Catching Up

The last part of last season was a leisurely trip to Malta and then stops in Siracusa, Sicily, Taormina, the Aeolian islands and a few rolly nights at anchor on the southwest coast of Italy before crossing over to Sardinia and Corsica. After that we crossed over to Elba, a pretty island between Corsica and the northwestern coast of Italy. Details? Ummmm…….. Unfortunately, it was almost a year ago and I have been negligent in my duties as the Chief Blogging Officer aboard Seabird. Had this been 500 years ago, I would have had to walk the plank!

Map of our Journey last Season

Just to get you close to being up to date, here is a brief summary of what we did after the last blog to this season:

Elba is where Seabird and Sans Souci sadly departed. Ken and Roberta had made plans to winter in San Remo in Northern Italy and, although we had originally planned the same, we fell victim to the lure of southern Sicily (Marina Di Ragusa) and the incredible value. Wintering the boat in San Remo was going to cost $22,000. Sicily was a fraction of that at $2500 for the winter. In addition, we would be only a hop, skip and a jump from Tunisia, where fuel was $1.50 per gallon vs $8 in Italy! We needed approximately 1500 gallons, so do the math!

We had a great solo cruise south from Elba. We stopped in the Port of Rome, which is actually about 40 miles from the marina by train. We spent one long day in Rome visiting the Vatican and St Peters.

On our cruise south, we passed close by the port of Giglio. Many of you remember the cruise ship Costa Concordia hit a reef there and sank in 2012. Cruising by there, it was hard for us to believe that the captain actually cruised that close to the land. Seeing where it was first hand, I can tell you that I would not be comfortable cruising that close even in OUR boat!

This is where the  Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Went Down

There was no place to anchor there so we found a marina in Calla Gallera. While we were there, I remembered that two friends, Diane and Carlo, were vacationing nearby and we emailed them hoping that we could say hello. It turns out that they were staying about 3 miles from where we were and came over with their family.

After returning to Marina di Ragusa with the boat, we prepared here for the winter, rented a car and drove (via car ferry) to the mainland where we met my sister Diane and brother in law Mike in Tuscany, where we had rent a small villa for a few weeks in the countryside. We used it as a base for touring about. It is a complete departure from the boating lifestyle, but we had lots of fun.

Back to Marina di Ragusa……..

Marina di Ragusa turned out to be a wonderful, vibrant little Sicilian town with friendly people and great, reasonably priced restaurants. Our boat was well taken care of by a fellow named George Rizzo, who also arranged for repairs and the haul out after we returned, as well as an apartment to stay in while the work was being done. The marina itself is fairly new and the boatyard had first class equipment.

Haulout at Marina di Ragusa

We took the opportunity while the boat was hauled to take care of a few items:

Our Dinghy Davit, which is basically a hydraulic crane that lifts the inflatable dinghy off of the deck and lowers it into the water. Unfortunately, towards the end of last season, the system “sprung a leak”. We just barely had gotten the dinghy into the water when it gave out. I love hydraulic systems, but they operate under 3000 pounds of pressure and they don’t really just leak.. They blow out in spectacular fashion, leaving an oily mess, and, in our case, all over the deck! Fortunately we were able to isolate that valve and still use the hydraulics for the bow thruster and anchor windlass. Anyway, it needed a complete overhaul and George arranged to have his mechanic, Leonardo, take it apart, bring everything back to his shop about two hours north of Marina di Ragusa, and fix it. He also drained and replaced the coolant in my many systems on board and installed a new ( but noisy) fresh water pump. He also installed some new parts in our stabilizer system. The area he had to work in was absolutely tiny and I was afraid to show it to him on his first visit, figuring he might not take the job. Both of these guys are larger than me, but somehow squeezed into a place that I could never get into.

Leo turned out to be a great mechanic, something you do not often find. He is what is referred to as a “Shade Tree” mechanic. He is a REAL mechanic who can diagnose and fix things as opposed to a “parts changer”, a guy who keeps changing parts until he finds the problem. Leo is the best.

We also got a new outboard motor to replace our dying, 18 year old Yamaha. Italy has an unusual system. Anything over a 40 HP on a boat requires a special license. I wanted a 60 hp. The response was “so you want a 40/60?” Huh? Well, evidently, you can buy a 40, a 50, a 60 or a 70 hp, all with a 40 hp motor cover. I decided it best not to question it further. I have a dinghy with a VERY fast 40hp.

I mentioned fuel cost savings by going to Tunisia. Unfortunately, we had to change our plans because of the Terrorist incident there. We decided that it was not worth the risk and ended up buying our fuel in Malta, which was more expensive than Tunisa, but cheaper than Italy.

Having everything completed, we were back in the water and ready to go.

Also, if you want to track us in real time, go to the main web page at and click the “Current Location” button on the left. When you get to the tracking page, just scroll down to the larger chart. Our location is accurate to within 10 minutes! 

Next up…….cruise to Malta

Miscellaneous Pics from our late summer and early fall cruising.

Havent seen this one before? A dinghy with wheels and a separate engine to power them!

Bet you have not seen this before! A dinghy with three 
wheels and a separate engine to power them on land!

World famous Tropea Onions at a roadside stand

Swordfish boat at the Messina Straites in Sicily
Look closely at the far right of the picture and you can make
out the guy on the bow platform waiting to stab a fish! the platform 
is longer than the boat!!!!

After our hydraulic Dinghy davit broke we had to have 
these kind folks at the shipyard load it for us. Price?
They actually did it for free!

This is the city of Pompei. It was covered in Lava after a 
Mount Vesuvius Volcano eruption in 79 AD and recently discovered.

This is Malta. You can see why we loved it

Here we are anchored near the Blue Lagoon in Malta

Tropea (the place with the onions) at night

Seabird at Ponza, another of our favorite anchorages in Italy

Here is the marina we stayed at in Tropea

And, last but not least, there is a rumor that in Corsica,
when the wind reaches 43 mph…..strange things happen


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. SUBJECT: REPLY TO;;;;RE: Catching Up


    Message Received: Jul 12 2015, 01:22 PM
    From: “Seabird”
    To: snowgoose@f…
    Subject: Catching Up

  2. SUBJECT: Re: Catching Up

    Steve and Carol,

    We so much enjoyed your overdue report, and the 40hp motor reminds us of how friendly and helpful we found the Italians back in 1962 as youngsters spontaneously traveling about in our own car in remote places.
    Jim and Cindy Pinkerton (Southwinds #323)

  3. SUBJECT: Re: Catching Up

    Good update,
    Like the Yamaha story. Every place has a twist. Tut just got a 50 hp to replace the 40hp. No drama, as we did it in Ft. Lauderdale.We took a great trip to Panama with friends from here and saw the new locks at Gatun being built. It was really fantastic. I will try to send you a clip.We are anxiously hoping that our new puppy will be picked up in mid Aug in the Ozarks. His name will be Peppino or Peppi for short. Do you like it? I will send you a photo. He will look like Coco only bigger at 32lbs. So we are busy installing a fence in the back and a partial pool fence and numerous other puppy things!When will you come back? Tut is now working on a committee for the SSCA re info on Cuba. It is all the buzz in Florida. I think we will all be going within the next year!
    Hugs to Carol, ET
    On Jul 12, 2015, at 8:22 AM, Seabird wrote:

  4. SUBJECT: RE: Catching Up

    Thanks for staying in touch – you both are clearly having an amazing experience aboard the Seabird!
    Best regards,
    Dave & Linda Payne
    From: blog-37452-comments@t…
    Subject: Catching Up
    To: hdavid.payne@s…
    Date: Sun, 12 Jul 2015 12:22:10 +0000

  5. SUBJECT: RE: Catching Up

    Hi Steve and Carol, Incredible journey.Thanks for the update.Glad you are happy,safe and healthy.Things are beautiful here on the farm but pale in comparison to what you are seeing.Love looking at your photos keep them coming. Think of you often. Stay safe .Love,Holly

    From: blog-37452-comments@t…
    Subject: Catching Up
    To: hjcloutier@h…
    Date: Sun, 12 Jul 2015 12:22:11 +0000

  6. SUBJECT: Re: Catching Up

    Just beautiful. Love to go to Italy. Have fun and see you in October.

    Sent from my iPad
    On Jul 12, 2015, at 8:22 AM, Seabird wrote:

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