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May 2007 - Sicily, Eastern Italy, Croatia

Croatia | Dubrovnik | Folk Singers

Croatia | Dubrovnik | Folk Dancers

May 27, 2007

Another visit to old Town Dubrovnik today. We went to mass at the Cathedral. We had a special treat because there was a festival going on in town. We enjoyed watching the dancers in traditional costumes perform their dances. Then another group also in traditional dress sang Croatian folksongs. Fun fun

Croatia | Dubrovnik | Walls of the Old Town

Croatia | Dubrovnik

Croatia | Dubrovnik Marina | boat canal to haul out lift

May 26, 2007

Hi, Oh what a day! They came knocking on our boat about 7:30 to haul out. We had to drive Artemsi down a canal to the lift. It was a major ordeal because their crane was not properly set up to take our boat out. The front carriers on their crane wouldn't allow them to set the straps in the correct place to lift the boat. We had to turn the boat around which meant backing out of the canal, turning around and backing into the canal to the lift again! We had to take off the roller furler. No help from the marina staff. They just kept saying we are done hauling boats at noon. Al was getting quite nervous about them taking off before we could get the boat ready for them to try again to haul it. It was quite difficult to loosen the furler to get the bolt off. Al was busy running around loosening the other rigging to release the pressure. We had to take the sail off and move the baby stay (stay sail) Finally by 10:00 they were able to try again. Success. But then we had to rehook up all the rigging and once again it didn't want to pull forward enough to put the bolt in. Al rigged a line onto a winch and was able to put enough force on it to pull it into place.

We worked all day putting things away and washing the boat down. We washed it twice and tomorrow we'll put on some AWL Grip Sealer. The bottom paint looks good so we don't need to paint it. But the thru hauls and the bottom of the keel all have barnacles on them. Good thing we hauled. Even after tightening the prop with big wrenches in New York the nuts came loose but the prop stayed in place. Our zincs looked good about one third of them are gone. So we'll replace them when we come back. We're learning a lot about a boat in salt water. The put our boat right next to the villa gardens and the birds are singing and the Angeles bells just rang out. Al's finally starting to mellow out after a stressful day. Our US cell phone number is 952-215-4349. We leave Dubrovnik on Monday on Croatia Air at 12:05 to Frankfurt. We fly Lufthansa out of Frankfurt at 5:00 and arrive in Chicago at 7:15. We leave Chicago at 10:20 pm and arrive in Mpls at 11:41 PM. (6:41 AM on Tues by our Croatian time table) Tomorrow we hope to visit Dubrovnik again. Love and God Bless,

Love Sally and Al

Croatia | Dubrovnik |

Croatia | Dubrovnik |Clock Tower

Croatia | Dubrovnik |

Croatia | Dubrovnik | Old Harbor

Croatia | Dubrovnik | Church of St. Blaise

May 25, 2007

Hi, We are back in the Dubrovnik Marina tonight. We had a beautiful day motoring (very little sailing) the 15 nm back here. I polished some of the stainless and Al worked on the toe rail. We figured a nice sea breeze was easier to work in than a hot marina. We took a bus into Dubrovnik and visited the Old Town (Medieval walled town) today. It was more beautiful than we had expected. It's very clean and well kept. No signs that it was bombed during the war. The restoration is complete. Many beautiful museums, buildings, churches, and quaint narrow streets. Much of the old town has been taken over by restaurants, hotels and tourist shops. But the over all view is very picturesque. We plan to go back again tomorrow after the boat is hauled and visit some of the museums. We ran into one of the couples we had met from South Africa and had a beer with them. Later after dinner we met another nice couple on the boat next to us from Switzerland. It's always so fun to here first hand about life in other countries. The great thing is so many people speak English. Love and God Bless,

Love Sally and Al

Croatia | Mainland Kabas Bay| free mooring at Restaurant dock

Croatia | Mainland Buoyed entrance to Stonski Kanal| dingy ride to Ston and Mali Ston

May 24, 2007

Hi, We had a lovely night at anchorage in Slano and a lazy morning. We decided to move up the coast and visit Ston in the Stonski Kanal. We Med moored with a lazy line for free in Kabas Bay. We were told the Kanal was not dredged deep enough for us to go further. So we took the dinghy up to Ston (3-4 nm) and then walked over to Mali Ston (Little Stone). It was a pretty dinghy ride and the shore looks a lot like the Canadian North shore.

Croatia | Steps on wall around Ston

Croatia | Ston | view from the wall

Croatia | Ston | Steps on the wall around the city

Croatia | Ston | old salt pans

Ston is a medieval town linked to Mali Ston with a defensive wall. Both towns were surrounded by strong walls, towers and a fortified wall was built over the hill between the towns to join them together. We walked up the wall to the top (straight up) to one of the towers and then down the other side of town. The views were spectacular. The old salt pans and marshes quite visible from there. They would pump seawater into the pans and then let them dry out. At one time these salt works was about two thirds of the income of Dubrovnik.

Croatia | Mali Stone

Croatia | Mali Ston

We walked over the isthmus to Mali Ston. Both towns are trying to restore their medieval buildings caused by bombardment during attacks by the Serbs and an earthquake that occurred in 1996. We're planning on a dinner at the restaurant here tonight provided the approaching storm passes quickly. We'll head back into Dubrovnik tomorrow afternoon. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Croatia | Mainland Kabas Bay | Free overnight Restaurant moorings

We had a wonderful meal with a couple from South Africa and one from Holland. Great fun visiting and sharing stories. You would not believe this lovely small quay, harbor ended up with eight boats and everyone came to dinner at the restaurant. The singing is lovely and we ended up back on the Dutch boat with John and Barbara for cognac. We are so glad we left Dubrovnik now we know what we have to look forward to when we come back.

Love Sally and Al

May 23, 2006

Hi, We haul out on Saturday May 26 at 9 AM so we've decided to go cruise the islands for a few days. We took on some fuel in Gruz. It's a little bit cheaper than Italy. 1.04 euro's a liter while in Italy the cheapest we saw was 1.14 euros a liter. We motored about 13 miles to pretty little bay on the mainland, Slano. It was heavily bombed by the Serbs in 1991 so everything is pretty new. It looks like mostly a tourist area with two big hotels and cottages for rent. The Franciscan Church of St. Jerome (14th century) and a couple of houses are all that remain of the original town. There are some Roman and Illyrian archaeological sites and the remains of the Rector's Palace too. The coastline is beautiful with steep cliffs, sandy beaches and many forested islands. Slano has pine forests and olive vineyards and beautiful beaches. We took a dinghy ride around the anchorage and then into the quay. Not much of a town but they are trying to rebuild. We walked around and bought some bread. It's a beautiful night in the anchorage. We're glad we left the harbor. Love and God BlessLove Sally and Al

Croatia | Slano

Croatia | Slano | anchorage

Croatia | Gruz

May 22, 2007 We woke from our nap to someone pounding on our hull. Oops I guess we read the cruising guide wrong and tied up in the wrong place. The customs man was not very happy with us. First for not tying up in front of the quarantine building (which we didn't see at 5 AM) and secondly for not checking in immediately. Evidently unlike Italy they are open 24 hours. We had to move the boat and register immediately. The cruising fee was 1805 kuna ($332).

Croatia | Dubrovnik River | Dubrovnik Marina

We left Gruz and went to Dubrovnik Marina about 2 nm away. We motored under a beautiful suspension bridge and up the river with gorgeous mountains on either side. Great marina with showers and a pool. We gave Artemis a fresh water bath which she needed after the saltwater drenching she got yesterday. We need to take a bus into Dubrovnik so we probably won't go until tomorrow. We're tired and need a shower. Love and God Bless

Love Sally and Al

May 21, 2007

Hi We left Brindisi, Italy about 800 Monday for Croatia. We arrived safely at Gruz, Croatia around 0530 Tuesday morning. Of course we never got the predicted weather forecast. We were on a heading almost straight North and the winds and seas were NW 15-25 kts all day. We had a double reefed main and reefed jib. It was a wet and uncomfortable sail. The wind switched right out of the North just after midnight. So we had to motor into the seas. Fortunately the wind was light out of the north and the seas died down. Not the most comfortable passage but we made it safely. We dropped a bow anchor and backed into the quay at Gruz. We haven't cleared customs yet but Al is sleeping so we'll go to Customs when he wakes up.

Italy | Brindisi | "The Big Rudder" the Italian Sailors monument

May 20, 2007

Buon giorno, Still windy today but a high pressure is moving in. We may leave for Dubrovnik in the morning depending on our weather forecast tonight. We walked around town this morning and went to 10:00 mass at S. Pietro as the Duomo is closed for renovations. Father greeted Al and I before mass, asked where we were from. He noticed my English mass booklet and showed me the readings for today were for the Assension rather than for May 20. When mass began he greeted the congregation and welcomed the guests from Minnesota. Of course all the little children seated in the front pews turned around to look at us. This was our last Italian mass for a while. We were finally beginning to understand more words and some of the songs and we're moving on to Croatian. We don't even have a dictionary yet. I hope more people speak English there than here in Italy. We stopped at Caffe Betty for lunch down on the quay. Later we took the harbor taxi across to visit the Italian Sailor monument and gardens. The cost has risen to 1.50 euro each way for a (5 min. boat ride). We walked down to visit the Yacht Marina and decided we were glad we were on the quay. You're along ways from downtown and have to take the harbor taxi to get there. We like hopping off the boat and being where things are. The draw back is people are walking by and talking late in the night. If we leave tomorrow I won't write a log until Tuesday. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Lecce |Centro Storico

Italy | Lecce |

May 19, 2007

Today we got up early, showered and took the 8:43 train to Lecce (30 min train ride). What a beautiful city. Much of the architecture is the highly decorative Lecce Baroque style, which flourished in the 1600. (Lecce was called the Florence of the South) Pietra di Lecce is an easily carved stone seen everywhere in the city. Lecce is also famed for it's papier-mache workshops. We visited several and saw some lovely nativity sets and religious work. We visited many beautiful churches including the Duomo, Chiesa di Santa Croce, and our favorite Chiesa del Carmine. We had a picnic in a lovely park. We headed back to the train station on side streets and ended up where we had started from. The streets wind, many alleyways so eventually we were confused. The next time we stayed on the main street and arrived without a problem.

Italy | Lecce | Piazza del Duo

Italy | Lecce | Basilica di Santa Croce

Italy | Lecce |

Italy | Lecce | Duomo

We caught the 2:25 train and was glad to find the boat safe and sound. We worried as the wind was blowing 30-45 kts on the Adriatic. It's amazing how the town completely shuts down between 2-4:00. We walked down deserted main streets not a car or person in sight until we reached the harbor front and cafes. We're still along the town quay for free. It's funny. We'll look out the portlights and see people posing with their hand on the lifeline taking turns having their picture taken. I've surprised more than one curious little boy when I open the curtain and wave. We're waiting for high to pass over Italy and give us the west, southwest winds that would be ideal for our passage to Croatia. Unless things change it looks good for Tuesday. We're grilling a steak tonight and resting our tired feet from our excursion today. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Brindisi | Artemis on quay

Italy | Brindisi | Column marks end of AppIan Way

May 18, 2007

Buon giorno, Rainy day we put on our rain jackets and grabbed an umbrella and went out to explore Brindisi. It was a nice surprise as the cruise guide didn't have anything great to say about it. Lots of piazza's and shops. A column marks the end of the Appian Way, an old Roman road, that begins in Rome. We visited the Duomo and went by Borgo castle but it is occupied by the military so we couldn't go in. The rain sent us back to the boat for lunch. We did boat projects and read.

Italy | Brindisi | Artemis on town quay

May 17, 2007

Buon giorno, We got up and left the harbor about 5:20. We had 1 meter seas off the bow and were able to motor sail for 3 hours. Then it was right on the nose out of the North. After we passed the firing range at Cataldo we motored more NW to help the boat along. We had a 1 kt current against us plus 2-3 meter seas so we were barely making 4 kts. It took us 9 and half hours to go 40 nm. We arrive in Brindisi just as a thunder and lightning storm was passing through. We only got a few sprinkles as we tied to the town quay. Two men on the quay helped us tie off broadside. We met an English couple Trever and Julie who have been here for a week with no problems and the quay is free. Al's napping. I took a nice hot shower. I think we'll lay low tonight. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Otranto | Harbor

Italy | Otranto |Aragonese Castle and Old Town Otranto

May 14 - 15, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a lovely day in Otranto. It's a lovely town and we plan to stay another day here at anchor. We met two fun cruising couples. Ron and Julia Ripps on "Ripple" from Scottsdale, Arizona and Mats and Ann Ljungberg on "Olivia" from Sweden. We had great fun sharing cruising stories. They had lots of cruising tips and Croatia is back on our cruising plans. Ann and Mats gave us their cruising notes for Croatia and Greece. They had many nice free anchorages and learned where to go from Croatian cruisers they had met. The weather decides whether we leave the boat in Italy or we cross to Croatia and leave her in Dubrovnik.

Italy | Otranto

Italy | Otranto | anchorage at Otranto

We visited the Aragonese castle and Duomo. The Old Town is like many of the towns we've been in with narrow, cobble streets and alley ways. The castle walls and beautiful boardwalks, offer wonderful views of the harbor and Med. The piazzas are lovely with flowers, shade trees, and beautiful palms. One minute you can be roasting in the sun and the next relaxing in a cool shaded piazza. The main draw back is lots of tourists and students on field trips. But I suppose you get that in beautiful interesting places. We are seeing more people in swimming.

Today we did boat jobs. Al took the winches apart to grease them. He broke them down all the way for the first time. Big job. I studied the Croatian cruising material we got from "Olivia" We tried to figure out our sun cover and came to the conclusion this canvas was not made for this boat! Our friends are leaving for Sicily tomorrow. We'll hang tight another day in Otranto as the grib files show strong winds our direction to Brindisi but great for people heading south. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Santa Maria di Leuca | Duomo

Italy | Santa Maria di Leuca | Roman column sent by Mussolini and placed here to mark Appian Way

May 13, 2007

We went to 8 AM mass this morning at the Duomo in Santa Maria di Leuca and stopped for latte and croissant after. We didn't specify cafe latte so we got frothy milk. Oh well live and learn. Happy Mother's Day to all of our family and friend mothers. We stopped at a chandlery and bought a new boat fender just for Mom. Our boys called from Christopher's bachelor party at 7 AM this morning probably midnight in Chicago. There was a lot of noise in the background and it sounded like a fun time. They couldn't hear us so they hung up.

We left Santa Maria di Leuca for Otranto about 10:30. Again it started out as a calm sunny day so we motored along the caves and enjoyed the scenery. It's about 22 nm to Otranto. About 12:00 we decided the choppy waves and winds from the north were not fun to motor into. We had about 15 miles to go so decided to sail off the waypoint. We had a pleasant sail not to waypoint but this is a sailboat! About 2:30 everything started dying down so we motored. Then about 3 nm from the harbor we went into a FOG bank so on went the radar. We broke through the fog as we passed the red mole and moved into the anchorage. Viability was under .05 . We didn't see the other boats visually (on radar I could see them) at anchor until we were ready to drop ours. We have a new meaning to the Italian boater. They're zooming in and out around the anchorage trying to enter the inner harbor in the fog. At one point the fog lifted slightly and we could see a huge ship with a pilot boat along the mole waiting to leave. Probably a ferry. We're happy to stay put until the fog lifts completely. We want to be ashore so we can make some phone calls. Al needs to call his mom! Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Santa Maria di Leuca| new harbor wall

Italy | Santa Maria di Leuca | Artemis on harbor wall

May 12 , 2007

Buon giorno,We had a beautiful crossing to Santa Maria di Leuca yesterday. We left at 6 AM and thought we were in for a great sail with North winds 15 kts. But by 9:00 it dropped to 9 kts and by 10:00 we were motoring. It was a sun bathing day. It's usually too cold on the water and we're bundled up but not today. We arrived at Santa Maria Leuca about 4:00 and we did see the rock reef in the entrance that was unconfirmed in the guide book. But we had plenty of depth staying to the port of it. We tied up on the wall where the trawlers tie for free. We weren't sure because there seemed to be signs everywhere. But other cruisers we had met had tied there. Before morning there were 7 of us tied along the wall. I'm not sure about the marina. We did try to tie up to the outer pontoon and we touched the bottom although the guide says 5-7 meters. We only draw 2 meters. Another smaller boat tied said they were showing 1.8 on their depth sounder.

Italy | Ciro | Artemis in damaged unfinished harbor

May 11, 2007

Buon giorno, We went uptown in Ciro last night to experience the festivities. What a zoo! Shoulder to shoulder people in the piazza in front of the church. There were a couple of bands including bag pipes. The main street was lit with arches of colorful lights 50 + as far as the eye could see about 75' apart as well as shorter distances on other streets leading to the piazza. The festival was in honor of Saint ?? we couldn't understand what they were saying. It was a man that much we could tell. The parish priest spoke and kept shouting Viva ??. Following his speech paper confetti fireworks were shot over the crowd. We headed out of the crowd back toward the boat visiting the many carnival type booths along the way. The American food booth was hamburger and french fries. We didn't sample any food so we can confirm it's authenticity. We sat for a while in the cockpit but went to sleep waiting for the fireworks. No fear that we would miss them as we were front and center when they began about 12:15. Our boat was lit up like daylight as the fireworks exploded overhead. No sparks on board so we were happy.

We were invited for coffee about 8:00 with Rod and Becky Nowlin on Mahdi. As we visited we discovered they were the boat along with another boat that we had read about in Seven Seas that had encountered pirates south of Al Mukalia, Yemen back in March of 2005. They were attacked under fire by two speed boats. They rammed one and sunk it and Rod (retired USN) had a weapon and fought back wounding or killing the three in the other boat. They both had steel hull boats or the out come may have been quite different. Gandalf had 14 hits and Mahdi was struck 3 times. It's an interesting article (put their name into internet and it'll show up) Don't worry about Artemis we are not headed that direction.

Rod and Becky have convinced us from their experience last summer to by-pass Croatia. It's become quite expensive. They charge a $450 cruising fee plus every time you anchor or visit a marina the charges are extravagant. At anchor you can be charge as much as 10 Euro's per meter a day. That's 130 Euro's for Artemis. ($173 US) to anchor! They talked of buying food and the vender's not letting you see the scales and were over charged. We had been hearing these kinds of stories from other cruisers all spring so it's not just Rod and Becky talking. We don't have that kind of cruising budget so we're making new plans. Unfortunately our airplane home May 28 is from Dubrovnik so we are looking into our alternatives. We would be charged the $450 cruising fee even if we just went in, hauled out and then left again when we return. We may leave the boat in Brindisi, Italy or Montenegro and travel by train, bus and or ferry to Dubrovnik to catch our flight. For now we just keep heading that direction. We plan to travel 62 nm tomorrow to Santa Maria Leuca. This afternoon we did boat jobs which are always waiting to be done. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Crotone |Castle of Charles the V

Italy | Crotone

May 10, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a lovely day in Crotone. We visited the castle, duomo, and the market stands. Al got a haircut so he looks and feels like a new man. We had lunch at a cafeteria (we don't recommend it) Then about 3:00 we decided to move up the coast (17 nm) to Ciro. It's a very sheltered marina and it's free. We didn't like paying another 40 Euros to the ormeggiatori at Crotone. This harbor puts us 2 hours closer to Santa Maria Leuca our next destination. There's a festival going on here with live music, booths and fireworks tonight. So we plan to spend tomorrow here as well. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Crotone | Crotone Harbor

May 9, 2007

Buon giorno, We left Roccella Ionica Marina about 7:20 this morning heading for Crotone about 62 nm away. We had a nice west wind with calm seas for about 10 nm. I did some laundry as we were motor sailing and making hot water. Then we started crossing Gulfo di Squillace and the wind switched to the North and increased to 25. There went my clean laundry. Saltwater spray on most of it so I'll have to do a lot of it over again when we get in :-( We switched off the engine and had a good sail. The seas and wind continued to build as we crossed the 30 nm gulfo. We put a double reef in the main and reefed the jib. It became a wet ride with spray as the waves were hitting off the port bow. About 1:00 the wind switched more out of the NW so the waves hit more aft the beam and the ride became less wet but more rolly. We were glad for the sunshine as it made all more pleasant. The winds died down so we were going under 4 kts about 4:30. It was time to motor. We still had about 8 nm to go. We got into the marina about 5:45 and moored off the quay for 40 Euro. Ouch! We haven't paid that for a while. Now we have to clean the salt off the boat and hang out the laundry. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Rochelle Ionica | Free unfinished harbor\

Italy | Roccelle Ionica | Carafa Castle

May 8, 2007

Buon giorno, We had a restful night. Roccelle Ionica marina is quite nice and it's free! The berths are finger berths like home and what we found in Portugal. We tied up to the wall last night but moved to a berth this afternoon so we could have water. We had a hard time getting our pigeon friend to leave. We walked 45 minutes to the farmer's market this morning. The marina is 2 kilometers out of town. The walk is beautiful along a lovely parkway and the beach. Beautiful flowers, flowering shrubs and trees. There's a nice pine forest along the way with picnic tables and across the road was a campgrounds. Al thinks the area looks like Montana but full of Italians and Italian buildings. The pine trees, the vegetation, and the beige colored rock are what remind us of Montana. It felt good to wash the boat down and fill water tanks finally. We still had 50 gallons or more but it's nice to be full. We'll probably move on tomorrow another 50 miles or so. We need to take advantage of good weather in case we get holed up for a few days with gales. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

May 7, 2007

Buon giorno, We left the town quay before dinner last night and went to the anchorage. We wanted to have the stern anchor, fenders, and lines put away before dark. We had a lovely dinner with Pam and Steve. Pam made chicken in a mustard/cream sauce and her special risi e bisi (risotto with fresh peas and Parmesan cheese. We are going to miss our cruising friends and will be excited to meet up with them again in Greece sometime in August or September. We went back to the boat about 11:00 and got a few hours of sleep.

We weighed anchor about 3:45 AM and headed for Marina Roccella Ionica. The moon was still up so we had a bit of light until the sunrise began to lighten the sky about 5:00. We had NW winds 15 and 2 meter seas so we pulled out the jib to keep the boat from rocking and used the motor to keep up speed. We were able to maintain 6.5 kts. The most amazing sight was Mt. Etna at night. Her lava flow glows red in the dark. At first we couldn't figure out what the stationary red light was so high in the sky... We were able to sail until we crossed the Ionian Sea to the toe of Italy and then the wind shifted and died down. Saw lots of ships coming and going to the Messina Straits but not a problem navigating around them. About 2:00 we put the sails away and motored about a mile off shore. The mountains are not as high but the hillsides and towns are still neat. It makes time go by faster when you have something to look at.We also picked up a visitor along the way. A carrier pigeon with a Malta tag came aboard for the ride. Al and I took turns napping throughout the day. A pair of dolphins came to play in our bow wave around 6. They are always so fun to watch play and the water is so crystal Mediterranean blue. We arrived at Roccella Ionica about 7 PM.

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa | Santa Lucia Feast Day procession

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |Santa Lucia

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |Santa Lucia Feast Day Procession

May 6, 2007

Buon giorno, Well we found out what all the flowers were about at the Duomo. We thought it was a bit extravagant for a bride. Today is Santa Lucia's feast day and she is Siracusa's patron saint. We went to 10:00 mass and got in on the grand celebration. The cardinal said mass, the choir was lovely, and of course the flowers were beautiful. After mass there was a grand procession and celebration on the Duomo steps and later through the city. The piazza was packed and we were right in front of it all having been in the church. The cardinal spoke again and then fireworks! I've never seen fireworks in the daylight before and they were wonderful. They do use a special plume kind of colorful fireworks that shows up better in daylight. The Santa Lucia celebration continues all week. After lunch we walked for a couple of hours looking for a fruit market but no luck. We've been invited to dinner aboard Eirene tonight. Pam and Steve leave for Malta and we plan to head for eastern Italy. Last night Pam and Steve happened upon a free orchestra concert on the Duomo steps and really enjoyed it. So tonight we plan to go up again and take part in the festivities. We want to leave here early (4 AM) and travel the 92 nm to Marina Rocella Ionica. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |Town Quay

May 5, 2007

Buon giorno, We went into the marina this morning and called a man to bring us fuel. Then we went over to the town quay, dropped a stern anchor and bowed into the quay. It's fun being able to get on and off the boat without the dinghy and the best part is it's still free. No electricity or water as you had to buy a special card and the minimum you can put on it is 60 Euro's.

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |

We walked up to Piazza Duomo and had pizza for lunch with Pam and Steve at an table on the Piazza. As we wandered around after lunch we found a "Cinderella coach" in the courtyard of the Municipal building. The carriage was glass enclosed, octagonal shape, and colorfully painted. Maybe Cinderella was one of the many beautiful brides we saw in the Piazza and on the waterfront for photographs today. I can't imagine what it cost to decorate all of the arches over the doors of the Duomo with flowers, the many altar pieces and side altars of the cathedral with flowers and candles. They also strung wires between the buildings leading from the Duomo to the reception restaurant and draped flowers from them. I expect that was to guide the guests to the reception. One groom in particular was quite striking in his rather shiny, satin like black Italian cut tux. The photographers like to shoot pictures of the couple strolling the piazza and narrow streets.

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |

The waterfront is another popular spot. It's fun being on the quay as many people stop and ask about our beautiful boat and admire the fact that we've traveled so far. The winds are howling again today so hopefully this front will move on and we'll have a nice passage (94 nm)to eastern Italy. We need to keep moving as we fly out of Dubrovnik, Croatia May 28. We'd be in big trouble if we missed Christopher and Mary's wedding. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Mount Etna

May 4, 2007

Buon giorno, We took showers early preparing to rent a car and head to Mt. Etna for the day. Rain but that didn't stop us. On went the raincoats and up pulled our taxi (Steve and Pam). We went to Hertz no available cars hmmm Avis...YES! Al had his first experience of renting and driving a car in Italy. What an experience. Drivers are crazy especially the motorcyclists. They drive anywhere and everywhere, in and around cars, on either side as they please. Lots of traffic circles and you never hesitate or you'll never get in. Lots of hair pin turns and poorly marked roads, crazy but fun. It took us two absolutely spectacular hours to reach Etna Sud (south) in the town of Nicolosi. We took a cable car from the height of 6,250 ft to 8,125 ft below Mt. Etna.

Italy | Sicily | Mount Etna | Land Rover on plowed road to volcano

Then we got into the Unimog (Land Rover) by Mercedes-Benz. These vehicles took us to authorized craters with a guide. The views were spectacular but the road (trail) was rather nerve racking with many hairpin turns. At times the snow was 15 ft deep where they plowed out the road and if two Land Rovers met one would have to back up to let the other scratch by. They took us as close to the lava flows from Etna's most recent eruption April 29, 2007 that safety regulations allowed.

Italy | Sicily | Mount Etna | crators steaming

They stopped the vehicle at 10,800 ft and we got off with our guide. The wind was blowing between 60-80 mph. It nearly knocked us off our feet. The dirt was pinging against my glasses and face. After about 10 min. of that Pam and I went back to the bus and let the guys carry on without us. We suspect some of the wind was due to the front traveling over Sicily. The guide took the group to the crators created from the eruptions in 2002. The melting snow created steam along the crevices of the crator. At one point they were protected from the wind but when they visited the second crator. Al felt like his legs (wearing shorts)were being sandblasted. Pam and I were happy to wait for them back on the Land Rover.

Italy | Sicily | Mount Etna | view coming off Etna

When the Land Rovers reached the cable cars going down we were told they were closed because of high winds so we had a Land Rover ride to the bottom. We traveled by other crators, lava flows and it wasn't until we were near the bottom that any growth occurred. It was an awesome experience. We had never thought to be on the highest European active volcano, especially one that had erupted as recently as a week ago.

Italy | Sicily | Taormina| views from town

Italy | Sicily | Taormina

We continued our excursion by driving on to Taormina on Mount Tauro. What a panoramic spot. We thought the Amalfi coast was spectacular but Taormina overlooking the Ionian coast and with Mt Etna in the background is more so. We drove the hairpin roads up and around the town, parked and visited the central area.

Italy | Sicily | Taormina|San Giuseppe

Italy | Sicily | Taormina | Greek Theatre

The Greek Theatre is set with views of the Calibrian coast, the Ionian coast of Sicily and the volcanic cone of Etna. It's used for performances during the summer months. We made a full day of it, not getting back to the anchorage much before 10 PM. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

May 3, 2007

Buon giorno, We arrived in Siracusa, Sicily yesterday at 9 AM and dropped the hook in the harbor. By 10:00 we were sound asleep. We woke up and ate some lunch and went right back to sleep. These all night sailing parties are a killer. We took showers had another bite to eat and went to bed early. We felt much better this morning. We put the dinghy in the water and picked up Pam and Steve to go exploring in Siracusa.

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |

We visited the the old town on the Island of Ortygia which is nearly connected to the mainland and you cross a bridge to get to it. The promenade on the waterfront, the Duomo, fountain in Piazza Archimede, and Temple of Apollo were the highlights. We found a lovely trattoria for lunch. We had an antipasta buffet (fun to choose new things) and seafood pasta.

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |Roman amphitheatre

After lunch we walked to the mainland and the Archaeological Area. We visited the Greek Amphitheatre which they are preparing for performances for the next two months. Much of the old stone was covered in lumber for more comfortable seating. The Roman Amphitheatre was impressive too. The stone quarry created artificial grotto's most famous here is the Ear of Dionysius. Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime, a modern circular church built in 1950's has a 95 meter spire. It was built in honor of a chalk representation of the Virgin, from the eyes and heart of which real tears began to flow one fine morning. The picture was once owned by the Iannuso family and their home was a site of pilgrimage. It's now preserved in the sanctuary.

Italy | Sicily| Siracusa |

It was another beautiful day so it was just fun to wander all day (9 hours of walking except for our lovely lunch)and enjoy the sights. We are at anchor again tonight and plan to maybe rent a car tomorrow and visit the surrounding area and Mt. Etna. Al and I keep having to pinch each other to prove it's all real and we have to remind ourselves where we are. We haven't heard much news from home. We sure do enjoying hearing from you. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

Italy | Sicily | Siracusa | Harbor Entrance to Siracusa

May 1 - 2, 2007

Buon giorno, We left Scaicca about 9:30 yesterday doing an overnight to Siracusa, Italy. We had a great sail down wind off the quarter. We flew the mizzen staysail, main, mizzen, and jib until about 7 then put the main away because it was blanketing the jib. We were able to maintain about 5.5 kts and only sailed 2 miles off course. The sunset about 7:30 but then we had a full moon on a clear night. About 10:30 the ship traffic and fluky winds forced us to put the sails away and move closer to shore. Eleven hours of sailing, the most we've done in a while. I went to bed about 1:30 AM and left Al to carry on without me :-> We made the southeast corner of Sicily about 4:00 and Al got me up to watch the radar. Several fishing boats came out of harbors and a couple of ships traveling from Messina Straits called for a second pair of eyes to keep everything straight. Al finally went to bed about 5:00. By 6 the moon had set and the sun came up. It's a lot simpler keeping track of things when you can see what the boats are doing. A fishing trawler pulling a net just crossed my path not too far ahead but at least he knew I was there and maneuvered around me. In Portugal last summer we went crazy trying to figure out what they were doing and which way to turn to avoid the nets. Steve called on VHF about 6:30 he's sailing off our starboard side. We caught up to him during the night while motoring. I'd pull the sails up but then I'd wake Al and he was up all night. We have another 2 - 3 hours before I'll need to wake him as we approach Syracuse-Siracusa. Ciao,

Love Sally and Al

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