Re-Rigging

Our jib furler appeared to break when we sailed from Gozo, which meant some precarious bowsprit walking and manual rolling in of the sail. This appeared to amuse the skipper and crew of a French Canadian yacht who said they enjoyed the show from the harbour wall. Me balancing on the end of the bowsprit, Lotty shouting at me and me shouting back. Trying to hand roll a flapping jib at the end of a bowsprit is quite a tense thing.

So, I decided to investigate and fix , amongst other jobs. One other job being to put back in all the blocks to re-seat the mizzen mast. In the wavy weather the day before they’d all fallen out into the lazzerette.

And do you know what, the mizzen blocks and the furler issue were connected, a bit like that song, “The leg bone’s connected to the…” and all that. The mizzen mast is connected to the main mast by the triasic stay, between the top of each mast. As the mizzen had moved forward with her blocks out, the lesser tension on the main mast shifted it forward and there was a big curve in the jib furler/stay which must make the furling system not want to operate. Blimey, who would have known..?

So I re-tensioned the mizzen shrouds so the mast was straight and at its normal jaunty slightly backwards stance. I then re-blocked it, then re-tensioned the main mast shrouds which tightened the forestay, inner forestry and the jib furler. Simples… And sod me, the furler is working again after being rewound.

I wish I’d taken a picture, but I didn’t. However Yves Christian has sailed magnificently today, pulling like a train and doubling her normal speed in light airs. My love of sailing has returned. Amazing.

Lotty will kill me for this boring post, so I’ll add a nice picture. Ah I know, such a useful book for owners of traditional rigs. Everything in one place out of the heads of very old or now long dead sailors. She will kill me now…

Scooting into Scauri

Next morning we found ourselves with the wind just off the nose and blowing 25 knots with a two metre swell. Fantastic. Time to find a refuge for the crew and rest for the skipper who’d been up all night. Engine on and sails barely working as we pointed as far into wind as possible.

Also I had identified a problem overnight. The roller reefing for the jib had broken whilst deploying the sail. So I had no way of bringing in the sail easily by hand and with big winds, that was a worrying development.

We got to the small island of Pantelleria and I decided to divert to Scauri, a small fishing port with rubbish reviews on all the sailing sites. But we needed shelter. The last two hours before arrival were very painful. High winds and swell breaking with the sea mend becoming shallower. There was lots of green water across the deck and a very unhappy crew. Thank goodness for our pilot house!

Zoom in and you can see the waves over the bow

We got there though. We nosed up to the cliff outside the port for shelter and I walked the bowsprit to roll away the jib by hand in the relative calm created by the land.

We then found the port full. All of two other yachts and nowhere to go. After discussion we found one boat was going, so we waited. To cut a very long story short, four hours later we were in the port and sheltered. But the port police have just visited this morning (the next day) and told us to leave because we are in “their” space, so we negotiated leaving tomorrow morning by telling them about the broken jib furler and then bringing out our joker cards: the children. Always works that one.

So to tomorrow. The passage to Tunisia, I hope.

The barren fishing port that is Porto Scauri

Going to Gozo

We set off for Tunisia but with wind and waves against us, we decided to stop on the west side of Gozo for the night. An almost round pool with two very narrow and shallow entrances called Dwejra Pool. The swell coming round the island was too big for our crew so the pool was welcome shelter.

A chart of the pool

Sunset just after arrival

Next morning after some restful sleep we set off for Tunisia and to pass the island of Pantelleria. The start of the sail was a great brisk sail in 20+ knots winds off the starboard beam, just what Yves loves.

We sailed all day with every piece of canvas up. But all good things come to an end and the wind dropped with the sun. So we motor-sailed all night. Next morning things got a lot worse.

Moved to Malta

With winds in the wrong direction we decided to go to Malta to keep going.

We set off on 8 June and have had a wonderful time here, and it’s the first time it’s been hot-hot this year. 30c+ everyday.

Straight to Malta

Coming into the beautiful historic harbour

Our anchorage

A visit to Esplora, the fantastic science museum here

Fun on tricycles in the sun

Esplora, a stunning facility for kids and parents, truly amazing

An amazing position with wonderful views over Grand Harbour

Splat stuff…

Learning about pulleys

Making a video

Building stuff

Heading to Tunisia?

We set off for Tunisia from Siracusa on 6 June. Expected headwinds and a slight swell got us to the south east tip of Sicily by motor sailing, where forecast stronger winds would sail us onward and west with the engine off. BUT NOOOOO!!!

A complete lack of wind and increasing swell had us all over the place. Lotty was feeling seasick and then poor Feebs was properly sick. I decided to divert to a little fishing port called Portopalo, where we arrived at 7pm. We’ve tucked ourselves as far in as possible without annoying the locals. I put a kedge anchor off the stern to stop us swinging, keeping the bows into the swell (to minimise movement) and trying not to fouls the many buoys and ropes floating in this part of the harbour.

We’ve had a boat checking school and beach day. It’s been really hot today, c26c+. Tomorrow is forecast for 30c and we hopefully head off to Malta this time, winds allowing.

The route from Siracusa, we are the red triangle in Portopalo

Portopalo harbour with us as the triangle

Not glamorous but a real working fishing port 24 hours a day

So Off We Set

We set sail on 29 May, leaving Marina di Ragusa having eked out our last free days of marina berth. The marinaros (the team who look after the berthing and transit of boats) said we should be able to leave after 10am. They came and got myself and an adjacent yacht skipper to accompany them in their dinghy as the exit was very tight on depth. They showed us a course about three metres wide at one point with a swerve to starboard right at the end of the outer moll. And we made it out without hitting anything, grounding or disgracing ourselves in any way! A sad day to be leaving our home in Sicily.

We were headed east for Siracusa instead of west for the small island of Pantelleria where we should have been headed. Weather the main issue and the high cost of being stuck on that small but expensive island.

We love Siracusa bay and the island of Ortigia. A perfect place to hide from unsettled weather and relax. Amongst other boat jobs, I scrubbed the propeller giving myself mild hypothermia in the process. Otherwise it’s been lovely and warm with Lotty taking the children to the beach and well as us all sightseeing around Ortigia. Here are some pictures.

Sail up for the first time

Dolphins!

Making things from clay in an artist’s studio

Hector with his namesake’s armour and spear

Phoebe moving the world

School, arts and crafts on the boat

On the beach in Ortigia

Our first BBQ in the Med, ever…

Sunset in the bay

Yves in full sail from Bobcat (our friends) too far away though

Yves Christian anchored in Siracusa bay

Winter Update – Yves Christian Refit

Getting Yves Christian ready for the season has been thwarted at every turn by the weather and any number of excuses to do something more interesting or less painful. However, this past five weeks has been super intense and we are now ready to go. We will still need to varnish over the coming weeks, but we are no longer a floating house, we are a small ship again. Initially all vessels with more than 2.5 metres draft (Yves Christian is 2.9) were marooned in the marina until 20 May due to silting of the entrance. But now we are waiting for the weather to break…

Winter Update – Educating Children

Daily schoolwork in the mornings has been a strong feature of what we are doing. Lotty is amazingly focussed at keeping Hector strong on the National Curriculum. One to one tuition on all the subjects is very intense and completed every morning.

But of course education isn’t just about books, so we’ve explored, seen local history (right back to prehistoric times) made things, drawn, designed, gone to Italian lessons and tried to give them both the widest possible exposure to life. Here is just a small selection of what went on.

A boat we made and set sail but we haven’t heard from her since

Etna erupted and so we’ve learned about volcanoes

Making boats to sail

Seeing wildlife

Making little books

Playing

Falling off bikes and getting stitches

Learning to wash

Understanding animals

Learning about healthy eating

Seeing new things

Looking for terrapins

Dressing up

Swimming

Being friends

Working as a team

Craft days

Mac the cat

Winter Update – Community

We arrived into Marina di Ragusa (MdR) and were met by great old friends on the dock. It’s always a bittersweet event, trying to manoeuvre 18 metres and 40+ tonnes of long keel classic boat without a bow thruster (whilst frazzled) into a tight marina berth and being happy to see everyone at the same time… Anyway, we managed without disgracing ourselves on either point, I think.

And that’s the great thing about MdR, it’s a fantastic community. Whenever we leave to go somewhere we always have to add 15-20 minutes of “pontoon time” to meet and talk to interesting and interested people.

An MdR BBQ, most of the kids are on the beach, so it’s not everyone

On top of that it’s got to be a unique marina in that over the past two years there have been 20+ children ranging from two to 15 with visitors on top of that.

Here are most of this years younger folks

Mornings on the kid boats are reserved for home schooling and the afternoon is free time.

For the older crowd every morning (bar Sunday) starts with a radio net hosted by one of the boats plus there is a specific Facebook page for the marina liveaboards with Messenger being used for more immediate and specific communications. Bi weekly Happy Hour drinks, music nights, dinner evenings, Halloween party, wine tasting, New Years Eve, Thanks Giving etc etc etc means ones liver is at risk of overload. And that’s excluding the invites to and fro between different boats. Oh and I forgot yoga classes and beach volleyball for a way of working off the alcohol.

Craft days, rocket building and cinema days amongst other things helped the kids when it wasn’t sunny and the beaches were a pull when it was. For children it’s a amazing way to grow up.

Takeaway pizza outside at the end of the day

It’s a wonderful community.

October 2018 Update

After the Medicane we said our last and sad goodbyes to the wonderful crew of It’s a Doddle and headed back north to Argostoli in Kefalonia. It’s nice and sheltered and the bay is full of huge turtles. It’s a big town and great for provisioning. Highlights of that port were:

  • Meeting new friends, the Aussie crew of Arakai, they have two wonderful children and we all had a great time in the abandoned marina there
  • We adopted a wonderful cat
  • There was lots to do and see, we had a great time, I think it was our third visit by that time
  • Great supermarkets

We then picked a great forecast and set sail for Malta. Unfortunately as is normal with Mediterranean forecasts, it was totally and utterly wrong. Instead of winds off the starboard beam at c15 knots there was absolutely no wind for two days. We even stopped half way and swam off the boat.

Calm waters half way between Greece and Malta

The second two days we had far too much wind and waves ending in a big thunderstorm coming into Valletta with a 2 metre swell and a competing cruise ship for the entrance. Lovely!

During the storm we had an awful downwind jibe blowing up a cleat that held the mainsail preventer and pulling out a deck eye that held the running backstay. We were lucky and all is fixed now.

We anchored at 4am off Msida marina and had a very rolly night. We tried again to suck up the anchorage swell the next night but with an approaching thunderstorm we gave in and found the very last berth in the marina. Where upon our newly adopted cat said sod this and ran off, never to be seen again. She wasn’t a ships can evidently.

We were berthed at the top of the marina, above the centre of the shot

Squashed in, the last berth in Msida marina

It was the famous Middle Sea yacht race start and finish during our time there, so all the available berths were taken up by carbon fibre racing boats and fit trendy young sailors making me feel very old and tatty.

We had a great time in Malta. Highlights were:

  • The science museum for kids
  • Visiting the Playmobil factory
  • Watching Hotel Transylvania 3 in English at a real cinema
  • Buying Cadbury’s chocolate and baked beans

Happy children, happy parents.

During the crossing our generator failed and then in Malta I broke it more trying to fix it, story to be continued in the winter update later.

On 27 October we set sail for Marina di Ragusa in Sicily and our home for the winter. Just in time for the big children’s Halloween event. It was like coming home.