We arrived back on ITIKI on the 8th of March after a 26-hour journey from Sydney via Dubai and on to Tunis. We were only 3kg over our 72kg luggage allowance, and fortunately the 32 kg of “boat stuff” didn’t attract the attention of the customs folk at Tunis airport. That was fortunate as in my jet-lagged state I could not connect brain and mouth to produce anything resembling comprehensible French.
The drive back to Hammamet was interesting with our 5 suitcases and us crammed into a Peugeot 206, but the extra weight didn’t seem to slow us down, hitting a top speed of 80kts on the freeway! It’s great to be back home. We timed our arrival beautifully as the next day there was a “lunch party” of sorts organised by some of our French dock-mates we were yet to meet. Couscous Royal and BYO wine at a local beach restaurant. The “Anglophone” table of 8 tucked in the corner, we were out-numbered by about 40-odd Francophones but after 5 hours of eating and drinking we all seem to have all mastered multiple languages. We were missing our Kiwi buddies Shona and Gavin from White Arrow though – hope to see you in Greece! In our absence Hammamet has really woken up, with the marina and grounds so much cleaner and livelier than when we left.
Well we have now been back in Australia over 6 weeks. It has been great to catch up with friends, family and former workmates as well. At the same time it has been pretty strange to be “home” but not having a home. Having rented out our Sydney pad to help fund our extravagant lifestyle of gallivanting around Europe on a luxury yacht (!) we have been staying with various friends, family and hotel proprietors (thank you all!) in Sydney, South West Rocks and Hobart and there is more touring to come. We are trying not to wear out our welcome in any one place...
Sunsets are something you tend to associate with holidays and looking back on the photos of our first season in the Med there was no shortage incredible sunsets over both water and land. Photos of sunsets maybe a bit of a cliche, but hey, who can resist looking out over the water each evening to find that Mother Nature has put on yet another incredible show. Not something you tend to see from the office window... I found myself taking a couple of photos, putting the camera down to do something else, only to look up a few minutes later, rush back and pick up the camera again to take more photos as the scene and colours changed dramatically. Needless to say that made it pretty hard to choose the "best" photos from the hundreds I ended up with! What I liked most was the light and reflections on the water, the range of colours, as well as the contrast with the cloud formations which made for some pretty amazing scenes. The the photos don't always do it justice, but I hope you can still sit back, relax (with a "sundowner" of course) and enjoy the show.
...see you next year to start all over again!
It was with some sadness that we stepped off ITIKI for the last time in the 2018 season. She had been our home for the last 4 months and taken us 2,900 nm from La Rochelle, through Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily and finally on to Tunisia. We spent 2 weeks in Port Yasmine, Hammamet, stripping her back to her birthday suit to prepare her for the winter.
Having scheduled the installation of our solar panels in Marina di Ragusa we had set ourselves a deadline to be somewhere by a set date. As seasoned sailors will know that can be a challenge as the weather does not always place nice in those situations. Well we felt like we had plenty of time in the lead up to this date, and then all of a sudden we didn't... I feel like we barely scratched the surface of Sicily but looking back on the photos we still managed to see some great stuff, and I have shared some of those gems in the slideshow below.
Well Marina di Ragusa really is such a lovely place, although by day 5 we were feeling like this could be the Hotel California of marinas. It’s the longest time we have spent in once place since we left La Rochelle. It has a great reputation as a marina to leave your boat in winter, and people even stay aboard all winter before heading off cruising again in summer. Indeed many people come back year after year or use it as their home base. Having rarely used marinas and certainly not stayed in one for longer than 3 nights, this is our first experience of this kind of community and it really has been special to be included in the family for the relatively short time we have been here – a big thanks for the warm welcome. Coincidentally a former colleague of the chap who bought Too Up, our Sydney charter business, is wintering here so we were able to meet up for a few drinks. There are about 16 kids of varying ages living here this year, mostly being home schooled but a couple are going to local schools. Halloween was a stormy night, however boats with their anchor lights on could be relied upon to welcome trick or treaters! Social calendar is organised too with various happy hours, karaoke nights, BBQs and volley ball. Plus a daily community radio on VHF.
You may have heard about some bad storms in Italy over the last couple of days. One marina at Rapallo (near Genoa) has been destroyed and sadly lives have been lost. We had some heavy weather in Sicily on Sunday and Monday but ITIKI and crew are safely tucked up in Marina di Ragusa, southern Sicily. Its raining still, but we are safe and there is a big community of cruisers living on the marina for winter and lots of social activity going on so we are enjoying it here. Our solar panels have arrived here but no other visible progress on the frame so far. Allegedly it has been made and awaiting delivery to the marina from the workshop 20kms away - they don't seem to have a truck to deliver it - and presumably the idea of fitting solar panels in the rain is not so attractive... public holiday here tomorrow (All Saints Day) so further progress is unlikely. Hopefully the rain abates so we can see a bit of the island by car.
Join us on a virtual tour of the west coast of Sardinia. We loved its wild beauty and deserted anchorages We will be back next year to do the east cost. Meanwhile the weather is pushing us further south.
A quick blog post to share the joy of the perfect crossing from Sardinia to Sicily. I am always a little nervous ahead of an overnighter but could not have asked for better conditions. 15-18 knots at 150 degrees, long swell from the same direction, full moon, clear skies, a little chilly on the dawn watch but I was trussed up like a turkey in my full wet weather gear and PFD.
We really have had a wonderful time in the Balearics, but all good things must come to an end. As our last guests left us the weather started to become unsettled. The clouds came over and we had the first rain we had seen for some time, and it looked like it was set in for a few days. We stayed put on a mooring an extra day just to chill out and do some “housework”. Moving on the next day it is still overcast. Without the sun the calas lack the beautiful turquoise waters we have marvelled at so far, and look nothing like the pictures in the brochures. Travelling north up the east coast of Mallorca now we have the prevailing north east breeze on the nose and we are punching into a nasty, short chop. Now we are evaluating calas for protection against these, rather than how nice they look as venues for SUPing and swimming. It sounds like complaining about being in paradise, but we have to admit we are suffering “cala fatigue” as they are all starting to look much the same. And what is it with those ugly hotel developments?! I bet they make them look really good in the package tour brochures! The short time at Cabrera made us realise we had not been spending much time ashore exploring on land or even getting out for a walk, other than a flying visit to the supermarket to load up on Fever Tree tonic! So we have resolved to change that now.