Anchor Drills, Fixing the Frig and Costa Concordia
14 June 2014 | Isola del Giglio Italy
After leaving the Rome area, we sailed to some of the "Tuscan" islands some of which are part of a marine park.
The first was the tiny island of Giannutri where the pilot book showed only one real anchorage. When we arrived, the tiny cove was full of moorings with some small local dinghies. We managed to find a spot to anchor outside the moorings.
Dave dove on the anchor and came up with a disturbing report. Our anchor was lying near a huge rock and there was a large chain from a prior mooring nearby. It looked like we might have a hard time getting up our anchor in the morning. If the anchor moved at all during the night, it might get stuck under the rock or worse yet, under the old chain. So we got out our anchor buoy with a trip line and Dave dove down to connect it to the anchor.
There was a resort on the hill behind the cove and later in the afternoon a rather large ferry arrived and tied up to a small dilapidated dock. The crew yelled in Italian and gestured that we should be anchored there. This was a surprise to us since there were no signs nor indications in the Italian Pilot Book. Anyway, we motored out of the ferry's way while still keeping our anchor in place, praying the whole time that the anchor wasn't moving under the rock or the chain on the bottom. We thought: how many ferries can come in to a small place like this? Finally the ferry left and we got in our kayak to paddle around and explore the cove.
No sooner had we started the kayak tour, than we looked out and here came another ferry! This was supposed to be a quiet marine reserve! So we scrambled back on the boat but this ferry was smaller so we didn't have to motor out of his way.
The rest of the evening we wondered if any more ferries would disturb the anchorage but thankfully none did. That evening we noticed that the temperature of our refrigerator wasn't as cool as normal. We turned the thermostat thinking that the hotter days were requiring a lower setting. Just in case, we fixed as much as possible of the perishable food for dinner that night.
Early the next morning we carefully pulled up anchor and used Dave's trip line to get it out from beneath the rock. It came up smoothly and Dave was happy that he didn't need to go diving early that morning.
We arrived at the next island of Giglio around mid morning and anchored near the port town. This is the island where the cruise liner Costa Concordia went aground last year and 32 passengers were trapped below and died. It was astonishing to see the salvage work being done. Huge cranes and work boats were refloating the ship which had been smashed in the middle section. We could not believe how close the ship was to the shore and to the port itself. Seems like anyone could have swum into port from the ship. (We have recently learned that the ship has been entirely refloated and is being taken to mainland Italy, probably Naples, which is nearby.)
Overnight we had concluded that something was seriously wrong with our refrigerator since it would not keep cool. So our main mission while at this island was to find a repairman. We picked out an anchorage just north of the harbor and as we approached we discovered the wreck of the infamous Costa Concordia was right there. So we anchored just south of the harbor instead and took a long dinghy ride into town to find a frig repairman. We could not bring the boat in because this was a very crowded harbor and the Coast Guard told us there was no room because a large sailing regatta was arriving that evening. It was just our luck that it was a Saturday. We luckily found a helpful woman at the tourist information office who called a repairman to meet us around 12:30 pm near the fuel dock in the marina. This left us with 90 minutes to explore the lovely little town.
When the repairman arrived, he spoke very little English but we gleaned that he didn't want to come to our boat at anchor and he got permission from the fuel dock manager for us to tie up Purrrfect temporarily at the fuel dock while it was closed for Italian "siesta" from 2 - 4 pm. So we sped off in the dinghy to our anchored boat, stowed the dinghy, pulled up the anchor and motored over to the harbor, slowly and carefully maneuvered Purrrfect up to the tiny fuel dock where the water depth was about one foot below our keels. Meanwhile no one was at the fuel dock to help us since it was closed but we saw a Coast Guard official come running up. Instead of helping us, he said we couldn't tie up to the fuel dock since it was closed for the afternoon. He would not even touch our dock line to help, so Linda had to jump off onto the dock to retrieve the line. We tried to explain about the repairman coming and thankfully just then the repairman came running out on the dock. So the Coast Guard official said we could stay a short time for repairs. Unfortunately the repairman discovered that there was a no refrigerant gas in the system. He had to make several phone calls to find out what type of gas the system used. Then he said that he had to go back to his shop and try to find that gas, or find it someplace else on the island. At least that is what we think he said! He promised to call us back by 5 or 6 pm to tell us if he had the gas. We told him that we had to vacate the fuel dock by 4 pm when it opened again, but this didn't seem to sink in with him.
So we planned to wait there on the fuel dock as long as possible when a HUGE ferry pulled into the ferry dock which was next to the fuel dock and the ferry was about 30 feet away. Not another ferry incident, we thought! Sure enough. The Coast Guard official and the Captain of the Coast a Guard came out and adamantly told us we had to leave NOW. Nothing we said about the pending repairs made any difference!
Back out to anchor we went and this time we found a closer anchorage north of the harbor (north of the Costa Concordia wreckage) which was so good that we figured we would stay there overnight. By 6 pm we despaired of getting a call back from the repairman. We also noticed the large number of sailboats coming into the harbor after their regatta from the mainland, so we knew the harbor would be very full, and the chance of getting back in there was slim. Concurrent with this, the wind changed directions and started to build and blow into our nice little anchorage, making it very uncomfortable so we knew we could not stay there overnight. Finally at 7 pm, our Italian cell phone rang and it was Remo the repairman who somehow communicated that he had the gas and would meet us in the harbor in 30 minutes. So we upped anchor AGAIN and tried to motor for the harbor, now fighting heavy winds and seas. We planned to call the Coast Guard on the radio and plead for a short stay to meet Remo. No dice! Even before we got near the harbor entrance, a Coast Guard patrol boat intercepted us and told us no way could we enter for no reason! With the wreck of the Costa Concordia just a few hundred feet away, we figured this Coast Guard station was extra careful!
We telephoned back to Remo and told him we could not enter the harbor and we had to sail 6 miles around to the other side of the island for a better anchorage. It was after 8:30 pm when we reached the other anchorage which still was very windy (over 25 knots) but at least protected from the waves. Our late dinner was spaghetti with canned sauce.
Since the next day was Sunday and Remo didn't work, nor could he come out to our boat at anchor, we decided to sail the 8 hours up to a much larger island of Elba and try to get repairs done there on Monday. What haunted us was the question of WHY was the refrigerant gas gone? Was there a leak somewhere?