Okay so i put some pictures up on the journal site but didn’t get to do any writing, so will try and catch up.
We have been moving pretty quickly, doing our normal haunts up or rather down the coast of Italy. We have changed out guests but the boss is constant so we get to see all the things we saw last year but with new eyes. We dropped by the guys in Antibes, unfortunately one of the brothers is in hospital but was going to discharge himself so i could finalise our account but i managed to stop the call going through... we moved around to Positano a couple of times, but this anchorage is very rough with all the ferries coming and going. We were diddled pretty badly on the fuel dock in Amalfi so we won’t return there but had enough fuel on board to make it to Stromboli so left the next morning.
The boss had the wheel from the get go so i was hanging around like a bad smell so went and sat on the sunbed at the back to do some boat yoga and Kath caught me mid sit up. The crossing was flat but as we reached the islands the swell had picked up and we were rolling around quite a bit – one of the crew is not really that balanced –still- so it is always hysterical to watch her grow gecko fingers on the glass to go along the side of the boat.
There were too many jellyfish hanging about so we flopped around for a while before heading for the relative quiet seas at the southern side of the island to anchor and await sunset. As soon as it was black as pitch and inside cow visibility the boss was ready to move, so we picked up the anchor to go and see Stromboli do her stuff in the dark. The swell had increased if anything, so my radar was showing so many red and green blips it looked like a particularly bad case of Measels! Inside behind the windscreen i could have worn my sunglasses and seen more, so the boss sat up on the bow with his flashlight and as a nod to the bad weather he put his t shirt on. I stationed the girls either side of the boat and told them to look for any lights or movement and to let me know distance and direction. This got quickly out of control as we were leaving Stromboli behind us, as we had to pass by Panarea on our Port side and head toward Salina in front and to Starboard and then follow the coast of Lipari to our destination port for the night. I had distances called about Panarea in meters when it was actually 12M away, the light on the port was a shooting star, on the stbd there was a cruise ship on the horizon and some lights getting closer, Salina. The boss kept flashing his torch at me everytime Stromboli would send sparks and lava into the air so i would have to stop forward motion just incase it was something in the water. He told me that he had the front and that everyone should look at the volcano.
So we toddled back in the black night at 22kts and made the port by 1130pm, the first night dock for the girls and a good job was done by all. We took our guest to the mud baths on Vulcano – the boss doesn’t like the stench of rotten egg gas let alone having hot rotten egg gas mud smeared all over him. But it is always fun to see the enjoyment of the Italians who flock to this place and slather themselves with smelly mud and then stand in the sun to bake it on making them all look like abominable grey snowmen.
After cleaning ourselves up, which took two showers and a couple of soakings in the sea – we headed out around Vulcano to the black beaches along the southern coasts. Here the water was shallow enough for us to anchor and clear enough to see that the anchor had taken purchase. The only bane was the jelly fish had also found this sheltered spot out of the wind.
The boss likes his swim as you know and his guest also likes to utilise the healing properties of the Mediterranean, so we hauled out the jellyfish net and tied it off the back of the transom and they sat inside it as it moved and swayed and got dragged around with the wind and current as the boat moved. As we swayed one way the net closed into a narrow gap like a lap pool, then opened up as we returned to the other side. The guests looked like they had been banished and all the boats going by came in for a better look at the crazy English people swimming in a net.
After we left the Aeolian Islands, we tried for a top speed as we went through the Straits of Messina, but the tidal current was against us so we just enjoyed the scenery instead. No Swordfish boats out and about but we did see one of the clipper ships in full sail on all 4 masts heading down the Reggio Calabria coast in an awesome display.
We made the run down to Porto dell Etna in Riposto, the port at the bottom of the largest active volcano in Europe and because we got in early, the boss took us all up the mountain again to shiver and shake in the cold air. The guest is really getting into the photo opportunities now and all the poses are getting a little out of hand but everybody had a great time.
Our Taxi driver – Lino the octopus, i have now christened him – was asked to wait the 40 minutes to take us to Taormina for the evening. Well, when we arrived into Riposto we had our usual power issues and this time it stemmed from the dock, but of course it took a lot of fluffing before it twigged that it wasn’t us, so i had left the generator running while we hiked Etna.
When i got back, i was still trying to get power and the boat next to us said that they had problems earlier in the week and that it had been fixed. The boss is fidgeting by now and said that this sort of thing i should be able to sort out with the marina, so i mentioned that he and his guest could leave as i can only fix things if i am actually on the boat.... i thought i had done my dash then but he nodded and called his guest to leave and also calling the ‘girlies’ to go as well.
The crew looked at me with mournful puppy dog eyes as they were dragging their feet up the dock in the wake of the boss trying to make me feel guilty – i was looking forward to settling the power issue and then have a sandwich and feet up and relax in my own space and time.
The marina fellow cane and sorted out the problem with the electrical box about 10 minutes after they left, so i was in for a good night, but the text i received from the crew read – like lambs into the lava... i sent back that the power was fixed and have a good evening and bon appetito..
Well, i got a text in reply – boss says they are sending the taxi back, get ready NO JOKE. At times, the flogging should continue until crew become more loyal to the cause!!! I set off in the taxi with Lino, who as much as he tried couldn’t mask the fact that he spoke no English but boy did he try to convince you that he could. He also drove like Fangio’s wounded brother and kept patting my knee! Thankfully, the boss didn’t trust the crew enough and kept calling to find out where i was so i could serrupticiously move further along the seat to the window. At one point we passed a line of fire that stretched from the Auto route to the sea in one long band of Brilliant orange and yellow which in the black night looked incredible.
We had a beautiful meal at the Metropole hotel up in Taormina (they made dinner reservations late enough to accommodate my late arrival) which looked out over the bay and toward Mt Etna. All the lights sprinkled around the coast reminded me of looking along the coastal beaches at home.
Up and at em next morning and we moved further South to Syracuse at the very South eastern point of Sicily. An old town that has been under the control or influence of the Ancient Greeks, Romans and anyone else willing to come through. When the Romans came they trashed the place and then in the 1600’s an earthquake caused more trouble and some of the place was rebuilt in the architecture of the time –Sicilian baroque. The Duomo was originally a Greek Temple turned into a Cathedral and the ruins are dotted around the city dating back to the ancient Greeks including the temple of Apollo. The streets are very narrow with small balconies that have astounding stonework on the undersides, but the wrought iron rails and the sides of the buildings are crumbling or covered in graffiti or just worn out. Alleyways run out from doorways back into the buildings, showing glimpses of what would have been gorgeous galleries and stairs with short landings and balustrades. Large patches of sunlight filling the inner sanctums in major contrast to the large stones in the narrow dark streets that have been polished slick over time and wear. The boss and i walked the streets the next day and most of the shops were as i found them in Riposto, they look closed but the doors are open – they seem to save money by only using 10 watt globes in the interiors and then they are only in every second socket, so the interior is dark and it takes time for your eyes to adjust and when they do you can’t find anything because nothing is in any order and most of the items are behind the counter, so you always have to ask in case they have what you want. This of course is difficult if you don’t speak the language! I have been trying to get a USB flash drive or memory stick or whatever you want to call them. I finally narrowed one down to a shop where the fellow had to move a fridge box and climb behind a table with a microwave (in the box) and sort through a box of cables until he found one. This was all transacted through one fellow (they travel in packs the men down here) who spoke two or three words of English, in the darkened interior which was filled with cigarette smoke from the guy rustling through the boxes looking quizzically at me every time he picked something up to show me.
I have a lot of fun buying fish for the boss here as the packs of men who frequent the fish shops all seem to know what is there, how you cook it, which is best eaten when and of course none of them are the ones you do the transaction with. It reminds me a little of American football where one set will talk you into the shop, one set will pat the fish and show its best side, undersides and gills, one set will set it upon the scales and settle a price, then it is taken to another fellow who will descale and remove gizzards and then your package goes to the cashier who takes your money and wishes you a good day. Most of the time this all happens in anything but English and involves a lot of laughing and charades and hand waving, so by the time i leave the shop with bulging bags, the boss looks at me and says ‘what’? It is very difficult to explain the whole conversation that has taken place because really – i have no idea what they are saying most of the time.!
We are on our way back north now – the weather was fairly ordinary coming back up the Straits and we stopped into Tropea for the night and left in torrential rain and thunderstorms and lightning all of yesterday but the boss said he wasn’t worried so we kept moving. He did ask me what happens if we get hit by lightning – he was quiet for a while after i said that we could fry the electrics and have no radar or plotter but we made it to Maratea and spent the night walking around town in the rain.