Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chilling in Barcelona

Base of the statue of Columbus on left with an
administrative building in background

Statue of Christopher Columbus.  His
raised hand points to the New World.

Nothing much going on.  

Here are a few photos taken in Barcelona but we have done no sightseeing yet.  Elisabeth wants to wait until her parents and siblings arrive next week, as she does not want to see the same things twice.  We have walked 10 blocks or so of the famous Rambla as that is where the ATM machines can be found. 

A DS and headphone music.  Makes her very happy.

As we are on shore power there can be almost unlimited video games and music, as long as she does minimum 2-hours algebra study online each day plus whatever chores we want done.  All her school reading and projects assigned for summer have been completed.  Wanted those out of the way before parents and siblings arrive so can concentrate on enjoying Spain with them.  

Being the ATM watch guard on the Rambla while
Bill makes a withdrawal.

I am looking forward to seeing the museum displaying the works of Pablo Picasso.  There are many museums in Barcelona, as well as many cathedrals; but probably the Picasso museum will be the highlight for me. 

We have been concentrating on boat-related things which will comprise a posting next month when finished.
Whoops!  Dismasted when run down by a freighter.
Must not have been keeping good watch.
Thankfully, no one was injured.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Sardinia to Barcelona

View from our temporary berthing spot on the wall

Ahhhh...Spain!  A new country for us.  Neither of us had visited Spain in the past and we were very much looking forward to it.  And for the first city to be Barcelona was a plus.

As I have mentioned in previous postings, we had been watching weather for this region for a couple of months.  Not daily; but we would check it a couple times each week; just to get a feel for how frequently the calms might occur.  And knowing that the frequency of calms would change with the summer season.  But...more frequent or less frequent?  More or less severe? For the past month we had checked weather for this stretch of sea at least every other day.  

What we saw was not encouraging.  I had been dreading this short passage.  Especially with a third person aboard.  I prefer just the 2 of us if we have to deal with bad weather.

We do not know this part of the world as well as we know the weather patterns of the Caribbean.  And the Gulf of Lion (or the Gulf of Lions as our sailing guidebook refers to it) can produce storms of hurricane force.  Not circular-patterned storms but straight-line wind storms of often 60 knot strength, 35-40 knots being typical but 60-knots not uncommon.  Which causes the sea to rise quickly and can be more than uncomfortable; this can be downright dangerous. These strong winds typically last 4 to 5 days each time.  This is caused by fronts coming off the North Atlantic into the North Sea and then down the land mass of Europe, funneling through the Pyrenees mountain range and exiting through the Gulf of Lion(s).  Those winds are strong like lions so this is a apt name for this small gulf.

Getting the weather right for this passage is important.  Most of the sailors we know who have gone westward before us have skipped this area.  Most boats go from Sicily to the southern tip of Sardinia and then to the Balearic Islands, never venturing as far north as Barcelona.  Those people we know who have ventured to the north of Sardinia usually continued farther north up the western coast of Corsica and then sailed SW to Barcelona during a calm in the Gulf of Lion. They do this because when the wind is not blowing stink from the NNW down out of the Gulf of Lion, then it is blowing medium strength from the west; placing Barcelona right on your nose if coming from the northern tip of Sardinia.  Occasionally, very occasionally it appears after watching weather for a couple of months, the wind blows from the S or SE.  That would have been ideal -- and sailors rarely experience ideal weather for long.

We were willing to visit Corsica and sail up the western coast awaiting good weather to shoot over to Barcelona.  But did not feel any compelling desire to see anything on Corsica.  Bonifacio is supposed to be beautiful and the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte is a tourist draw.  But, honestly, seeing Bonifacio would be no different that seeing any of the many other beautiful cities already visited in Europe.  And Napoleon has never been my idea of someone to be admired so why visit his birthplace.  By the way, Napoleon was Corsican and almost was considered to be Genoese (Italian).  The Republic of Genoa had transferred the island of Corsica to France just the year before Napoleon's birth in Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. Today, just as the Sards and Sicilians feel loyalty to their islands more than loyalty to Italy, Corsicans continue to feel loyalty to Corsica more than loyalty to France.  Corsicans first; French second.  France has a flimsy claim for Napoleon to have been French.

Porpoises came to play a half-dozen times during
our 45-hour trip
While on the northern tip of Sardinia our weather research revealed the perfect weather window to go straight to Barcelona.  Wind was predicted to be very light from the W right on our nose; then back to SW at 12 knots for 12 hours; then die completely as a strong front would begin blowing down through the Gulf of Lion(s).  This would be perfect!  If we hurried up and departed the westernmost tip of Sardinia (that national park where we had to sail right up to the mooring buoy, no engines allowed) around 08:00 we should be able to motor 1/3; sail 1/3; and motor again 1/3.  We would be close enough to Barcelona that the 35 knots blowing down from France would be behind us.  This plan worked perfectly!  And we actually ended up sailing 52% of this dreaded passage.  It was all very pleasant.  We had worried all those weeks for no reason.  All it took was taking advantage of the perfect weather window even though this put us arriving in Barcelona on 8 July and we did not plan to arrive here to meet visiting family until 29 July.  Luckily, the marina had space for us.  And gave us a monthly rate that was only 200 Euro more than we originally were to pay for merely 12 days.  Win-win!

Another 25-lb Big-eye Tuna

During the first third of this passage we caught another large big-eye tuna.  Guestimate it at around 25-lbs or 12 kilo.  The poor thing fought so much as Bill was trying to bring it aboard that it caught the gaff in its eye!  That was a bloody and sympathy-evoking mess!  All that distress also called up sharks.  A larger one, maybe 6-7 feet, circled just within sight beneath the stern of our boat as Bill brought in the tuna.  And a smaller shark circled round and round just below the surface until the tuna was hung up by a line on our stern arch to bleed out.  That shark was not much larger than the tuna.

Tail section removed; ready to butcher (or whatever
one calls cutting up a fish)
As Bill was dealing with the tuna Elisabeth and I saw something quite weird off the port stern.  Neither of us could figure out what it was.  It was large, maybe 8 feet by 6 feet and was white with flashes of silver.  It was stationary, just came up near the surface.  Then it lowered back down deeper again.  It did not move in any sideways motion or closer or farther away, just up to maybe 6-ft below surface and then back down.  We watched it for about 5 seconds before it disappeared into the depths.  Elisabeth said, "I'm going back into the cockpit.  I have seen enough marine life for one day.  That is scary."

Freezer is filled with tuna, all cut into steaks and cooked, vacuum sealed into individual meal servings, half with brine and half with olive oil.  Looks like many tuna salad sandwiches in our future.  As well as creamed tuna on toast and tuna casseroles.  Seared tuna steaks are only good on the day it is caught.  And those are the only 3 ways I know to cook tuna. We were afraid to put a line back into the water after catching 2 of these large big-eyes.  We cannot handle any more tuna for now.  Was hoping for a mahi-mahi (dolphin, dorado).  

We arrived at Marina Port Vell in Barcelona at 08:30 after 48 hours passage from Asinara, Sardinia.  Elisabeth handled the 2-night passage nicely.  No complaints and she never gets the slightest bit seasick.  She did find it boring but managed to do the first half night watch with me just fine.  Once it was dark she could play on her DS to pass the time.  Could not do that during daylight, so she tended to sleep most of the day.  The passage could have been shortened by several hours but we kept the boat speed slow so that arrival would be during daylight when marina staff were working.  

Bill wanted to fill up with diesel so that we can leave here whenever we want, but this very nice marina does not have a fuel dock!  THAT was a surprise!  They directed us to proceed to Olimpic Marina a mile or so farther north.  There was a boat still docked in our assigned berth so we motored over to Olimpic and fueled up.  Upon arrival back at Port Vell we learned that the boat was still docked in our assigned berth.  So they docked us on the far wall temporarily.  It was a long walk from there to the marina office but they kindly offer cart service.  Just hail on the radio and they come pick you up.  And deliver you back.   How nice!  We have never stayed in a marina with this service. 

Another view from our berthing spot.  This marina
is right in the heart of Barcelona.  Great location.

A nice surprise!  Steven and Carol on M/V SEABIRD, the couple on the lovely Nordhavn whom we met in Siracusa, are also berthed here.  We had just missed Bill and Janet on S/V AIRSTREAM.  They had departed south for the Balearic Islands while we were sailing over from Sardinia.  Just missed each other.  We joined Steven and Carol for dinner at a local restaurant one night to sample that paella for which Spain is so famous.  They will be here awhile so maybe we can get together again.

A few nights ago we met up with Dennis and Virginia who own a sister-ship Amel called LIBERTAD.  They left LIBERTAD in the boatyard at Olimpic Marina for the winter while they traveled back to California and had arrived back on the boat just hours before we fueled up there.  Small world!  It was great to catch up with them again.  We might be seeing one another again as we both make our ways to the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic next winter.

All we have heard from everyone is how very hot it gets around this part of Spain in August and how very crowded it gets in the Balearic Islands and elsewhere during the month of August when everything in Spain shuts down for the month and everyone goes on holiday.  They do not spread employee vacations out over the year as businesses do in the USA.  Over here they just shut the businesses down and everyone goes on vacation for the entire month of August.  We are not inclined to fight for anchorage or marina space with all the vacationers.  

This is right next to the marina.  The granddaughter
was more excited about this (and McDonald's and
Burger King nearby) than the grandeur of old Barcelona

As a result, we have decided to stay here in Barcelona for another month.  It is wonderfully pleasant to sleep with the air conditioning and we are not in a hurry to forfeit that luxury.  The marina moved us to our 'permanent' berth on a floating pontoon a couple of days ago.  It actually has finger piers!!  Have not seen those in a long time! 

First thing we did was put up the shade awning.  That awning that we have not used since Turkey.  It helps a lot by keeping direct sunlight off the deck; thereby keeping the interior several degrees cooler.  Fans make daytime tolerable; nights are blissful with air conditioning.

We are taking the opportunity of this prolonged stay in Barcelona to have the main saloon reupholstered.  We had purchased the fabric months ago and received it in Sicily via an Italian pilot friend, a fellow Amel owner who graciously offered to bring this fabric from Houston to Sicily for us since he regularly flies to Houston.  We obtained quotes and decided this morning which company to use.   The upholsterer hopes to have the work finished before he closes the shop on 7 August.  We are looking forward to a fresh new look inside the boat.  The old upholstery is okay.  It is worn only on the settee where people tend to rest their arms -- and an arm cap (I have the fabric) would solve that.  But we are ready for a new look.  Hope it turns out as we see it in our minds' eyes.  Photos next month when completed.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sardegna -- and sailing onto a mooring

Islands off Costa Smeralda
Memories of our brief stay in Sardinia are a blur.  We were there for such a short time before seeing a perfect weather window and making a run for Spain.  I will comment about that in another posting.  This posting is about our observances while in Sardinia, or Sardegna as the Italians call this island.  

Before coming to Sardinia all we knew about it is that it is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, the largest being Sicily.  Sicily has an area of 9,927 square miles and Sardinia has an area of 9,300 square miles or 9,197 square miles depending on which source one cites.  Either way, Sardinia comes in a close second to Sicily regarding land size.  I find it impossible to tell the difference on our charts.  Both islands appear to be about the same size to me.

A house on the Costa Smeralda covered in
purple bougainvillea 

We have no tourist guide for Sardinia; came totally unprepared except for our sailing guidebook and charts.  Plus what we had read on blogs of fellow cruisers who have visited Sardinia over the past few years.  The only thing I remembered from those blogs is that some fairly famous artists hail from this island, plus some poets.  And that some guy who makes violins or guitars also resides on Sardinia.  None of that was of any interest whatsoever to us.

What in the world?
Being towed behind a boat.

Why were we here?  Because geographically it is the logical place to stop when headed westward from Italy.  According to our sailing guidebook, Sardinia lies 112 miles from the Italian mainland; 7 miles south of the French island of Corsica; and approximately 120 miles north from Africa.  We were headed to Barcelona, Spain; so over the northern tip of Sardinia was the most logical route.

As an example of how little we knew about this island, we assumed that the inhabitants were called Sardinians.  Nope; they are called Sards.  And like the Sicilians they feel a more special affinity for their island than they do for the country of Italy.  They are Sards first, and Italians second.  Also like the Sicilians, their language is different from that on mainland Italy.  The Sards differ from the Italians in other ways too.  They are less exuberant, more reserved.

Many rocky islets off Costa Smeralda
Much of this large island is bare rock, with a mountain range running north-south on the eastern half.  There is little agriculture and it can be very hot and dusty. About the only crop cultivated here are the cork oak trees.  This island has been inhabited by some of the same cultures that ruled much of the Med long ago; first the Phoenicians, then the Romans.  But before the Phoenicians this island was inhabited during the Neolithic period by the Nuraghese, a people totally unfamiliar to us.  The most significant remaining structures from this period are the nuraghs found all over the island.  There were some 30,000 of these structures.  Let that sink in for a moment.  30,000 of these stone structures built on this island between 1900 and 730 B.C. Today there still remain evidence of some 7,000 of these structures.  Each was constructed of truncated stone blocks built without mortar.  These served part as dwelling places and part as fortresses.  And these are found only on Sardinia.  The largest nuraghs have 3 central floors and a complex of towers, fosses and galleries.  Most are found inland on elevations from 500 to 1,000 feet.  We motored past several but never close enough to get good photos.  These 2 links provide more information and photos:

Google Images of Nuragh

After the Romans came the Vandals, Byzantines, Saracens and Arabs.  The indigineous Sards retreated from the shores to the mountains each time.  A small note is that the Romans never conquered the Sards because they retreated to those mountains.  Romans called the area Barbaria because of these wild inhabitants.  Then during the Middle Ages the Genoese and Pisans from nearby Genoa and Pisa arrived and the ravaging of Sardinia ceased under their rule.  Later the Aragonese and Spanish arrived and life finally became more ordered for the Sards.

Much later, Admiral Nelson attempted to persuade the British government to annex Sardinia; but that never came to fruition.  Nelson felt that Sardinia with its numerous protected anchorages was a much better place to protect the British fleet than Malta which had only Valetta to serve as protection for the fleet.

In 1948 Sardinia was granted political autonomy.  The multi-billionaire Aga Khan began developing the Costa Smeralda in the 1960s and other international development companies followed his lead.  We motored up the Costa Smeralda one day and Bill noted that there were more super yachts there than we have seen anywhere in the world.  One anchorage alone held 13 super yachts.  Oh...all that money.

After remaining at anchor in the large bay called Porto della Taverna for a few nights we motored 17 miles to Porto di Cugnana.  Had to...we needed to find a grocery store.  After 2 weeks of being at anchor and 1 overnight passage we were totally out of fresh produce and down to our last loaf of bread.  We anchored outside the Marina di Portisco and took the dinghy in to find a supermarket.  We also gifted that huge teardrop fender that we had found halfway between the islands of Ponza and Sardinia to this marina.  We certainly had no use for that huge thing and it probably cost about 500 euro.  The marina staff were pleased to receive the gift.  I figure they can use it near their fuel dock or on the dock where the super yachts dock.

The following day we motored up the Costa Smeralda and past the La Maddalena islands.  Yeah; I know those islands are beautiful but they held no special interest for us.  Just another over-crowded place and we were getting tired of crowded mooring fields.  Plus, I did not want to pay for the special permit to go to these islands plus the 3.50 euro per meter per day for the privilege of a mooring; no anchoring allowed.  We continued onward.

Hey look!  There is the French island of Corsica just off to our right.  Birthplace of Napolean Bonaparte.  How many realize he was Italian rather than French since the island where he was born belonged to the Italians at the time.  We would miss beautiful Bonifacio and skip Corsica; we were headed to Barcelona because the weather was right for a change.  If we departed Sardinia at 0800 the next morning then we could arrive in Barcelona between 2 weather systems.  Another strong system was going to come down through the Gulf of Lions starting a few hours after we would arrive in Barcelona.  The time to get across that dreaded stretch of water was now.

Had to sail onto a mooring buoy in that tiny cove
where those 2 masts are located in middle
Our final overnight stop in Sardinia was at the Isola Asinara National Park and Marine Reserve at the Cala D'Oliva mooring field.  No motors or engines are allowed near Asinara.  One must sail only.  When was the last time you sailed up to a mooring buoy?  We used to practice doing this on our previous boat in the British Virgin Islands during off-season when there were no charter boats crowding the bays.  We were pretty good at dropping the mainsail and coasting right up to the mooring pennant.  But we had never done this on BeBe.  And a ketch with a skeg-hung rudder handles very differently from a sloop with a huge spade rudder.

Decided not to chance picking up this mooring under
sail because too close to rocky shore.
We executed this perfectly!  Not to sound like bragging, but we did do it perfectly.  Wind was from the WNW at 12 knots as we approached the bay.  We had no idea where the moorings were located; neither the sailing guidebook nor the park website illustrated the location of the mooring buoys in this bay, just stated that there were 8 mooring buoys in this bay and boats must navigate under sails only.  We entered the bay on the northern side and got as close to shore as possible looking for these buoys.  Finally spotted them in a small cove in the center of the larger bay and headed to a point just north of the cove.  I was at the helm while Bill was on the bow with a pole to pick up the mooring pennant.  

Photo taken from our moored boat.  Looking
back at the direction from which we sailed
into this small cove.
As we sailed south almost even with the buoys, I furled the genoa.  (Love having electric furling at the helm!  Faster and easier than manual furling.)  The boat immediately slowed from 5 knots to just over 3 knots SOG.  I turned to starboard and aligned BeBe with the desired buoy.  This further slowed the boat speed.  If we missed the first 1 then there was another buoy ahead of it, so all would not be lost if we missed the first 1 or if it had a broken pennant.  About 3 boat lengths from the buoy I yelled at Elisabeth to spill the main.  She did.  And the boat coasted up to the first buoy.  Bill quickly picked up the pennant and secured it to a cleat as I told Elisabeth to hurry and completely spill the main this time.  This brought the boat to a stop right at the buoy.  No need to slowly drift up to the next buoy.

As I furled the mainsail and Bill tidied the lines on the bow, people on a boat on another mooring began to applaude.  Why...thank you!  Guess we do remember how to sail after all.  Only thing we did wrong was to not fully explain to Elisabeth what we hoped to do.  She had never handled the main sheet before this experience.  And she had never heard the term 'spill the main' yet she handled it perfectly.  She might not be familiar with the term but she understood the concept of letting the mainsail move freely out to the side to empty the wind from the sail in order to slow down the boat.

Motoring away from the small cove on Asinara island
in zero wind.
An hour or so later the park attendent came and collected the mooring fee ($54 for our sized boat for 1 night) and handed us a park brochure.  Elisabeth was looking at it while I cooked dinner and she noted that for this zone boats are allowed to turn on engines for alignment to a mooring buoy only.  Under no circumstances can an engine be used other than briefly for alignment to a mooring.  Why was this not stated on the park website or in the sailing guidebook!!  That little tidbit of information might encourage more sailors to stop at this island park.  I am sure that the idea of sailing onto and off of a mooring buoy intimitates some sailors and that keeps them from stopping here.  And it is the perfect jumping off point for passage either to Barcelona or to the Balearic islands.  

Fishing boats were all around Asinara island in the
morning, even though it is a restricted area and
no fishing is allowed.  Bill said they were grandfathered.
Their grandfathers fished there so they are going to
fish there too.  Ignoring that the area is now a park.

At 0800 the following morning we raised the mainsail while on the mooring buoy.  Wind speed was 0.0 knots.  We let the boat drift for a couple of minutes so we could say we tried to abide by the park rules and sail off the mooring.  Then I started the engine and we motored out of there.  No one came to fuss at us that early in the morning.  Bye-bye to Sardinia and Italy.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Islands of Procida, Ischia, Ponza & over to Sardinia

 After returning from our little train trip to Rome we had hoped to depart Salerno the next morning.  But winds were much too high, allowing us another day in the marina in Salerno.  Winds were down to less than 20 kts the following morning so we headed off down the beautiful world-known Amalfi coast.  This truly is a beautiful coastline and also an area more fitting for motorboats than for sailing.  The high mountains create strong gusts from changing directions as one rounds the coastline projections, thus making sailing challenging if not impossible.  Going from 22 kts on the beam to 3 kts 24-degrees off starboard as we rounded each point got old very quickly.  And our sails are easily and quickly controlled electrically which makes dealing with that infinitely easier than on a traditionally rigged sailboat.  I honestly cannot imagine sailing that coastline in our previous boat with the traditional sails and no electric winches or furling.  No thanks!

Europeans love their tiny dinghies!
As we rounded the tip of the Amalfi coast there sat the equally world-known Isle of Capri. Anchoring is not allowed there, at least not for us foreign flagged boats, and the marina is outside our budget during this high-season of summer; so we continued onward.  Due to multiple computer problems it appears that all photos of the Amalfi coastline and the Isle of Capri have been lost.  At least for now, anyway.  As well as the photos of Mt. Vesuvius that I took after we passed Isola di Capri.  It was interesting to see Mt. Vesuvius from this western angle from the sea than what we saw from the train or Pompeii.

Typical Saturday crowded anchorage
Finding an acceptable anchorage for our next stop proved somewhat challenging.  We were going to the Flegree Islands in the Golfo di Napoli, comprised of Isola di Ischia and Isoli di Procida.  According to our sailing guidebook, all of the areas where we would have liked to anchor were off-limits to foreign flagged boats.  Everything was Zone B or Zone B(NT) as marine sanctuaries (marine parks) or even more restrictive zoning in parts of those areas.  These zones are strange in Italy. Zone B in one area can have different restrictions than a Zone B in another area, which makes it difficult to keep track of what is allowed where.   This particular area is regulated by the AMP Regno do Nettuno (Neptune's Kingdom Marine Reserve).  Only residents of Italy are allowed to anchor in areas zoned B in this marine reserve. where are we foreigners supposed to go?

Nope--those boats are not rafted up.  They are
'anchored' in the usual Italian way -- way overcrowded!
I had emailed the AMP requesting permission to navigate these waters, as per instructions in our sailing guidebook.  I also requested permission to anchor...just to see what the response might be.  You never know; maybe someone would say okay.  Nope; after 3 days I received a response stating that only Italian residents (Italian flagged boats) are allowed to anchor at these islands.  I then inquired if we could be allowed to take a mooring in Cala di Corricella on Isola di Procida.  The response was that we should take a mooring and then proceed to a dock at Corricella to pay for the mooring.  We decided to try for that.  Upon arrival, however, we found that there are no moorings in this bay.  What the heck!  It is okay to take a mooring but not to anchor but there are no moorings.  Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing!!!

Captain of the big boat did know how to anchor.  The
others did not.  Owner was screaming at 2 boats that
were tangled up and dragging down on him.
We anchored anyway, knowing that authorities could come along and chase us away or charge a fine.  Whatever.  We would move on and sail overnight to another location if forced to do so.  The only other option would be to go to a marina near Naples and we wanted to avoid that. That would be going in the wrong direction.  Due to high winds we ended up staying at Cala di Corricella for 2 nights...on a weekend...with all the weekend crowds.  The Italian Coast Guard boat visited the anchorage 4 times and passed our anchored boat each time without stopping.  Made me wonder if the Coast Guard is charged with safety and the AMP charged with enforcing the marine reserve rules.  We never saw an AMP boat.

This little boat wanted to anchor that close to us.  After
seeing my face they moved farther away.
And...Oh.My.God!...does Procida ever get crowded on weekends!!!  We had heard the tales from other cruising friends who are ahead of  us about how crowded the Italian anchorages can get during summer months, so we were expecting it to be crowded.  It was laughable!  Most of the boats were quite small.  Almost all came over from Naples for the day, leaving around 18:00.  The first night the anchorage was very rolly with swell rolling in.  It was like being at sea as the boat rolled all night long.  This once again re-affirmed my decision to never own a boat with a center-line bed.  The only way I can sleep in excessively rolly anchorages is with my back placed against the hull and a large pillow in front to force my body to remain still.  Something that is not possible in a center-line bed.  I know those are all the rage in boats today but I would never own such a boat.

Boats dragged all day long both days that we were are Corricella.  These people either do not know how to anchor or they simply do not care if they drag.  Many of the boats would motor into the anchorage, flip their fenders over each side, and then drop the anchor...with just enough chain for the anchor to reach the bottom--no scope at all.  Then they would drag back against another boat; partially lift their anchor; motor forward again; drop the anchor once again (again with no scope); and repeat this process.  We watched one boat drag and repeat this process 5 times!  Hey...wouldn't it be more enjoyable to just put out some more chain and stick in one place without having to worry about hitting another boat as you dragged through the anchorage?  What a novel idea.  Did not seem to bother any of them, though.

Argonese castle at Ischia
as viewed from southeast
Argonese castle as viewed
from northeast
After 2 days of this we left and motored past Isola di Ischia en route to Isola Ponza.  We had wanted to visit Ischia and check out the old Argonese castle on the tiny islet joined to Ischia by a causeway, but we could find no allowable anchorage in the guidebook.  Same restriction as at Procida, anchoring not allowed by non-Italian flagged boats.  That had not been a problem at Procida but we were tired of these restrictions and worrying about getting fined or chased away, so we just moved on the 50 miles or so out to the island of Ponza.

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza

Ponza turned out to be our favorite place (anchorage-wise) in all of Italy thus far.  The island is beautiful.  It reminded both of us very much of some places in Venezuela, like Mochima and some of the islands -- places that are gorgeous and no longer safe to visit.  Ponza was so nice that we stayed longer than planned.

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza

The water delivery ship arrived and we had to move to a different spot in the Cala di Inferno anchorage.  We never really figured out that water delivery ship.  It would dock stern-to against a limestone cliff which had steps carved up to a very nice home on top.  And there were doorways cut out of the limestone down near the sea level.  Where were they off-loading and storing all that water which was delivered daily while we were anchored there?

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza.  Water ship docked at lower right area.  Steps carved all the way up.
What a view must be from that home on top.

78-meter super yacht Ilona
Note the helicopter on top rear.

Red Sails in the sunset

93-meter super sailing yacht Eos

93-meter Eos on left
78-meter Ilona on right
at Ponza -- a popular place for super yachts

On our final day anchored at Ponza an acquaintance arrived whom we had last seen in 2011 when our boats were transported aboard the cargo ship BBC Everest from Male, Maldives, to Marmaris, Turkey.  He had worked as crew on one of the yachts transported, and now he crewed on a luxury yacht that visited Ponza.  Wish I could say more about this yacht but I will respect privacy of the very wealthy and very well-known celebrity owner and leave it at that.  It was nice having the opportunity to once again say hello to this crew member.  Nice guy.

Totally flat calm sea

Early the following morning we departed for the overnight motor-sail to Sardinia.  After watching the weather for weeks and seeing how nasty it can get in that area of the Med when the wind kicks up, we felt just fine with motoring in no wind at all over a flat calm sea.  Listening the drone of the engine is not enjoyable for us any more than it is for any sailors, but that is preferable to bashing into 25 to 35-kt wind directly on the nose with seas breaking over the bow.  

Our gift from the sea -- one HUGE fender!
About half-way across we noticed a large white ball off the port.  We deviated course a little to check it out because it looked so large and so strange on that flat sea.  Turned out to be a very large fender.  A perfectly fine huge teardrop fender with a tiny broken line attached.  Bill and Elisabeth managed to retrieve it from the sea.  It was so heavy that Bill could not have picked it up from the sea without Elisabeth's help.  We have no idea what we will do with this huge fender; hopefully find someone who can use it -- soon, since it takes up a lot of space on our deck.  It is W-A-Y too large for our boat.

Tuna fighting at surface.

Shortly after picking up the huge fender, the fishing line played out.  Yay!  A fish!  It was a nice sized tuna, what we know as a big-eye tuna.  This one did not fight like they usually do.  It dove deep and swam right up to the stern of our boat.  And then it decided to fight.  I think Bill had a bit of fun bringing it in and Elisabeth got a kick out of it too.  It took all 3 of us to get that fish on board.  

Tuna finally giving up the fight -- mostly.

Bill ran a line through the gills and mouth and hung it on the stern arch.  We handle fish a little differently than most of the sailors we know.  This line through the gills and mouth is Bill's favorite thing to do with most fish.  And always with tuna.  Then he cuts off the tail and lets the fish bleed out while hanging out there.  This takes no more than 10 - 15 minutes and the blood drips into the sea rather than on our boat.  And tuna, in particular, does need to be bled out before cutting it up.  He does this with all fish to reduce the mess onto the boat.

Awww -- the gaff got him in the chest.
A big-eye tuna.
After it had stopped dripping blood, he carried it by the line to the table in the cockpit and cut away the large fillets.  Then tossed the carcass back into the sea.  Clean-up is easy using this method.  We would love to have a fish-cleaning table mounted on the rail; but since we do not have such a luxury, the cockpit table works just fine.  The fresh-water hose inside the small cockpit lazzarette assists in making clean-up really easy.

This tuna netted more than 10-lbs of thick fillets.  This is far more than we can eat while still fresh.  I boiled about half of it in salted water in the pressure cooker; drained; then placed into vacuum sealed bags with a generous splash of olive oil.  These went into the freezer as I do not have canning jars with rings and lids, but we do have a large freezer locker.  Those will become tuna salad for sandwiches.  Better than commercially canned tuna.  We do enjoy freshly caught tuna and big-eye is one of our favorite types of tuna, second only to yellow-fin.

Porpoises chasing our bow

Also on the passage Elisabeth enjoyed being visited by pods of porpoises.  Not just once, but 3 times!  One pod had at least 30 dolphin!  Wow!  That was the largest pod of porpoises that we have seen in the Med.  Only one pod came to play with our bow.

Porpoises playing with our bow

Dolphin rolling in our bow wake.
Moving too fast to get clear photos.

Sunset was especially pretty on this day.  With the sea so calm and the cloudless sky.  The barometric pressure was high at 1020.9 and this contributed to the lack of clouds and the clear sky.  Conditions were perfect to see the green flash but neither Elisabeth nor I saw it as the sun dropped below the horizon.  Maybe we blinked.
Sunset on the Tyrrenhian Sea on 01 July 2015

Sunrise on Tyrrhenian Sea on 02 July 2015

Moon setting over Sardinia at sunrise on 02 July 2015

It was a full moon on the night of this passage.  This enabled Elisabeth to see something that she did not know happens -- the sun and moon both visible in the sky at the same time, both at sunset and at sunrise.  

There just is something special about this experience at sea.  

Every time.

We arrived at Sardinia shortly after sunrise on the southern side of Isola Tavolara.  This is an unusually shaped island, quite prettily shaped topography with the spiked high hill.  We motored over to the large anchorage at Porto della Taverna.  This area is part of the Isola Tavolara and Capo Coda Cavallo Marine Reserve and is zoned C.  

More shade for my DS
in the shade of the cockpit.
Calm passages are boring.
Nothing to do but play games.

When not retrieving gifts from the
sea like fenders or catching tuna.

Zone C restrictions for this marine reserve states:  "Navigation is not subject to any regulations, but mooring is restricted to authorised (sic) mooring buoys.  Diving and sport fishing with static lines and rods permitted."  Well...that sounds just fine.  Except that there are no mooring buoys in any of the first 3 anchorages that we checked, whether authorized mooring buoys or non-authorized mooring buoys.  Boats were anchored in all 3 of the first anchorages we checked, so we also anchored.

Isola Tavolara on ENE coast of Sardinia.
Viewed from our anchored boat in Porto della Taverna.

Seeing this first-hand explains some of the verbiage in the sailing guidebook that had confused me.  Often the author states for a particular bay or cove that zoning is in place and restrictions apply.  And then in the very next sentence he proceeds to state that one should anchor at such-and-such a location in such-and-such depth, etc.  I could not figure out why he tells boats to anchor if there are no-anchoring restrictions for the area.  

The answer is clear now.

Because there are no freakin' mooring buoys and boats have no other option other than to anchor when visiting this region of coast of Sardinia.  

(Until we find some marinas.)

By the way, most of us think of the Mediterranean Sea as simply one sea.  However, thus far we have crossed the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea -- all of which are in the Mediterranean Sea.  This leaves only the Alboran Sea for us to cross to complete the total width of the Med.