Monday, November 10, 2014

Passing time at Marina di Ragusa

We feel a bit like lost children at this marina.  We came here for the social camaraderie of the cruising community and we have yet to find it.  
As always, click on any image for larger view.
Marina shortly after construction.  It is now filled with boats.
Photo taken from a local newspaper archives.
BeBe is now berthed on the wall on the right side.

This basically is a horseshoe shaped marina with an entrance extending eastward that shelters the opening of the horseshoe from open seas to the south.  BeBe is berthed way out on the inside of the western wall, right at the entrance to the boat yard which is situated on the western tip of the horseshoe.  Strange place to put a boat yard in my opinion -- out on a concrete yard well out into the water rather than utilizing land space.  Guess that makes sense considering the land topography here; there really is no land space suitable for a boat yard.  

But...because we are berthed way out here, we are very isolated from the other cruisers living aboard this winter.  They are all berthed out on the docks in the center of the marina. The only other cruising boat berthed out on the western wall is a small German boat about a block away from us and they do not speak English.  All other boats out here are locally owned boats.  Therefore, we are very isolated from the cruising community.  They are not even aware of our existence.

We attend the weekly Friday night Happy Hour gatherings at the marina bar; and the Tuesday night Happy Hour gatherings at the Stella Marine bar at the top of the hill; and often eat at the special marina liveaboard dinners at the marina bar on Wednesday nights.  Bill walks around the marina much more often that I do and he has met a few people.  But they really do not know us.  I am beginning to wonder exactly why we came here for the winter rather than berthing at Nettuno up near Rome as originally planned.  Friends on 3 boats were here earlier and we enjoyed socializing with them.  But they returned home for the winter weeks ago.  Will not see them again until April.  So...not sure exactly why we came.  In hindsight, we would have enjoyed exploring Rome more than sitting here.  But we are here so that is that.  There are people on 2 boats whose company we enjoy.  All others, when I speak to any of them, I get the distinct feeling that they wonder why I am talking to them and wish I would not.

The management at Porto Touristico Marina di Ragusa is wonderful.  They could not be better.  Note that the term 'marina' in Italy does not mean anything relating to boats.  The word 'marina' is used in Italy to designate any community or structure built near the sea. Sailors have to careful of this when reading their charts as a 'marina' on a chart might have nothing there for boats.  But it there is a Porto Touristico, THEN there is a boating marina located there.  Got that?  Still confuses me when reading a nautical chart.  Every time.

There is a VHF radio net in this marina every morning except Sundays.  The monitors like to start the net each morning by playing music and sometimes attempting to make jokes.  When I understand what they are saying, the 'jokes' are never the least bit humorous and often insulting to one group or another.  These 'jokes' would never pass muster in PC America.  And I guess none of them know that it is illegal everywhere in the world to transmit music via VHF radio signals. We often have no idea what the people on the net are talking about.  Cannot explain why.  But neither Bill nor I understand 70% to 80% of what is discussed on that radio net.  This morning there was a discussion of a group getting together and the marina providing a van to take people to shop at Lidl and to a mall.  Neither of us understood who, what, when, where or how.  So we will rent a car instead of participating in this group activity.  This is not the first time this has happened here.  

There is something some of them are doing calling themselves on the radio as 'Sickness' that we do not understand either.  It started off over a month ago when one guy identified himself as Sickness when he made an announcement on the radio net one morning.  Soon there was a Sickness 2.  Then a Sickness 3.  As of today they are up to Sickness 5.  All 5 of them got together on the radio today.  I did not listen in on their conversation.  And have no clue what all those Sickness names are all about.  Guess the guys have formed a little club.

Most mornings there supposedly is a guy who leads a group in Tai Chi.  I did Tai Chi when we lived in South Carolina for 6 months back in 1995 and enjoyed it very much.  But from what I understand this is done on the beach.  Why on the beach, I do not understand.  There are plenty of large paved areas in this marina to do this.  And even several vacant rooms where this activity could be held.  Instead, they do this on the beach in the early morning.  Sand has insects.  No way I am interested in standing on gritty insect infested sand to do Tai Chi.  Call me a grump.  Another social activity in which I will not be participating.  

The issue is that most of the boats here are back for their fourth winter.  They know one another and have established rapport.  A camaraderie to which we do not feel welcome.  We are the outsiders and will remain so.  Other cruising friends who wintered here a few years ago probably did not experience this because the marina was new, so most of the boats were here for the first or maybe second time.  Now boats are back for the fourth or fifth winter season.  Maybe 10% of the boats here for this winter are first-timers like us.  Those that are berthed in the midst of the returning old-timers have an easier time of fitting in with them.  With us being berthed out in the boonies, we will never fit in with the old-timer crowd as they are quite cliquish.  Seriously, I wonder why we came here.  Yeah, I know.  It is what you make of it.  If I made more effort to get to know these folks then it would be more enjoyable here.  Just cannot get motivated to make that effort.  Friendship and comradeship should just happen naturally. 

But we will only be here for another 2 weeks or so and then we fly to Rome for 5 days before continuing on to Houston for the required 90 days out of Schengen territory. Looking forward to exploring Rome and also looking forward to getting home and catching up on family time.  About time we met our new granddaughter born last May!

One weekend there was a Classic Car Show sponsored here in the marina.  Bill enjoyed checking out a few of their classic cars.  Quite different from a classic car show in SE Texas, for sure!

First waterspout formed

In late October one afternoon a waterspout developed at sea well west of the stern of our docked boat.  It formed and went down toward water level, then retreated almost totally back up into the clouds.  Then came back down again.  Again did not touch the sea.  Hung around several minutes as it moved closer straight toward us.  Then once again retreated back up into the clouds.  And then the clouds dissipated, with never a drop of water falling onto our deck.  Nature is a wondrous thing!  

Retreated almost totally back into clouds
Then came back down stronger.  And closer.

Medicane = hurricane in the Med

A few days ago a 'Medicane' passed through this area.  'Medicane' is the coined term being used to describe a storm of hurricane strength in the Med.  Bill and I had been watching this storm closely via several weather sources.  

Eye predicted to pass directly over Ragusa
We could see it had developed the anti-clockwise circular motion and clearly had developed an eye.  Winds exceeded 70 kts when the storm was at sea between Tunisia and Malta, and the eye was predicted to pass directly over our area.  Luckily (for us), that storm moved farther eastward before turning north.  It passed directly over Malta and then up the eastern side of Sicily, missing us with a direct hit by about 30 miles.  Weather was nasty here for a couple of days and the barometric pressure dropped to 995.8.  

But that is much better than the 979 that Malta experienced!

Satellite view of the storm
Here is a link to a good analysis of this storm and prediction of years of change ahead:

Medicane and expected weather changes in Med

All was fine here in Marina di Ragusa.


  1. Hopefully I can help clarify a few points for you and make your stay more enjoyable.
    The radio net is a bit of fun and to try and help everyone in the marina with anything they may need.
    The sickness bit is probably not sickness but Cygnus III.. the name of our boat which I refer to as Cygnus.. must be the brit accent.
    The shopping trips and everything else are open to everyone and is a really good and sociable way of meeting and getting to know others.
    Either e mail me or pop round anytime and I will try and help you with anything I can.
    Everyone here is very sociable and want everyone to get on. I see you are going away which is a pity because I am sure we could have helped you more.

  2. Thanks. Someone at the Tuesday night Happy Hour (after I posted this blog) suggested that the name was Cygnus rather than Sickness. And that the 1,2, 3, 4 and 5 nomenclature was an attempt at humor. Like the VHF net jokes, that humor eluded us. Another announcement was made on the net the day after I published this blog posting. Instructions were clearer in that announcement -- that people needed to visit the Yacht Services office and pay 15 Euro each to get on the list for the shopping trip. We are paid and on the list for the trip next week.

  3. Hi Judy and Bill -

    We were thinking you got a primo spot as it was close to the 'facilities', but I see your point about isolation! We certainly enjoyed our brief time there with you. Boy are we glad we had visited Malta earlier and missed that Medicane. We had lots of wind in Trapani which we waited out in the marina and when we crossed over to Sardinia we had bigger seas than predicted - very likely a result of the Medicane you mention - but we had not heard specifically about that phenomenon where we were. Caroline had emailed about it too and I was glad to hear that you and they and all others in Ragusa were fine.

    See you again somewhere...I know our paths will cross.

  4. My comment on bebe blog ��

    Truly sorry you feel that way. It's our 2nd winter here having returned based solely on the amazing time we had last year, actively engaging in and assisting with social events. You're certainly not alone in being "newcomers", the diversity of so many nationalities and personal interests is fantastic. From experience people here are very happy to help and are an incredibly friendly bunch as they were to us seeing as we didn't arrive last year until late December. I couldn't agree more with your comment of you get what you put in, spot on!
    The net is meant as being light hearted and giving people an opportunity to ask for/offer help and exchange ideas or announce planned social activities from guitar group to olive picking and so much in between. If there's anything you don't understand just ask. Likewise if you'd like to suggest something you'd like people to join in with, do so.
    Everything is open to everyone, it's all very relaxed and there's certainly not a clique here at all. Tai chi isn't my thing but I can see the appeal of having sessions on a beautiful beach just as the sun has come up and looking out to gentle rolling waves rather than in a room or on a paved spot in the marina, again not my thing but doesn't make them wrong..
    There's a couple of things happening before you leave, the net will give updates so hope to see you there.

    1. Samantha - Note that I did not state that the Tai Chi being held on the beach was wrong. Just that I personally would not participate in an activity that I enjoy because it was being held on a sandy beach. I am highly allergic to sand fleas and avoid beaches. That sunrise and the waves rolling in are also visible from the paved area just above that beach. As to the net, the net is formatted exactly like all marina or cruiser nets. We simply do not understand much of what is said. Some of the folks have a habit of directing their voice aside from the mike rather speaking toward the mike, so their voices trail off dimly. Not a problem with our radio; it is their failure to continue to speak directly into the mike. The attempts at humor find a different audience than us as we have found nothing understood on that net to be the least bit humorous. Funny thing; a few days after I published this blog posting we were invited to sundowners aboard 2 boats and enjoyed a lovely evening of visiting and chatting both nights. I will reciprocate aboard our boat when we return in the spring. So, things are looking up for this marina experience, which I will relate when publish the final blog posting when we leave for the winter trip home.


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