Yacht Pipit


Still in Sicily - 11th May 2013

The final barbeque of the winter.

Since the last update, we had two weeks of glorious, warm, calm weather which enabled and motivated us to get on with quite a few jobs in preparation for our departure. We were so tempted to put our sails back on but, further very strong easterly winds were forecast which were likely to deposit sand all over the boat so, we resisted the urge. We were glad we did as we subsequently had our own mini beach in the cockpit. All we could do was to keep washing Pipit as each easterly blow dumped yet more sand all over her. We did this whilst nursing the worst colds either of us have had since we left the UK. As we don't intend lifting-out until we reach the Ionian, we also paid a diver to clean the worst of the growth off the waterline, prop and transducers, and also to check the anodes - €50 well spent.

The end of April and our winter contract loomed and a few intrepid boats did leave, but the vast majority did not. There was a final barbeque before the intended mass exodus. Of course the weather intervened and that didn't happen, so there was another Friday night happy hour gathering that was likely to be the last. It wasn't...

There was also a pontoon 'pot luck' event to celebrate the publication of the Marina di Ragusa Cruisers' Cookbook. The tables groaned under the weight of many delicious dishes people brought along, the recipes of which they had contributed to the book. Ann had spent many, many hours collating, formatting and perfecting the layout of the recipes. She also organised the printing of what we think is a rather wonderful end result, a splendid recipe book in its own right and a fitting reminder of our time spent in Marina di Ragusa. Particular thanks go to Nancy on Fairwyn for volunteering to organise payment to the printer, collection of monies and distribution of the printed books, to the other ladies who helped make the book a reality and of course to all the people who contributed recipes. Ann, together with some of the other ladies, were deservedly presented with gifts:

My guess is it's a bottle of something ... Turned out to be prosecco.

We have also created an e-book version of the recipe book and you can see it here.

The weather this week was looking good so a large number of boats finally left on Monday & Tuesday, some intending to head straight to the Ionian as the winds were forecast to be favourable for quite a few days. We were content to spend the next few days preparing to leave. We spent seven (count 'em!) hours on Monday washing the boat - again. We got the sails on, attended to a lot of small last minute jobs and are now ready to go but - very frustratingly the weather for the next week is far from ideal, with strong winds between here and the Ionian and we have now missed an ideal weather window earlier this week. Our initial plan was to coast hop up the east coast of Sicily and along the foot of Italy, but there are not many marinas or safe havens which means a series of very long day sails of around 70 miles each. Also the Golfo di Squillace (Gulf of Squalls) has a certain reputation amongst far more experienced sailors than us, so we are now thinking of crossing straight to the Ionian from Siracusa on the east coast of Sicily, a likely passage of some 55 hours. We need a good weather window, of which there is no sight at the moment. All very frustrating, and we are annoyed at ourselves for not being ready to go earlier this week - you would think 6 months was long enough wouldn't you? Our excuse is that the incessant wind for most of this winter sapped our enthusiasm (and to some extent opportunity) to get ready sooner, although of course many people did. On the other hand the forecast for next week does support the idea that the weather in this part of the Med still hasn't settled down yet, as many people had suggested would be the case. There are still plenty of people here waiting for more settled weather. We've just read another cruiser's blog about their trip to Siracusa and it has made us feel less bad about not escaping last week - not an entirely pleasant passage, and they have a heavier boat than Pipit. We've also just heard that the secure and sheltered anchorage at Siracusa has about 20 yachts in it, mostly from here, but even if we were already there given the forecast we still wouldn't be moving on for the foreseeable future. Frankly it's as bad now as it's been at any time during the winter, and it's now the middle of May!

Perhaps it's not so bad that we're still in MdR...

It's ironic really that last year, some 1000 nautical miles west from here in the Atlantic, we were on our way by the 10th of April and even two years ago in Brittany we were off by now.

The good news is that, although we are desperate to get going, the marina allowed us a further week's stay FOC and are now offering a 70% discount on the monthly rate. Whilst this means it's now costing us to stay here, we are not under pressure to escape the already high season daily rate and can wait until the weather is suitable. We also need to remember that, once we do get to the Ionian, we should have 4 or 5 months to explore the same area in which we've only ever previously spent a fortnight at a time, and we will already be at our winter destination.

We finally have a Kindle, a Paperwhite - we're glad we eventually chose that model as the front lighting means it is usable in anything from bright sunlight to complete darkness. The cover we bought came with a stylus thingy, which means Andy may be able to colour in some of his books... So we'll be able to while away some time reading whilst consoling ourselves with cannoli...

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