Saturday, November 22, 2014

Last week in Marina di Ragusa for 2014

Looking toward the sea from the
Piazza of Marina di Ragusa

Piazza of Marina di Ragusa
(the town, not the boat marina)

Ladies at the Tuesday night Happy Hour
Heads buried in phones rather than chatting
Happy Hours can be weird here sometimes
Our beverage choices for
happy hour.  If one does
not want alcohol or caffeine,
the choices are limited.
Immediately after publishing my last posting stating our less than stellar opinions of life among the cruisers wintering in Marina di Ragusa, things immediately began to improve.  Within a few days we were invited to share sundowners aboard 2 boats.  Both evenings were very enjoyable and we enjoyed chatting with new sailing friends.  When we return next March then we will reciprocate and invite those folks to sundowners or dinner aboard BeBe.  We are too focused on whittling down provisions aboard and preparing to leave the boat unattended for the winter to even think of having guests aboard this week.  

A bridge seen when we drove to Palermo

Bridge seen when drove
to Palermo recently.
Pretty view.
This week we joined a shopping trip arranged by the marina.  They rented a bus and each person paid 15 Euro to participate in an all day shopping trip to several locations.  Each participant also was supposed to receive a 10 Euro voucher to use at a large supermarket, but management of that supermarket changed the day before our bus trip and the vouchers were not available.  But the marina yacht services offices came up with several other options to give participants choices for 10 Euro vouchers for other things -- such as discount on refilling cooking gas containers or discount on use of the fitness center or discount on renting cars.  That is fine with us!  We surely will be renting cars again while berthed here.

Day outing for the retirement
center folks.  That is how it
feels sometimes in group
activities for cruisers.
First stop on the shopping trip was 
the weekly market in main town of di Ragusa about 20 miles distant from the marina.  This was the first time we visited this weekly market.  It was about the 
same as the weekly markets in every village and town in Turkey, but with higher prices.  Lots of 
fresh produce and lots of stalls of clothing and textiles of all sorts.  Since we are leaving for the winter in just a few days, we were not interested in purchasing any foods; and we were not in the market for any clothing or textiles.  But we were there for 2 hours on the bus schedule for the day, so we walked round and round the market looking at things.  Talked to a few African guys and they were interesting.  Like, how does a young man get from his home country of Senegal to operating a vendor stall in a weekly market in rural Sicily.  Communication was limited but we enjoyed chatting a few minutes with that guy.
Weekly market in di Ragusa

Even though we were not in the market to buy anything, we did find a jacket that looked like it would fit our 5-yr-old grandson; so we bought that as one of his Christmas presents.  I wanted to buy something for the new infant granddaughter but the few infant things I saw were priced ridiculously high.  So she will not get an Italian outfit from this tight-fisted grandmother.  Bill found a Polartec-type fabric jacket for only 10 Euro.  He can always use another jacket.  Bill found a purse (handbag) for me.  We bought it and switched the contents to the new bag and tossed the old one with the torn lining.  As we were walking toward the exit of the market Bill noticed a nice jacket on a table that we had to buy.  Only 5 Euro and I now have a nice warm jacket to wear in Rome next weekend and for our trip to Houston for the winter.  Who could turn down that price!

A wood stove at the hardware store.
Do not know why this caught our attention.
Made me wonder if these are sold in Houston.

Next destination on the shopping spree was the Lydl discount supermarket.  I had been looking forward to visiting a Lydl to see if they sold the same products we purchased at Lydls throughout Greece and Cyprus.  Specifically, I was looking for the good German yellow mustard and the various Mexican food products that Lydl normally sells.  Nope; those things are not sold by Lydl here in Sicily.  Darn!  Double darn!!  We will miss those things.

Next destination was a shopping mall with a large hardware store nearby.  Since we all live on boats, the hardware store was of interest to almost everyone on the bus.  We bought a few things and then walked over the the mall.  Shared a serving of calzone at a pizza place and then browsed the large supermarket.  
Uncle Ben's??? Mexican foods?  And what the heck is
Salsa Messicana!  Bet this stuff is tasteless.
Again, we were not looking to buy food since we are leaving soon but wanted to know what was available for the next shopping trip.  But when we ran across these 3 items I had to buy them.  The folks back home should get a chuckle to think of me buying Mexican food under brand name of Uncle Ben's.  No way anyone back in Texas would buy something like that!  But it is all that is available here, so when in Rome.........

Then we shopped an electronics store; that is always fun.  How is it possible to go into any electronics store and not find something needed.  Added a few more things to the shopping bags.  For 2 people who did not plan to buy anything on this day of shopping, we managed to buy quite a few things.  We felt so American.  You know, buying things you really do not need.

The following day I attended the weekly Ladies Coffee.  That really is not something in which I normally participate.  Last time I attended a weekly Ladies Coffee was in Marmaris and I vowed never to do that again.  Guess that shows how bored I have become in this marina because here I was trying this once again.  And this time was ever-so-much-better than the last time in Marmaris.  Every woman at the tables was knitting or crocheting or doing needlepoint except for me and one other woman.  The conversation over most of the tables seemed to center around knitting and crafty projects, not something of interest to me.  But at my end of the tables the conversation wandered over many topics.  It was fun.  And...the marina bar serves Prosecco by the glass!  I'll sit and drink Prosecco and chat any afternoon.  It was a fun afternoon and I will participate in the weekly Ladies Coffee again once we return to the marina in March.  What is Prosecco?

An American woman on a boat here in the marina has arranged a Thanksgiving dinner celebration.  That is the day before we depart for the winter so this will provide an excellent opportunity to not let any food go to waste.  Whatever food is left in our freezer on Wednesday will be cooked and brought to share at the Thanksgiving dinner.  Might make for a strange assortment of food dishes, but that is what I am going to do.  But, just to have something at least somewhat traditional, I also will bake Pecan Cheesecake Bars.  I do not have enough pecans to make pies to feed 62 people; but do have enough to make a single batch of the pecan cheesecake bars.  Pecans are not sold here so this will be a sort of traditional dish but also maybe a little treat for some people.

The following morning we will catch a bus to Catania Airport and take a flight to Rome where we will meet up with Bill's brother, John.  John is a retired Catholic priest and has been to Rome many years ago.  We  have rented an apartment for a few nights and will tour the sights before flying onward to Houston on 3 December for the winter.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. A comment was left by someone named Samantha (whom I do not know) and then deleted by her. I automatically received an email of this comment even though the comment has since been deleted. The comment/email chastised me for posting photos and negative comments about our experiences at this marina. This blog is all about MY experiences and I am always forthright in expressing my opinions about my experiences and Bill's experiences as we do this cruising round the world. As this blog is all about our experiences as we cruise round the world, I will continue to express my opinions about our experiences in the same forthright manner in which I have written for the past 9 years. Samantha should write her own blog about her positive experiences at this marina and in HER blog she can freely criticize me and my opinions as much as she likes. My blog is about my experiences; her blog (if she has one) is about her experiences.

    Samantha also pointed out in my message that the women in the photo in this blog posting who had their faces buried in cell phones at the marina happy hour were visitors and not cruisers. These women were seated at the tables with the cruisers at the marina happy hour, and as no one spoke with us to tell us any differently we assumed that these women were part of the cruising community. I do not know who there were but Samantha (whoever she is) stated in her deleted comment that these women were not cruisers.

    1. Hello Judith and Bill, I managed to locate your blog, had no idea that you have sailed so extensively. Reading your blog was very informative amusing, and disappointing. In your summary of Marina Di Ragusa with the winter live-a-boards read as if you were singled out, this was not the case or the intentions of fellow cruisers, of all people you should have known that you make your own meet and greet to be noticed and to be accepted into the sailing community. Yes I know this is your blog and this is how you currently see it around the marina but once you make a blog public on the web then it is everybody's options, not just yours that you have to take into consideration. So in my own defence and my constitutional right I feel I must tell you 'on your blog' what I think about your comments. I feel sadden by the way you feel towards some of the activities that are organised by other cruisers as well as the morning Net that keeps us sane and updated with useful and sometimes useless information. When you attend activities such as 'Happy Hour', 'Ladies Coffee Morning or even taking that guided trip by bus to Ragusa to share some of our wealth to some not so lucky locals, try and enjoy what you have and stop using up all that precise time being unhappy. When you posted a picture on your blog (yes I know it is your blog and not mine) of us sitting behind you on the bus trip to Ragusa and for some reason you have labeled it as retirement bus, let me remind you of some important information, you are the ones receiving a retirement pension, not me and as I clearly remember you are also over ten years older than I am. When I approached you on your boat two weeks ago the purpose of my visit was to meet you and make you feel part of the family in the marina, as like you we are also moored out on the end of the pontoon and not tightly closed in with other boats, thus reducing the chance for others to bid us a good day and so on as they walk by. We didn't have any problem with introducing ourselves and making the effort to spark up a conversation even from the end of the pontoon. You have now been given a spot within the marina close to other cruisers and do hope you take that opportunity to be happy, look on the bright side of life and just go that extra mile, as you never know what could happen and you might really enjoy Marina Di Ragusa as we have. Just remember the cruising community is an elite group of exceptionally talented sailors, be it men or women. We look forward to seeing you both on your return to Marina Di Ragusa for sun-downers. In the meantime have a great family Christmas and Happy New Year. David and Karen Pratt of S/V Amokura

    2. First, my name is not Judith; it is Judy. As to the retirement bus comment, this is an ongoing theme that I have mentioned numerous times on this blog dating back to Trinidad in 2006 which was well before either Bill or I qualified for any form of retirement or pension. That is how we feel about the marina bus trips at every marina regardless of the age of the participants. At a retirement home the staff arranges trips for the residents (just like a marina does). The retirement home staff tell the residents where to be and what time to be there (just like a marina does). It matters not whether the participants or residents are of retirement age or if they are 25; the situation is the same. Organized marina group activities are similar to retirement home group activities. I see the humor in that. It is regretful that others do not and instead chose to be somewhat insulted as if they are being accused of appearing older than their years. It has nothing to do with appearance or age, it is how the activities are just like what is done at retirement centers. Bill and I find this a tad ironic and smile about it. And, as stated in this blog posting, we did enjoy the bus shopping trip and I also enjoyed the Ladies Coffee. Just because these activities are similar to what is done at retirement centers does not mean the activities are not enjoyable.

    3. judith? i'd always been afraid to call you that, even in jest! lol

  3. By all means repost my comment, I deleted as thought I had posted twice. Of course you are free to express whatever you like however putting it on the web means anyone can also express their opinion. It's unfortunate that your experiences of some people here are negative, furthermore posting photos of people under a caption of "retirement" is not very nice. We have met, I'm on the catamaran opposite your new berth and also spoke at thanksgiving when I said how lovely your pecan bites were. Thank you again, delicious!

  4. Judy, Again you are putting misinformed comments, mainly because you have not taken the time to find out what happens. If you remember the bus trip I put on the radio net that there would be a shopping trip and asked who wanted to go, I e mailed everyone and asked them to reply by e mail so we knew who wanted to go. I then went round to to office and sat for an hour arranging the trip and transport with them. It was not the marina who instigated the trip or put any messages out. It was me, a fellow cruiser. We were on the trip as well. My wife is still in her 40's and a couple we were with just celebrated her 40th Birthday. Not quiet OAP's yet.

    1. Mark -- Yes, you mentioned the bus shopping trip on the radio net. It obviously was arranged at your request, but the arrangements were made by Anthony at the Yacht Services office of the marina. We went to the Yacht Services office of the marina to pay to participate in this shopping trip. The Yacht Services office of the marina arranged renting the bus (or did you do that?). The Yacht Services office of the marina arranged the tour guide (or did you also do that?). The Yacht Services office of the marina arranged various vouchers for other activities in lieu of the 10 Euro vouchers which had been announced by you which were supposed to be applied to shopping purchases on this trip (or did you also do that?). Sylvia, the tour guide spokesperson, is an employee of the Yacht Services office of the marina. She did a great job and is a very friendly lady. I am do not see where I have any of the details of this shopping trip incorrect. Apparently some folks in this marina have an issue with age and feel insulted that Bill and I refer to marina excursions as being similar to retirement home trips. Maybe these folks would feel better if I referred to marina excursions as high school field trips. Same theme as a retirement home trip = someone tells you where to be, what time to be there, where you will go, what you will do and when you will return. For what it is worth, I have no idea what "OAP" designates.

  5. Judy, So far on your blogs you have put down the marina, clearly offended others with photographs and words, misquoted what was said on the radio net, and complained about the way I do it on a public forum. I have been on the main pontoon when you are complaining to others about me and the way I do the radio net loud enough so I, my wife and others could hear exactly what was said. You have never spoken to me about it but are very vocal in your criticism on here and to others. This week I did the radio broadcast with no music, no jokes, no trivia, just short sharp and to the point as you seem to want. I have had numerous liveaboard here asking me to go back to how it was as it brightened up there day. As they say you cannot please all the people all the time.
    My initial reply on here to you was to try and help you here in the marina and I offered to help explain things where I could. The second reply was to try and explain how the shopping trip was arranged. I have been asked to apologise to you by your husband for the messages I put on here. Of course if I have offended you by trying to help and explain things to you then I publicly apologise. No doubt you are a very nice person and you too will apologise to those you have upset including my wife.
    I personally am not going to add any more to this thread as I have tried to explain and help without needing to use sarcasm.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

    1. I have complained about how most everyone has done that net and have twice complimented persons who handled the net in a direct and clearly understood manner. I have never identified you publicly as being the person who did the net nor have I publicly identified any other net monitor. The attempts at humor by several of the net monitors are not funny to me in any manner and in fact often are insulting to one group or another. It is not funny to verbally insult people or groups of people. Additionally, it is illegal to broadcast music on VHF frequencies but that does not bother me. If the Italian authorities don't object to the music then there is no problem. You have not offended me and do not owe me any apology; we simply see some things in a different manner. I do not see how my criticizing how the VHF net is handled should upset your wife, but if she is upset by my criticism of the handling of the VHF net then I do apologize for upsetting her. At the same time I also stand by my comments as these comments are my opinion and we all are entitled to our own opinions. Again, I did not publicly identify you; you did that by your comments here. Also wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas followed by a Happy New Year.

  6. "It is not funny to verbally insult people or groups of people".... Couldn't agree more, I'm just left wondering why it's ok for you to post comments which are insulting to people or groups of people (on your blog). Many of us don't find that funny either, just sayin'.

    Goodwill to man and peace on earth, happy holidays.

    1. Exactly what is insulting that I have posted? That I do not like the way the VHF net is handled with insulting comments is not insulting anyone; it is stating exactly that: I do not like the way that some of the net monitors attempt humor by insulting groups of people. That is an opinion and did not publicly identify anyone.

      The comment I made in an earlier posting about the returning cruisers being cliquish is one I still stand my even though you disagree. Two other 'new' cruisers have mentioned to me that they also feel the same way about the cliques in that marina this winter, so I am not the only one who has noticed this. So what. Let them enjoy each other's company. But do not pretend that this does not happen.

      Or my comment about organized marina excursions being similar to retirement home outings? How does that insult anyone? It does not say or even imply that anyone is old -- as someone being old is a negative thing in the first place. It is a comment about how marina excursions are handled. This entire thread of comments is silly. It is obvious that the humor of some people berthed in this marina this winter have different viewpoints on humor. I do not understand theirs and they do not understand mine.

      Happy Kwanza.

  7. Bill and Judy, it appears that you have met a select group of my countrymen. Good luck with that. Please continue your blog in your straight forward fashion.

  8. Judy and Bill have been friends for longer than I can recall, which at our age is not difficult to understand. After reading these few "Rants" I just offer a comment or two that for me at least, bring focus to the feelings stated herein. First, those who travel for leisure by sea, land or air and are no longer employed and have the time do do such activities are "retirees". We all work very hard for most of our lives planning for this period of time. When the explorers first came to America, the "Locals" were Native American Indians and their retirement consisted of going off to a remote mountaintop and wait to die. WE, people have chosen to travel, enjoy life and take in as much of what pleases us as we can before death. Lighten up! From where I sit, nothing in the comments Judy maid should be taken as negative. Each of us have our own unique way of expressing our thoughts, the morning VHF net is one way, I have a web page (under reconstruction at the moment) and Bill and Judy have this blog. Do not read too much into the comments. As a fellow aged traveler, my bride and me traveled for 11 years in a motor home, RV, Caravan, whatever you call it in your area and did it with the understanding that it is what old people do. Today our voyages have turned to Cruise Ships and Aircraft which seem easier on the body at this stage of life & death. So, my advice is to simply get on the bus, take a few pictures for the grand kids and ENJOY every moment. Lighten up!

    On a personal note: Love y'all and we MUST have lunch or dinner while you are in the USA so let us know what works for you two. Houston, Galveston, Winnie..we don't care where.

  9. I met Judy and Bill on Facebook, and perhaps some of the cruising forums - but never in person. It started with their arch, which had me drooling, as ours, while very thoughtfully designed, was execrably executed, and there was no going back.

    I read this post and smiled. The admiral's mother is newly (almost a year) installed in a senior community (she's 89; she cruised with us when she was 83 and 84), and frequently goes on the bus trips organized (well, offered; most are standard, scheduled affairs not requiring long distance travel or a separate cost to the participants; sometimes we've taken overload in our van, if we're going along for the fun).

    There's always room to gripe or curmudge (the verb form of the noun curmudgeon) when you get a bunch of folks together, and even more so when there are those looking on to a report/version of what happened, and to whom.

    Perception is in the eye of the beholder, but is reality to each such perceiver. Unfortunately, without a video record - and even those lead to disagreement, sometimes, about what happened - each memory is faulty in one or more regards. It gets worse, like the game of telephone, the further from the original the tale or the commentary gets. Of course, cultural norms (many of the participants aren't countrymen of their host marina, let alone of each other) vary, and influence how each sees an event.

    At the moment, I have plenty of challenges aboard Flying Pig (our home), so I tend to let social stuff slide as unimportant as compared to where I might be living sometime soon when contrasted to where I am now. For all the challenges, I'd rather be here, thank you very much, and will take the variegated slings and arrows of those around me. If and when it gets unbearable, I'll pull up the hook and move; it MAY be soon enough for the admiral; if not, we'll get off the boat and confine our grousing to those who are ground-pounders.

    Whatever the burdens, I envy you, Judy, and Bill. Keep on telling it like you see it.

    1. Love the link, Skip.
      Thanks for posting. You write so well.

  10. Having enjoyed the company of yachting folk of many nationalities as we sailed round the world, at the same time occasionally being left out, or the butt of the odd joke (practically ostracised on occasion because we didn’t fit in…I suspect our boat just wasn’t shiny enough), I came to the conclusion that at least we could leave, sail on and never have to socialise with some folks ever again if we didn’t want to!
    We generally avoided marinas if we could anyway. Neighbours can be just too close for comfort sometimes and it often felt like living in a goldfish bowl.
    My favourite long term yachtie community was the anchorage in Cartagena, Colombia, (for the New Year celebrations) and I’d love to get back there one day.
    I gather you’re back home now for Christmas (remembering Phuket 2010) and I do hope you’re having a good birthday today with friends and family around you.

    1. so sorry you felt that way. we also loved cartegena, and tell our friends that we'd love to go back there as well.

      i don't believe we'd met during our cruising. where are you now?

      linda and michael
      s/y b'sheret

  11. Having communicated with you and Bill for years now I know you would never deliberately offend, but also that your frank style doesn't work for everyone. But it's a shame that folks have gotten hackles over things that could probably be clarified painlessly in a personal conversation instead of turning into a kerfuffle! Keep on being yourselves. Glad you got moved from the wall and hope that helps make it a more socially enjoyable place when you're back from Houston. As a cradle Catholic I especially can't wait to hear about your trip to Rome with Bill's brother!

  12. I am really sorry Judy that some of my countryman have criticised your blog. British subjects have been a source of acute embarrassment to me in the past when overseas. My boating experience is limited to a cabin cruiser on the Thames my parent’s owned but I know enough of boats to really enjoy Bill and Judy’s posts. They are doing the cruising for me. For anyone who doesn’t like them the answer is so simple ‘get over yourself, don’t read them’!


  13. OH MY GOODNESS, FOLKS! IT’S THEIR BLOG! i can not imagine that either bill or judy, or anyone for that matter, force you to view their blog, one which expresses their personal feelings and viewpoints. i can only think that you do this on your own. if you don't like what's being written, don't go back. but it's unconscionable that you would ruin someones’ views with your harsh comments on THEIR blog.

    we've been sailing around the world with bill and judy since 2007. they have always been the "go to" boat in any anchorage or port for companionship, help, and/or advice. if someone has a problem, they're there. if someone's boat gets hit by lightning they are the first ones there with spare parts (this happened!). if the weather is crappy, there's always a game of dominoes waiting. they are not spiteful people. judy doesn't post things to hurt anyone. she has been posting for many years without this kind of response.

    those of us who know and love bill and judy, know that they are extremely giving and helpful. i disagree that they should be the ones to go around the marina and introduce themselves - which bill does, by the way. why don't YOU approach the "new boat in the marina", introduce yourselves, and make them feel welcome? it actually took a blog post to get the cruisers there to open up to them. did you not notice that a new boat had arrived? i don't know who you are, but i would imagine that if you had a blog posting your personal views and feelings, and were in a foreign country, in a new marina, and you were being ignored by the other boaters, you would post something very similar to what judy has posted.

    we have also found that the camaraderie in the mediterranean is not what we are used to. the cruisers seem to form cliques amongst themselves, and we have been snubbed many times in a new marina or anchorage. is it a language barrier? i don’t think so. maybe it’s the mobile phones everyone has these days. we came to the mediterranean from places in the world where no one has a mobile phone, so we are FORCED to communicate with, and enjoy the company of, each other. OH MY!!!

    i view mobile phones at a table very rude. maybe you allow them at YOUR table, i don’t; i don’t care if you’re eating, or in a group meeting – especially if you’re a visitor! you’re there to converse with, and enjoy the company of, other people at the table. if you don’t want to socialize, stay on your boat!

    judy mentioned that she felt like she was on a retirement center bus. honestly, don't you feel that way when you're on a bus excursion with a lot of older - i didn't say "elderly", i said "older" - people? careful! i said be honest. we have been on numerous excursions, in numerous countries, and have felt this way as well. have you read any of her other blog posts? they are always creative, informative, and make you feel like you're there. actually, we HAVE been there, but we still enjoy reading judy's blog posts.

    as to the morning net issue, we have also been accosted by net controllers - not physically, but verbally. the net is a safety blanket for us. if anyone is in trouble (i.e., has medical needs, boat needs) the net is the boat's mobile phone. it is supposed to be informative - date, time, weather, activities in the area, etc.; it is NOT to be used to broadcast music; it is illegal to broadcast music on ANY channels. if someone has a true issue, how would they get help if you're blocking the signal? stand on the bow or stern and yell? you are on a community channel. if you want to listen to music, turn on your radio, plug in a music disc, or whatever you do, in the privacy of your own boat. The idea of a net is to keep the cruising community connected daily. If you have an activity, the net is the easiest way to communicate the date, time, place, event, and the location of the person in charge.

    i could go on and on, but i won't. too much time and energy has been exerted on this issue, LET’S MOVE ON!


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