Category Archives: Current adventures

Licata

 

 

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!)

 

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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.

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

Ready, Set, Go!

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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!

 

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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.

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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…..no 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.

 

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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!

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!

Sammy turns 2 (weeks)

2 weeks old with a Christmas under his belt and a new year begun and Sammy seems to be taking life his stride so far.  

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Between the four of us,  some of the time, some of us are getting some sleep. Which is about all that can be hoped for if my blurry recollection of Sophie’s first few months are anything to go by. 

Sammy met the boat today. Josie is quite keen to get out sailing.  Balmy weather, regular sea breezes it is hard not to want to. 

Which does mean that yes the title of our blog was perhaps a little shortsighted and will need modification in the future! ( Notepad is at the ready for brainstorming during 2am feeds).

When it was initially created Sailing with Sophie was basically for friends/relatives to find photos of Sophie and us while we were cruising and so was thus named! 

Meanwhile the list of boat jobs is quietly building steadily, we will be out of the water early Feb, there are new electronics to install( dedicated post coming on this) a new dodger, the genoa needs repairs, the liferaft needs a service and there are a 101 little jobs that seem to never end .

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An Update

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We have spent a bit of time this year enjoying cruising the NSW coast.

We kind of rushed past alot of great spots on the way north in 2011 and although there are challenges sailing the NSW coast, it is good cruising in a part of the world to explore closer to home.

We have also been topping up the cruising kitty and are now working through  a major refit in addition to just being busy parents, which is why there has been a bit of a lack of cute Sophie photos on here lately!

There is a plan, head north up the east coast of Australia again, and then head into either Asia or the Pacific?…..and then????  Stay tuned!!