Ionian Dreaming

71DC6DA2-312A-41E6-B175-138221FA1AA3 2

After our leisurely couple of months cruising in Italy we had finally worked our way up the East coast of ‘the boot’ .  After a few days in Saint Maria di Leuca resting up and stocking up on prosciutto and Italian wine, we woke early one morning, followed the fishing fleet out of Harbour and began our passage to Corfu, Greece.

The wind began filling in nicely and with flat seas and a small breeze we were approaching Greece at the very sedate pace of 4 knots, music playing, school and snacks out in the cockpit, watching ships pass on the AIS.

Our landfall was at a pretty bay on the small island of Othonoi. Here we found ourselves arriving into the middle of the Greece of our dreams! Blue water lapped peacefully on a small white pebble beach. As the day trippers left and with only a gentle swell we settled down for the night in paradise.

The next day we made for Gouvia Marina on Corfu to officially check in to Greece. One of the biggest Marina’s in the Mediterranean we enjoyed a couple of days by the pool with snacks and cool beer!

While we enjoyed the change of scenery, it was a large charter centre with tourist restaurants and tourist prices. A shock from the quiet Italian towns we had become accustomed too.

After the long distances we had been covering in Italy, Ionian Greece was relaxed sailing though. Pleasant day sails, cheap town quays and small Tavernas for dinner.


It is also true that this part of the world is now well frequented by charter boats, but being late in the season we weren’t particularly troubled by this.

One well protected gorgeous bay that is certainly well used by charterers is Lakka Bay.  We happily wasted a week on anchor here, swimming, eating and exploring only occasionally disturbed by the shouts of a new charterer trying to get their anchor down!





La Dolce Vita – Cruising Italy

10738941328_IMG_2406From Licata we began to slowly make our way north along the Sicilian coast anchoring off small towns and eating simple pasta dishes alfresco in the cockpit at sunset.

Siracusa was a a wonderful stop for a few days. A snug comfortable harbour with a fascinating town. Taormina was also another highlight, life seemed simple and particularly sweet anchored in the pretty bay below the town, with the silhouette of Mt Etna in the background, days spent exploring the streets and eating buckets of gelato!

IMG_3420.JPGFrom Taormina we crossed over to the heel of the boot. Roccello Ionica turned out to be a great surprise, both an affordable marina with great pizza sold by the length and nearby was another great little town.

Settling more into the swing of cruising life and feeling more comfortable with sailing Blue Dancer our Moody 425 we started to enjoy ourselves more and more. The engine was behaving another big bonus!








After our somewhat dramatic arrival in Licata we set off to collect some mail and checkout the town and eat an Italian meal! Not really expecting a lot of this small town, as we were very much in a quiet unremarkable part of Sicily we found ourselves feeling really comfortable and loving the vibe of Licata. Admittedly the cheap, tasty Sicilian wine helped!  This quintessentially Italian yet unpretentious town was super relaxed and friendly, people smiled at you as you walked past and  stopped to greet the kids.

We also had the good fortune of being docked next to not only a kid boat but another Australian kid boat! Arakai are truly a wonderful, generous cruising family living an amazing adventure of their own and all the kids hit it off instantly. Playing for days and days in the warm Italian sun and water they happily turned this Licata and it’s harbour into their very own carefree playground.

The adults of course may of also enjoyed an aperol spritz or two! Arakai also kindly helped us remove the fishing net from our prop with their dive gear.

Despite our pleasant surrounds and new friends our engine woes were to continue.  Old ‘stinky’ refused to start and we spent a good couple of days tracing fuel lines and solenoids. Just when we thought Licata couldn’t get any better we had the good fortune of discovering  that there was in fact an Australian marine diesel mechanic living there who was a great help. Explaining that we still wanted to try and do as much as we could ourselves Matt was all to happy to let us give it a go while guiding us on the right track. In addition to getting us going he was also a great guy to have a beer and a chat with as well!

While visiting the Licata breakwater cats at dusk with Sophie and learning all their names, the day before we were to leave,  she told me she wanted to live on the boat forever and sail around the world.

‘This feels like real life, daddy. I’m meeting so many new people and learning so much’

*Matt runs Licata boat services and is an all round helpful great guy.

(Please excuse the fact that we are a bit behind on our blog posts!)



Arriving in Italy

After having been delayed by several weeks with repeat mechanical issues and bureacractic hurdles we eventually pulled up anchor just before sunrise in Gozo and said a fond goodbye to Malta. Sailing in that magical morning light we were excited at the promise of a new country and a new chapter awaiting us at the end of the day.

Motoring out of Gozo while waiting for a breeze to fill in the boat suddenly slowed and shuddered.

‘Oh no…I think something is on the prop’ I instantly put the engine into neutral and went to the back of the boat to have a look. I couldn’t see anything, so I put the boat into reverse for a bit hoping to back off a net if indeed we had hit one and then back carefully into forward.  We began to make way happily again hitting our 6 knot cruising speed under motor. Crisis averted! (we thought).

The rest of the passage was uneventful, some motorsailing, but the breeze did fill in the afternoon. Just as we sighted Sicily we were greeted by a pod of dolphins. Always a welcome sight!

As we approached Licata in the late afternoon we entered the harbour cautiously keeping a wary eye on the fish traps that crowds its entrance. As the boat slowed I felt that vibration again that points to something not right being right. We debated the merits of diving on the prop but in the end we figured we were still making way and would be at the dock shortly so continued.

As we approached the dock I slowed the boat and put her into reverse ready to back in Med style between the Catamaran Arakai and a large steel yacht Mediterranea.’ As I started to back, while steadily increasing revs the vibration magnified and I reached a grand speed of 1 knot in reverse.  ‘ Motore Problema! ‘ with the help of the great staff at Marina Di Cala Del Sole we eventually managed to get tied up incident free.

Feeling pretty downcast I sat in the cockpit looking across at the town of Licata, feeling generally sorry for myself and wondering what madness made me decide to bring my family here to the other side of the world sailing on a 25 year old boat with a clapped out engine.

Yet it actually would be here in Licata that we would begin to find ourselves, get to know our boat a bit better and start slipping more into the wonderful cruising life.


(Please excuse the fact that we are a bit behind on our blog posts!)

Cruising around Malta



“Not really a cruising ground but useful as a wintering stop” is how the cruising guide described Malta.

Yet if you stop and speak to any of the thousands of Maltese sailors and boater they will wistfully tell you about several of their beautiful bays and beaches.

Nott wanting to go too far afield until we got back into the swing of cruising life and got to know the boat we decided to make a plan to cruise around Malta.

In truth the time on the hard had gone incredibly quickly. We started with a very long job list in a dusty boatyard in the midst of  the oppressive July heat. I would like to say everything on the list got done, but we barely made a good start on the top third and then when our Australian registration arrived we had reached the point where I declared enough and abruptly put her into the water.

While launching the boat we were fortunate that my cousin Joanne and her family had decided to spend their summer holidays in Malta with us so that we had a great group of us to ‘christen’ Blue Dancer with a bit of champagne! It was also great to catchup, use the pool in their apartment complex to cool off and to have some great dinners together.

While its a it is true that Malta is a fairly small archpilegeo, there are actually several beautiful bays and anchorages with everything from (relative) wilderness with amazing clear blue water to stunning spots to anchor in the middle of the city of Valletta.

We spent a wistful week just in San Niklaw Bay  anchored off the Comino Hotel swimming, cooking and enjoying a drink sat on the hotel deck in what can only be described as a quintessential Mediterranean postcard.

It was here however that we had our first hiccup with a faulty starter motor as well as a few electrical issues.  As we decided we were ready to sail for Sicily, instead it was back to Roland Marina in Malta for a replacement!

While frustrated by the timing and delay,  it turned out it was also a good opportunity to finish a few other jobs and to play tourist for a few days. Special mention goes to two new friends, Jacques from JDV Boat Services and Petar from Medcomm for going over and above in helping us getting moving again. Sometimes a chance meeting in an unforeseen circumstance is what makes cruising fun and oh so different from package holidays!

Eventually after much longer in Malta than we ever intended, ‘cruising’ in an area one is not mean’t to cruise……..we headed over to Gozo and then finally onward to Sicily!







Ready, Set, Go!


I arrived in Malta yesterday but it already feels like I’ve been here a month.

Jetlag and the oppressive heat of Malta in July have amplified the boatyard blues, but still can’t stifle the sheer excitement of actually being here, being onboard our Moody 425 sailboat after so much dreaming, saving and waiting.

The past few months have gone so quickly as we have tried to get as much ready as possible from afar in Sydney. Drawing up lists, packing all our sailing gear, trying to figure out what we should bring to Malta and what we can just buy over there.

Now I am here I have a couple of weeks to get her ready and back into the water before the rest of family arrive and we head to Italy. Getting to know a new boat can be overwhelming. I took the approach of starting with a simple methodical task. Open every locker and clean her front to back. You know the boat is clean, but also it gave me a chance to look in every locker and nook, figure out where spares were hiding, what was missing and to get to know the boat and gather my thoughts.

After that I spent a good couple of days staring at the engine. She is the original Thonrycroft T98 that came standard with Moody 425’s. However the engine has been well maintained by the past few owners and with just over 5000 engine hours I hesitant to sink considerable money into buying a new engine immediately. So I tightened hose clamps, replaced some coolant and read manuals and notes left by her previous owners.

Wanting to make the boat feel more like ‘home’ and give her our own personal touch we have spent the past couple of weeks before I left sewing cushion covers and pillows. It was one thing we could do in Sydney and bring to the boat to instantly lift the interior. Barry from the Moody 425 Sumer Wine through active Moody Owner’s Association forum kindly measured his cushions and was able to assist us from afar!

While not a professional job by any standards after $200 and about 20 hours sewing we are happy with the results after I spent this afternoon fitting them and making notes of a couple of small nips and tucks!

Tomorrow ……I will begin the AIS install and do a bit of restitching on our bimini!




Finding our New Boat

About three years ago almost to the day we sold Iolanthe our last boat.

Since then life has been a blur of work, parenting, and collapsing on the couch with a glass of cheap wine and scouring yachtworld when we had the energy.

Looking for the next boat

As we started to look at some boats in Sydney that met a rough description of what we wanted a common theme emerged. Either ridiculously out of our budget or old and tired.

I then started to ponder our cruising plans and realised that having already cruised the East Coast of Australia the next step for us is basically in the Pacific or Asia.

EXCEPT… at the same time amongst some of the blogs I was following and sailors I knew/spoke to I saw a theme developing. Australians were buying boats in Europe and sailing them back en masse.

I could understand why. The Euro was low on the Aussie dollar. A downhill run from Europe would be the makings of a pretty swell cruising plan with plenty of scope to be flexible.

We spent a week chartering in the Med a few years ago and have fond memories. The charter we did back in those pre kids days (in Italy) far exceeded our wildest expectations and the food and warm water made for great memories. Of course to get to Europe by boat from Australia is somewhat of an ordeal. Besides given the boat market seemed far more buoyant in Europe it would also be a little bit akin to taking tea to China perhaps.

So over wine and yachtworld a rough plan was formed.

Let’s just buy a boat in the Med that we like and can actually afford and bring it back to OZ.


So what kind of boat?

We have decided that compromise is key when it comes to selecting the right sailing boat. We have owned and sailed everything from solid, slow full keelers to modern cruisers/racers.  All have their pros and cons.

So we have firmly landed on a boat selection mantra.

Moderate everything.

We wanted a mid sized, mid priced, moderate displacement, modern, cruiser.

  • Centre Cockpit
  • GRP
  • 41-50 foot
  • Reasonable performance.
  • Ready to cruise, no refits thanks.

What kind of boats did we look at?

So then what?

We did the whirlwind shoestring tour of France, Greece and Malta.

We found in general a similar sad story in the Med. Boats sitting disused in Boatyards sometimes not sailed for a couple of years and owners who had an inflated idea of what they were worth.

“Oh the engine hasn’t been started in 3 years… they don’t know the engine hours and the standing rigging is 20 years old but it’s a great boat”

We put in an offer

So it was in Malta that we found a Moody 425 that spoke to us. It was the right boat at the right price. While approaching 30 years of age and a little tired around the edges it had a great inventory of cruising gear, it was in good condition and it is a design we really respected and was spot on for our needs.



So we put an offer in. It was knocked back. We haggled and it was accepted.

In a month if everything works out we will travel to Malta and move onboard. The plans at the moment are super loose and will evolve as we find our cruising legs again.

But it looks like we are back on the water!

Boat Shopping in Europe


I have finally gotten around to putting up another video. Boat shopping in the Med. Check it out!

So these days we are enjoying trying our hand at making a couple of videos, taking quick photos as we travel and putting updates out on our socials.  Whether we stick too it or not I guess time will tell!

Anyway I will try and update our boat shopping adventures as frequently as I can over on our Instagram.

And another video coming soon!


We sold our boat :(

After only a few weeks on the market we have sold our boat Iolanthe. We wish the new owner the best of success with her, she is a good solid boat capable of taking him wherever he may care to go.

Selling a boat, a good boat though is a bitterweet thing.

We are now searching for our next boat – which is exciting. We are also very happy we sold Iolanthe in good condition, for a price we were happy with and quite quickly.  Everything one could hope for.

Yet as we pack up boxes of boat belongings we are happy-sad. We remembered the good times we have had and the places we have been. We remember Sophie starting to take her first steps in the saloon, we remember her holding on in the cockpit as we beat into 30 knots coming into Bundaberg, we remember sunset dinners, passages spent talking to dolphins and that this wonderful boat was our only home for a year.

She is now ready for new dreams and so are we. I haven’t detailed much about what we are up to on here yet, but we are not done with sailing rest assured of that.

Antarctic Vortex on Pittwater

The Australian media has been all abuzz this week about an ‘Antarctic Vortex’.  A  bad cold front that has been heading up the coast. IMG_2984 While a little cool it mean’t some decent westerly winds for a fast sail up Pittwater. By the time we settled down for the evening in a deserted Coaster’s Retreat ( This place is usually like a floating caravan park in summer) the winds were easing and it was warm enough for some fun ashore amongst the local swamp wallabies and Kookaburra’s before Spaghetti Bolognese back onboard. IMG_5803 IMG_5798 IMG_5813 IMG_5830   Sophie is pretty good at driving the tender these days!