winter liveaboards waving us goodbye... or are they all just making sure that we do actually leave!
;-) What a lovely surprise, thank you all - we will see you later in the season.
Our decision to spend the next few months cruising hasn't been an easy one. On the one hand we desperately want to see our family and friends and on the other we would love to enjoy a bit of sailing this year. With the covid pandemic and Brexit (applying for residency) last year righting off the season and limited cruising the two years previously because of Bruce's illnesses we desperately need to get some sailing in and feel a sense of normality. Italy is currently on the UK 'amber' list and as a result requires 7-14 days quarantine together with a number of PCR/lateral flow tests. If we returned to the UK now we would feel the need to stay for a while and this would right off another sailing season so on that basis and given everyone is in good health our plan is to return in October for an extended period.
Having made that choice it was time to leave Marina di Ragusa given that we are both fully vaccinated and the dredging of the marina is now complete. Our departure from the berth went smoothly with the usual and necessary bow nudge from the marineros dinghy which enabled us to make a clean exit from our berth and those moored around us before we followed him through the newly dredged channel out to sea.
short video clip of our departure - thanks Clare & Vic, from sailing yacht Njord.
We then settled into our routines of storing the fenders, ropes etc, drinking coffee and searching for annoying rattles from below deck. Everything was looking good apart from an annoying audible alarm emanating from the chart plotter reporting 'GPS Signal Lost'. Sometimes it's worth being a hoarder with numerous spares on board as Bruce dragged out a spare GPS and fashioned a temporary solution until we can investigate further. Apart from that glitch, the journey was pretty uneventful although the swell was larger than predicted. Flirtie took it all in her stride as she motored us slowly towards our first anchorage of Portopalo located on the south eastern tip of Sicily.
Our normal procedure once we arrive in an anchorage and decide roughly where we want to position ourselves is for Bruce to monitor the depth around the immediate vicinity whilst I go forward and prepare to launch the anchor and look around for potential sand patches to drop the anchor. As I peered down over the bow this time I was taken by surprise to see the face of a huge dolphin grinning at me. He stayed all of a few minutes before disappearing otherwise I could have dropped the anchor on his head.
A quiet night was spent in the anchorage as we listened to wavelets lapping around the hull, birds chirping on the shore and watching all the activity of the local fishing fleet coming and going together with a lonesome fishermen who dropped his nets nearby. Portopalo is widely considered to have some of the best fishing that the Mediterranean area has to offer because of its location - exactly where the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas meet.
Unexpectedly the next morning we found ourselves on a rescue mission when we thought we saw 'our' dolphin trailing a buoy. A new record was set by us for launching the dinghy and dropping the outboard on as we performed a high speed chase (well as fast as a 4HP outboard could go) towards the moving buoy armed with a diving knife, scissors, gloves etc only to find that the moving buoy and fin was a diver dressed in a full wet suit with huge fins...what a relief! The return back to Flirtie was much more sedate. Given that the dinghy and outboard were now afloat Bruce dropped me off to take a burn around the anchorage in our new dinghy.
Boy with new toy! Excel Volante 235, purchased from Excel Inflatables
The burn up around the bay is an annual ritual so we can now declare that our cruising season has officially started and it feels great!
Total miles this season: 31.38 nautical miles (excludes a few day sails)
Dolphin count: 1