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"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders

Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret documents the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them in touch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now. “Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not. Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.

 

June 29, 2011
Location: Gaeta

Bon giorno mis amigos. As we begin this VofE, Egret is back in Gaeta to pick up her new bow roller and whatever before moving on north up the Italian west coast. But first let's return to Ponza and describe the island's patron saint's day. As we understand it, in 1475 bishop Silverio was exiled to the island living his remaining years in poverty. Saint Silverio is now Ponza's patron saint. Each year on June 20th, Saint Silverio's effigy is carried thru the streets of Ponza village returning to a fishing boat where he is taken to sea, returned then carried back thru the village to the church. After being placed back in church there are minor daytime fireworks with plenty of boomers with no color. Church services are being held during the day into the evening. At midnight comes an impressive fireworks display. So that's it in a nutshell.

Mary and I photographed what we could in the crowds and came away with a couple surprisingly good photos considering everything. We photographed the fireworks at night from aboard Egret. This was an effort in frustration because the boat was moving and we were hand holding the cameras instead of the usual long exposure tripod shots. However we learned something about fireworks. We took a number of photos between us in a short period of time on motor drive shooting as fast as we could. In the end there a few good shots. (Editing isn't what you think. Most are deleted in the camera then quickly sorted in Lightroom photo editing software) What we learned is just how complex a quality firework rocket actually is. By shooting on motordrive we were able to capture in slow motion what takes but a couple seconds of inner workings before it begins to fade. The streamers you see near the end are the physically largest part of the individual explosion but the inner intricacies are the most interesting. During multiple fireworks your mind can't absorb the individual intricate beauty but takes away an overall picture. We saved a few shots for ourselves to remind us how this all works. Mary's picture here is well done and shows the green, white and red of the Italian flag. The fireworks were being fired from the end of the breakwater on the other side of a small island between Egret and shore. The building on top of the island is highlighted in the smoke and light.

Mary and I were invited back and forth on a couple boats, one being an 85' fiberglass expedition boat. The owners kept coming by Egret looking at the paravanes and flopperstopper set up and we invited them aboard to visit the 'piccolo' - small boat. They in turn invited us over to their boat. They use the boat 4-5 months during the year and spend the rest of the time in Rome. They are happy cruising the Med and have no plans to leave. Of course we felt it our duty to give them the two palms up and say it is a beeeg world and a lot to see. So we got the two palms up reply and shrug. We enjoyed the visit and hope to run into them somewhere down the line. Nice people.

A valuable techno item we should pass along is something we gleaned from one of the N internet sites from Steve on N62 Seabird. Steve uses his infrared temperature gauge to test Seabird's battery connections. A poor connection will show a marked increase in temperature under load. The easy way is to ready every house battery - exposed with battery box lids off - then have the admiral turn on the microwave without generator or shorepower input and quickly read each connection. A corroded or loose fitting will be easily detected. It is simple and accurate.

A second techno item is about solar panels. Egret has 4 - 150 watt Kyrocea (sp) panels. The panels are connected two and two leading into 2 voltage regulators. Beneath the voltage regulators are 25 amp on/off rocker switches (we switch the panels off under way or when battery charging). One pair of panels has always lagged in performance and I thought it to be solar panel shading. It turns out it had a defective switch. It Now performs more than the old 'good pair' of panels. In the Med sun and long days we are down to 1/2 hour per day battery charging and enough to keep the hot water hot. The panels carry the house load all day and make back the night's usage. A second solar panel item we mentioned a couple times before is to keep the panels CLEAN. Just a bit of Med red dust or dirt anywhere (or giantus seagull stuff yesterday) makes a significant difference in output.

Early this morning we heard Voices. There is no one anchored close enough to hear voices (until a few minutes ago when a small sailboat named Alice anchored just in front of Egret and off to the stbd side a bit. Almost immediately Alice started the slooooow drag past. Whoops, now they are pulling the toy anchor and a few feet of chain and rode. That's a good thing). So I got up and it was two ancient fishermen in two tiny row boats drifting slowly in no wind fishing with hand lines. These guys were intense and seriously fishing. I can only think they were fishing for crabs because when they pulled their lines in it was hand over hand slowly and they would quietly slip a net under the water to lift out whatever. The only thing we saw caught was mud balls.

The traditional near shore power boat fisherman lays fine mesh nets with floats. Between all the fishermen, nearshore and offshore, they fish around the clock. These two were setting nets just W. of Gaeta. Note the hydraulic bow roller to retreive the nets. There is a steering station on the other side of the roller as well as a steering station aft. This particluar boat is a larger near shore boat with two crew. Most are smaller with a single fisherman.

There are two groups of retired fishermen that meet each morning along each end of the waterfront promenade. They stay most of the day and chat until the fishing boats return in the afternoon. The fishing boats have a crowd waiting to buy direct from the boats. Like the fishing boats in Ponza, the fishermen sort the catch into individual styrofoam boxes and are iced. Scales are held by hand, deals are done quickly, the fish or shrimp are slipped into a bag and a scoop of ice is ladled on top. Its funny watching the goings on of human nature. All the boat's catch are roughly the same and the same price. It seems if a couple shoppersbuy from one fishermen the other buyers crowd around the same fisherman. Its kinda like anchoring.

Today is Scott Jr's birthday. He is the one with the smartest and best looking almost one year old kid on the U.S. east coat (we're being kind and cutting the rest of the country some slack). It seems like SJr was born a few years back. When Mary was wheeled out of delivery her first and only words before she went back out were "boy, did you see the fat tires on that one?". Cars were our life back then and 'fat tires' were race tires. Time is flying by. It's frightening. So many places to go, so much to see, so little time. Egret has been Out nearly 10 years. We need 20 more. I don't think we have it. You get the picture.

MS is so happy you would think I bought her some giantus bauble. Of course baubles are silly but her new bow roller is happiness squared. The original finally split and spread against the sides which meant 50kg - 110lb TK had to be slid out instead of rolled out. There is a Big difference. Tomorrow it gets its first test when we leave Gaeta for a few days, return for a day then will head north for the rest of the season and return by October 1st. (It's tomorrow) The anchor came in like it was in free wheel and when we dropped TK a few hours later it rocketed out. What a difference!!) One more techno item. Today we had help from Peter, an Ozzie cruiser on Purr, a Prout catamaran on its way to the French canals. We (he wired) a new dual socket electrical fixture so we can plug in two heaters to help load Egret's oversize 12kw N/L generator. I would trade the 12kw for a 6kw but that's a long story and we have been thru that in previous VofE's. I cut the teak console panel just to the right of the electrical panel and put in the flat plate ready for the electrical sockets. Peter took the power from the rotary switch that switches between ship's power (generator) and shore power. He connected to the combined gen/shore power terminals so if on shore power or running the gen it will be live. Running on generator the voltage is 60 cycle and on shore power in Europe or most of the rest of the world, 50 cycle. Heaters don't care about cycles. We will buy two 2000 or 2500 watt, 50 cycle heaters that will use 20 or 25 amps of power out of 50 total, so with the A/C units on line and the water heater for a bit at the beginning we should be able to load the gen and bring it up to temp. (During the summer we will set the heaters outside the pilothouse.)

And even one more bonus techno item. Lets talk about anchor lights. We have run the gamut on anchor lights from using the original amp thirsty light, to a lower amp light run off a cigarette lighter socket. In Tasmania we had a fisherman returning to the dock during the early morning and said he nearly ran into Egret because the light was not bright enough. We couldn't take the chance again with that light so when in Hobart (Tasmania) we bought a large LED bulb with three rows of 5 vertical led's plus three led's on top. It was bright but because it was so tall and generated so much heat it burned the top out of the globe, water got in and killed the mega peso LED. We siliconed the top of the globe and put a regular bulb back in. Then the globe blew off the light. So we put a plastic water bottle with the spout cut off over the entire light assembly minus globe, duct taped it in place and now have a Street Light. The ridges in the water bottle act like the lenses in a fresnel lens and it is super bright AND the regular bulb hasn't burned out the top of the water bottle. Cool, eh?

While on a techno extravaganza we have just one more for you wine connoisseurs. The other day in Pam, the local grocery store, Mary and I went shopping in two directions. That is dangerous. She has her List and I have my taste buds driving the autopilot. Of course I can't pass up a deal and they had a 5 liter plastic jug of local white wine for 4.95 EU, so that's about 7.50 U.S.P or about 1.50 U.S.P per liter of white or about 1.125 U.S.P for a normal .75 ltr bottle of white - give or take a little. And then, and then, this evening we ran out of great South African boxed white so I took the empty bag, popped the spout, stuck in a funnel and Mary poured white from the 5 liter jug into the magic silver bag. Spout back in and we have a fine dry white being chilled. Egret's kinda deal.

The other night returning to Egret in the dink, Harry from Cormorant held up an empty glass in the International Signal to stop for a spot o' whatever. So we did. Out came a bottle of red they were sharing and we had a splash. It was great. Smooth and not strong. We asked where they got it and Jane laughed and said Pam, 1.20 EU. Cormorant's kinda deal. You gotta love Italy where wine is cheaper than water.

This evening on a walk thru old town Gaeta we came across a restoration project where a developer was gutting the interiors of crumbling old multi story houses and putting in modern interiors - floors and walls - keeping the exterior shell original. The conversions were beautiful. The steps leading here and there thru tiny alleyways, tunnels, arches and so on were original stone and covered in greenmoss in places. It is magic and the best of both worlds, old and new. Here again we saw walls made out of recycled blocks from different eras. In the same wall would be toppings for columns, pieces of columns, whole columns, scavenged marble - some still with carvings. One wall even had a headless and footless statue holding up something being used as a simple column. We walked thru the neighborhoods until nearly dark. Then it was dinner in the flybridge after the sun set and the street lights came on. Magic again. In the morning we will shop for fresh fruit, veggies and pane' (bread) then will take off for a few days. Where will we go? We think we know but we're not sure. Tomorrow we'll know. We think.

Next day. We went shopping for a few fresh items. Remember the smooth red Jane from Cormorant bought at the Pam supermarket for 1.20 EU? It's now 2.30 EU - gasp. Pam had some other red on special so we nabbed a couple. .99 EU. We'll see just how special it is.

Did you get a giggle out of Cormorant's and Egret's tales of el cheapo wine? I purposely wrote it that way to be able to write this. Did you giggle because the wine was so cheap, the two crews were so cheap, or because cheap wine in Italy could actually taste good? I suspect you went one of the first two cheapo routes as we would have years ago. However, the bottom line is: does it taste good? If it does, that is the bottom line and all that matters. Long term cruisers don't need to feel good about spending more on a bottle of wine even if they can. See the difference? Save the difference*. Escape early.

*Let's say you save $10 U.S.P per bottle of 'good enough' wine - that taste's good, x 3 bottles a week. So let's say you are on a 5 year plan. 3 x $10 x 52 = $1560 x 5 (years) = 7.8 BU (Boat Units) What can you buy with 7.8 BU? Anything you want. Or perhaps a tank and a half of fuel for Egret's size boat at Gibraltar prices that will last well over a year in the Med. What is that worth? Is it worth more than feeling good about paying more for a bottle of wine? Of course you may apply this reasoning to other things and save even more. And escape earlier.

Just one more thing. If your Time is getting close (or if what I am going on about is actually registering), here is some food for thought: Nordhavn NE (in Rhode Island) is holding an open house on July 15th. They have an N43, 47, 55 and 64 on display. I suspect some are brokerage boats and are available Now. So, if one lights you up, Do The Deal, quick survey, turn over some Pesos and you can cruise into the fall, wintering in the Bahamas of course, to begin the rest of your life. Or you can think about it some more while the other cruisers around the world are doing Their Deal. You get the picture.

OK, off The Box and back to Egret. Up with TK and off for the 8nm trip running at 1020 rpm to Sperlonga, another old town. Tiberius had summer digs here and 2d century BC Helenistic sculptures in a large cave open to the sea were found at the end of Tiberius's property during excavation in the late 1950s. The sculptures represent incidents from Homer's Odyssey. Egret is anchored off the beach between the town and Tiberius's digs. We will move later this evening closer to town (it is Sunday and the place is packed with small day boats anchored out) and will dinghy in tomorrow and check out the town and Museo Archeologico Nazionale that houses the Helenistic sculptures and other finds. We might have to stay a few days. So what are you doing today? (Sorry, I haven't thrown that out for a while and it was Time.)

Later. New plans. Egret is running downwind to turn the corner near Gaeta and into a lee. A strong afternoon sea breeze popped up with close to 20 knots in Sperlonga so we were doing the pitch and swim platform slap anchored off the beach. No biggie but when the wind stops later, Egret will swing and the waves won't stop. This means it would be roll city and something we don't need. So we escaped and returned to the Gaeta anchorage.

The next day we left Gaeta and moved a couple nm along the coast to get into cleaner water to do laundry, make water and dive on the bottom. We did all three. The keel cooler had a beard of fine green grass and the prop had two tiny barnacles. Mary swam around the boat and cleaned the slime off the waterline with a scotch brite pad. So that is done. Tomorrow we'll take a cruise along the beach around the balance of the crescent of the bay. In the far distance we can see a small village on top of a hill with what appears to be a tower or church steeple at its highest. Perhaps we'll anchor off the beach and dinghy in.

Big happenings late this afternoon. A fire swept over two old ruins on top of a hill, burned a cel phone tower and headed down the hill driven by the afternoon breeze. Two fire fighting helicopters have been busy for quite a while. One has a bucket and one has a pump and snorkel filling tanks under the helicopter. The bucket is faster but I don't know which has the greater capacity. In any event they have control of the fire and now are just touching up. Whoops, the helicopters ran out of fuel and left then the fire got going again. So they brought in the Big Gun, an amphibious twin engine plane thatskims the surface and picks up a belly full of sea water and dumps it on the fire. The plane finished the job. This was all going on just across the highway and on the hill across from Egret's anchorage. Of course we snapped a few pictures and here we'll show two. However, we took the pictures on motor drive so we have a sequence of shots from the first ball of water to the last - about 12 pictures in sequence. It is pretty impressive. We will make a copy and send it to the fire fighting folks in Naples (both helicopter and the plane came from and returned to the south so we assume they are from Naples).

After overnighting laying off the beach, Egret was returning to Gaeta passing by the mussel farms when the VHF came alive. We didn't pay any attention but then saw a small fleet of official boats heading out around the military boom toward a red gasoline tanker anchored offshore. Then a large tug came from another direction. By this time the tanker's deck crew had a water cannon going directing water to the forward part of the boat. Next the tug joined with twoVery heavy streams of water to the forward section. If we had to guess the windlass had a meltdown and they were putting out a fire or cooling it down. We didn't see any crew abandon ship and when the tug started spraying water they split to keep from getting drowned. So yesterday and this morning were fire day.

It is time to fire this VofE into space. We have the next VofE posting half completed with a few more techno items. Hopefully in the next VofE, Egret will be under way north for the balance of the summer season. Ciao.

 

 

June 20, 2011
Position: 40 54.08N 12 57.92E Ponza, Italy

Buon giorno mis amigos, (bwon jor'-noh) it's great to be in Italy. We'll be here for some months so we'll change the greeting. We are changing plans as fast as we make them. Yesterday we were going to leave for the nearby island of Ponza but didn't get all the provisioning done on the first run so we decided to finish today and we did. But now it is Saturday and Ponza will be full with weekenders so we'll wait until Monday unless of course, we change our minds.

Provisioning is a bit different as well. The hard goods are the same as anywhere but in a different language. In reality it is no big deal. Fruit and vegetables are fruit and vegetables and nearly everything is universal. One difference here is the tomatoes are grown in Dirt, not in a test tube - hyponic. As you know there is a Big difference in flavor. Italian bread is on par with the best in the world. However, buying meat is different. Pork chops come in one big rack like it came off the pig. You tell the butcher how thick you want them and they cut to order. It took today's butcher two tries to cut the pork chops thick enough. The shop was packed and everyone was watching Mary shaking her head no and holding up two fingers spread to the thickness. Meat is somewhat expensive (however, Nothing like Corsica - perhaps even half the price) and we find it is usually pre-cut Very thin which makes it near impossible not to overcook. There was one t-bone piece about 2" thick so Mary told the butcher to cut it in half (she said media - half in Spanish) and he countered with du'e - two. By then the shoppers were nodding their heads in approval. Then it was some Italian sausage, hamburger and pollo - chicken. The hamburger was great. There were lean tail cuts in a heap so the butcher just put them in a grinder and ground a kilo (2.2lbs) and gave us that. Well, ok then.

Egret's bow roller went TU (Tango Uniform) so Jayne, an American who has lived in Italy the past 25 years and has a Swan sailboat here in the marina, helped with a machinist who will make a near duplicate from white delrin (we changed the dimensions to fit TK). After nearly ten years of abuse and a roller that wasn't made for the anchor, it finally split and Mary has been having a hard time sending TK down to do his deal. We'll pick it up after a visit to Ponza. Mary and I have been taking twice daily walks into old town. Because we decided to spend the balance of this summer in Italy we have real time to putz and explore. Europeans reading VofE won't appreciate these walks like we N. Americans, Ozzies or Kiwis because Europeans are used to it. With such short history of the Colonies, the European countries we visited so far are like one big history desert. I'm sure you remember all about Lucio from the last VofE. He was placed in the mausoleum in 20. No, not 1920, or 1520 or even 1020. 20. Like in 20BC. So that's a while back.

The fishermen's wakes rocked us awake at daybreak so we got up and prepared to leave. While the coffee water was heating and the happy little Lugger was warming we snapped a couple pre dawn photo's of a couple boats, a fishing boat and a wild and crazy French boat with a young couple aboard. It was laboriously painted with blue zebra stripes over the entire white hull. It was a bit different. Fortunately it presented a nice dark silhouette against the sun when Mary snapped the picture.

When the oil was warm, up came TK and off Egret went at 1230 rpm. There was no rush so we chugged along at 5.5 knots enjoying the morning. We swung by old Gaeta for a look then around Monte Orlando then set a single waypoint course for Ponza 33.4nm away. Ponza must be a turning point for shipping because we had to deviate perhaps 4-5 times to keep out of the way.

Then we saw what looked like a condo in the distance but it was in fact a 436' sailing ship with five masts and counted xx sails. We were on a close approach course but they were only making 3.4 knots under sail probably spilling wind to time their arrival in Ponza. After turning on the iron sail and running a parallel course with Egret along the chain of islands, they stayed just off the stbd side about 1/2nm then started easing over and slowing slightly. So we popped off the waypoint and moved over a few degrees to port and they kept easing over. Finally they were Real close and made an obvious move to port and miss Egret's stern by just a few meters. I don't mean 1/8nm or whatever, I mean literally a few meters. So we hammered the throttle and turned to stbd sharply, called Idiot Captain of SV Royal Clipper on VHF 16 low power (they were so close) - no answer - then on high power - no answer. We have never before seen such unprofessional behavior from a supposed professional crew, and carrying passengers no less. Unfortunately we were kinda busy at the time but would loved to snapped a few pics to e-mail back to the head office with a blistering e-mail. (Later we sent the e-mail sans pictures)

After arriving in Ponza we anchored closer to town than our usual spot in the Inferno because it is closer and because of the wind chopping up the anchorage. Here is a look at Ponza from Egret's anchorage. Mary dropped TK in 29' in a white spot (white sand) and we sent out 135' of chain and snubber. One thing nice about Ponza is the lack of charter weenies anchoring on top of you. I don't believe there are any nearby charter companies. However, it is a weekend spot from Rome and other southern Italy marinas so it keeps pretty busy. Just off to port is a steel Italian schooner, to stbd a large French catamaran. Closer in are the smaller cruisers, both sail and smallish powerboats. Outside all this are a few large sailboats. A few Med Sleds showed up for a couple hours to anchor off the beach then split for the marina. Ashore just to port are shear rock cliffs. One in particular is interesting. It has windows and shutters in a shear rock face. The folks live in carved out rock. In front of Egret is a small sand beach with sheer cliffs behind and off to stbd is a swimming beach where day boats drop off vacationing beach folks. There are a couple restaurante's ashore to keep them fed and hydrated. The Inferno is well off to stbd. The Inferno gets its name from what appears to be white flames rising in the red/brown rock as well as isolated red rocks sculpted into flames. At the far end of the Inferno are caves for the island's water storage. There are at least two water tankers that makes round trips from the mainland during the season. Two are anchored a mile from Egret just now and the loaded one will probably pump its water in the morning and the other return to the mainland. We later learned there is water storage in the town of Ponza itself and a water tanker is on station every few days. It takes two days to discharge their water into either storage area.

A couple days later. After walking around Ponza, particularly after following every high trail, stone path, street and whatever, we got to see the real Ponza of locals. We found hidden vineyards, fruit trees - cherry and apricot, small kitchen gardens, chickens, dogs and friendly cats. Mary snapped a couple pictures of a young cat in a pretty courtyard. A few minutes later it walked by with a just captured snake!! Typically we go in the mornings until about 1300 then again around 1700 for a few more hours. Mixed in the hiking is dinghy exploring early morning and late afternoon when all the day folks are back ashore and the wakes calm. During the day, ferries, fishermen and day tripper boats are constantly coming and going. One thing that we saw first in the Aegean Greek Islands is the Russian built hydrofoils rocketing into the harbor. Until they get close they are flying the hull completely out of the water. When they get close they slow and the hydrofoil immediately settles into the water. Later we saw a more modern, larger hydrofoil racing in. A friend wrote who too visited Ponza during their Med tour in a N47. He said how they liked the Paul and Shark high speed ferry from Salerno, on the mainland. So this picture is for them, And it shows a Russian built hydrofoil. The Paul and Shark high speed jet boat from Salerno drops off folks, anchors off the Inferno then loads folks in the late afternoon for the run back. Same with a larger car and truck carrying ferry.

While dinghy exploring, we took the dinghy in real close to the Roman Baths with tunnels carved thru the rock to the opposite side of the peninsula, and even dinghyed thru a narrow natural cave we hadn't seen before. Had there been any wake it would have been not much fun, particularly at the exit where you had to cross a very shallow rock area with the engine tilted up. In the higher parts above Ponza are whitewashed homes, flat stone paths and outside showers that remind us of Aegean Greece. Some are beautiful with their simplicity and just a bit of trim and decorated with bright flowers. One entire containment wall had different flowers planted in the drain holes. That was special as well. And then of course is the water looking from high above. Out away a few hundred meters from the shore was an unusual deal looking like a small stone something with two windows. We took a long telephoto shot then zoomed the picture. Oh my gosh, its a boat that had recently hit a rock and sunk. What appeared to be windows were its anchor pockets facing the beach. All its stuff (lights - anchors - fenders - etc) were still in place or floating nearby. At first it appeared to be an older Med Sled but looking closer by dinghy later, it seems to be a large yachtie day boat with a bow pulpit for offloading tourists. The photograph is Egret' anchorage near the sunken passenger boat.

One thing you realize walking around, particularly in the upper levels are how many homes were carved out of rock, at least the first story. Some are partial carvings on one side and built on the other. In the shops down lower, when you look in you can see the carved arches from waaaay back. One entrance tunnel into town carved from rock has caves carved off to the side that today are clothing stores. In days gone by the tunnel was probably the guarded entrance into town from the sea and guards lived where the shops are today.

Next morning. Today it was dinghy exploring in the other direction. We filled the 3hp with fuel and carried a small jerry jug with extra fuel (extra fuel is Very important with a 3hp. A 3hp's tank is small). We stayed tight to the cliffs, rocks and occasional beach looking for whatever. First it was a small arch the dink barely fit thru, then we spotted a low entrance to a cave. So we idled up and once there instead of a 2.5' entrance it was actually about 3.5' at the highest point. So we shut off the engine and pulled ourselves under to see what was happening inside. Oh my gosh. It opened into a high dome cathedral type deal complete with a tiny chimney in the top letting in a bit of light. Where the light struck the rock walls was an orange lichen growth and other colors as well. There was even a tiny beach inside once our eyes got accustomed to the dark and we could see. The cave faces sorta east and when we left it was 1050. We'll go back earlier tomorrow morning if it is calm with somespecialty stuff and see if we can get a memorable photo while the sun angle shining into the cave is better. Then it was more fantastic rock shapes and another very narrow rock fissure with just enough width to squeeze the dinghy thru with the engine up. And then came the Big Arch. So we did that a couple times and it is the arch we want the LRP to drive thru by himself when they visit during the holidays. (LRP - Little Rice Picker grandson from Bangkok)

Then we saw an American flagged ketch so spent some time with them and it was back to Egret for lunch and nap chores. During lunch, Cormorant - the American boat from Gaeta stopped by to say hi and said they saw a tug towing the boat that hit the rock and sunk we mentioned earlier. We'll have to take a tour around the waterfront and see what it looks like after it is hauled.

In the past few days ashore and dinghy exploring today, we feel we saw more than the approximate two weeks we spent in Ponza during our last time in the Med. I think it is just the mindset we don't have to do anything or be anywhere other than return to Gaeta, October 1st. This is a lesson we thought we knew before but apparently not. Experience I guess. Or perhaps, CRS is kicking in and we don't remember what we think we should about Ponza. Who knows?

You know, sometimes you get lucky. This afternoon on a trip to town to see if we could see the sunk boat - we didn't - we went ashore to get rid of garbage and buy pane' - bread. We couldn't make it by the pre roasted whole lemon chicken place so we picked up a pollo - chicken and went looking for pane'. We found a place on a mezzanine overlooking the waterfront with bread. On the way back we heard chain rattling and saw a fishing boat dropping chain then running over the chain in forward in typical fisherman Med mooring fashion - anchor down and two lines to the quay (key). (PAE has generously allowed more pictures so we will follow this sequence from beginning to end). Once it came tight the captain did a series of back and fills (single engine) and headed in reverse into a wall of bow out boats. Moments before this picture was taken the boats to the bottom left and right were fender to fender. Then the shouting started and serious arm waving in typical Italian style. There was No room. So they started pushing two bows apart, one boat with crew were carrying on but the guy kept coming and shoving and the opening widened. Little by little they made a hole and reversed to the dock and were getting close. The catch was ready to go on the back deck. Check out Hawaii shorts guy with the fashionable fisherman's boots and matching shirt doing The Ponz. As they were nearing the dock a smallish refrigerator truck pulled up. The crew already had the catch sorted and put in styrofoam trays on the back deck. It was a very mixed catch with large prawns, large shrimp, small sardines, some other small school fish and a couple large bottom fish. The engine had barely been shut down and the offloading began. Within 10 minutes after arriving the refrigerator truck dropped off a new batch of styrofoam boxes and pulled away with the catch.

So let's look at the Big Picture. Commercial fishing is not an easy endeavor. White collar crime is much easier with little risk, particularly if you are a banker or politician. If you are the captain, it is a good fishing season And a good tourist year, I'm sure these guys do ok. If you are crew aspiring to become captain of your own boat some day or are just happy to be crew, there are two times that make it worthwhile. Payday and docking. Docking is the same around the world as a fishermen. Your peer group is watching your every move, your catch, and in a resort town's case, the curious add to the mix. So its showtime and time to strut. And they do. The guys that were shouting and flailing their arms at each other will probably be in a taverna later sharing a few suds or vino and talking trash about who's catch was bigger or whatever. It was quite a show and we enjoyed every minute.

So now let's look at a Bigger Picture. During the past few months, VofE morphed into more of a travel log with a few sea miles. Understand this is all part of The Life. When at sea we get into the routine and enjoy that, when pushing and pounding out the miles spending relatively little time ashore, we enjoy that because every place is so different and interesting. And now in the land of few nautical miles and occasional overnighter, we enjoy that. The commonality being full time live aboard, and that is all good. You get the picture.

In case you don't, let me explain. VofE isn't important long term. VofE has its time and place but then it's up to you. If we thought VofE was just entertainment with no takers we would stop writing. However, we don't think that is the case. Completing the Big Picture is when you Do The Deal, quit VofE and start writing your own cruising memories as the miles, long or short come together. Then you too will be on the inside looking out.

Today we repeated the arches, caves and fissures route. This time we worked at photographing the large cave. It was not easy and the results are so so. However, we did find a new fissure in an offshore rock formation what was special. It parallels one we found the other day. The first one was a physical challenge getting the dinghy thru by pulling along the walls in the narrow parts with the engine tilted not knowing if there were underwater rocks or not, or if we could even make it thru. The second was wider, higher AND had an underwater window in one chamber that lit up the entire grotto deal in a green glow. It was wild!! We snapped a few pics then just sat and enjoyed the scene. We passed our findings along to Cormorant, an American sloop we met in Gaeta who was anchored in the Inferno (the anchorage just N. of Egret). On the way back we stopped at a secret beach and Mary swam while I beach combed looking for treasures. All I found was plastic washed ashore along with some bamboo from who knows where.

Some days are special. Yesterday was one. What started out to be a dinghy exploring trip in the opposite direction ended up in circumnavigating Ponza. Yup, a 9' dink and 3hp engine. We left at 0900 and returned at 1800. Above, I was rattling on about fissures, caves and arches; well, that was chump change compared to yesterday. We went thru tunnels so long it we couldn't believe it. One was so deep we will have to return with spotlights to see where it ends. We should do that today. The rock formations on the far side of the island - I'm not sure where we were - were special as well. During all this coast hugging adventure we came across the world's funkiest beach restaurante'. It is made mostly from driftwood except the roof has store bought wood but perhaps it was used as well. Is sits on the end of a semi circular beach with vertical rock cliffs with multi colored wild shapes etched into the faces. The beach is marked off limits by buoys. There is just a narrow buoyed entrance to the restaurante' from the water. The other entrance is a tunnel dug from solid rock 2000+ years ago by the Romans, or should I say Roman slaves.

So let me describe the tunnel entrance starting from the restauarante'. First is an OSHA inspector's nirvana, there are a series of steps that have multiple dimensions in size (length, width, and thickness) and there are no two step heights close to the same. However, it is negotiable by climbing more than stepping. At the top of the steps is a square mezzanine with 1 plastic chair, 1 wood chair, 1 rattan chair and an easy chair, all from the dump. There is a sorta rail around this continuing work or art. Next is a piece of scavenged plywood in the shape of a boat, probably covering a hole, more steps then onto a Roman path leading to the tunnel. The tunnel is quite high and large enough for a horse and cart. There is enough natural light from chimneys to kinda see your way, but first you must let your eyes acclimate and not charge ahead. You could Die in route with all the pitfalls. Running along the floor of the tunnel is a black PVC water hose and old electrical wire leading to the restaurante'. The tunnel is perhaps 300 yards/meters deep. At the tunnel entrance are closed signs so anyone coming to the restaurante' must take that risk or come by water. The beach is being made safer by screening the more dangerous cliffs (falling rocks) with wire fencing material is why the tunnel is closed. All this is being done in Island Time (IT).

So we approached by dink to see if anyone was there and finally we saw movement and decided to stop. Out with the anchor* - the shore was steep and covered with small rocks making dragging the dink ashore out of the surf difficult - so the dink settled stern to the beach and we waded in. The owner saw us coming so he put on a shirt. We asked if he was open, Yup, and asked for a menu, Nope. He brought out a pan with what he had. He rattled off something in Italian, it sounded sorta familiar so we asked "how much" and he said "no problem". Well, OK then. We ordered whatever, a beer and wine for Mary. About the same time a guy came rowing in from a tiny sailboat anchored offshore. He obviously knew the owner and went into the kitchen - cave carved by slaves complete with Roman archs - and got his own wine. Out came two plates of pasta with tomatoes stewed in olive oil and spices and a giant basket of crusty bread. Peasant food for the peasants. It was wonderful. About this time a young American lady arrived and knew both as well. (She is an artist and has a home in Ponza) So we talked and before long they were eating the same (because it is what he had of course). The wine bottles were communal, one or the other getting up to refill Mary's glass along with their own. After, the boater who spoke good English asked if we would like sauteed red pepper. So he went into the kitchen and made delicious red peppers stewed in olive oil and whatever. Then he brought another beer without asking because you know who was drying out.

A few items the American passed along were; beneath the village of Ponza are enormous caves carved by the Romans in the shape of a person lying down. They are fresh water cisterns. The Romans raised fresh water eels and some type of plant. The homes carved into the rock had open air flow thru when they were originally built. Folks that converted these open air homes into more modern houses and closed them in have water condensation problems. Ponza is a heritage reserve of some type and there is no new construction. So, everyone's secret is they Dig new rooms which is not allowed. But they do. The cave appearing openings at the far end of the beach on top of the cliff are pre Roman Etruscan tombs. Ponza back as far as Roman times was used as a prison island. More recently, Mussolini was brought here so he wouldn't be killed before They could kill him, whoever 'they' were. Later we saw the bright yellow Mussolini house on the north end of Ponza village near the water. These days the bottom floor is a restaruante' and the upper two floors are, we believe, a pension/B&B.

*The world's best small dinghy anchor is a 5lb Manson Supreme and 3' (1m) of 5/16 or 3/8" galvanized chain plus rode. It hooks every time, holds great and is light. We keep it in a small bucket.

The story goes on as you might imagine but in the end we needed to get going because we really didn't know where we were* and wanted to get back before dark. We promised to return today with Egret and we will. (It is early morning next day. We are battery charging and making water) *basic navigation was to keep Ponza to stbd and keep going until we returned to Egret.

Later. After looking at C-Map Charts we now know the world's best beach bar is in Cala Chiaia Di Luna - directly across the isthmus from the village of Ponza. The two best caves are just to the north. First is the very deep cave/tunnel where you need a spotlight and the second is under the pure white shear cliff just a bit further north. The second is a deep, drive thru cave with green glowing walls. In case you make it someday.

Unexpected treasures like this can't be bought. Plastic doesn't work here. The rest of the herd was at the dock or snuggled together in an anchorage while we went off not knowing what the day would bring. To us this is what cruising is all about. A series of mini adventures linked together into a floating lifestyle that keeps getting better and better.

OK, the next day Egret returned to Cala Chiaia Di Luna taking our time running at 1050 rpm to top the batteries and soaking up the shoreline scenery. It took a while but it didn't matter. Also, we needed to close shore when the light was better to read the water. In due course TK dropped in 16' - 5m and out went 125' - 39m of chain and snubber. The water is crystal clear with a pure white sand bottom with no rocks or grass. Down went the dink and off we went with a spotlight to check out the deep cave with no light chimneys as well as our new favorite. The deep cave is just that. What appeared to be the end before was just a turn back north. The cave ended in a fairly good size room with a dome roof. Mary kept the spotlight busy spotting along the walls and in the water so we didn't crash and burn. One thing she found was lotsa small fish living in the darkest part of the cave. Fortunately the water was deep and there were no rocks shallow enough to be a problem. The second cave is a deep drive thru cave with a couple light chimneys along with underwater vents that make the walls and roofs glow a luminescent green. And there were a couple more tunnel/caves but after our new favorite they were lacking. After a late lunch it was off to the beach bar to invite the two guys, the beach bar owner and the one who is living on a small sailboat in the anchorage, to Egret the next morning for coffee and Mary's fresh banana bread. The sailboat fellow had his wife and daughter arrived from Rome so they will come as well.

Later. We met Fausto, wife Anna Maria and daughter Martina at the beach bar and returned to Egret in the dink. We showed them our home and Anna Maria loved it. Fausto stayed in the engine room for a while and couldn't get over the fact Egret has but one small main engine. Fausto has his own dream of sailing around the world. The family lives in Roma. Fausto was born 200 meters from the Colosseum and still lives and works nearby. He owns a small restaurante' and his wife works in a bank. They invited us to stop by while in Rome and gave us their e-mail address and phone number. They are such nice folks. Anna Maria is returning to work after the weekend and Fausto and Martina will spend two weeks exploring Ponza aboard their ancient Dufor 29 sailboat. Martina will never forget these days with Dad. What greater gift could you possibly give a 9 year old? These weeks memories will go to the grave with Martina and have more value than any bauble she may own in the future. Baubles are like fireworks, micro pleasure bursts that fade quickly. Think about it.

Pictured here is the wild and crazy Cala Chiaia Di Luna beach bar with Fausto, Anna Maria and Martina. The two doorways and the opening to the right open into caves. Fausto is wearing a Chile shirt from a trip a few years ago. He loved Chile*. (*For the N43 Barquita crew on their way to Chile some day).

Later. Egret left Cala Chiaia Di Luna and moved around the island to get out of the growing swell, a vanguard of coming weather, and an anchoring spot before the big weekend. Monday is a special Ponza day with the island's patron saint day along with weekend fireworks. So it will be packed. We found a great spot between two large Med Sleds that will undoubtedly race back to the dock later in the afternoon. Since arriving in Ponza we dropped the paravane arms (only). It may or may not help a bit with roll but it helps a Big Bit with boats anchoring near the 'fishing boat with appendages'. There is a 20 knot westerly forecast for Sunday late afternoon or evening so Egret will be in the lee, And close to the action. Speaking of Med Sleds, both just raised bimini tops over the foredeck mats so the Med Sled Mat Babes (MSMB) don't turn into crispy critters but still be on display. Pretty cool, or cooler than direct sunlight.

Later after anchoring. Wow, what entertainment in the anchorage!! I'll try to describe the scene. As far as you can see in the distance are boats and more boats, some are under sail in little wind, some are motorsailing, some sailboats are motoring, and the rocket boats with their high rooster tails are like a series of larger to smaller white dots in the distance. So, we have all these boats coming from the mainland And boats returning from around the island. Anchoring dynamics are a riot. All are competing subtly, the MSMB's, captains and owners. The MSMB's are desperately trying to be seen, the captains of larger boats jockeying for position in perceived peer groups of one upmanship to rain on someone else's parade, or wannabee's anchoring by association. For example, anchored close by are two large carbon fiber high end racer cruisers, one Italian and one French. So up comes an older Beneteau (inexpensive production sailboat) with a Black Mainsail (carbon fiber reinforced sail and Very expensive - probably worth as much as the boat) and dropped anchor between the two real race boats. (carbon sails on a Beneteau - you can put wings on a pig but you can't make it fly). So anyhow, (sorry for being cynical but I'm that way) this circus is coming together and up comes an 80 foot (Eighty) 25m Inflatable complete with a captain. Yup, you can't believe it. In the photo the giantus rubber boat is circling for position. The Med Sled to the right is 27m - 84'. They anchored just in front of Egret. The giantus inflatable had the owner and a desperate for attention lady aboard. Of course I'm watching all this out the pilothouse glass. It was better than any TV ever was or will be. She spots two MSMB's on the larger, near 100' Sled in front of their rubber boat so she begins a series of exercises to surely take the attention away from the two MSMB's just laying there looking cool. It worked. And so on but this went on until near dark. Of course we did our deal to join the fray and cocktailed in the flybridge then BBQ'd steaks, baked potato and peppers on the flybridge grill and let THAT smell drift downwind. In this photo you see an American flag flying below the Italian flag. We rarely fly this flag because it is the only American flag aboard And it is THE flag we flew around Cape Horn. It is one of our most treasured possessions. Of course Egret looked like a WWF wrestler in ballet class with her paravane arms swung out among the pretty boats. I will have to admit, two of the Sleds are absolutely beautiful. One is 27m - 84' and the other is approaching 100'. The 80' rubber boat was pretty cool as well. It had a pop up giantus TV under the radar arch so the owners can sit outside in the cockpit and watch with enough speakers for a rock concert and so on.

Some weeks back a boating friend wrote and asked about paravanes for a survey. They have paravanes in addition to active fins as well. One thing he mentioned was how well their flopper stoppers worked at anchor. He said they have two but usually just deploy one because it works that well. Egret has been dragging one around for years and we haven't used it in forever. So this little light went on and I rummaged it out of the lazarette and sent it down to do its deal. And it did. The flopper stopper is made by the Magma Grill folks, and is about 3' - 1m long and folds in the middle like a hinge. It works well. Prior to this we had two square flopperstoppers with 4 louvers that floated up on the fall and closed on the rise. We tried those in Italy anchored off the beach the last time here and ripped them apart in the evenings when the sea breeze quit and the swell didn't. In the end we saved the hardware and got rid of the carcass.

Now for a bit of techno. As a cruiser you have to fix things. Things break and it's all part of the deal. So you can write checks or fix it yourself. In this case we had to fix it ourselves (as usual) because in this remote place in the world there was only a beach bar owner for help. The other day the little strap that holds the end of my 18 euro Casio watch band snagged while in the dinghy and broke. Now what? Oh my gosh, crisis city. I need my watch to let me know what day of the week it is so on the weekends we can hide from The Mob. Time of course, doesn't matter. So we had to improvise. Check out the fix. Yup, an O-ring. This should last a couple years and if it doesn't we have lotsa spares in the O-ring kit.

Now for the bigger picture. We bought that watch in Barcelona in 2004 to replace a similar watch that finally died. Many years ago I bought an expensive watch from a prestigious watch manufacturer that happened to sponsor a sports car endurance race team and many of the Big Name international race car drivers wore the brand. Well, at the time we were a Little/No Name race car driver and the watch and association meant something personally so we bought one. I didn't wear it for work because it would have been pretentious but it was my secret on the weekends. These days it lays in a drawer. Every couple years I get it out before we return to the States to see if I want to wear it. I always put it back. The 18 euro Casio is who we are today. Functional, simplistic with zero pretense. The rest doesn't matter.

Now for desert. We received this e-mail from a VofE follower in Norway.

"I imagine there are times you wonder if your VofE entries are making an impact on anyone and I wanted to make sure you knew that they were.

Since I began following your VofE log about 1 year ago you have drastically shaped and inspired my family's future. By reading your log entries we realized that a life of simple pleasures, financial independence and more time for the most important things in our lives - relationships - is within our reach. You've provided the wake-up we needed, at just the right time.

Since reading your VofEs, my wife and I have...

...put together a realistic and solid plan for financial independence by the time our youngest daughter is 21 years old (we'll be 55 yrs old). Each of your log entries fuels our desire for this freedom from the corporate working world

....spent a wonderful afternoon in April with Andy @ the N Stuart office who gave us a tour of the N43 & N47. The N52 has caught my heart as I like the added outdoor space for mid-latitude cruising. (however that might change if an aft extension becomes an option on the N43.) *ed note. The N43 extension was a speculative topic on the Yahoo Groups, Nordhavn Dreamers site and not from PAE.

....spend late nights reading through all of your old VofE entries and separate all of your advice into a categories on a computer program... anchoring, tenders, fishing, Med, boating buying insight, and genset are the last topics on my mind each night

Can you see what you've done?" (and so on)

Back to VofE. This was a very special message to receive. What made it so special was reading about a definitive plan to join The Life, And the fact he wrote "my wife and I have"......so I'm sure it will come to fruition. So let's expand on this and take it a step further. How about sending Your Story to jenny@nordhavn.com. Jenny will forward it to us and we will post it on VofE just as we did here to inspire others as well. What we are not looking for is praise for VofE. We appreciate it but it will be edited out. So I guess we need Rules. OK, here is what we are looking for. If you have already joined The Life, tell us your story. If you intend to join The Life, tell us your plan. No names will be mentioned, personal or boat names. Boat sizes will be mentioned. End of Rules. This will be great fun and we can all learn from each other.

Jenny will be on vacation thru June 26th and the VofE postings with replies will resume some time after. E-mails will be posted by the date received. This is a chance to help the Dreamers whether you are a Cruiser or fellow Dreamer.

Along these lines, Egret has a current article in Passagemaker Magazine that should be out now or will be shortly (July/Aug issue). We normally don't mention articles but this one is probably the best effort from Egret and will be. The article is titled Egret's Circumnavigation And You (or something similar). The article's subject is not about Egret's circumnavigation, but about You and how to get started cruising, and stay cruising. If you don't receive a hard copy of PMM, a subscription is available on line at half price. It is worth your time. www.passagemaker.com

So there you have it. A bit of Ponza history, travels around the island and a new VofE reader story format where everyone learns from each other. Coming up in the next VofE is today's Ponza's Patron Saint day festivities. Ciao.

 

 

June 10, 2011
Position: 41 13.13N 13 34.49E Gaeta, Italy (south of Rome)

Since arriving in the Med we included a picture of Egret's anchorage in each VofE posting. We'll keep it up and along with google earth lat - lon's from web guru Doug you will get a great overall view of what its all about.

G' Day mis amigos, Egret left Bonifacio for the arduous 5.85nm trek to Iie Lavezzi. We moved slowly around the rocks at the entrance and dropped TK in a white spot (11') and sent out 75' of chain plus snubber. (41 20.32N 009 15.10E) Ile Lavezzi is completely different than the white limestone of Bonifacio. The island is a low jumble of sea sculpted granite with a few white sand beaches, crystal clear water, a white sand bottom with scattered large patches of heavy grass as well as intermittent rock piles. The granite shapes and orange lichen coloration on the rocks reminded us of Remarkable Rocks on Kangaroo Island, Australia. Some of the small sculpted rocks could be dropped into a garden or lawn for art.

The small bay filled to overflowing after Egret arrived. Thank goodness she arrived when she did because now there isn't a single spot large enough to anchor. The typical Med Sled cruiser drops the hook and a bit of chain on top then dives overboard. One Clueless Med Sled (CMS), about 50' of swoop de doo white plastic and blacked out glass, dropped the pick on top of TK then sent out a bit of chain. In addition to the Med Sleds and ubiquitous Charter Weenies in inexpensive production sailboats are another Med phenomenon, giantus inflatables (bateaux pneumatiques). Some have up to twin 350hp outboards and most are 22-30'+ long. The larger ones have not only anchor windlasses so you don't have to drop your 8lb anchor by hand in 6 - 10' of water, but Anchor Pockets. Yup, just like the megas. No tacky bow roller for these guys. The more intrepid inflatable types even run from mainland Italy over to Corsica and Sardinia. We all get along and somehow boats seem to not hit each other. AND in a few hours the anchorage will empty. There is a lone Brit boat that looks like a cruiser so if they stay for the night we'll invite them over after the masses leave and we get a chance to explore ashore in peace. Crowded anchorages like this aren't Egret's kinda deal but every now and then we have to put up with it for the history, water and anomalies like sculpted granite.

The next bay over has a landing dock for hordes of day trippers. The head boats discharge these folks by the jillions. The crowds look like colorful ants scurrying among the rocks to find Their Spot to set up camp. I will say it is a great experience for kids to explore in pristine water among the granite.

The island has tragic history. On 15 February, 1855 the sailing ship La Semillante was shipwrecked. La Semillante was on the way to the Crimean War packed with French troops, some 773 folks aboard. It foundered in a gale at midday and not a soul survived. The bodies washed ashore were so mangled only a single officer was identified. There was a person living on the island, a shepherd and leper who witnessed the tragedy. The poor shepherd was so shaken by the tragedy he went a bit dinghy. There is a military cemetery here today with unnamed graves except for the single person identified as well as a tall memorial on the higher part of the island.

Just now the CMS that was sitting on top of TK has re anchored even closer, this time probably inside TK's chain loop. There is a typical Med babe on the bow mat complete with Dow upgrades catching a few rays. The old dudes in the flybridge are loving it as long as Pasta Lady stays below. Hummmmm, 12' of water and 20' of chain. That's about right. 3 minutes later. We moved the dinghy to the port side to use as a fender. No problem. The Boys retired to the cockpit after the 5 feet to crash and burn crisis eased when the boats swung away. To celebrate the near miss Dow Girl took off her top. Oh well.

Later. As it got late and vis was leaving quickly we upped anchor and moved into the entrance channel where we dropped in a 28' - 9m white sand hole and sent out about 85' - 26.5m of chain and snubber. There was not enough room in the channel to drop more chain, however by dropping in a hole, TK would have to drag uphill in a blow and that isn't going to happen (an unexpected blow or TK dragging uphill). We couldn't take a chance on having a problem at night surrounded by boats and rocks. Now if any reason to move comes up tonight all we have to do is up anchor and head due south (M) and there is nothing in our path except a mega anchored way out and lit up like Christmas so that won't be an issue.

Next day. Yup, another slugfest thru .2m seas, little wind and a whopping 8.2nm run to Port de Rondinara (41 28.17N 009 16.12E). PdeR is a circular harbor with a white sand bottom and crystal clear water. Here again the rocks change from granite to a deep red of a different type.

There is a campground to the south, a few nice beaches and a little restaurante' on the beach. That's it except for a few homes scattered in the hills. TK dropped in 15' (4.7m) and we sent out 115' (36m) of chain and snubber. Just off to stbd is a somewhat rare 45' (14m) Italian schooner (a schooner's aft mast (mizzen mast) is taller than the foremast - a ketch is where the mizzen is shorter than the foremast - a yawl is where the much shorter mizzen is after the rudder post - and a sloop is a single mast...in case you didn't know) There are also two CMS's, 2 Charter Weenies and a small Brit cruising boat in the anchorage.

The schooner guy is trying to get his 2hp outboard running. Having watched other cruisers for a few years, a 2hp outboard is next to useless. Lotsa trouble for some reason and have zero power. A 3hp 2 stroke is the beginning of a real outboard. A 2hp 4 stroke is the worst. One 2hp 4 stroke popular for a while was air cooled which means it had a lawn mower exhaust and you could hear them coming from across the anchorage. The only good thing about that outboard was they ran only on good days, sorta like hot days in the Arctic. Natural selection took care of the problem.

2hp thru some 5hp outboards have integral tanks which means other than the integral fuel filter (you now know is nearly useless from VofE) there is no filtration. It is really important to filter the fuel into integral tank outboards from whatever jerry jug you use and no matter how clean you think that fuel may be. Obviously small outboards have teeny tiny carburetor jets so it doesn't take much to clog one and drop a cylinder. When we borrowed our Kiwi friend's 3hp outboard in Tonga, it didn't run. Part of the fill cap assembly was a steel spring that rusted and filled the tank, useless integral filter and carburetor with rust particles. So I took everything apart, cleaned everything (carb jets and float bowl - fuel line - useless integral filter and tank) including wire brushing the spring, put it together and it started on the second pull. Once back in NZ we bought him a new filler cap.

Another small outboard lesson, above 5hp, buy the most hp per lb/kilo of whatever manufacturer you choose. A 6hp is usually the same exact engine as an 8hp except for the carburetor. 9.9 - 15, 20 - 25 - 30, 40 - 50 and so on. Manufacturers make different models for different reasons. I won't get into it but it makes sense to buy an 8hp vs a 6hp for example. Just look at the weights and you will see. Weights for exact engines (different carb) only change when you start adding power trim and tilt, vs no PT&T around 40hp but even then you can simply figure it out. Electric start in smaller engines also makes a slight weight difference but here again it is simple to figure.

Another small but important item is adding a fin to the cavitation plate of your small outboard up to about 40hp. It is like going up another horsepower size it makes such a performance difference. Both Egret's 8hp and 30hp have an original Dol Fin. (Dol Fin was the first to come out with the 'cavitation plate wing' and many have copied it since)

When Egret arrives in an anchorage we pass along the anchoring details; depth, holding, chain and snubber sent out and so on. We do this for a reason. VofE is a learning tool among other things. When it is Your Time and you start anchoring on your own, these figures and its reasoning will be with you so you have a head start on the Clueless who tried to anchor next to Egret earlier this afternoon. The couple had a 43' raised salon, center cockpit semi custom sailboat and a small girlie plow type anchor. So mama is on the bow and pop is driving. Into reverse did he at about 1-2 knots, and only Then did he tell mama to drop the anchor. So mama stood on the button instead of free dropping and the anchor laboriously wound its way down, or should I say - out like a galvanized trolling lure because of the reverse speed. In the meantime Reverse Boy is rocketing backwards, propwalking or had the rudder turned because he was carving a nice arc thru the anchorage. At the same time the anchor is still nowhere near the bottom and it was only 15' deep. Before the chain even started jumping, meaning the anchor was skipping along the bottom, Reverse Boy told mama to STOP! So she did. That was it. No backing the anchor in, no nothing but retiring to the cockpit. So Reverse Boy probably thought he had 75+ feet of chain out when in reality it was about 25 if that. Then they started the Slow Drag. This was in well less than 10 knots of afternoon sea breeze. 15 - 20 knots would have put them on the beach in no time if they were ashore. We went ashore for a multi hour hike and when we returned they had moved a looooong way. So we got out the look bucket and made a big production of looking at Egret's anchor to legitimize looking at their anchor. Of course TK was buried to the roll bar and dragged about a millimeter before it buried. Then we went over and looked at their anchor. As far as you could see in the crystal clear water was the furrow the girl anchor laying on its side plowed thru the soft sand with only perhaps 5' of chain in the sand before the anchor. That 1.14 - 1 scope didn't help particularly. So we went up to Reverse Boy's cockpit and Mary asked if he parlyvous English. He replied curtly with do you parlyvous France'. OK Mr Reverse Boy no parlyvous English, your anchor is dragging we told him in Frenlish with wild gestures. He got the picture but didn't let on staring back in the blank, no comprendovous Gaulish way. A few minutes later mama pulled in the little bit of chain with the toy anchor and they left for a happy marina up the way. Its no wonder insurance costs what it does.

While on the hike we saw a first class production sailboat sail into the anchorage (Bowman 42). So we snapped a few pics. After the hike and returning to Egret we stopped by and told them (Brits) if they come over later we'll give them a copy of the pictures. An hour or so later they did. We spent a couple hours together. They have sailed the north coast of Spain and wintered in La Rochelle, France, then worked their way into the Med. This is their second year in the Med out of 5 years Out, but this fall they will cross the Atlantic with an eye on New Zealand. We filled them with NZ tales and enthusiasm. They have so much to look forward to. We were going to leave in the morning but will stay another day to spend more time with them. That's how it goes. The next day we met with the Brits for tea and snacks. They shared some of their Med experiences with us and confirmed for the umpteenth time Italian marinas Will Not return e-mails as we have learned. Let me explain. Originally we couldn't wait to get back into Barcelona so we made reservations and paid a deposit for this winter. However, geographically it doesn't make sense to winter this year in BCN because we will be so far east and would have to backtrack this season and again next season heading east. It does make sense to winter in BCN on the way out of the Med. Now we are looking at west coast Italian marinas. It is sort of a long story but to let you know how things work we'll give you the short version. We gave our youngest son living in Bangkok and his family their choice to visit in Europe or South Island, New Zealand. If they chose NZ we planned to leave Egret in a new, just getting started inexpensive marina in southern Sicily. They chose Europe so we will spend the winter aboard and not go to NZ, and now are looking for an interesting town and liveaboard community to spend this winter. Currently we planned working our way up the east coast of Corsica, would cross to Elba then up to Genoa, Italy and down the Italian east coast. However, no returne e-maile marinas (none returned e-mails) have caused another change in direction. Egret will leave at daybreak tomorrow morning for Gaeta, Italy, south of Rome. That is our first choice if there is room and if Gaeta will have a liveaboard community this winter. It is a 33 hour run at 6 knots so there will be just one night at sea. The weather is fairly settled, however we will have mild head seas with up to 13 knot easterlies for the last part of the trip. If Gaeta doesn't work out there are several marinas north of Rome to check as well. We would rather stay south because there should be less rain and it will be warmer.

Another advantage of Gaeta is just 30nm or so away is the Italian island of Ponza. We love it there and visited both on the way to and back from Turkey. While the family is visiting we could run over for a few days if the weather cooperates. Perhaps you remember the LRP grandson Kenny, now 6. (Little Rice Picker). There is a rock arch just off the island with a small boat drive thru tunnel. I would love to put the LRP in the small dinghy by himself and let him drive thru the arch while mom and dad sweat bullets and Mary and I snap a few pics from the catamaran dinghy.

We got a long newsy e-mail from Dickiedoo back home in New Zealand. Among his personal news he sent this bit of sad news. "The US $ continues to tumble, the NZ$ the highest in 26 years against the US. 0.815 or 1 US = 1.22 NZ". When Egret was in NZ we wired enough money to finance our stay to a NZ bank. The exchange rate at the time was about .62 U.S.P per NZ $. It dropped as low as .49 U.S.P. It's so sad a few years back some guy decides to chase ghosts on the far side of the world and kept printing Pesos to finance the deal. Of course the Big Guys made billions and we peasants are paying big time as will our children. And there is zero accountability. It's a heartbreaker. We'll just keep cruising and try and insulate ourselves from the sadness. I think I would rather be waterboarded than watch the 6:00 news. However, I know if I were a Kiwi or Aussie with fistfuls of el cheapo dollars I would drop a dime on whoever it is they want to call and Do the Deal.

Sorry about the outbreak. At least I did get the C. word in the rant. (cruising)

Next morning.......early. OK, back to cruising. Around 0400 a swell started rolling into the anchorage. There was no wind to hold boats into the swell and when the boats turned sideways, including Egret, the rolling started. The charter weenies in their superlight boats weren't having a particularly good time. By this time it was coming light so on went the coffee, we fired up the happy little Lugger and got ready to leave. At 0520 Egret cleared the anchorage heads, set a course of 93 degrees magnetic for a waypoint south of the Italian coast where the first of two points stick out. The first waypoint is 171.9 nm and the next two are 24.8 nm and 2.1nm. Currently Egret is making 6.0 knots at 1360 rpm running into a slight .8m swell. Apparent wind is 3.8 knots.

Mary followed a VHF warning announcement from Italy up to another channel. The nice lady's canned voice announced a shipping embargo into Syria, Libya and Tunisia. "Any vessels proceeding into those territorial waters are subject to boarding." That's pretty serious so we'll just keep cruising and try and insulate ourselves from the sadness.

Another plug for AIS. Not long after leaving the AIS went off. First it was a ship passing with a CPA of 2.8nm. No biggie. Later 72' fishing vessel F/V Circle popped up with a CPA of .26nm. Its speed was 3.6 knots which meant it was pulling nets. It first popped up at near 6nm. When we could see it in the early morning haze it was a dot in the distance. At 2nm, Mary turned 15 degrees to port and we passed at a safe distance. This sure beats getting off the pilothouse settee and chasing the target down by shortening the radar range and using the EBL - Electronic Bearing Line to see if the target moves off the line, and which way. The EBL works well in calm weather like today and rougher weather at a closer distance. This is a movable line that you toggle across a target. The bearing line remains fixed no matter the distance/scale. If the target moves across the line it means it will pass ahead of you, and if it drops back, behind you. If it remains constant there could be a collision. Here is where AIS is so much better. At 12nm for example, you put a radar target on the EBL line. Until it gets much closer it usually stays on the line unless it is moving way off. This is because you are trying to separate a target from the line when the line may have just 1/2" per nm of scale. Bottom line: AIS removes the uncertainty.

During the day until before dark the seas calmed into near glass. There is a slight swell and the horizon is barely distinguishable in the overcast haze. Rain has just appeared on radar to the SW. Hopefully it catches us and gives the little lady another rinse. Last night there were two heavy downpours. There has been little shipping because we are on an unusual route from and to an unusual end destination. Earlier the AIS set a new target speed record of 26.6 knots. We thought it was military or a planing mega but it was a cruise ship. 26.6 knots sure tells a waterline length story.

Next morning. Late in Mary's watch, 0100 - 0500, fishing boats from Italian ports came flooding out. Unlike Spanish fishing boats that trawl mostly parallel to the coast, these boats headed straight out strung out in a horizontal string that makes avoiding the fishermen super easy. There is only 38nm to go before Egret arrives in Gaeta. I believe we will anchor and dinghy in first before entering the marina, particularly if a sea breeze is blowing. There is an anchorage just off the marina to the north.

Reminiscing a bit, it seems so easy now to pop out an overnighter or couple day jaunt. It wasn't always that way. Our first overnighter wasn't aboard Egret but our little Grand Banks, Proud Mary. We left a yacht club in Miami for a night crossing to the Bahamas and on to Nassau before stopping. We were sooooo excited and I'm sure a bit nervous. We were towing a 16' flats boat, however we had towed it twice before on longish - at the time - treks so we weren't nervous about that. Of course we promptly stuck ourselves in the mud, ON a falling tide, and of course we sucked up the tow line in the prop......ON a falling tide. So over I went with a serrated fillet knife and sawed away. We cut the line off the shaft and prop, retied the dink, managed to back off the sandbar and off we went, just a bit shaken but still full of enthusiasm. We both spent the entire night awake in the flybridge we were so excited. The radar was in the flybridge and we could see so much better. That was the first night of a 30 day unprecedented vacation in the Bahamas (all we ever did was work) and set the die for where Egret is today......38nm from southwest Italy.

This part of Italy must be low country. Radar has land (Capo Circeo) at 11.6nm and we can't see it in the morning glare.

I wrote this above, then at 6nm a hill, Monte Orlando - Orlando Mountain, appeared out of the haze. Around the Monte Headland to the inside is the town of Gaeta. TK dropped in 18' and we sent out 135' of chain and snubber in the anchorage N of the marina. (5.6m x 42m) There was an American boat in the anchorage, a Corbin 39 built in Canada with super nice U.S. folks aboard. They have been out since 99. We met our first Ruskie cruiser, actually ex Ruskie, from Riga, the capitol of Latvia on the Baltic Sea. Vladamir and his wife Ala have been out 5 years. Also there was a smallish Swedish boat and a Swiss. Both the Swedish and Swiss left the next morning.

In the photo of Gaeta's anchorage taken from the top of Monte Orlando, the foreground marina is where Egret will spend the winter. The newer part of Gaeta (still pretty old) is to the left and to the right you can see the protective boom for the Nato Navy base next to the marina.

The Americans spent the winter in Gaeta and filled us in and hand held us over to the office and got us started. It is very hard to get into Gaeta because of the growth of boating in recent years. Wealthy folks from Naples and Rome keep their boats here as well as locals so the marina is full. Some go on the hard during the winter opening a few spaces for cruisers. We won't bore you with the details but Egret is IN for the winter starting October 1st and have paid a months deposit. Now we have to let Barcelona know and see how that goes. So we are Really happy. Gaeta is a Real Italian town with little tourism. There is an old city that is older than dirt complete with lotsa old churches and a couple castles. Marn snapped this picture of Old Gaeta as Egret was arriving at the anchorage.

The main shopping area is a one horse cart wide alley the next passageway behind the waterfront street. We already found our favorite 3 butchers, 2 fruit and vege shops, bakery, barber, had lunch at a quaint (that's being generous) restaurante at the end of a tunnel, around the corner with 3 plastic tables outside and more inside. Their sign is simply a plastic table with a blue tablecloth and an empty wine bottle on the street before the tunnel leading in. Lunch was superb. Mama cooks and waits. Her 5 year old brought the menu then showed us her new doll. Oh yes, we ordered a glass of white wine each so she just bought a pitcher. Ho hum. Change came out of her purse. You gotta love it.

We stopped by the Ruskie boat and they invited us aboard. Next was some Latvian "medicine" of a liquor of some powerful type served with ground coffee beans and hot water pureed into some sorta mud. I guess its sorta like antithesis sips of lime and tequila. They have a large Jenneau sailboat and are trying to work up the nerve to cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean. Unfortunately they got caught in a Force 12 gale in the Bay of Biscay and instead of hoving to they ran for shelter (dirt) and got killerated. His youngish wife is fairly new to sailing so it wasn't a particularly good start. I promised them they could go around the world in mid latitudes and not see weather even close to that and they won't. She isn't so sure.

During a walk to and back from old town Gaeta we saw a wild and crazy restaurante' built into one of the old city walls. The window into the second floor restaurante' was a typical ye ol arch with red flowers on the sill. Outside there was a white table and two chairs in front of the door leading up to the resaurante'. I promised myself we would come back and eat dinner upstairs. Walking back from town the gate was shut so I looked inside. Welllll, tis no restaurante', tis an antique restorer. Yup, language problems.

You can't see it in this picture, but the building to the left is an ol tyme recycled building. The building blocks are from eras gone by. Some Roman writings and carvings are even mounted upside down. On the left side of the entrance are 3 different columns to hold up the arch with 3 different bases and tops. We have seen recycling in many places in Europe including some of the Aegean Greek islands. On the way back to Egret it was getting dark and the street lights were coming on.

On a morning hike we came on something interesting. Winding our way to the top of Monte Orlando there are various signs with nature stuff. Among those there is a local Ceratonia siliqua (Black Locust) "Opera singers used to use the black fruit legume to help the voice. The seeds, called carats were used as basic unit for weighing gold." Flowers of Gaeta.

At the top of Monte Orlando is a Mausoleum, 29 meters in diameter (93') with four interior chambers, built for Lucio Munatius Planco*, a rich Roman, from one of the most famous times in Roman history. In a nutshell, Lucio, Julius Caesar, Cicero, Triumvirs Octavian and Marco Antonio were bubs. Then Brutus did Caesar so the others piled on Cicero's train. Marco and Lucio were good bubs but when Marco got tangled up with Cleopatra, Octavian ratted out Marco to Cicero, Octavian took the news to the Senate and the senate decided to do Marco. So they went to war and Marco and Cleo lost, Cleo split with her fleet leaving Marco who then lost his fleet. Later Cleo did herself as did Marco some time later. *"(Lucio Munatius Planco, son of Lucius, grandson of Lucius, grandson of Lucius, Consul, Censor, Emperor twice settemviro of Dives, winner of Reti, built with his plunder the Temple of saturn, divided into fields in Benevento, Italy, founded in Gaul (France) colonies Lugdurno (Lyon) and Raurica (Basel)." There will be a short quiz on the next VofE.

There is a U.S. Naval presence here. A large turbine powered star wars catamaran stopped by for an overnight visit then left in the morning.

In the good news department, today we got a Vodafone "internet stick" so we'll have internet until next April for sending VofE pics. We plan to spend the remainder of this summer's cruise in some part of Italy. I believe we will provision tomorrow then head across to the island of Ponza before it gets crazy busy for the season. In the meantime an Australian sailboat from Adelaide anchored close by followed by a steel French sailboat. Its going to be a good summer. Actually, it has already been great.

So there you have it. A bit of history, anchoring stuff, outboard stuff, a minor rant, and future plans. In all this you can see just how changeable we cruisers are with plans written in sand at low tide. Ciao.

 

June 3, 2011

Position: 41 23.45N 009 09.37E Calanque de la Catena, Bonifacio Harbor, Bonifacio, Corsica

We are using a new format for today's pictures matching photographs with text. We hope you enjoy the change.

G' Day mis amigos, Egret is under way. She left Mahon on Thursday, 1845 local on a two waypoint course to Bonifacio, Corsica. The first waypoint is 3nm offshore of the NW tip of Sardinia. The second waypoint is just off the harbor entrance. Actually we only needed a single waypoint but with a single waypoint the course would take Egret 1nm off the Sardinian coast and there could be possible accelerated wind and current rips, etc. The trip should take something under 40 hours. There are variable winds predicted, mostly from the west that will give us a push and none forecast more than 9 knots. Just now we have 3.8 knots apparent with a 1' following sea. She is making 6.8 knots at 1380 rpm. Egret's favorite kind of cruising.

We would have spent more time in Menorca but Bonifacio is super popular and with the season fast approaching we needed to find a spot in our favorite anchorage. A local in Mahon told us the season is from June 15th to August 25th. However, we have seen nearly a daily increase in small boat traffic, particularly in Mallorca. More on that later.

Now we'll wrap up Menorca. The air show was a non event for the Egret crew. It took over an hour to find an internet cafe' to send the last VofE's pics. As we were doing that we heard Jets. 45 minutes early. After wrapping up the pics off we went back to the waterfront but it was over by the time we hiked the couple k's back. Then it was more old town exploring and back to Egret. Today was museo' (museum) day and ye old church day, some light provisioning including a return to Panaderia Major for baguettes and two Very naughty chocolate/chocolate cupcakes, then it was back to Egret.

We had one interesting incident. We were walking toward the museo and Mary saw an open window at street level with a lace curtain across the top and a cylindrical lamp on inside. It gave off an amber glow and barely lit the interior. So anyhow, she started taking a series of pictures and an attractive lady came out and invited us inside. It turns out it is a residence built in 1740 and today is a 6 room hotel. She said there was no one there so help ourselves to walk around and be sure and see the views from the roof top terrace. We had a great time and the rooftop was indeed special looking out over the old part of town and toward the harbor. So we snapped more than a few pics, staying perhaps half an hour. She said she is watching the hotel for friends and enjoying Mahon. She was a lawyer for 14 years, got tired of that, went to Africa for 8 years and now is here. One thing else that was interesting, she said she Never invites people in but I guess with our tans and boat clothes we weren't your average sunburned tourista. We told her Egret's story and when we left she was buried in VofE. Her English isn't perfect, but certainly better than any second language we have. She said "you live you life". That was kinda cool.

We saw postcards from the hotel and our pictures seemed as good or better because we were both shooting wide angle lenses. We'll make a copy of the best and send it to her from Bonifacio. Mary took this photo of Casa Alberti's stairwell. The ceramic bust on the pedestal was beautiful but time cracked and showing its age. Perhaps it was Ms Alberti. hotel Casa Alberti www.casalberti.com +34 971 354 210

Later back at Egret we serviced the catamaran dink by flushing the engine and greasing the steering tube and swivel pin. I think this time instead of letting the catamaran sit and sit, we'll start it every couple months and use it for a day or so. One item that is critical in letting an outboard sit, particularly a 4 stroke, is draining the carburetor. It is best to run the engine to stop with the fuel line disconnected, THEN drain the last residual fuel from the bottom of the carburetor float bowl by loosening the drain screw on the bottom. If you don't the fuel will evaporate leaving goo in the bottom of the bowl and will make the engine's life miserable as well as yours. However, there is a way to cheat that usually works. Yahama and Mercury make a fuel system cleaner that Works. Yamaha's is called Ring Free and I'm not sure of Mercury's. They work on 2 and 4 stroke engines but if you use it on a 4 stroke you must change oil after running thru a tank of gas. Both 2 and 4 stroke benefit from a plug change after a tank of fuel as well. And while we're on this, there is a simple item than can also make your life a lot easier. A simple in-line fuel filter inserted AFTER the squeeze bulb (toward the engine) will save you a lot of grief. The under cowl fuel filter in small outboards is ineffective to terrible in stopping all but the largest pieces of debris and does little to stop water when the bouncing starts. Honda 4 strokes in particular suffer terribly from the slightest bit of debris or water.

One thing that makes the catamaran easier to use is we drop a 12" x 72" Aere inflatable fender over the side next to the dock or in Mahon's case, a rough seawall, so it can bang away in boat traffic and no harm done. The front of the fender clips on a forward lifting eye and the stern clips onto a cleat bolted to the inside of the transom. On both dinks we have a cleat mounted inside the transom on the port side. We use this for a number of things from a stern anchor to securing the dink fore and aft at a dock and so on. We started lifting the little dink at night to keep the bottom from fouling and potential theft. We only lift it as high as the cap rail in the cockpit and tie it across at the stern and the bow line is tied up on the boat deck.

Next day. Overnight it calmed if you can imagine that. Last night just before dark we snapped a photo of a large sloop outlined against the setting sun. We'll call it Sunset Sail. Now it is noon local and the wind has picked up to an apparent 8.4 knots, still behind the beam. Egret's speed has varied between 6.2 and 6.8 knots since leaving. The seas have picked up to a slight swell with a tiny bit of wind chop on top. There is no spray. The Naiad's are turned to their lowest setting and the slight motion is actually more pleasurable than no motion at all. We feel like seafarers once again and not like Intracoastal Weenies.

The other day we received an e-mail from a cruising buddy and N owner, asking about Egret's 12V Iso Therm refrigeration. We answered his question by saying yes we would order it again. Additionally we gave him the long version. We'll pass it along as well because it contains useful information and a bit of food for thought.

"Now I'll give you the detailed information. On the inboard side of the counter is the combo fridge/freezer and the freezer only unit is outboard. The combo unit freezer door measures 10" and the fridge, 18". It is the same height as the Sub Zeros. The insulation is better than Sub Zero and it doesn't require 17% loss of efficiency to convert electricity from 12V to 115V. That's like a 17% tax on anything you buy/use. Pretty steep.

The freezer is 5" shorter than the combo unit, its door measures 29"h x 20"w, but is still quite large in capacity. We had an artist type stainless guy in NZ fabricate a polished stainless wire grill with two decorative waves on the front to make up the difference in height. Then we painted the top of the freezer flat black so there is nothing to be seen in the hole. The overall width of both units combined is the same as the Sub Zeros and required no woodwork modifications to install. Actually we did add one small piece of teak on the outboard side of the freezer.

Another BIG advantage is the combo unit AND dedicated fridge. We can keep at least 2 weeks meat and whatever frozen in the combo unit freezer side, plus the fridge. We have the freezer only turned off and won't use it at all in the Med because provisioning isn't a problem anywhere. So we don't burn those amps unnecessarily. One disadvantage is there is no ice maker and we have to use trays. We freeze ice then transfer it to 1 gal zip lock bags. The freezer is cold enough the cubes don't stick to each other. We also have to defrost. We take the meat out and wrap it in a couple towels then take a blue blower* and blow into both sides. In no time the ice can be slid off the walls and the contents put back in. The meat or ice doesn't even begin to defrost or turn white. (ed note added later) *www.lewismarine.com figure 399, number BB3000 (We use the Blue Blower for a number of uses including evacuating engine room heat while under way with the floor hatches up and engine room door open (about a 20 minute process), drying this n that and so on)

The combo unit gave us fits when we got it. It had a defective schrader valve and took about $400 U.S.P*. and 3 attempts to get it sorted plus a couple other issues. I'm sure it is a one off problem and we would still order another. (U.S.P. = U.S.Pesos for you newbies)

If we were buying new we would have the Iso Therm units installed at the factory. However the 46 has a problem and perhaps other models as well. On a long, multi day passage, particularly where it is warm to hot outside, cumulative engine room heat percolates up and super heats the cavity where the units sit. Under counter Sub Zero's compressors are on the bottom so they heat faster and if the cooling coils at the bottom (behind the decorative grills) aren't kept spotless they become inefficient. To try and help we put D cell West refrigerator fans in both the fridge and freezer. Those helped. I also duct taped 13mm close cell foam to the top of the engine room below the units hoping it would help a bit. I'm not sure it did.

So, if we were buying new we would have a drop down panel of perhaps 2-3 times the insulation in the engine room below the units. The Iso Therm compressors are mounted on top the units where they belong so their heat doesn't rise past the box but they still generate a lot of heat. I put a computer fan on top of the shorter freezer unit and a small on-off switch protruding thru the decorative grill to help evacuate the hot air. Under way, when you walk by the grill you can feel tons of hot air blowing by. The next step is to install a 4" computer fan to be more efficient. It only runs under way so the amps don't count.

Because of the more efficient boxes, compressors mounted on top and reduction in total amps, I believe we drop at least 100 amps usage a day, or about 25-30%. If you compute this into generator fuel/wear and tear over 5 years or more* it is a considerable figure that could be saved by checking a different box on the build sheet if PAE chose. During the past weeks, on sunny days Egret's 600 watts of solar help a bunch as well. With solar we maintain the running amps during the day as well as gain back about 30 - 50 amps from the night before. We charge 1.5 hours in the morning only and that is wasteful. We would be better off charging every other day to get the max amps per charging hour. The reason we don't is if we have a cloudy day on the second day it takes the batteries lower than we would prefer simply because I don't want to listen to the generator that long. Also, the hot water cools after 36 hours sitting in the cooler spring Med water. We can actually go 2+ full cloudy days without charging if we wished and no harm would come. Actually most likely 3 days. All this is based on Med temps and sun. Obviously if it were cooler like other places we have been, the fridge wouldn't be cycling as much but the solar would not help much. Its all a trade off but this combo works for us.

*Let's take fuel at an average price of $5/gallon. In the Med it is WAY more as you know. We just paid $5.48 in Gibraltar and that is the cheapest fuel in the Med. Most boats XX's and Egret's size charge 2 hours in the am and again in the pm. So that is 2.5 additional gallons/day (9.5 ltr) while on anchor more than Egret. And let's say in the Med you are on anchor 165 days out of the cruising season. (165 days out of 182 - 6 months). So its 165 x 2.5 = 412.5 x $5 = $2062.50 x 5 years = $10,312.5. Not bad for checking a different box AND not putting on an additional 2062.5 generator hours with its associated expenses. However, to be completely fair you have to pay for solar as well. Another thought. If you are a full time cruiser elsewhere and there is no wintering on TBFYC, those figures would rise. (The Big Fat Yellow Cord)

One last thing. By shedding the 115V refrigeration we don't need a large (2500 watt) inverter. When the Trace died the last time we bought a solid state Trace 2000 watt inverter/charger that weighs just 26lbs vs 99lbs and it hasn't missed a beat. If I had it to do over again I would buy the 2500 solid state just for the larger battery charger side. What would be even better is to have two 2000 watt side by side and have a Smart Person hook the two chargers together so they share equally and have 200 amps charging with the other inverter side on standby by using a 1-2 selector switch.

In case someone asks".

Later. I should also add, if you are a Pacific Northwest - northern Europe cruiser or spend considerable time as a Marine Queen it doesn't matter nearly as much and certainly we wouldn't pay for the upgrade if we already had Sub Zeros. The same for adding solar panels. If you cruise as Egret or spend a lot of time in the tropics, the 12V upgrade and solar, or new build change and solar makes sense. It is simple math.

Last VofE we mentioned changing VHF antennas on the AIS to get better reception. I learned something today about AIS. Apparently programing isn't intuitive, at least to the technically challenged. After changing VHF antennas there was NO difference. Today I went thru the program and deleted all filters except the CPA alarm of 4 nm and time to CPA alarm of 30 minutes. Now the ships show up at something over 12nm* and the alarm typically goes off at 8-10nm because of time. Another lesson learned. And paid for. *We changed the range from 12nm to 24nm in addition to 4nm and 30 minutes to CPA.

It is 0515 Friday morning. The daybreak sky is going thru the usual morning pastels and we are getting a first look at Corsica. Off to port is a low mountain of Corsica with others stretching away to the north. Overhead is a large grey cloud rapidly turning pink, that looks like a giantus flying bird. Egret's waypoint is 21.8nm in the distance. The seas picked up to a 1 meter swell from astern. There is no wind and we are riding the tide that slowed Egret much of the night running at 6.6 knots with the happy little Lugger purring away at 1380 rpm. We had a minor incident during the night on Mary's watch. Egret's waypoint 3nm off the northern peninsula of Sardinia is not an original thought. A smallish freighter rounded the point and set what was perhaps a waypoint for the entrance to Mahon Bay. Of course this meant we were on a collision course. Mary turned 25 degrees to port (away from land) at 5nm but the AIS still showed .3nm CPA. At the time we were squirming a bit in the around peninsula seas so the AIS reading was not steady. She called me up to double check. At 3nm I turned another 10 degrees to port and called the ship and asked they switch to VHF 06, then asked they turn to port as well. The watch stander came on and said they just turned 15 degrees to port so the CPA rapidly increased. We passed at 1nm. No problem. I will say it was nice of them considering they were only 3nm from shore and had the right of way.

VHF weather forecasts are a study in culture. Sardinia (Italy) is a few miles to stbd. Corsica (French) is a few miles to port. First comes the Italian forecast. A nice lady's voice announces the VHF channels by region, first in clear English - the International language at sea, and secondly in Italian. When the forecast is given on the appropriate channel, the lady's voice becomes canned and somewhat cryptic but if you listen closely you can pick up your region's forecast in English. The Corsican forecast is announced in French in a voice of a pensioner. Period. Typical.

Arrival at Bonifacio is best described as windy with 2m following seas. It was gusting to over 25, so when we made the turn to port entering the harbor we had to give the little girl a handful of throttle passing below the citadel at the entrance. Once inside the wind kept up but the waves ceased. So up we went to our favorite (second cove) spot hoping to anchor in Our special place like last time and take shore lines ashore to large steel rings from ye ol tymes. Things have changed. Now all along the bottom of the rocks, the cala is steep rock cliffs about 100' - 32m high, and about 150' - 47m wide, are new galvanized rings set into the rock with chain leading over the rocks to lay lines connected to a chain running up and down the narrow cove. Of course there is no one to help and of course it was still gusting to over 25. Finally we dropped TK into all that mess and prepared to lower the dink to take a line ashore and get started. Then of course we had to re anchor twice because we were being blown into the rocks. Both times we were lucky to recover TK with no trauma. Finally a French cat crew came over and took a line ashore and from there we managed to get snuggled in with 3 lay lines

forward and 3 polypropylene shore lines we last used in Patagonia. Actually it was more complicated than that but enough is enough. After all this some French dude in an officious looking boat stopped by and asked if we speak French. Of course we don't because if we did we would have thanked him for all the help......so we said "no". Then he answered in perfect English, "do we know this is a PAY cala or cove or something?" Yea, I suspected that so I said "yes" and he left. So we'll see.

We hoped to make Bonifacio our base for inland exploring Corsica. If the charges are stupid we will move to an anchorage up around the corner to the east and use that as a base. In any case we are happy to be here and Corsica is beautiful and full of history.

In all the confusion I didn't even record when we arrived or any other details. I suppose it took about 39 hours overall and another hour++ to get the lines set. Then it was a stiff tot of grog and nap chores for a while. Now there a couple giantus steaks thawing, the smoky old ferry with a happy whale painted on the side is leaving and life is back to normal. What will tomorrow bring? Don't have a clue. Isn't that great?

Next day. The wind stopped and it is a sunny, warm day. While battery charging and making water this morning the harbormaster stopped by and asked if we were leaving or whatever. Today he was very friendly and we chatted a bit. We paid for 2 nights, 20EU/night ($30 U.S.P.) We are OK with that for a while so today starts exploring ashore. He said there is space in the marina which is rare but at double the price we won't move. He also offered water at the dock before we left which was very nice but we declined. RO - reverse osmosis - watermaker water is the best in the world and one of the benefits of living on anchor.

(Mary is reading her log and said we previously arrived in Bonifacio, May 24th, 2005. Frenchmen Dominique and Nicole arrived the next day from mainland France in their brand new Dufor sailboat having just retired. They too struggled docking in the wind. We helped them get set and loaned them an anchor to bolster their girl anchor that came with the boat. So you can see we all help other.)

We walked old town up inside the Citadel most of the day returning late. Bonifacio is not like a typical European town including the old sections we have seen here and there. Bonifacio is older. Most alleyways are wide enough for a horse and cart. The ramparts leading up to the city are not steps but relatively smooth for horses and carts. The houses in parts are older than old. If you look inside at the stairs, the first floor is somewhat normal but steeper then they become ladder like with rails or ropes to pull yourself up. If you live 4 storys up and have to carry anything heavy like a kid or groceries it has to be a nightmarish daily routine. Looking inside shops, they all have heavy pillars and arches as the first floor. Tourism is huge. Most are French but we have heard German and English. We have met or heard no Americans. Prices are steep. We stopped for lunch where locals were eating. Mary ordered a cold seafood salad and a glass of white wine and I had lasagna and a beer. We both had an espresso after. The bill was 40EU or about $60 U.S.P. for an average meal. The next day we had a pastry snack and I noticed a coke in the take away bakery was about $3.50 U.S.P.

Next day. Before leaving Egret we saw a French sailboat across the way trying to get a line ashore with one guy trying to get ashore with the line by rowing and the three others on board not knowing what to do while the boat drifted away from shore. So we used the dink like a tug and turned them around while row guy finally got a line ashore then brought back a lay line. None spoke a single word of English, about like our French, but the ladys were obviously thrilled. They asked if we were Anglaise (Ahn glay - English) and we said American and they were thrilled. So we carried the flag just like the French sailors who helped us 2 days before.

On the way to the town dock we passed the giantus three masted ship Silver Cloud. She was old but in beautiful shape. So around and around we went in the dink taking pictures, dodging the tour boats, and waiting for the wakes to subside. Silver Cloud was magnificent. We would love to have a tour. When we returned in the afternoon she was gone.

Back up the walk up to the citadel but instead of turning right into old town we turned left (N) and took a major hike along the white limestone cliffs of the east coast away from the citadel of Bonifacio. The crystal clear water in greens and blues mixed with the white of the limestone, blue sky and red tile roofs of Bonifacio was a sight to see. We could see Sardinia just 12nm across the Bonifacio Strait. We snapped away but after looking at the pics on the monitor it was disappointing. The photo's themselves were great but they would have to be printed super large to have any sense of scale. So what we're saying, a reduced pixel internet picture won't show much. We were very happy to see it all however. The rock trails along the cliffs had to have been walked by folks for thousands of years. One skeleton on display in an underground vault was dated at 6500 BC. 'Bonifacio Lady' was found in a grotto. It was a long walk and we returned to Egret late afternoon.

After returning I was sitting in My Chair with dusty feet on the ottoman rehydrating and looking out the salon window toward town. Mary was off doing nap chores. Egret is anchored in a cove just across from the deep water dock and part of the fortifications. One particularly foreboding part is a wall that is vertical on top of a near vertical cliff. I was thinking over the years how many young guys were told by their commanders, who in turn were told by the King Guy, to get over the top boys and givem heck. Now if you were a young peasant type looking at that wall you Knew it was going to be Bad and there was No Way anyone could scale the wall with rocks, more than a few arrows and even molten lead pouring down. One King Guy, King Alphonse V of Arragon (Spain) who already had Sardinia and his region of Spain wanted this too. He needed the harbors of Bonifacio and Calvi at the top of Corsica to consolidate their hold on Western Mediterranean trade. The other Big Guy, the king or whatever of Genoa, held Calvi and Bonifacio. So Arragon King Alphie laid siege to Bonifacio, its a long story but he didn't make it and lost a lot of peasantus. It was all about money as all wars. Of course they are presented differently to whip up outrage or nationalism but in the end it is all about money. Thru relatively recent years (800 years), Bonifacio has more Genoese history than other. Most folks don't know that Napoleon wasn't born French but Corsican. In 1815 Corsicans were made French citizens and remain to this day.

Reading more about the history later, Corsica had ancient cultures, then the Greeks, Romans and three Italian powers bickering over the island, Pisans, Medici, and Genoese, the Ottomans were in there for a while, then the French a number of times and even the Brits gave it a short go. In addition, for 500 years or so the Saracen pirates (Muslums) terrorized the small coastal towns and established small raiding bases of their own. Its been a tough road over the years for these folks suffering to make some rich guy richer.

During the late afternoon on into near dark there has been a parade of Italian flagged sailboats coming past the anchorage heading into the inner harbor marinas. There must be a coming sailboat race or possibly a cruising rally. Perhaps we'll find out tomorrow. One dark blue hulled British sloop about 80' (25m) came into the harbor as well. It was an absolutely beautiful flush deck yacht with a small raised house varnished to perfection. What a class act.

There are two Norwegian and one Dutch sailboats* rafted across the way. They met in the Med earlier and both have Boat Kids so they hooked up. The kids and parents converse in English. Two of the young kids, a boy and a girl about 6 and 7 just guessing took the dink out for a row. The boy (younger) was rowing his sister who had a long pole with a rag on the end as a flag and was waving that around. They had a ball rowing up and down not far from Mom and Dad. These Boat Kids will never forget these days. Neither will the parents. INSERT BOAT KID IN DINGHY PHOTO HERE 2 to choose from.

*Mary took a great picture of the Boat Kids so this morning I made a CD copy and took it over. The young family took a 1 year sabbatical and have been cruising the Med for the past year. The BK's have to be back in school August 1st so they are fast tracking to France where they will ship overland to the Baltic then sail back home.

Next day was windy, not much going on but an afternoon hike to the coast. Just before dark we heard a hoot from the families across the way. The Norwegian kid jumped in the cold water and cooler wind and gave a shout. His sister was on the back of the boat jumping up and down but didn't follow. Kids are bulletproof. I wouldn't get in the water unless I absolutely had to, even with a wet suit. Tomorrow will be a provisioning day because after it will be a series of small anchorages along the coast until the next town, where ever that may be.

Next day. Today was provisioning day, about $250 U.S.P and we easily carried the bags to the dink. We put the canvas bags on the seawall next to the dink and Mary climbed in to load the groceries while I went off to the bakery for fresh bauguettes. Five young French guys stopped by and insisted in helping by handing Mary the bags. Nice guys. Incidentially, when shopping we carry up to 5 canvas bags for groceries. It is so much easier than plastic and better for the environment. When heavily provisioning we pull a 2 wheel cart, we call it our Barcelona cart*, in addition to the canvas bags. *We got the picture watching little square ladies in long black coats every morning in Barcelona doing their daily shopping pulling these carts. We bought one and have used it everywhere.

We'll leave you with this. Since announcing the Stidd Ocean Voyager chair on VofE for stay at home Virtual Voyagers, Egret has enjoyed insider information at Stidd. The latest is a real hoot. A nuvoriche Eastern European dude with a new Diesel Duck on order commissioned Stidd to build a one off helm chair that is "original and memorable - cost is no object". So Stidd did. And charged the owner 14,000 EU for this masterpiece. Pretty cool, eh?

So there you have it. A bit of Mahon, a bit at sea, a bit of Bonifacio, a bit of Corsican history and an inside look at an American manfacturer's latest offering. Ciao.

 


Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.

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