04/22/2012, Portovenere, Italy
Pictures might convey today best - see the set with the title of this blog. After delaying our morning start to wait out a bit of weather that showed on 2 different forecasts as dissapating around noon, we left Capraia bound for Portovenere, near Spezia. In less than 30 mimutes we found that there was more action left in the sea from that system than expected. So, we spent a clear, brilliant, sunny afternoon riding waves of 4 to 5 meters and winds up to 45 kts. Marco, Bill and Phil performed perfectly at the helm trading places, while Anne and Gaile finally succumbed to conditions topside (after getting soaked) and retreated to safer quarters below. See the few photos of Gaile and Anne at the campionway - Two Girls Behind a Washboard.
So, a rough ride but a safe arrival after all with quiet anchorage at Porovenere. And, a delicious pasta dish of asparagus, ham and cream created by Marco, again. Tomorrow, we try for Santa Margarita Ligure.
04/21/2012, Elba to Capraia
This morning we said goodbye to Porto Azzuro, to make our way to Capraia, at the end of the Tuscan Archipelago. Although the wind is light, this is a gorgeous and clear day - we're enjoying a warmer, sunnier passage doing about 6 kts with light SE winds about 13 kts.
We all agreed - we love Elba. It's a lovely island of extensive natural beauty and interesting history, with plenty of easily accessible areas for walking, hiking over majestic views without being too far from beautiful small towns and marinas. Phil and I were happy to be able to visit it again so soon, and share more of it with friends this time.
Marco continues to be a great partner both on deck, and in the galley. We appreciate so much his quick handling on deck, constant care of the boat, and eagerness to learn all the boat's finer details that are new to us all. I have to add that, although I continue to prepare some meals, I am getting a little spoiled with his wonderful pasta dishes and other creations for our dinners! However, I need to continue to work at training him to eat more vegetables. :)
Other things to learn - taking care of our boat's interior and systems feels a little like being at home, only in a more condensed way. And the dust seems to accumulate even more. But little by little, the daily and weekly maintenance, all those checks in the engine room and elsewhere, are becoming part of a routine. Maybe we are getting situated, finally....!
Ciao for now.
04/20/2012, Porto Azurro, Elba Island
Following our new course, we arrived on Wednesday the 18th in Elba at Port Azurro on the SE side of the island, after a short overnight anchorage in Giannutri Tuesday night. We knew a new system was in the works for Thursday into Friday, so the plan was to stay here until more reasonable weather - maybe Saturday - to move north on our way to La Spezia and Portovenere.
We took advantage of the short window of good weather on Thursday and rented a car to tour the island. Luckily, the nice weather held almost all day, even though we could see dark clouds accumulating at the mountain tops and around Corsica to our west. Elba is certainly a beautiful island. We drove up and down those "exciting," tight switchback roads, thanks to Bill's good driving skills and patience. We climbed a little of the ruins of the watch tower of San Giovanni, which was used to protect the island during the 1400's and beyond. It was a treat to visit a few lovely, quiet, hilltop towns above Marina di Campo and Marciana, which took us along the western coast enjoying spectacular views down to small, quaint beach communities and marinas. We stopped at Portoferraio, the 2nd time in one week for Phil and me, but a pleasure to see again, and to climb to Stella Tower and pass by Napoleon's in-town home, currently under renovation.
So, the rains finally came, last night and this morning (Friday). To our surprise, we found a pile of ice from hail in the cockpit when it stopped! Strange spring weather indeed. It is now sunny with blue skies one hour later, and we'll see what's expected next for tomorrow. We also were thrilled to hear this morning that Larry and Maureen Burt successfully worked a flight to arrive in Milan/train to Genoa so they can join as planned on the 28th.
New photos should show up in the photo gallery, if I have learned correctly how to use it!!
Ciao for now.
04/17/2012, Giannutri, Italy
You might wonder why the tracker shows us now reversing course after our stop in Rome, now heading back toward the Tuscan Islands. By the end of last week we realized that the schedule we had charted for this Mediterranean course was too aggressive, given the reality of weather conditions causing delays, plus the length of passages we had planned that left us with too many excessively long, wearing days for it to be comfortable for ourselves or our guests. We reviewed ways to give more breathing room to the schedule, make the days more comfortable and allow for more sailing (vs. motoring) potential. The result was the decision to cut Sicily and Sardinia out of the schedule, and to see how our guests going in and out of Palermo could accommodate the change. The Richardson's, who had already joined us Saturday after enjoying three days in Rome, were fortunately able to change their departing flight from Palermo to Genoa to make this work. We're still waiting to see if the Burt's, who were to join us in Palermo, can do something similar.
Now that we've re-charted our course to enjoy waypoints more slowly, through the Tuscan Archipelago, the Ligurian coast/Italian Riviera, and onto the French Riviera, this all seems much more reasonable. Lifting our spirits even more, yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, and despite being delayed for 2 days in Porto di Roma for a service person to investigate a problem with the compressor (ie., no heat), Anne and I enjoyed a short trip via the Metro to the archeological site of Ostia Antico, the original port town for Rome, built primarily around the 7th century BC. It was a vast area of ruins, well preserved enough to get a sense of the level of significance of this once vital town.
Tomorrow we expect good sailing conditions for our trip to Elba, and exploring areas beyond Portoferraio, where we visited last week. Then on to the little island of Capraia, then skirting the Ligurian coast with stops in Portovenere, and then perhaps Santa Margherita. We appreciate the flexibility of our friends and hope for their patience and understanding as we continually learn and improve the schedule!
04/17/2012, En route to Giannutri
We finally made it out of Porto di Roma and have sun, warmer temps and wind and a course that allows us to finally sail. We expect to be in the Tuscan Archipelago this evening, anchoring in Giannutri, then on to Elba for 2 days or so to wait out the next douse of weather expected for Thursday. At least we get to enjoy what look like two of the best days so far, and getting those sails up, finally! What a pleasure. The boat handles beautifully. We've been doing from around 9 knots with NE winds of 13 - 17, for the past two hours, expecting a litle more wind later. A later update after arrival...
04/13/2012, Porta di Roma
Remember those long awaited ski vacations anticipcating the thrill of shussssh-ing down sun kissed, sparkling slopes spraying powder in a cloud to your ears, but found your week soaked in rain, fog thick as pea soup at the top, slushing in mashed potatoes about 2/3 of the way down the slope? .... Or, the well planned summer vacation at the Outer Banks, anticipating carefree days in the sun finally able to really play, with some special friends or family sharing the house, but instead, you were the lucky ones to be evacuated from the island due to an early arrival of the ususal coastal hurricanes? If you've experienced any of those, then welcome to our springtime Mediterranean sailing trip, more or less.
We have hit not only Italy's rainy spring, but an unusually cold spring for this region, and the somewhat unpredicable clime of the Med. Today was one more day living in a snow suit (at least, that's how I felt). I"m really glad I could resurrect a bit of my ski wear that's been lying dormant in drawers for a few years while we've spent time looking for boats.
We are grateful for all those sunny days in Genoa, and the sunny day or so in lovely Portoferrairo in Elba. There is so much natural beauty to explore and see on Elba Island, definitely a place to revisit sometime - in warmer weather.
Yesterday we motored from Elba to Riva Di Traiano, about 30 miles north of Rome, then to Porta di Roma today in pouring rain and cold. We'll probably be here a few days, hosting our friends the Richardson's with Marco's help, best we can, while we wait for the weather to improve a bit and we move on to next destinations. More later....
(this photo was taken several days after this blog post, farther north in Camogli along the Ligurian coast. Same weather!)