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Egret
"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders


July 29, 2006

Egret's destination after leaving the 'must see' island of Elba was the Arno River leading to Pisa, Italy. Pisa is just 11 kilometers inland. We weren't comfortable leaving Egret in the river after idling as far inland as we dared. With no immediate back up we charged north to a headland giving us protection from the north winds if they came up. This part of Italy gets an afternoon sea breeze 10- 22 knots dying before dark. Our destination was Portovenere-PV (Port Venus).

Wow!!! Portovenere is at the southern end of Italy's Riviera. There is a sheltered bay with a small harbor. An island on the south gives protection leaving a pass between mainland PV and the island. We dropped the hook in 46' of water just before dark, good holding. As is our custom, we anchor away from the day boats choosing a longer dinghy run to shore giving more privacy and security from dragging boats, etc. At times Egret was surrounded by mega yachts, some with helicopters. One estimated at 185' moved because the yacht that anchored behind him made his boat look like a shrimp boat. These charters pay up to $250,000+ per week to enjoy what we do for peanuts and a little vino. Well ok, maybe a little beer too. Amazing.

PV is a beautiful three-deep group of pastel three- or four-story houses surrounding the harbor and going down the bay a bit. The 'harbor houses' are relatively new, just 300 years old. There are the obligatory castles/forts above the town. At the harbor entrance there is an unusual church built in the 1100s that is black and white striped horizontal marble. After two days visiting the sights, eating too much gelato (great Italian ice cream) and getting ripped off in a tourista restaurant we stumbled on a marine store.

Marine stores are a weakness of half the Egret crew and most all boy cruisers as well. The same half of the Egret crew has a weakness for well built 'stuff' that works. To make a long story short EACH of the Egret crew has a lightweight Sevylor inflatable canoe, one single and one double. Our maiden voyage was BOTH of us in the double paddling to a cave "just around the corner" of the seaward side of the island. Well, 120 kilometers later (or so it felt) we found the "cave you can paddle through" but declined. It was in the afternoon with the sea breeze puffing big swells so we paddled in and back out. I will say the cave did have some interesting formations inside from dripping water. By the time we got back to Egret, the absolute love of my life and I weren't happy with one another. We are unskilled paddlers - on top of which I didn't pull the self bailing drain plug - so there was LOTS of water onboard that we had to lug around. Plus the super long first outing made it difficult. Bottom line, each paddle their OWN canoe except for short jaunts; you'll both be happier, you'll go faster and track straight.

After three days in PV Egret, with two inflated canoes on the foredeck (shades of Sanford and Sons here), sailed north up the Italian Riviera. Just around the corner to the north of PV is the Cinque Tierre region. Initially there were five villages that are perched on the mountain side reachable only by sea until fairly recently. Incredible!! The very small houses are still occupied tending tiny vineyards (perhaps 200 feet of vines) and a small kitchen garden. The steps on some villages is an estimated (by me) 1000 from the water to the village.

All had shacks on the waterfront with small boats pulled up on the rocks. (There is no beach at all). The coastline is simply breathtaking. We just about filled the memory on the digital camera in the last week (over 300 pics).

Egret is currently anchored off the beach in Sestri Levante. SL is another pastel home village occupying low ground on both sides of an E/W headland, harbor on the south, beach on the north. On top of the small headland named Torre Marconi is a tower where Marconi did early experiments with radio transmission. After the Italian siesta, 1300-1600, we will dinghy to shore. Should be fun...again.

July 26, 2006

Last VofE Egret was underway to Porto Ercole on the coast of Italy protected by a large headland. With Egret anchored off the beach we spent two days exploring the town. Porto Ercole is a typical smallish village with the relatively new part of town (last 200 years or so) built near the harbor and the old village scattered up the hill above. There are two forts protecting the harbor on either side. Fresh fruit and vegies later we sailed 60 nm to Porto Azzurro, Elba. (I know this brief description of PE sounds so mundane, it would be a special trip to remember for most fly in folks, but we do this every day. This is why we are trying to encourage you to cruise the Med)

Now we'll talk about something special even for cruisers......Elba. Our friends on Grey Pearl (62 Nord) said Elba is a must see. When the Pearl says something is a must see it IS a must see. Egret anchored in Porto Azzurro, Elba (N42 45.50 E10 23.95) off the main harbor in 46' with good holding on a Friday afternoon. We anchored away from the crowd and put the paravane poles down with flopper stoppers deployed. This again had its usual result keeping all boats away from THAT boat. The only downside is many boats came by for a look see including the head boats. Soooo the flopper stoppers did their duty. Our only company was the rowing lifeboats that practiced late afternoons between us and shore.

Porto Azzurro is not the major harbor in Elba but a smallish town built around a harbor on the south side. There are four forts/castles built on the hills around. Being so close to the Italian mainland it is a VERY popular weekend haven for the mainlanders. By late Friday afternoon the slips were full and the anchorage to the south was packed. Thank goodness we didn't have any wind. In the mornings all the boats leave to anchor around the island in small coves to swim and relax. In the afternoons they all race back. When we left Wed morning the anchorage/marina was 20% full.

Elba is very much like the Aegean Greek island of Samos. Elba is a fairly good sized island with a dry southern shore and a wooded northern shore. We rented a car for two days and drove every road we could find on the island. The scenery reminds us of the Oregon coastal highway with the cliffs to the water, Appalachian back roads with thick greenery and small streams, and the Rockies with sharp smallish mountains down the backbone of the island. Like Samos there are two incredibly beautiful, quaint mountain villages. We wandered and ate lunch in both. Unlike so many places we have been - particularly France - these are regular working villages with full time residents. There are kids, bicycles, dogs, laundry hanging from pulley systems from the windows and LOTS of chatter. One nice thing is you hear very few TV's in the background. Elba is a happy island.

Wandering along the waterfront we noticed a sign in a restaurant saying they were recommended by the 356 (Porsche) Owners Group. We inquired about the sign and found out the manager- co owner with his family, Michela, is a Porsche aficionado consumed by his hobby. Michela is in his early 30's. He speaks about as much English as we speak Italian, VERY little but we talked for hours about Porsche's with lots of hand waving, etc.

A bit of background on the Egret crew. We married in 1968 and went on our honeymoon in a 1959 Porsche 356 Convertible D. Soon that morphed into our first Porsche race car followed by a number of others. At that time in our lives Porsche Club of America was our passion as was our group of friends. This continued through the middle eighties when Mary ran her last race. I moved into another race series and got back into fishing/boating. We understand his enthusiasm reminding us of our youth.

After dinner at his restaurant one evening and a visit the next morning to see his restored 1962 Porsche coupe I gave him my very last link to that past. In the bottom of tool box number three I had a Porsche Zenith carburetor idle air adjustment tool and a float level gauge. These two tools are over 35 years old. Michela now has possession with the promise if ever Porsche 'finito' he will mail them back to us.

Bottom line. You future Med cruisers put Elba on your 'must see' list.

Egret is currently in route to the Arno River on mainland Italy just north of Livorno. From there it is an eleven kilometer bus ride into Pisa. Sounds like fun.

July 19, 2006

In our last VoE, Egret was under way to the Italian Pontine island of Ponza. If every trip could be like that with seas under 1 foot in fact except for a short time transiting the Straits of Messina, we have not turned on the Naiad's, just keeping them centered since leaving Saracusa, Sicily. Again today leaving Rome we have no seas but let us back up to the little 'must see' jewel of Ponza.

Ponza is a small mountainous island, just a few kilometers long with two small villages and scattered groups of homes.. We rented a scooter for half a day and were back in two and a half hours including lunch. Most of the cruisers visiting Ponza are Italians coming from nearby Rome - 60nm and Naples 25nm. Nearly all visiting cruisers anchor. The docks are poor and take the brunt of the many day tripper boats, hydrofoils and ferry's. Our favorite anchorage is in the Inferno (N40 54.75 E12 58.02). The Inferno gets its name from the white 'flames' reaching up in the red rock. Egret anchored in 30', white sand. With the paravane arms deployed and the flopper stoppers out the roll was almost non existent MUCH to the envy of the sailboats scattered around. The worst roll award goes to the large go-fast tubs with all the weight above the water.

We circumnavigated the island by dink sticking our nose into every nook and cranny, cave and arch. The relief and rock sculpting are breathtaking with clear Med water below. The island is riddled with caves, some natural with a lot carved into the rock. The most spectacular is on the Ponza town harbor side where there are tunnels leading from the Roman baths to the other side of the island with connecting passages disappearing into dark holes. My kingdom for a flashlight. Some homes have a tunnel/stairs leading from the beach into their homes.

Being a tourist town every service is nosily available however once away from the waterfront the 'real island' takes shape. We found a great restaurant, after a herculean climb, on top of the small mountain. Trattoria di Monte Guardia Restaurant (guardian mountain) is a typical small Italian village family affair. Momma cooks, kids wait, Poppa drinks beer and serves the after dinner wine. Our dinner the last night was an anti pasta sampler: mussels, tuna, fried eggplant, cold eggplant with topping, fried zucchini cakes, anchovies marinated in lemon, artichokes, different olives and cold green beans. The main course was swordfish sauteed in olive oil, capers and seasoning, local white wine, & great Italian bread. Oh yes, Poppa came by with the after dinner wine.

An early morning sail from Ponza brought us to Porto di Turistico, Roma by late afternoon. This visit to Rome was the boat chores of buying another small dink to replace the one we ruined, a few other odds and ends plus receive mail. Last year we spent 3 weeks in Rome with some NAR boats doing the tourista bit. We now own a small Zodiac, 9'2" - 73lbs, to use with our little Yamaha. The marine store in the marina complex is the best we have seen between Ft Lauderdale and Marmaris, Turkey. The manager Stefano speaks good English, along with "good French and Italian" Russian, Romanian, Hungarian (native language), some German and Spanish. Geesh. They also heavily discount. This is an ANOMALY for Europe. We bought everything we could think of we needed for the next 18 months or so.

Let me take a moment to tell you about our mail service. Dependable mail service like dependable financial people are priceless while cruising giving us the independence we strive for. St Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs, Fl has done a great job for Egret since we retired. They rid us of 'spam' mail forwarding real mail when we request it. This is a service just for cruisers, by cruisers. They UNDERSTAND us. The cost is $15/month plus shipping. They also have a buying service meeting or beating the discount retailers plus other benefits. They have NEVER failed us. sbi@boatmail.net, www.boatmail.net, 800 544-2132.

Mary has picked an interesting anchorage for this evening, Porto Ercole. PE is on the south side of a large headland 60nm north of Rome with a natural beach/cove. The village is on the shore with a castle above. This should be fun, perhaps we'll stay a bit.

July 11, 2006

Egret is underway from our anchorage at Scario, Italy (N40 02.99 - E15 29.41) on an easy overnighter to the Pontine island of Ponza, west of Naples bay. Our speed is 6.4 - 6.9 knots at 1375 rpm burning very little fuel on a course of 295 degrees M. The seas are 2-3' swells, 4.9 knots apparent wind and a beautiful full moon shining over the stern quarter.

There are a number of reasons we write about Egret's adventures/misadventures. The reasons are simply directed to encourage others to enjoy the lifestyle we love so much and are happy to share with all. We write about the good, the bad, the problems, the cures but my favorite subject is the priceless memories the Egret crew are accumulating. Last evening in Scario was a very, very special evening. Pricless.

The year before we visited Scario with two other NAR Nordhavns. It doesn't take long to find a favorite restaurant, befriend the employees once they find out you are yachties, not just a regular tourista. When you anchor off their tiny village everyone knows who you are. There IS a difference to these people. We went back to 'our' restaurant last evening to watch the World Cup Soccer finale (football/fotbol to the rest of the world), Italy vs France. The World Cup is an every four year event. It is the Super Bowl, World Series, Daytona 500 and Indy 500 rolled into one event for a large part of the world.

The setting was beautiful. The full moon lighting up Egret anchored 300 yards away below the cliff made us feel proud. La Scario restaurant is a couple hundred year old three story home with a kitchen below. Mamma and helpers cook. The kids wait tables with help. The tables are on a patio covered by huge white canvas umbrellas and a giant olive tree overlooking the large circular bay. After dark the other small waterfront villages are lit up dotting the shore with mountain villages sparkling above. No mega anything here.

We ordered a traditional Italian dinner in THEIR order: octopus salad, pasta with mussels, veal, garden salad, fruit, espresso and of course Moretti beer. There were about 40 locals with just a few young people for dinner and the game. The majority of young people were down in the waterfront bars doing what young people do.

The game was exciting. France made the first goal and we all groaned together. When Italy made their goal we all cheered. When Italy won in a sudden death shootout we all went crazy. When the locals found out we were Americans I think we endeared ourselves to the whole crowd. The owner was so excited he opened the bar with champagne for all. What a great evening. It is something we'll never forget sharing their country's joy in that setting.

Today we went back for lunch, the last meal at 'our' restaurant. We had a simple lunch of pasta and an octopus salad. When the bill came the two services charges were omitted and they took 5 euros off the bottom of the bill. We gave it back in a tip. Their gesture, heartwarming. An hour later the dinghy was back aboard and Egret was underway. Ain't life grand?

July 8, 2006

We left you last VOE with Egret's dilemma. Our time passed slowly anchored off the beach. July 4th the year before we spent in Rome with three other NAR boats and all the American cruisers we could round up in the marina. We had an American 4th with burgers, hot dogs, corn, wine and even some Buds. This 4th was different.

Finally Thursday the 6th arrived. Our experience went well - sort of. Ever so slowly Egret made its way into the marina under wing alone with a single dog leg turn into the haul out slip. We lined up perfectly with just a tad of thruster, again moving VERY slowly. Mary and I had rehearsed our docking, emergency contingency using our dink as a tug, with lines and fenders around the boat. We tied the big dink close to the boat with a WARMED engine ready to start first pull. We hit the slip dead in the center. Mary was to throw our line to them to just pull us in because the slip was so tight we needed to be hand led once inside. They insisted on using their lines. Big mistake. Their yard dog took a few turns on their line, left it unattended so when it tightened it pulled Egret into the slip wall putting another scar on the stainless rub rail.

The damage was not the cutless bearing as I thought. When the rope tightened around the prop it water starved the flax packing. The stuffing box packing heated black and seized the shaft. (Another lesson learned) I used Corrosion Block the night before on the stuffing box & tapped the outer flange with a hammer from time to time. The next morning when the mechanic made his diagnosis I removed the flange & let him change the flax. I had pre-cut packing rings in the engine room but the heat had dried them out. We had a full box in spares under the forward bunk & it was like new. (Another lesson learned) After replacing the packing everything was fine. No vibration, etc. Thank goodness for the PAE heavy duty installation. On lesser boats the engine could well have been pulled off the mounts.

After leaving the yard we went back to re anchor & wait for the yard to deliver our dink before we left. I was in the engine room checking the packing drip. The bilge looked like caramel. OIL!!!!!! There are just a few sources of clean oil. A split 1 gal container, the stabilizer cooling reservoir, an engine with just changed oil (the main was just changed) and the gear. No split container, Naiad ok, engine no leakee, gear hose leakee. The mechanic had knelled on the heat exchanger hose and split it. This was a GOOD THING. The hose was dried and cracked. These hoses normally last forever. I have a pre made fuel hose made to the longest length of fuel hose run that is the same diameter and same end fittings as the hose for the gear. The burst pressure is less than the factory gear hose but is acceptable. I changed it & it worked with no problems.

I took the bad hose to the yard to see if they could have one made. Long story short - they made two of each & they are installed. It turns out the second gear hose was perfect. Strange. Now we have 1 complete spare set plus the good original & the fuel hose.

That behind us we had a great trip north up the southern Italian coast to the tiny village of Scario. On the approach we ran through a heavy rainstorm. Rather than Mary getting wet on the foredeck anchor detail we ran up and down the beach letting the heavy rain in 22 knots of wind give our little ship an excellent wash. When we anchored the rain had quit. The village is basically three houses deep, twenty five or so wide arranged around the small local marina. The homes are typical Mediterranean. Two or three stories high painted in pastels. Beautiful. We were here last year. We needed cash last year but they don't have a bank or ATM so had to take a bus to the next village to find an ATM. We made friends with the restaurateur on the waterfront in front of where we anchored last year and are anchored again. We'll go there tomorrow to watch 'futbol' and cheer for the Italians in the World Cup final game (Italy vs France). That should be great fun.

All is well again with the Egret crew. We have a few more spares and a little less money. Life is good.

July 1, 2006

The 89-hour, five-minute sail from Crete to Siracusa, Sicily was routine. Egret had a couple of minor bounces and experienced head current most of the way. Speed varied from 4.7 - 6.9 knots at 1400 rpm. We increased rpm (1800) the last 2 1/2 hours to make the anchorage before dark (we did). We spent about 10 days in Siracusa the summer before meeting 5 other Nords from the rally (Envoy, Grey Pearl, Satchmo, Strictly For Fun and Uno Mas). We enjoyed our time together visiting Mt. Etna and other inland destinations.

In addition to the usual periods of history Siracusa has two memorable locations for the Egret crew. The first is the main cathedral in old town where they used the enormous columns from a Greek temple to the gods as the partial support of their place of worship. The second is the incredible market open six days. This is an open air L shaped market where you can buy tings from the Chinese, leather goods from the North Africans, and mountains of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, all kinds of meat, cheese, olives and fresh anything you can think of from the Sicilians. The vendors are lined up side by side with huge quantities of what ever it is they are selling. No skin pack here. The place is packed with shoppers with a few touristas mixed in. Some vendors shout their offerings in VERY loud voices. These sounds come from their toes up as if they were opera stars but with a one or two word vocabulary. Mary and I have been to a lot of markets in the Med, mostly weekly markets in villages, but the Siracusa market is special.

After Siracusa, Egret was day hopping up the Sicilian coast, through the Straits of Messina separating Sicily from Italy and north up the Italian west coast. One stop was the town of Tropea, Italy. We anchored off the beach and took the dinghy in to explore the town. After climbing the almost 200 steps to the town above on the bluff we realized we had been there the summer before. So after a quick reminder tour we went back to Egret and decided to tow the dink another twenty five or so miles north before dark. The weather was very calm. We ran slowly along the green countryside close to the beach enjoying the afternoon and lunch on the flybridge under way.

We stopped well before dark dropping the hook backing it in as usual but forgetting the dink under tow. At that point the Egret crew's world went upside down. We had prop wrapped the dinghy painter pulling the dinghy UNDERWATER down to the prop, ripping out the tow eyes and slashing a 2'X10" rectangular hole in the side of the 9' dink before it popped back to the surface minus the 8 hp Yamaha cowling and one Dolfin (cracking the cavitation plate when it ripped off). What a mess. We winched the dink tight to the swim platform using one of the sailboat winches we use for paravane retrieval then hoisted it back to the boat deck by the handle on the front of the engine. (the lifting harness was ripped out as well). Once what was left of the dink was secure on the boat deck Mary and I got out our hookah rig (an electric air pump with regulator and 100' air hose). I went to work with Mary helping in the cockpit. First I recovered the engine cowling then got busy cutting the line wrapped around the shaft. We have been prop wrapped before on every inboard boat we have owned but never like this. It took over a half hour with a commercial 12" serrated fillet knife to free the line plus another ten minutes with a pair of large pliers to tear the line from out of the cutless bearing. Until this line came free the prop was frozen. After the line was clear the prop turned but very hard. Close inspection using an underwater light I could now see the cutless bearing was ruined. This is NOT what I wanted to see.

Nothing more could be done underwater so after a quick rinse we went to work on the outboard. I put it back on the rail where we keep it & gave it a good fresh water rinse. After draining the carburetor and pulling the spark plugs I kept pulling the starter rope pumping the sea water out of the cylinders. After a while with fresh fuel and plugs we gave it a pull and it started on one cylinder on the first crank. After drying the second plug that beautiful, never say die little Yamaha, lit up and ran like a top. We ran it two days in a row on a hose and it never missed a beat. At least we salvaged SOMETHING!

Running back to Tropea, the nearest yard, on the wing was, lets say, different. (Egret's wing engine is a 28hp 3GM30 Yanmar with a two blade folding prop-We run the wing faithfully once a month under load for two hours to keep it running well) This is the first time in five years of owning Egret we HAD to use the wing. A secondary method to turn the main shaft would NOT have worked had the main been disabled. We learned a few lessons using the wing. 1. To turn to port with the wing is not going to happen unless you are making at least a couple of knots and the rudder turned almost hard over. Turning to starboard is better because of the offset prop and shaft. (Egret's wing is on the port side) In a very calm sea, or marina with little wind, you can use the bow thruster to help. On the larger Nords with bow and stern thrusters there is a HUGE advantage. 2. Once under way the auto pilot WILL keep you on course to a waypoint in relatively calm seas. (I don't know if seas are over 3-4' on any quarter if it will) We were running the wing at 2800 rpm where there was little vibration. At 2900 there was more vibration than we wanted for a long run. 3. Our speed varied with the currents from 2.2 - 3.6 knots) 4. In a confined area everything must be done in very slow motion. You have almost NO reverse. At 2000 rpm in reverse the wing would not lift the anchor chain tight for a set. I believe a three blade folding/rotating prop would have less vibration with more power in reverse (speculation on my part).

Egret carries a spare main and wing cutless bearing so the first order of business is solved. The boat yard in Tropea have agreed to haul us this coming Thursday (today is Sat) and change the cutless bearing. It took a lot of pantomime, hand waving, smiling and pointing to the bearing to get the point across. They have also agreed to stand by with an inflatable 'tug'. So I'll leave you here. The next hurdle once the new bearing is installed is to see if there is any vibration from alignment or, heaven forbid, engine mount problems. Everything appears to be ok but we'll see.