| "Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
July 29, 2006
Egret's destination after leaving the 'must see' island of Elba was the Arno
River leading to Pisa, Italy. Pisa is just 11 kilometers inland. We
weren't comfortable leaving Egret in the river after idling as far inland as
we dared. With no immediate back up we charged north to a headland giving
us protection from the north winds if they came up. This part of Italy gets
an afternoon sea breeze 10- 22 knots dying before dark. Our destination was
Portovenere-PV (Port Venus).
Wow!!! Portovenere is at the southern end of Italy's Riviera. There is a
sheltered bay with a small harbor. An island on the south gives protection
leaving a pass between mainland PV and the island. We dropped the hook in
46' of water just before dark, good holding. As is our custom, we anchor
away from the day boats choosing a longer dinghy run to shore giving more
privacy and security from dragging boats, etc. At times Egret was
surrounded by mega yachts, some with helicopters. One estimated at 185'
moved because the yacht that anchored behind him made his boat look like a
shrimp boat. These charters pay up to $250,000+ per week to enjoy what we
do for peanuts and a little vino. Well ok, maybe a little beer too.
PV is a beautiful three-deep group of pastel three- or four-story houses
surrounding the harbor and going down the bay a bit. The 'harbor houses'
are relatively new, just 300 years old. There are the obligatory
castles/forts above the town. At the harbor entrance there is an unusual
church built in the 1100s that is black and white striped horizontal marble.
After two days visiting the sights, eating too much gelato (great Italian
ice cream) and getting ripped off in a tourista restaurant we stumbled on a
Marine stores are a weakness of half the Egret crew and most all boy
cruisers as well. The same half of the Egret crew has a weakness for well
built 'stuff' that works. To make a long story short EACH of the Egret crew
has a lightweight Sevylor inflatable canoe, one single and one double. Our
maiden voyage was BOTH of us in the double paddling to a cave "just around
the corner" of the seaward side of the island. Well, 120 kilometers later
(or so it felt) we found the "cave you can paddle through" but declined. It
was in the afternoon with the sea breeze puffing big swells so we paddled in
and back out. I will say the cave did have some interesting formations
inside from dripping water. By the time we got back to Egret, the absolute
love of my life and I weren't happy with one another. We are unskilled
paddlers - on top of which I didn't pull the self bailing drain plug - so
there was LOTS of water onboard that we had to lug around. Plus the super
long first outing made it difficult. Bottom line, each paddle their OWN
canoe except for short jaunts; you'll both be happier, you'll go faster and
After three days in PV Egret, with two inflated canoes on the foredeck
(shades of Sanford and Sons here), sailed north up the Italian Riviera.
Just around the corner to the north of PV is the Cinque Tierre region.
Initially there were five villages that are perched on the mountain side
reachable only by sea until fairly recently. Incredible!! The very small
houses are still occupied tending tiny vineyards (perhaps 200 feet of vines)
and a small kitchen garden. The steps on some villages is an estimated (by
me) 1000 from the water to the village.
All had shacks on the waterfront with small boats pulled up on the rocks.
(There is no beach at all). The coastline is simply breathtaking. We just
about filled the memory on the digital camera in the last week (over 300
Egret is currently anchored off the beach in Sestri Levante. SL is another
pastel home village occupying low ground on both sides of an E/W headland,
harbor on the south, beach on the north. On top of the small headland named
Torre Marconi is a tower where Marconi did early experiments with radio
transmission. After the Italian siesta, 1300-1600, we will dinghy to shore.
Should be fun...again.
July 26, 2006
Last VofE Egret was underway to Porto Ercole on the coast of Italy protected
by a large headland. With Egret anchored off the beach we spent two days
exploring the town. Porto Ercole is a typical smallish village with the
relatively new part of town (last 200 years or so) built near the harbor and
the old village scattered up the hill above. There are two forts protecting
the harbor on either side. Fresh fruit and vegies later we sailed 60 nm to
Porto Azzurro, Elba. (I know this brief description of PE sounds so
mundane, it would be a special trip to remember for most fly in folks, but
we do this every day. This is why we are trying to encourage you to cruise
Now we'll talk about something special even for cruisers......Elba. Our
friends on Grey Pearl (62 Nord) said Elba is a must see. When the Pearl
says something is a must see it IS a must see. Egret anchored in Porto
Azzurro, Elba (N42 45.50 E10 23.95) off the main harbor in 46' with good
holding on a Friday afternoon. We anchored away from the crowd and put the
paravane poles down with flopper stoppers deployed. This again had its
usual result keeping all boats away from THAT boat. The only downside is
many boats came by for a look see including the head boats. Soooo the
flopper stoppers did their duty. Our only company was the rowing lifeboats
that practiced late afternoons between us and shore.
Porto Azzurro is not the major harbor in Elba but a smallish town built
around a harbor on the south side. There are four forts/castles built on
the hills around. Being so close to the Italian mainland it is a VERY
popular weekend haven for the mainlanders. By late Friday afternoon the
slips were full and the anchorage to the south was packed. Thank goodness
we didn't have any wind. In the mornings all the boats leave to anchor
around the island in small coves to swim and relax. In the afternoons they
all race back. When we left Wed morning the anchorage/marina was 20% full.
Elba is very much like the Aegean Greek island of Samos. Elba is a fairly
good sized island with a dry southern shore and a wooded northern shore. We
rented a car for two days and drove every road we could find on the island.
The scenery reminds us of the Oregon coastal highway with the cliffs to the
water, Appalachian back roads with thick greenery and small streams, and the
Rockies with sharp smallish mountains down the backbone of the island. Like
Samos there are two incredibly beautiful, quaint mountain villages. We
wandered and ate lunch in both. Unlike so many places we have been -
particularly France - these are regular working villages with full time
residents. There are kids, bicycles, dogs, laundry hanging from pulley
systems from the windows and LOTS of chatter. One nice thing is you hear
very few TV's in the background. Elba is a happy island.
Wandering along the waterfront we noticed a sign in a restaurant saying they
were recommended by the 356 (Porsche) Owners Group. We inquired about the
sign and found out the manager- co owner with his family, Michela, is a
Porsche aficionado consumed by his hobby. Michela is in his early 30's. He
speaks about as much English as we speak Italian, VERY little but we talked
for hours about Porsche's with lots of hand waving, etc.
A bit of background on the Egret crew. We married in 1968 and went on our
honeymoon in a 1959 Porsche 356 Convertible D. Soon that morphed into our
first Porsche race car followed by a number of others. At that time in our
lives Porsche Club of America was our passion as was our group of friends.
This continued through the middle eighties when Mary ran her last race. I
moved into another race series and got back into fishing/boating. We
understand his enthusiasm reminding us of our youth.
After dinner at his restaurant one evening and a visit the next morning to
see his restored 1962 Porsche coupe I gave him my very last link to that
past. In the bottom of tool box number three I had a Porsche Zenith
carburetor idle air adjustment tool and a float level gauge. These two
tools are over 35 years old. Michela now has possession with the promise if
ever Porsche 'finito' he will mail them back to us.
Bottom line. You future Med cruisers put Elba on your 'must see' list.
Egret is currently in route to the Arno River on mainland Italy just north
of Livorno. From there it is an eleven kilometer bus ride into Pisa.
Sounds like fun.
July 19, 2006
In our last VoE, Egret was under way to the Italian Pontine island of Ponza.
If every trip could be like that with seas under 1 foot in fact except for a
short time transiting the Straits of Messina, we have not turned on the
Naiad's, just keeping them centered since leaving Saracusa, Sicily. Again
today leaving Rome we have no seas but let us back up to the little 'must
see' jewel of Ponza.
Ponza is a small mountainous island, just a few kilometers long with two
small villages and scattered groups of homes.. We rented a scooter for half
a day and were back in two and a half hours including lunch. Most of the
cruisers visiting Ponza are Italians coming from nearby Rome - 60nm and
Naples 25nm. Nearly all visiting cruisers anchor. The docks are poor and
take the brunt of the many day tripper boats, hydrofoils and ferry's. Our
favorite anchorage is in the Inferno (N40 54.75 E12 58.02). The Inferno
gets its name from the white 'flames' reaching up in the red rock. Egret
anchored in 30', white sand. With the paravane arms deployed and the
flopper stoppers out the roll was almost non existent MUCH to the envy of
the sailboats scattered around. The worst roll award goes to the large
go-fast tubs with all the weight above the water.
We circumnavigated the island by dink sticking our nose into every nook and
cranny, cave and arch. The relief and rock sculpting are breathtaking with
clear Med water below. The island is riddled with caves, some natural with
a lot carved into the rock. The most spectacular is on the Ponza town
harbor side where there are tunnels leading from the Roman baths to the
other side of the island with connecting passages disappearing into dark
holes. My kingdom for a flashlight. Some homes have a tunnel/stairs
leading from the beach into their homes.
Being a tourist town every service is nosily available however once away
from the waterfront the 'real island' takes shape. We found a great
restaurant, after a herculean climb, on top of the small mountain.
Trattoria di Monte Guardia Restaurant (guardian mountain) is a typical small
Italian village family affair. Momma cooks, kids wait, Poppa drinks beer
and serves the after dinner wine. Our dinner the last night was an anti
pasta sampler: mussels, tuna, fried eggplant, cold eggplant with topping,
fried zucchini cakes, anchovies marinated in lemon, artichokes, different
olives and cold green beans. The main course was swordfish sauteed in olive
oil, capers and seasoning, local white wine, & great Italian bread. Oh yes,
Poppa came by with the after dinner wine.
An early morning sail from Ponza brought us to Porto di Turistico, Roma by
late afternoon. This visit to Rome was the boat chores of buying another
small dink to replace the one we ruined, a few other odds and ends plus
receive mail. Last year we spent 3 weeks in Rome with some NAR boats doing
the tourista bit. We now own a small Zodiac, 9'2" - 73lbs, to use with our
little Yamaha. The marine store in the marina complex is the best we have
seen between Ft Lauderdale and Marmaris, Turkey. The manager Stefano speaks
good English, along with "good French and Italian" Russian, Romanian,
Hungarian (native language), some German and Spanish. Geesh. They also
heavily discount. This is an ANOMALY for Europe. We bought everything we
could think of we needed for the next 18 months or so.
Let me take a moment to tell you about our mail service. Dependable mail
service like dependable financial people are priceless while cruising giving
us the independence we strive for. St Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs,
Fl has done a great job for Egret since we retired. They rid us of 'spam'
mail forwarding real mail when we request it. This is a service just for
cruisers, by cruisers. They UNDERSTAND us. The cost is $15/month plus
shipping. They also have a buying service meeting or beating the discount
retailers plus other benefits. They have NEVER failed us.
firstname.lastname@example.org, www.boatmail.net, 800 544-2132.
Mary has picked an interesting anchorage for this evening, Porto Ercole. PE
is on the south side of a large headland 60nm north of Rome with a natural
beach/cove. The village is on the shore with a castle above. This should
be fun, perhaps we'll stay a bit.
July 11, 2006
Egret is underway from our anchorage at Scario, Italy (N40 02.99 - E15
29.41) on an easy overnighter to the Pontine island of Ponza, west of Naples
bay. Our speed is 6.4 - 6.9 knots at 1375 rpm burning very little fuel on a
course of 295 degrees M. The seas are 2-3' swells, 4.9 knots apparent wind
and a beautiful full moon shining over the stern quarter.
There are a number of reasons we write about Egret's
adventures/misadventures. The reasons are simply directed to encourage
others to enjoy the lifestyle we love so much and are happy to share with
all. We write about the good, the bad, the problems, the cures but my
favorite subject is the priceless memories the Egret crew are accumulating.
Last evening in Scario was a very, very special evening. Pricless.
The year before we visited Scario with two other NAR Nordhavns. It doesn't
take long to find a favorite restaurant, befriend the employees once they
find out you are yachties, not just a regular tourista. When you anchor off
their tiny village everyone knows who you are. There IS a difference to
these people. We went back to 'our' restaurant last evening to watch the
World Cup Soccer finale (football/fotbol to the rest of the world), Italy vs
France. The World Cup is an every four year event. It is the Super Bowl,
World Series, Daytona 500 and Indy 500 rolled into one event for a large
part of the world.
The setting was beautiful. The full moon lighting up Egret anchored 300
yards away below the cliff made us feel proud. La Scario restaurant is a
couple hundred year old three story home with a kitchen below. Mamma and
helpers cook. The kids wait tables with help. The tables are on a patio
covered by huge white canvas umbrellas and a giant olive tree overlooking
the large circular bay. After dark the other small waterfront villages are
lit up dotting the shore with mountain villages sparkling above. No mega
We ordered a traditional Italian dinner in THEIR order: octopus salad,
pasta with mussels, veal, garden salad, fruit, espresso and of course
Moretti beer. There were about 40 locals with just a few young people for
dinner and the game. The majority of young people were down in the
waterfront bars doing what young people do.
The game was exciting. France made the first goal and we all groaned
together. When Italy made their goal we all cheered. When Italy won in a
sudden death shootout we all went crazy. When the locals found out we were
Americans I think we endeared ourselves to the whole crowd. The owner was
so excited he opened the bar with champagne for all. What a great evening.
It is something we'll never forget sharing their country's joy in that
Today we went back for lunch, the last meal at 'our' restaurant. We had a
simple lunch of pasta and an octopus salad. When the bill came the two
services charges were omitted and they took 5 euros off the bottom of the
bill. We gave it back in a tip. Their gesture, heartwarming. An hour
later the dinghy was back aboard and Egret was underway. Ain't life grand?
July 8, 2006
We left you last VOE with Egret's dilemma. Our time passed slowly anchored
off the beach. July 4th the year before we spent in Rome with three other
NAR boats and all the American cruisers we could round up in the marina. We
had an American 4th with burgers, hot dogs, corn, wine and even some Buds.
This 4th was different.
Finally Thursday the 6th arrived. Our experience went well - sort of. Ever
so slowly Egret made its way into the marina under wing alone with a single
dog leg turn into the haul out slip. We lined up perfectly with just a tad
of thruster, again moving VERY slowly. Mary and I had rehearsed our
docking, emergency contingency using our dink as a tug, with lines and
fenders around the boat. We tied the big dink close to the boat with a
WARMED engine ready to start first pull. We hit the slip dead in the
center. Mary was to throw our line to them to just pull us in because the
slip was so tight we needed to be hand led once inside. They insisted on
using their lines. Big mistake. Their yard dog took a few turns on their
line, left it unattended so when it tightened it pulled Egret into the slip
wall putting another scar on the stainless rub rail.
The damage was not the cutless bearing as I thought. When the rope
tightened around the prop it water starved the flax packing. The stuffing
box packing heated black and seized the shaft. (Another lesson learned) I
used Corrosion Block the night before on the stuffing box & tapped the outer
flange with a hammer from time to time. The next morning when the mechanic
made his diagnosis I removed the flange & let him change the flax. I had
pre-cut packing rings in the engine room but the heat had dried them out.
We had a full box in spares under the forward bunk & it was like new.
(Another lesson learned) After replacing the packing everything was fine.
No vibration, etc. Thank goodness for the PAE heavy duty installation. On
lesser boats the engine could well have been pulled off the mounts.
After leaving the yard we went back to re anchor & wait for the yard to
deliver our dink before we left. I was in the engine room checking the
packing drip. The bilge looked like caramel. OIL!!!!!! There are just a
few sources of clean oil. A split 1 gal container, the stabilizer cooling
reservoir, an engine with just changed oil (the main was just changed) and
the gear. No split container, Naiad ok, engine no leakee, gear hose leakee.
The mechanic had knelled on the heat exchanger hose and split it. This was
a GOOD THING. The hose was dried and cracked. These hoses normally last
forever. I have a pre made fuel hose made to the longest length of fuel
hose run that is the same diameter and same end fittings as the hose for the
gear. The burst pressure is less than the factory gear hose but is
acceptable. I changed it & it worked with no problems.
I took the bad hose to the yard to see if they could have one made. Long
story short - they made two of each & they are installed. It turns out the
second gear hose was perfect. Strange. Now we have 1 complete spare set
plus the good original & the fuel hose.
That behind us we had a great trip north up the southern Italian coast to
the tiny village of Scario. On the approach we ran through a heavy
rainstorm. Rather than Mary getting wet on the foredeck anchor detail we
ran up and down the beach letting the heavy rain in 22 knots of wind give
our little ship an excellent wash. When we anchored the rain had quit. The
village is basically three houses deep, twenty five or so wide arranged
around the small local marina. The homes are typical Mediterranean. Two or
three stories high painted in pastels. Beautiful. We were here last year.
We needed cash last year but they don't have a bank or ATM so had to take a
bus to the next village to find an ATM. We made friends with the
restaurateur on the waterfront in front of where we anchored last year and
are anchored again. We'll go there tomorrow to watch 'futbol' and cheer for
the Italians in the World Cup final game (Italy vs France). That should be
All is well again with the Egret crew. We have a few more spares and a
little less money. Life is good.
July 1, 2006
The 89-hour, five-minute sail from Crete to Siracusa, Sicily was routine.
Egret had a couple of minor bounces and experienced head current most of
the way. Speed varied from 4.7 - 6.9 knots at 1400 rpm. We increased rpm
(1800) the last 2 1/2 hours to make the anchorage before dark (we did).
We spent about 10 days in Siracusa the summer before meeting 5 other Nords
from the rally (Envoy, Grey Pearl, Satchmo, Strictly For Fun and Uno Mas).
We enjoyed our time together visiting Mt. Etna and other inland
In addition to the usual periods of history Siracusa has two memorable
locations for the Egret crew. The first is the main cathedral in old town
where they used the enormous columns from a Greek temple to the gods as
the partial support of their place of worship. The second is the
incredible market open six days. This is an open air L shaped market
where you can buy tings from the Chinese, leather goods from the North
Africans, and mountains of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, all kinds of
meat, cheese, olives and fresh anything you can think of from the
Sicilians. The vendors are lined up side by side with huge quantities of
what ever it is they are selling. No skin pack here. The place is packed
with shoppers with a few touristas mixed in. Some vendors shout their
offerings in VERY loud voices. These sounds come from their toes up as if
they were opera stars but with a one or two word vocabulary. Mary and I
have been to a lot of markets in the Med, mostly weekly markets in
villages, but the Siracusa market is special.
After Siracusa, Egret was day hopping up the Sicilian coast, through the
Straits of Messina separating Sicily from Italy and north up the Italian
west coast. One stop was the town of Tropea, Italy. We anchored off the
beach and took the dinghy in to explore the town. After climbing the
almost 200 steps to the town above on the bluff we realized we had been
there the summer before. So after a quick reminder tour we went back to
Egret and decided to tow the dink another twenty five or so miles north
before dark. The weather was very calm. We ran slowly along the green
countryside close to the beach enjoying the afternoon and lunch on the
flybridge under way.
We stopped well before dark dropping the hook backing it in as usual but
forgetting the dink under tow. At that point the Egret crew's world went
upside down. We had prop wrapped the dinghy painter pulling the dinghy
UNDERWATER down to the prop, ripping out the tow eyes and slashing a
2'X10" rectangular hole in the side of the 9' dink before it popped back
to the surface minus the 8 hp Yamaha cowling and one Dolfin (cracking the
cavitation plate when it ripped off). What a mess. We winched the dink
tight to the swim platform using one of the sailboat winches we use for
paravane retrieval then hoisted it back to the boat deck by the handle on
the front of the engine. (the lifting harness was ripped out as well).
Once what was left of the dink was secure on the boat deck Mary and I got
out our hookah rig (an electric air pump with regulator and 100' air
hose). I went to work with Mary helping in the cockpit. First I
recovered the engine cowling then got busy cutting the line wrapped around
the shaft. We have been prop wrapped before on every inboard boat we have
owned but never like this. It took over a half hour with a commercial 12"
serrated fillet knife to free the line plus another ten minutes with a
pair of large pliers to tear the line from out of the cutless bearing.
Until this line came free the prop was frozen. After the line was clear
the prop turned but very hard. Close inspection using an underwater light
I could now see the cutless bearing was ruined. This is NOT what I wanted
Nothing more could be done underwater so after a quick rinse we went to
work on the outboard. I put it back on the rail where we keep it & gave
it a good fresh water rinse. After draining the carburetor and pulling
the spark plugs I kept pulling the starter rope pumping the sea water out
of the cylinders. After a while with fresh fuel and plugs we gave it a
pull and it started on one cylinder on the first crank. After drying the
second plug that beautiful, never say die little Yamaha, lit up and ran
like a top. We ran it two days in a row on a hose and it never missed a
beat. At least we salvaged SOMETHING!
Running back to Tropea, the nearest yard, on the wing was, lets say,
different. (Egret's wing engine is a 28hp 3GM30 Yanmar with a two blade
folding prop-We run the wing faithfully once a month under load for two
hours to keep it running well) This is the first time in five years of
owning Egret we HAD to use the wing. A secondary method to turn the main
shaft would NOT have worked had the main been disabled. We learned a few
lessons using the wing. 1. To turn to port with the wing is not going to
happen unless you are making at least a couple of knots and the rudder
turned almost hard over. Turning to starboard is better because of the
offset prop and shaft. (Egret's wing is on the port side) In a very calm
sea, or marina with little wind, you can use the bow thruster to help. On
the larger Nords with bow and stern thrusters there is a HUGE advantage.
2. Once under way the auto pilot WILL keep you on course to a waypoint in
relatively calm seas. (I don't know if seas are over 3-4' on any quarter
if it will) We were running the wing at 2800 rpm where there was little
vibration. At 2900 there was more vibration than we wanted for a long
run. 3. Our speed varied with the currents from 2.2 - 3.6 knots) 4. In
a confined area everything must be done in very slow motion. You have
almost NO reverse. At 2000 rpm in reverse the wing would not lift the
anchor chain tight for a set. I believe a three blade folding/rotating
prop would have less vibration with more power in reverse (speculation on
Egret carries a spare main and wing cutless bearing so the first order of
business is solved. The boat yard in Tropea have agreed to haul us this
coming Thursday (today is Sat) and change the cutless bearing. It took a
lot of pantomime, hand waving, smiling and pointing to the bearing to get
the point across. They have also agreed to stand by with an inflatable
'tug'. So I'll leave you here. The next hurdle once the new bearing is
installed is to see if there is any vibration from alignment or, heaven
forbid, engine mount problems. Everything appears to be ok but we'll see.