From 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!
From 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 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!)
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!