until about 2007 when it was closed due to heritage concerns so the island economy is now almost entirely based on tourism with some farming of capers and a little wine production.
Our visit to the citadel and the archeological museum was very interesting with their collection including artifacts and shards of pottery dating back 9000 years. We slaked our thirst on the waterfront and then sampled the local cuisine at a lovely restaurant before walking back to our home afloat.
This is how we remembered our life on Trilogy from last year and it was a special joy to share it with some good friends.
|Delivery to the Adriatic|
02/25/2013, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
Last year we planned to cruise through France, Italy , Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily before entering the Adriatic. In the end the call of beautiful little harbours, ancient towns, fine food and fine wine proved too beguiling. We only got as far as Sicily before turning back to Sardinia to winter Trilogy in Olbia.
In 2013 our cruising plans are just as optimistic.
Trilogy will passage cruise from Sardinia to the Adriatic from early May before commencing to slowly cruise along the Croatian coast and its hundreds of islands. Late July will see Trilogy cruising Montenegro and Albania enroute to Corfu and the Greek Ionian islands. And by September she will have passed through the Corinth Gulf and Canal to Athens and the Greek Islands before wintering in Turkey mid-October.
Again our plan - once we get to Croatia - is to day sail between ports and anchorages stopping wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself to take in the sights, history, flavours and tastes of the Med.
This year we are, however, doing some things a little differently. Partners and their spouses will take it in turns to sail Trilogy with family and friends, rather than as in 2012 where we sailed together. We now have a better feel for both cruising in the Med and handling Trilogy. And so this year we plan to share Trilogy and the Med cruising experience with our families and friends where we can.
|Sailing Program 2013|
10/19/2012, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
John and Garth set off from Palermo at 10.30am 3rd October on Trilogy's last sailing adventure for 2012. The forecast was for light winds and for once it was accurate. We motored sailed all the way from Palermo to Arbatax on Sardinia's east coast, a distance of some 200nms, arriving just after 5pm on the 4th. The only excitement occurred when we were briefly surrounded by four Italian warships, with an aircraft carrier turning into the wind less than a mile away to allow three jump jets to land. We had a very clear view of the jets when they used us as a turning mark to line themselves for their final approach to the carrier.
Next morning we recommenced motor sailing north towards Olbia, our final destination. By early afternoon we had enough wind from the south to justify poling out the headsail, the first time we had had the opportunity for the whole of the Mediterranean season. We found a fabulous anchorage that night inside Capo Coda Cavallo, within sight of Olbia. After an early morning swim for Garth, we berthed at Marina di Olbia around noon. We soon joined Ros and Myra at the Grand Hotel President for a luxurious shower.
Sunday morning saw all four of us descend on the boat and start the long and tedious process of preparing Trilogy for the winter. After a couple of false starts on a couple of subsequent days, we took Trilogy around to Cantieri di Olbia to be hauled out. Naturally we were now experiencing a blustery Mistrale which tested to the full Garth's skills in ferry-sliding Trilogy in to the haul-out pen. She was hauled that afternoon and given a pressure clean. By Thursday morning- now completely windless- she had been chocked and settled in her place where she will stay for some six months.
The night times in Olbia were good compensation however for the hard work during the days. Ros discovered through a combination of Tripadvisor and the very helpful hotel staff, a number of excellent restaurants. So we had roast suckling pig and wild boar in sweet and sour sauce at Barbargia. (The next tables were Australians, some from Canberra.) At another restaurant, Ros had what looked like a giant squid - whole - and we had excellent seafood at another restaurant run by an extended family who ate with us. The best was saved for last - Clippers for its pasta night. The entree was matched with an aperitivo made from prickly pear fruit, called fico d'India here, and was delicious. Then came three plates, each with two small dishes of different pasta, matched with wine, and finally desssert of ravioli filled with myrtle ricotta and vanilla gelato and a liqueur called Drucci. Another gourmet paradise.
And as a farewell from Sardinia, they turned on a choral event for our last night. It was the 18th annual event of sacred music choirsters, and choirs came from near and far. The Moscow and Genoa choirs stayed in our hotel, the latter most elegantly dressed. The evening began with the choirs wandering through the old town, stopping at significant spots like the old Roman road, and singing entertaining songs to the crowd (such "Money cant buy me love" and "Short People" or traditional Sardinian songs that the Italians near us were singing along with, but told us they didnt understand the words as they were Sardinian dialect.) Then they went to Sant Paolo's church, built on top of a Greek temple, where each choir sang sacred music. The choir from Ossetia Alania, in traditional dress, gave the most beautiful performance, but the male Sardinian choirs, singing in a circle, werent far behind in beauty of sound.
We all finally left Trilogy to sleep perchance to dream - parting was such sweet sorrow.
When John and Myra headed off to Rome for a couple of days, Ros and Garth chose to see a little more of northern Sardinia. The region is a good mix of mountainous granite ridges and fertile valleys, cultivated primarily for wine growing. Tempi was an entertaining inland city, with a lively market and well dressed locals busily enjoying the crisp Autumn morning. A car drive to the top of Monte Limbara (1359m) allowed spectacular views in all directions, but not quite to Corsica, as had been suggested.
The Maddalena Islands were calling, so with the help of the car ferry, we were able to explore Isola La Maddalena and Isola Caprera.
The much revered Garibaldi spent his last 27 years on Isola Caprera, which he bought in two stages from 1855. His home is now a National Museum and has been restored to original appearance. A modest home for a man of his status, it was most interesting to learn of his lifestyle and main activities of agriculture and animal breeding.
The stable was not only for his horses but for his bathtub, as the stable was the warmest place on the farm. The other surprise was the purpose built 'Room of Death' built in 1880, where Garibaldi died on 2nd June 1882, aged 75. In his last days Garibaldi wanted to stay and look over the sea from his bed. The single four poster bed had original white lace edged linen with high bed pillows and light gauze netting creating an insect barrier. The original calendar still marks the day he died and the clock was stopped at the time he died: 6:21pm. Garibaldi suffered from severe arthritis in his later life and had been shot in the right foot in 1862, during the battle at Aspromonte.
We were struck by the suffering Garibaldi must have endured in his final years, with several wheel chair carriages on display and metal cages to keep the covers off his ankle. Set amongst the beautiful gardens, we visited the family tombs, with Garibaldi's grave in the middle of the row beneath a huge Italian Pine. Garibaldi had wanted cremation but at the time this was illegal, so his body was embalmed and buried under a massive piece of roughly hewn granite, with two large rings inserted to lift it into position it. Garibaldi must have loved his horses, for Marsala, aged 30 was buried close to the house and had a magnificent tombstone placed in her honour.
We departed Isola La Maddalena at sunset, the soft earthy colours of the buildings reflected in the azure blue waters beckoning us to return next sailing season.
10/14/2012, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
With John and Garth itching to make a break from Palermo, Myra and Ros bid them farewell and headed for the airport on Wednesday 3rd. Being low season in October, the shortest flight route from Palermo, Sicily to Cagliari, Sardinia was via Milan, a total of five hours journey. Even so, we figured it was shorter than the sea voyage and likely to be smoother. Once in Cagliari we quickly settled into Hotel Regina Margherita and hit the town. Having spent a fair bit of time in Cagliari, Myra lead the charge for the evening meal at Su Lillicu, a wonderful trattoria serving typical Sardinian fare with flair, diners making their way through the middle of the kitchen and serving area to reach seating at long tables in a room filled with happy conversation. Tired, yet happy too, a little problem arose when we took a wrong turn back to the hotel but with our superior map reading skills employed, the hotel magically appeared from a most surprising direction!
Next day, we visited the old town which is slowly being restored after World War 2 damage and largely student inhabited with the university nearby. Fortified with a mid morning cappuccino, we left via the Elephant Gate, which along with the Lion Gate, were the points of entry for the old town. Depictions of an elephant and lion head on the respective gates, can be seen high up on the portal. We visited the Cripta di Santa Restituta which has been in use since per-Christian times. It is a huge natural cavern which was originally a place of pagan worship and later used by Cagliari's early Christians. Orthodox Christian's took it over and it was also a bomb shelter in World War 2. Later in the day we visited the nearby Chiesa di Sant Efisio to view the effigy of St Ephisius. This nicely made the historical link for us with St Ephisius, patron Saint of Cagliari, who was held here in a cell before being transported some distance to Nora, where St Ephisius was executed, for not recanting his Christian faith. We had visited the church built on the execution spot some weeks earlier. A nice wander through the attractive shops followed in beautiful Via Manno and then drinks at Antico Cafe, a favorite place to order Spritz's. A change of pace back at Hotel Regina Marguerite to recharge the batteries and then off again to wine and dine in the the very hip Cronta Wine Bar Enoteca. Needless to say, the food and wine are absolutely fabulous in Sardinia and rarely will a tasting of anything leave you disappointed. This wine bar/ cafe had an incredible selection of wine from all over the globe, with Penfolds represented from Australia and Cloudy Bay from NZ. The meal was served in the midst of the vast bottle collection and it was oh so pleasantness!
Friday saw us change to cruise mode in the morning, each succumbing to some pampering provided by the local salon staff who spoke not a word of English. Feeling recharged and ready for the next adventure, we headed off for a near five hour train journey through central Sardinia and north- east to Olbia. Our main entertainment was not the scenery, a fairly flat rural landscape, but the young lady who spent the whole journey preening herself from top to toe. We wondered who she was going to meet as the effort was extraordinary! Safely at the hotel we were able to ascertain that John and Garth were to sail into Olbia the following day.