The adventures of Yacht Flirtie

26 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
19 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
10 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
23 December 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
17 December 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
18 November 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
08 September 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
20 December 2019 | Gloucestershire
10 August 2019 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
09 August 2019 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
03 July 2019 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
02 July 2019 | St Paul’s Bay (position: 35 57.629’N 14 23.841’E)
26 June 2019 | Marsaxlokk (position: 35 50.121’N 14 32.961’E)
24 June 2019 | Dwejra Bay (position: 36 02.815’N 14 11.496’E)
20 June 2019 | St Julian’s, Budella Bay (position: 35 55.064’N 14 29.695’E)
15 June 2019 | Marsaxlokk Bay (position: 35 50.114’N 14 32.974’E)
13 June 2019 | Rinella Creek (position: 35 53.678’N 14 31.530’E)
09 June 2019 | St Julian’s, Balluta Bay position: (35 53.678’N 14 31.530’E)
05 June 2019 | San Niklaw Bay (position: 36 01.101’N 14 19.790’E)
03 June 2019 | Il-Hofra-z-Zghira (anchorage), position (35 50.210'N, 14 33.726'E)

Windy - Wind Vane Steering

26 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
We have aspirations to travel further afield in due course and to do that there are a number of enhancements that we would like to make to Flirtie that will make life aboard more comfortable, quieter and arguably safer than she already is.

One of those enhancements is to install "Wind Vane Steering". For those of you not familiar with the term it is a mechanical form of steering the boat using just the wind. We're actually well versed with some of the design principles that are used and we have installed wind vane steering systems on two of our previous boats the most recent a Plastimo "Navik", sadly now out of production on our Heavenly Twins Catamaran "Camargue" . Prior to this (sometime in the early 80's) we also considered making our own wind vane steering system having sourced and read Bill Belchers book: Wind-Vane Self-Steering: How to Plan and Make Your Own: once considered the bible on Wind Vane Steering.

There are a number of companies out there today that manufacture wind vane steering systems but many of them just don't lend themselves to being fitted to Flirtie or indeed to many of the modern yachts currently on the market with their full width transom doors.

Examples include:

Wind Pilot:
South Atlantic:
Cape Horn:

Whilst there is an ever growing trend towards using electric autohelms over wind vane steering systems there is the challenge of reliability and power usage. With regard to reliability, today's autohelms are typically far more reliable than they ever used to be and like many other modern electronics - mobile phones and gps etc.... many cruisers just carry a complete replacement that they can call on as necessary. If that was the only consideration then we would have followed suit but power usage is also something that needs to be considered.

For yachts typically of 50 feet + carrying a large bank of batteries to cope with the power draw it isn't really a problem since they have both the space and can carry the additional weight that goes with it. They typically also have a generator and/or a vast amount of surface area to mount solar panels to ensure the batteries are kept charged during the day.

Flirtie on the other hand is just 40 feet and space is at a premium and we would prefer not to carry the additional weight of further batteries if possible. We do have an autohelm and wouldn't be without it but running it for 24hrs a day consumes in excess of 40amps when sailing in relatively calm conditions when it's not working very hard.

Some of you will be aware that advances in battery technology has and continues to move at a rapid rate and today lithium batteries are becoming more readily available and popular in the cruising world.

The technology in these batteries typically means most cruisers can halve the size of their battery banks for the same useable capacity as traditional lead acid batteries . This was certainly something we considered but sadly their price is still significantly more than we are prepared to pay, so hence our continued interest in wind vane steering.

Prior to purchasing Flirtie we shortlisted a few wind vane steering solutions that we thought would work for us. These were the:

Wind Pilot Pacific:

Cape Horn Jade:

Scanmar Auto-helm:

and that was as far as the research went at the time. In all three cases the steering gear can be removed (with the aid of tools) and stored on deck/below allowing unrestricted access through the transom door to the pontoon/wall when Med moored and when at anchor we can use the bathing platform as intended.

Some of you that are more knowledgable on the subject may say we could also consider the hydrovane mounted off centre but unfortunately because our transom is relatively narrow and we carry a solar arch that would interfere with the vane that rules out this particular option.

With plenty of time on our hands thanks to the pandemic we were reading numerous sailing journals/articles when we came across a new company marketing the "Windy - Windy Self Steering":
What we read we liked!!

In summary it satisfied pretty much all of our requirements:

1) Simple but strongly constructed using marine grade stainless steel and bronze components.
2) German engineered bearings, bushes and bevel gears.
3) Tried and tested with at least one circumnavigation and a number of Atlantic crossings.
4) Designed to be easily removed by undoing a single thumb screw
5) Powerful & very sensitive - (Servo Pendulum). You can read about the design differences here and why wind vane steering makes sense:
6) Custom made to fit various transom styles.
7) Custom made to ensure the wind vane and remote control fall at the appropriate height.
8).... and Cost effective.

After much consideration and after analysing pretty much every detail that was written and presented on the Windy website:
it was time to make contact with the company director "Imre Aljas"!

To be continued.

Mount Etna has been busy!

19 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
Europe's tallest and most active volcano Mount Etna located on the isle of Sicily has erupted for the first time this year releasing bursts of lava, hot ash and gas into the sky. Fortunately there were no risks for the local population as the lava flowed into an uninhabited valley but some ash blew over a couple of the nearby towns.

Sicily has so many attractions and Etna is one of them. She's on our list to visit but for now with movement restrictions we will just have to be patient, wait and continue to dream of travel.

about Mount Etna
Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily. The name is derived from the Greek Aitne, loosely translated as, "I burn." With its top-most elevation touching 10,900 feet (3,320 metres), Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe. As is true of most volcano sites' topography, Mount Etna's height increases from deposition during eruptions and decreases from the periodic collapse of the crater's rim. It seems to have lost about 170 feet (52 metres) in summit height between 185 and the early 21st century.

Unable to know the scientific reasons and processes of the complex plate tectonics and Earth's crust and mantle etc, the ancient Greeks wove legends around the eruptions of this ancient volcano. The Greeks in ancient times believed that it was the workshop of Hephaestus and the Cyclops or that underneath it the giant Typhon lay, making the Earth tremble when he turned.

Among all the world's volcanoes, Mount Etna has the longest recorded history of eruptions, dating back to 1500 B.C. Since then, the volcano has erupted about 200 times and has been very active in recent decades. (extract taken from

Christmas and New Year afloat

10 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
will it fit?

Can you believe we've never spent a Christmas on our own! Instead we've always chosen to spend the festive period with our families. This year was certainly going to be different with covid infections increasing pretty much everywhere in Europe and the UK so rather than coming together as a family unit we decided that it was sensible and safer for us all to stay apart this Christmas - those hugs and kisses will just have to wait until such a time when this dreadful virus is under some kind of control. Admittedly our hearts weren't in the best place for a while but after we finally accepted the situation our thoughts turned towards what we were going to do for Christmas and the New Year. It was going to be a quiet one regardless given that the Italian government were placing us back into lockdown with the objective of stopping social contact during the festive season.

The whole nation became a 'red zone' from 24-27 December meaning bars, restaurants and non-essential shops stayed closed. People were only allowed out of their home if they had a good reason and it was supported by a written declaration. From the 27 December the nation returned to 'orange' for three days (with shops open and people free to move around their home town, but bars and restaurants remained closed) before reverting back to 'red' on New Year's Eve. This remained in place until Mon 4 January when it reverted back to 'orange' again before returning to 'red' for 6 January, a national holiday in Italy.

Like many other cruisers on the marina, we created our own little 'bubble', in our case with our long term cruising friends Clare and Vic so we welcomed the opportunity to meet for mid morning coffees, the occasional glass of prosecco and lunchtime meals.

a noon lunch with Clare and Vic

Around the grounds of the marina, dozens of planters were filled with huge red poinsettias and a Christmas tree was erected outside the marina office, decorated with red bows, baubles and lights. Along the perimeter of the marina itself circular turfs of grass appeared containing a small conifer tree and red poinsettia. The plaza which always has some kind of festive decoration came alive with a lovely modern light tree that added to the festive cheer.

Several yachts in the marina strung lights up their masts so they looked like sabres, lit up with a varying multicolour display of LED lights, some flashing randomly, others remaining static. As for Flirtie, we laid over 40m of warm white flashing LEDs all along the guard wires and over the gantry making our cockpit look more like Santa's grotto. We decorated the saloon with various colourful baubles and a mix of wooden ornaments. Some decorations were picked up on our travels from La Rochelle (France), Lagos (Portugal) and Cagliari (Sardinia) and stored... little did we know we'd be calling on them now!

We managed to source an oversized Christmas table cloth from one of the supermarkets and cut it to fit the saloon table with the excess material cut to make matching napkins. The only thing missing were crackers, not for the toys or tug of war but for the hat inside - Christmas wouldn't be the same if we couldn't experience the cheap, tight fitting and unruly paper hats that slip off the head no matter what. Bruce's technical skills came to the rescue as he created paper 'napkin hats' utilizing a couple of Christmas napkins folded and sellotaped - they worked really well.

Santa arrived early with two parcels for us! Collected from the office on the 24 December just moments before they closed for the holidays. Thoughtful gifts and delights from the UK that filled our hearts with love and appreciation that we are so lucky to have such wonderful caring and thoughtful families as well as some special cruising friends here in the marina.

opening gifts

As for our Christmas meal, surprisingly we settled on a traditional Turkey with the usual roasted potatoes and vegetables but the turkey size required some thought. Putting aside all the recommended Turkey sizes based on portions we had the added challenge of a small oven. We decided to measure the internal oven dimensions and were able to work out the weight based on the average turkey dimensions so a 3-3.5kg bird was ordered.

Phew, a perfect fit!

Christmas day was more structured than usual because we'd arranged skype sessions with both sides of the family so that they didn't interfere with any of us eating and took into account the time differences. All in all everything went beautifully and we couldn't have wished for a better day given the circumstances. What's more we now know that with a bit of forward planning it's totally possible to cook a small Turkey with all the trimmings in a small boat oven!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Much like Christmas, New Years Eve was a quiet one spent drinking possibly one too many glasses of prosecco whilst we welcomed in the New Year and pondered on what challenges lie ahead. For us this marks a very sad day, the day the UK left the EU! Undoubtedly things will get harder for many like us who no longer have the right to move freely throughout Europe. Whilst we are now Italian Residents, we still remain UK citizens but we will always be "Forever European!"
Vessel Name: Yacht Flirtie
Vessel Make/Model: Trident Voyager 40
Hailing Port: Dartmouth, UK
Crew: Bruce and Caroline Trott
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Yacht Flirtie's Photos - Lezardrieux 2012
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Yacht Flirtie

Who: Bruce and Caroline Trott
Port: Dartmouth, UK

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