The adventures of Yacht Flirtie

06 June 2021 | Siracusa anchorage (position: 37 03.604''N 15 16.734'E)
04 June 2021 | Portopalo (position: 36 40.140'N 15 06.726'E)
02 June 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
28 May 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
25 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
15 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
05 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
20 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
07 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
03 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
31 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
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)

Portopalo to Siracusa

06 June 2021 | Siracusa anchorage (position: 37 03.604''N 15 16.734'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
With the U.K.s departure from Europe we've entered into new territory with regards to owning a British flagged vessel now in European waters. There's not much information currently available as to whether we should be checking in or out of main ports when travelling between European countries or indeed even whether we should be flying the yellow 'Q' flag (aptly known as the quarantine flag but not at all related to the covid pandemic). Historically it was used to signal quarantine but in modern use indicates the opposite, signalling "My vessel is healthy and I request free pratique" hence we do feel a bit like Christopher Columbus - pioneers not knowing what lies ahead of us from a movement point of view. We are recording our temperatures daily and documenting in the ships log - just in case the authorities ask for it. For the time being we've decided to play safe and stay in Italian waters until things become clearer as the season progresses.

The plan today was therefore a short hop to the next anchorage barely 5 miles utilising light airs. Imagine our surprise when in less than an hour of leaving the wind increased, waves formed with white crests and our wind instrument showing an unexpected 25 knots from our stern. We couldn't waste this wind so our plan changed to continue up along the eastern Sicilian coast towards Siracusa. Flirtie was like a steam train making 6.2 knots at times under Genoa alone. Had we known beforehand that we had perfect winds to take us up towards Siracusa then we would have fitted 'stick' (Windy) our new self steering wind vane. The GPS alarm continued to lose signal intermittently throughout the day and we enjoyed a close encounter with the Guardia Finanza who made their presence known by following alongside for 15 minutes before heading back to shore.

The anchorage at Siracusa is memorable for its glorious gloopy mud/silty bottom - it certainly makes for an excellent anchorage. Our last visit was back in September 2017 where we spent time ashore exploring Dystopia Ear, the Roman theatre and Ortiga - 'Siracusa and Ortigua, September 2017'. We couldn't recall if it was still necessary to radio ahead and online research didn't provide anything useful so we contacted the harbour master anyway who subsequently granted us permission to anchor however we weren't allowed ashore until we had completed a 'declaration of health' form which had to be sent to 8 separate email addresses. It took 24 hours to be granted permission to go ashore. In between our waiting a huge cruise ship arrived, MSC Seaside so we can only imagine that all the passengers aboard the ship probably took priority over us. The waiting time did allow us to research into our GPS lost signal and information suggested that there is/has been possible GPS jamming activity in this area due to the movement of the CSG21 'Carrier Strike Group' travelling down the Messina Straits which seems likely given that our unit is now miraculously working again.

MSC Seaside cruise ship left only to be replaced by another MSC cruise ship. This didn't sit well from our exploration point of view so cultural actives were replaced with a dinghy trip down the Ciane river accessible from the sea and barely visible - only noticeable by a channel of withie sticks (tall twigs or branches) and a shallow sand bar. Once over the bar the river deepens and comes alive with chirping birds, fish, various fauna and flora and papyrus, tufted green reed known locally as parrucca (wig) for the shape of its head, grows in thick clumps and apparently is the largest colony of Cyperus papyrus in Europe. There's even a sailing club to stop at for refreshments. The river forks in places, is calm, peaceful and is also the home to kingfishers, dragonflies, ducks and moorhens. We were careful not to disturb the wildlife motoring on tick over but a canoe would have been ideal. The pleasure and adventure of seeing how far you can safely get without going aground or puncturing the dinghy came to an end once we started to enter stagnant water and had to manoeuvre around some huge boulders.

A dinghy trip up the Ciane made for a real change and can be recommended as an ideal way to spend a few hours so thank you fellow winter liveaboards Steve, Annette and Gus off yacht Cordelia for the recommendation.

For more information...

The Ciane is a short river in southern Sicily, Italy. It flows into the Ionian Sea near Syracuse, after a run of 8 kilometres (5 mi), at a common mouth with the name, deriving from the Greek cyanos ("azure"), is connected to the myth of Anapos and the nymph Cyane. On its banks are present spontaneous grows of papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), probably sent to Hiero II of Syracuse by the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The area is now protected as part of the Natural Preserve of Fiume Ciane and Saline di Siracusa, created in 1984.

Fiume Ciane

Total distance from Portopalo to Siracusa: 29.39 nautical miles
Total distance this season: 60.77 nautical miles

Our season has started... Hurray!

04 June 2021 | Portopalo (position: 36 40.140'N 15 06.726'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
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

Keeping busy during lockdown - part 2

02 June 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
top tap: Shower Miser, bottom tap: Shower Mixer

Shower Miser

From the Oxford dictionary; "Miser" .....a person who hoards wealth and spends as little money as possible.

For some reason this small project had me chuckling and reminded me of a good friend/colleague Martyn that I worked with because it's the sort of thing I can imagine him doing....assuming he hasn't done it already or found an alternative way of recycling cold water ;-)

To explain what I'm talking about I'm referring to the cold water that ends up going down the plug hole before it warms up and you step into your shower. Granted it's not a lot of water (about 4 litres in our case) but when you have to either produce the fresh water from sea water, or buy it and lug it in jerry cans from a tap on shore and then into a dinghy before emptying it into Flirtie's tanks you really appreciate every last drop.

This little project required the installation of one additional tap in the shower closet, a bit of piping and a few brass couplings.

The way it works is simple; the new tap is opened for just a few seconds which results in hot water reaching the new tap but the water before it (cold/luke warm water) which is in the pipe is returned to the system. Thereafter you use your normal shower tap/control as per normal and the only cold water in the system is a small amount that is in the small length of hose between the shower control and the shower faucet.

The diagram below probably best shows the plumbing....

Shower Miser Schematic

Whilst we're already benefiting from the installation, we didn't calculate a time line for our "return on investment".....something Martyn would certainly have done - lol.

If this blog has made you smile and you recognise the character concerned, please leave a 'like' to this post.

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 - Ribadeo 2014
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Yacht Flirtie

Who: Bruce and Caroline Trott
Port: Dartmouth, UK

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