[By the way, I put all the pictures at the end.]
In December, we had a good time walking all over Musa - inside and outside - during the short time that we had. For me, it was mostly, "Wow! Look at all this space!" For Eric, I suspect that it was, "Wow, look at all this roof space for solar!"
Later, we walked over to the Sailitalia offices (Sailitalia being the current owner of Musa), to have a chat with their representative, about all the details that needed to happen between now (December 11) and the closing date (February 28), our action items and theirs, so that everyone was clear about what they had to do. She told us that Musa couldn't stay in Marina di Procida once we took possession of the boat, so we added "find another marina" to our list of things to do during the next few days. One of Sailitalia's action items was to begin the deletion of Musa's registration from the Italian registry, which she said would take about 40 days; when that was done, we could then begin the process of re-registering the boat under our names, with the US Coast Guard.
When we left Procida the next day, to spend a few days in Naples, we were excited to be moving forward with our desire to have a catamaran in the Med, and eager to start sourcing the items that would begin to transform Musa from a charter boat into a cruising boat. In less than three months' time, the boat would be ours!
We'd been given the name of a marina about an hour south of Naples, in the city of Salerno. Though our original plan had been to rent a car and drive there, one trip across Naples in a taxi cured us of that idea! The streets were so narrow, filled with all manner of vehicles, going in seemingly every direction, according to rules that we couldn't fathom, that we opted to take the train instead. This was a fine plan. We got off the train at the Arechi station and walked the short distance to Marina d'Arechi, where we met a very nice and very helpful woman named Rania. She gave us a good deal on a slip for the boat for March and April (winter rates still being in effect!).
In Naples, we stayed at the Hotel Piazza Bellini, which I would highly recommend. It wasn't expensive, but it was nice and, being in a 5th Century palace (yes, it's been modernized), definitely ticked the "cool" factor. After seeing some of Naples' well-known sights - the catacombs and the archaeology museum - and getting our marina sorted, we boarded a plane to Seattle, where we'd spend most of the next two months with our kids and other family members.
The next two months were a blur of wonderful times with our family and friends, not-so-wonderful medical checkups, long hours spent online finding and pricing and figuring out the shipping for the items we wanted to install on the boat, and ongoing discussions with Sailitalia and our yacht broker. As February began, Eric and I began to suspect that Sailitalia might not be moving things along quite as quickly as they needed to be, but they assured us that everything would be ready when we arrived, and our contract specified that we took possession of the boat on February 28, so we carried on with our plans.
On February 27th, we packed up our luggage, which had risen to four pieces from the original two that we'd arrived with, swelled out with boat parts that wouldn't ship to Italy or that we couldn't buy there, weighed it all to be sure they weren't over the limit, said goodbye to our kids and their partners - who'd been so generous with their time, their homes, and their love - and left for Italy.
The next day, we arrived in Naples, took the bus to the correct ferry dock, and caught the ferry to Procida. We felt like seasoned travelers now: my Italian was two months better than it had been in December, and we knew our way around a bit - at least in Naples and Procida. One of the Sailitalia employees picked us up at the ferry dock and helped us get our stuff to Musa. At the end of a very long day, we said "Ciao" to the helper, shut the door against the cold wind, turned on the heater, and gave each other a big hug. We'd done it: we'd made our desire of having a catamaran in the Med a reality!
We really enjoyed getting to know the boat, and the pastel-painted town of Procida. Musa's heaters worked great, keeping us warm during the chilly Italian springtime. The quaint little church near the marina bonged on the hour and binged the quarter hours. Lots of pigeons hung out in the central square. I celebrated my 60th birthday at a charming little restaurant in Corricella, downstairs from the AirBnB where we'd stayed in December. It was a good time, figuring out where we wanted to put things, figuring out how Musa's equipment worked, figuring out what we wanted to put on Musa, to make it a real cruising boat.
What was less of a good time, was the way Sailitalia jerked us around, and delayed the handover process for several more months. The slip we'd paid for in Salerno sat empty for all of March, and we couldn't start working on the boat, because we couldn't take the boat from Procida until all the paperwork was finished and it became ours. It was all very frustrating.
I had to go back to the States for a month for some medical treatment, leaving Eric on his own. While I was away, he was a very busy guy: finding lots of items online that he could order as soon as he knew when he'd be in Salerno. Though I was the one using Duolingo, he learned a whole bunch of Italian words that I didn't know, words like disponibile (available), spedizione (shipping), prezzo (price), and sconto (discount).
Eventually, at the end of March, despite the paperwork still not being finished, Sailitalia allowed Eric to take the boat to Salerno. He didn't have his crew (me) and hired a captain who knew the boat well and could show him things along the way. They left Procida on a day with nice weather, and motored the forty miles to Marina d'Arechi. In the marina office, Eric was greeted warmly by Rania, who also helped him get all the parcels he'd ordered (that had been piling up in her office) down to the boat. Things were finally moving ahead again!
From that point on, Eric was in full-on ordering and installation mode, which I joined in, when I came back in the middle of April. In my luggage, I carried several items for the boat, including two cans of Barkeeper's Friend (to clean the boat's stainless steel fittings - there's nothing better!), a new EPIRB, struts for our barbecue grill, and an orange Home Depot bucket (these things are really handy). No one ever comes to a cruising boat without boat parts.
Since our household belongings - including all of Eric's tools - were now not due to arrive until mid-May, he'd had to buy some substitutes so that we could do the work we'd planned. These included a heat gun, a router, an oscillating multitool, a cheap electric drill, a riveter, and wire crimpers. Musa's toolbox contained a few screwdrivers and other hand tools. These allowed us to get the jobs done while we waited for our belongings to arrive.
Below is a list of the items we added to the boat during the time we were at Marina d'Arechi (April and May):
*New hoses for all the toilets to replace the stinky, permeated ones, and taking the starboard forward toilet out of service. I was lucky enough to still be in the States for this job. :)
*Beginning to convert the starboard forward cabin into a workroom, with tool storage.
*A new 40 kg (88 lb) Rocna Vulcan anchor to help us sleep well when we're anchored.
*A new outlet, wiring, exit plumbing, support shelf, and tie-downs for our new washer. And installing the new washer. I wasn't there for this, but Eric managed to get the washer (a nearly full-size model) from the dock, across our rickety passarelle, up the transom steps to the back porch, into the main saloon, down the stairs into the port hull, and onto the port forward bunk - all by himself.
*A new Weber grill mounted on the back of the boat.
*A dinghy, which got lost during shipping but showed up in late May, just as we were on our way into town to see about buying a cheap substitute, because we needed a dinghy.
*A bidet (a preference that bloomed during our time at Jeannie and Merv's house) that fits our marine toilet and doesn't use much power
*Several additional electrical outlets
*Five solar panels (two large flexible ones and three large solid ones), for a total of 2270 Watts. A huge job, encompassing many days and lots of work, but so satisfying when they made electricity right away!
*A Simrad radar system
*An AIS transceiver, an HF radio, and an EPIRB
*We removed Musa's old name and numbers, and applied decals with the new name and hailing port (more about this in another blog post)
And to make our boat feel even more like our home, we
*Put down rugs in the port hull (the one we sleep in)
*Hung the pictures we'd had on SCOOTS
*Put our favorite keepsakes out where we could see them
The closest grocery and hardware stores, and a really useful shop that had just about everything, were about 2 miles away, a walk we made almost daily. It was good exercise for us, and we (mostly) enjoyed it; though our work on the boat also got us a bit of exercise: according to his FitBit, on one of the days that we'd been installing solar panels, Eric managed to walk 2 miles and climb 18 flights of stairs, without leaving the boat. As the one of us who spoke the most Italian (haha three months of Duolingo!), I was tasked with most of the interactions with the shopkeepers, and in particular with asking the guys at the hardware store (ferramenta) for the very particular sizes and shapes of the stainless steel (inox) bolts (bulloni), nuts (dadi), washers (rondelle) and other particulars that I needed. Using my meager Italian skills and Google Translate, we always got there in the end, usually with some smiles and good humor. We bought a lightweight rolling cart (Rolly), who made our return walks not just easier but, sometimes, possible.
But lest you think it was all work and no play, we gave ourselves a couple of days off, to visit some of the local sights. In particular, we didn't want to leave without visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum (Pompei and Ercolano, if you're in Italy), which were right nearby. So on one Sunday, we took the train to both of them, for a tour. I'll tell you about that in the next blog post.
A "picnic" to hold down the support for one of the flexible solar panels while the glue dried.
Van and Eric at Corricella
Eric and a friend who also appreciates the smell of cooking meat
Eric and the radar support structure of Damocles
The radar installed
Eric in his new workshop
It rains mud in Italy!
A traditional Italian breakfast
Van's birthday lunch in Corricella. Our AirBnB room is the top room over the restaurant, behind me.
Our new 88-pound anchor and sleep aid.
The rug in the port hull
The room divider doing its job
The three new solid solar panels and the two small old ones
Trixie the lavatrice
Robert the crocheted kiwi looking wistful