Yacht Pipit


Relieved in Ragusa, 23rd October 2012

Porto Turistico, Marina di Ragusa that is, but more on that later...

On two previous occasions I have arrived in Italy by driving an Alfa Romeo from the UK, down through France, up over the Alps and down the other side onto the Lombardy plains. This time we have arrived by sailing a yacht from Plymouth to Sicily! Anyway, for some atmospheric music (sans Lamborghini Miura noises), as used in the opening sequence of a popular 1969 film, press the play button below. A clue - "You're only supposed to blow the bl**dy doors off!":  

The weather in Sciacca remained changeable last weekend and last Monday evening we had the most spectacular thunderstorm I've seen for years - not actually that much thunder, but for about an hour the sky was almost continuously lit up with sheet lightning, with frequent fork lightning as an accompaniment. Suddenly, the modest wind changed direction by 180 degrees and increased in strength tremendously - I don't know to what speed as, by this time, there was also torrential rain, so I didn't venture out into the cockpit! One of the gusts was enough to lift the danbuoy clear of its bracket and snap our Brenda stick (i.e. ensign staff) clean off! Luckily it was tied on so we didn't loose The Queen over the side - I recovered her once the rain eased. Lazy Pelican recorded 46 knots in Syracuse where they had a rather more 'exciting' time than us that you can read about here. We lost power on the pontoon but by the morning power, calm and sunshine had been restored. Later we walked up the steep hill & steps to the old town of Sciacca:

In the evening I went to the club office to pay and came away pleased - on arrival we were charged €50 instead of €60 for 2 nights, now we were charged for just two more nights instead of three - I queried this to make sure it was not a mistake and was then presented with a bottle of chilled Sicilian white wine! On Wednesday morning we headed for San Leone and had to motor most of the way. On our arrival there we were handed lines with metal springs on them, rather than using our own lines - a portent of the continuous snatching and surging due to the swell that made its way into the marina, which is open to the south east. At first light on Thursday we headed for Licata. Initially, despite the forecast, we had 10 knots on the beam with a flattish sea, enabling us to sail nicely. This didn't last - soon we had 20 knots and an unpleasant sea on the nose, which we endured for the rest of the passage. We then had a visit from the Carabinieri who politely informed us that we were in a military zone and must go 5 miles further offshore - no mention of this on the paper chart, plotter or in the pilot book, but despite their good English, we though it best to oblige rather than query it...

About half way to Licata we noticed a very definite change in the colour of the sea, much more so than that associated with a change of depth. As we approached the line it was clear that it was sediment flowing out of a river into the sea, so we decided to skirt around it.

We finally arrived in Marina di Cala del Sole, Licata. This was our other choice for wintering, and it's ok - very sheltered, good pontoons, good showers (near the pontoons!) and a good on-site supermarket. There's also an on-site chandlery (where we broke a record for the most expensive Camping Gaz so far - over €30!), DIY laundrette (not working during our stay) and a couple of bars & restaurants. There are a number of liveaboards there too. On the downside, there does appear to be a lot of growth on resident boats, which we had read about, possibly due to rich nutrients from the river next door.

We stayed in Licata for 4 nights, as easterly wind and swell was persisting, and yesterday we left at 0700 for what turned out to be a 6 hour motor in a flat calm to Ragusa.

Negotiating the rig exclusion zones between Licata & Marina di Ragusa.

Having filled with diesel on the way in (another price record!), we were then shown to our berth. This morning we asked if we could move to the other side of the pontoon, so that our cockpit is facing south. We learnt this in Lagos last year - before we turned round, even on a sunny day (and they nearly all were) the cockpit remained damp until lunchtime, but once the cockpit was facing south it was usually dry by breakfast time. So we have moved!

Although Licata had some attractive reasons for over-wintering, we think Marina Di Ragusa is a nicer place, even though the showers, washing machines and the shops in town are all a lot further away. The town itself is more pleasant, with numerous bars & restaurants, and the esplanade along the beach front forms a pleasing route to town and the supermarkets. There are also many more liveaboards here, including Lazy Pelican and Nimrod.

Incidentally, as is the norm in Italy, the 'Marina di' bit indicates a town on the coast, not necessarily that there is a marina there. You know, a bit like Southend-on-Sea... The town of Ragusa itself is some distance inland.

It turns out that the classic car even we missed in the marina just over a week ago was not just any old event, but the Targa Florio Regularity Event - a real shame we weren't here in time. Someone who was already here for the winter took these photos.

So it is with relief that we have finally made it to Ragusa. It has been a long season - we have been to some wonderful places and have had much more variety this year - the Algarve, Guadiana River, El Rompido, the Bay of Cadiz, Gibraltar, Morocco, the Costas, the Balearics, a bit of Sardinia & finally Sicily. Zooming out on our Voyage Map gives a better impression of how far we've come this year. We have been pretty much continuously on the move for nearly seven months and even when we have stopped, it's often been frustratingly enforced due to weather and or waiting for spare parts, so we're looking forward to being in one place for a while and not having to worry much about wind, waves and where to buy beer... Not that we'll be bored or sitting around doing nothing for months - the current job list runs to nearly 40 items - some more important than others.

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