Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Menorca, Sardinia & Sicily. 30 September - 18 October 2014.


The Sail Across To Menorca 1st Oct 14

      After all our visitors, we waited for a weather window and left to sail round the west coast of Majorca again to get into position for taking off to Menorca. With a few stops en route, we stationed ourselves on a buoy in Cala Formentor in the North East finger of Majorca.  We slipped the line at 0500 hrs and set off early, pre-dawn, for the trip to Menorca. We motored for the first hour then as the sun crept up the breeze began to rise. It was a lovely sail with bright skies and by 1100 hrs, the thin line of the coast of Menorca could be seen. As the day went on we closed in on the island but then sailed down the coast and round the South East corner towards Mahon. It was an impressive sail into the well fortified and very safe harbour, with a wide choice of places to anchor or go onto pontoons. We chose a pontoon with water and electricity safely up into the harbour opposite the quayside leading into the old town. This was a wonderful sail of 136nm in 12 hours.

Sailing Up North West Majorca. 30 Sep 14.
Sailing East. Early Morning Sunrise Between Majorca & Menorca.
Kisti Two Powering Through The Swell.
Port Mahon

       Travelling back and forth across the harbour, we spent two days exploring the town and waterside. The old town up on the hill above the quays and waterfront cafes gave us lots to discover with great views across the large harbour. It would have been good to stay longer but the weather seemed to be getting more erratic and we needed to be into a safe port for the winter. We would like to have stayed over winter, but with the max 180 days in a country rule before tax problems kick in, we had to leave Spain. We hope to return and explore the area around Mahon and the rest of the island in the future. Guy was fascinated by a certain pirate called 'Redbeard' who captured and held the town for several years! The British have also had a strong influence on the island, mainly because of this fantastic, safe, deep and easily defended port. 

Entering Port Mahon On The East Coast Of Menorca. 1st Oct 14.
Fort  Isabella II,  Port Mahon Entrance
Cruise Ship Departing Port Mahon.
Guy Swabbing The Decks In Port Mahon.
View Of Our Mooring From Mahon. Kisti Two Is In The Centre.
Ferry & Cruise Ship Terminal, Spanish Navy Port & Walls Of Mahon. 
The Lovely Old Streets & Buildings Of Mahon.
The Duomo (Cathedral) Of Mahon In The Quiet Siesta Time.

257 Nautical Miles In 52 Hours.

      Ready to continue our passage east to Italy we left the pontoon as the sun was rising and threaded our way through the harbour and regretfully away from Mahon. A sudden gust of wind blew as Guy was raising the mainsail at the mast and off flew his trusty old battered and bruised straw hat much to Ginny's delight who failed to carry out a HOB ( Hat Overboard Manoeuvre). Guy was then forced to wear one of those ghastly American baseball caps (thanks Sarah) so favoured by many! Guy had the grumps as we motor sailed until midday when the wind picked up enough to sail but unfortunately the swell also increased making the journey uncomfortable. This was OK for Guy who enjoyed the peace as Ginny found it hard and then goes into her silent mode. Watches were taken throughout the day and night as we sailed a steady 6 knots towards Sardinia.

Leaving Port Mahon 0800hrs, 4 Oct 14.

Grumpy Guy After Losing His Old Straw Hat Overboard & Having To Use
One Of Those Awful American Baseball Caps, Thanks Sarah!

        This was to be our longest sail to date. We were to sail 257 NM in just over two days during which we encountered quite a large lightning storm on the first night and the second afternoon we were joined by 4 dolphins. The weather was lovely and it was a great feeling to be free and miles from anywhere without anything in sight. Great for ships No 1 dress. We only encountered a couple of yachts and fishing boats throughout the trip.
Sunset Behind Us On 5 Oct 14.
Under Engine At Night. No Wind Or Swell.
Picture With Flash.
SARDINIA, 6 - 16 OCT 14


        We were to spend 10 nights in Cagliari, on the south coast of Sardinia due to various thunderstorms, strong winds and big swell being predicted for our route East. It proved to be a very interesting city with plenty of history. The ramparts of St Remy were very interesting although like most Italian towns, in need of much renovation to return them to their previous splendour. They are very proud of the fact that they have never been defeated by the Moors having repelled 4 major attacks. We had plenty of time to enjoy the culture and dine out in the narrow streets. Ginny was delighted to be chatted up by two charming young Italian men who sat with us on one occasion! There was also time to join in with an impromptu marina BBQ one evening. The marina is developing with various improvements being made and will soon be a useful livaboard base.

Our Marina In Cagliari. Marina Di Sant Elmo. Our Home For 10 Days Due To Storms.

View From The Ramparts Of St Remy Above The Gate Into The Old Town
On The Ramparts Of St Remy and Southern End Of The Historic Castello Quarter.
Piazza Palazzo With Royal Palace.
Cathedral Of Cagliari, The New Facade (early 20th C) 
The Shrine Of The Martyrs Carved Out Of Rock Underneath The Main Church.
The High Altar Raised Above The Shrine Below.
Painted Ceiling And Lantern In The Central Nave.

View Down to The Port From Castello District.
One Of The Narrow Streets In The Old Town.
Ginny At A Cafe In The St Croce Area Before Descending To the New Town.
Tower Of St Pancrazio, One Of Two Towers Built To Defend The City.
Live Aboard BBQ, Guy Thanking Stefano For All The Organisation.

Visit To The Town Of Oristano.

     We were told at the tourist office that Oristano on the West coast was worth a visit so we travelled out by train to see some of the countryside as well. To be honest, it was rather a dead town but as usual found the Cathedral to be interesting due to its lack of normal Catholic bling and another of those towers! We did find a lovely narrow street and cafe to idle the time away.

Tower Of St Cristoforo, Similar To Towers Cagliari.
Guy Leaving Our Lunch Spot On The Via Roma.
The Duomo (Cathedral) With Bell Tower.
The Seminary Behind The Cathedral
The Beautiful Starred Cathedral Dome.
Carved Rosettes  In Dome Above The Altar.
Italian Cheese!

      We are always trying out new food, wine and vegetables. We had a great laugh when we found the Italian cheese depicted in the picture below. Various descriptions have been offered but needless to say, they were quite tasty!

We Had Titalati Cheese In Spain (Boob Shaped), Now We Have .........In Italy!
Suggestions On A Postcard!

279 Nautical Miles In 49 Hours.

        A weather window at last appeared with little swell, so we took the opportunity to leave Cagliari, Sardinia on 16 Oct 14 and head off for Sicily, about 190 NM away. We enjoyed a lovely fast sail all day averaging over 6 knots and passed several old turtles on the way. It was also a lovely clear evening for viewing all the stars. Recognising stars is so much easier now that we have downloaded various applications onto our iPad. It makes the night watch quite interesting. Good winds continued the next day as we approached the Islands off West Sicily. We were making such good speed, we decided to continue along the South coast of Sardinia to Licata. The second day involved sunbathing and viewing various groups of dolphins who played with Kisti Two as she powered along. They were to join us on several occasions on the second night as we slowed down to enter Licata in the early morning. This was our longest distance sail together but due to good winds and some current with us, we completed the trip in 2 days.

Dawn Off The Island Of Egadi, first sight of Sicily.
Sunrise Off Licata.
All Peaceful In Licata Marina

Early Impressions Of Life In Licata, Sicily.

        We were thinking of wintering in Regusa another 50nm East on Sicily or going on to Malta. However, after discussing with various other liveaboards and doing a few recces into town as well as google map searches etc, we decided to stay in Licata for winter. There are good cheap flights back to UK and the cost for 7 months was only £1000, more than half the price of Lagos! The only downside is that the growth on hulls appears to be quite rampant. Hopefully our coppercoat will work!

      We are already part of the very continental community of sea gypsies enjoying Sunday BBQ's, playing Molki and attending the usual music nights and 'Happy Hours'. We have gone to the Opera which was fun and managed to watch the Rugby Autumn internationals in a local bar!
The Sea Gypsies Weekly Sunday BBQ.
The Finnish Game Of 'Molki', Apres BBQ Exercise.
Sunset Reflection Over The Marina.
             Licata Marina is enormous and still very much under development. The staff go out of their way to be helpful to all of us here. They have recently realised the lucrative business of liveaboards and the community is growing each year. It is very sheltered and the prevailing wind is NW. However, we have survived 2 very stormy days and nights. We were on the outside of the pontoon and had F8 winds directly on our beam. Guy tied up several extra mooring ropes to secure us and Kisti Two weathered the storms smoothly. However, we were warned of a possible Hurricane and that we were to evacuate our boats. We prepared K2 as best we could and took our grab bags into the Marina Conference room to settle down for the night. Thankfully for us, the storm smashed into Malta and we were able to return. We managed to get another more sheltered spot in the marina a few days later and the next F8 storm caused us no worries. We have been told that should be it for now!!

SW Storm Force Winds -  Well Above 40 At Times!
Evacuees From The Yachts For The Hurricane That Passed Us By, Phew!
New More Sheltered Location For Kisti Two.
Bright Sunshine, Calm Seas and Ginny's New Haircut.
Another day In Paradise.
Stormy Seas In The New Berth. It Was Worse Than This!

View From New Berth, Lighthouse, Fort and Cemetery.
Marina Di Cala Del Sole Waterfront And Cafe Letterario.
Beans And Lentils At Weekly Market.
Flower Stalls For Families On The Way to the Cemetery 
Shopping Trip, Coffee Stop, Water For Molly The Dog.
Spray And Waves Over The Breakwater.
Stormy Seas And A Wet Walk.
Monday Night Is Music Night At The Las Vegas Bar.

         It has been a most enjoyable summer. We have travelled a total distance of 2461NM since May along the south coast of Portugal then Spain, into Gibraltar then up the Spanish coast again to Benidorm. The majority of our time was spent in the Balearic's where we thoroughly enjoyed the Ibiza beat and the wilder parts of Majorca. We look forward to returning to Menorca. It has also been fun meeting up and sailing with several friends whom we hope will join us again next year.

    We will be wintering in Licata until late May 2015. There is plenty to explore on Sicily from Norman Churches, Greek temples, Roman villas and ruins as well as Mount Etna. We will also find some time to visit UK. We are now trying to decide where to spend next summer. Malta is a definite but then Italy or Greece. Probably Greece, but all will be revealed!!!