All alone. Then Friends!

Ben and Erin left for Rome 2 days ago and I was alone aboard Heldeleine for a day during laundry, general toilet cleaning (!) and prepping the boat for the next crew.  Ben and Erin were good crew and I wish them the best in Rome and safe travels home!

imageYesterday I welcomed aboard Antonio (Tony) Traettino and his wife Anastasia and also Antonio Arcaro. Tony is with the Italian Coast Guard and Antonio is in the Italian Air Force. Anastasia teaches language studies. Tony has become a good friend after we met while I was clearing into Italy. He and his wife have been amazingly wonderful to me during my stay in Gaeta. Taking me to dinner, breakfast etc. Just fantastic people. In a small way I am trying to repay their kindness with an overnight cruise to Ventotene aboard Heldeleine.We had a glorious sail yesterday and are currently parked along the sea wall in the new harbor on Ventotene. We had a great dinner with the Commander of the Coast Guard tonight followed by….Gelato (of course).

Antonio, Tony, Anastasia and the Commander with a Nutella Pizza....

Antonio, Tony, Anastasia and the Commander with a Nutella Pizza….

It is morning now and we are off to Breakfast prior to a return to Gaeta. Good times with great people. I can’t thank them enough for their overwhelming generosity.

 

 

 

All Good Aboard Heldeleine

i’ve been requested by concerned people at home to Post that we aboard Heldeleine are just fine. The earthquake and the ongoing tragedy have not affected us at all. No unusual waves or any sign of the drama occurring on land. Our hearts go out to all our italian friends who might be directly of indirectly affected by this terrible earthquake. Regards, Dan,Ben and Erin.

Good Bye Pam!

It has been such a treat to have my sister Pam share part of her summer aboard Heldeleine. She is an amazingly talented and hard working person and for her to take the time from her hectic life makes me feel very grateful. Thanks Pam, I love you. See you back in the city.

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Good bye Will and Cassie

I can not imagine better crew members than my cousin Will and his wonderful girlfriend Cassie. They left us today and are very much missed. Not only are they so damn cute together, they are also the best of traveling companions. Always part of the team and never a whine between them. I am grateful for them making the long trip to sail with us this summer and look forward to future adventures with them both. Warm and affectionate wishes to them both!!

Cassie at the Helm!

Cassie at the Helm!

This is Will the day before their departure from the crew. We were able to restrain him from ending things here in Positano,

This is Will the day before their departure from the crew. We were able to restrain him from ending things here in Positano.

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Heldeleine at Anchor

 

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We are currently anchored at Ischia Castle for the night. Capri in the distance…A perfect day of sailing from Gaeta to  here. 15kts on the beam and …and….wait for it…. A replaced swivel and we have 2 sails up and are official whole again. What a wonderful thing it is to turn the motor off and glide on a magic carpet.

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Helen’s Last Post of the Trip

 

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How to sum up this trip? There’s really no way. As I sit on the airplane bound for home, I’m too choked up and far too lazy to find the right words. But how’s this: I’ve bonded with my wonderful sister to learn she’s even more wonderful. I’ve grown to adore my great uncle Pete, Will, and Cassie. I’ve learned to be thankful at the amount of work my father puts into making our family the best it can be, and I’ve felt the annoying love of my amazing mom throughout our journey. I’ve seen the echoes of past humanity and realized the full spectrum of all life eternally on earth. I’ve felt the kindness of strangers, and the not-so-kindness of strangers. I’ve become proud of who I am and thankful for my experiences.

Oh god, that was sappy. I think I got my feet stuck in the ooze of gratefulness. If I die here on the plane of being too sentimental bury me somewhere with Pringles.
But as much as I’m ashamed to say it, that was all true. However if you want the simple version here goes:
No fish in ocean, all dead. People are nice but sometimes not. My family is boss. There is a lot of stuff in Rome. SO MUCH VIRGIN MARY AND JESUS. I am lucky. I should draw more. I like Pringles. Pigs fly. Cats don’t like muffins. Reality is an illusion.
Ok, so I took some liberties with the end, but most of it’s true!!!!!!! Kind of…… Anyways, thanks so much for following my family and me, these blogs would just be digital trash without you. Your dedication is much appreciated.
So that’s it, signing out, best blond kid with sarcasm.
-Helen

P.S. There are a lot of smells on this plane. The end.,


:3 HELEN JULIA CULPEPPER!!! :3

Highlights from Rome

Once again we have walked all over Rome seeing additional sights that we missed last year.

Capitolini Museum. 5 hours. Can you say "Audio Tour"? Girls did not want to leave....

Capitolini Museum. 5 hours. Can you say “Audio Tour”? Girls did not want to leave….

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Maddy's well worn feet!

Maddy’s well worn feet!

Each day we ventured out in the morning and then returned to the Convent mid afternoon for a rest and then out again in the evening for Korean Food (Ha! Just seeing if you were paying attention). Pasta/Pizza, of course.

The evenings were especially lovely with the glowing lights and pleasant weather. Sitting at a restaurant in Piazza Nuovo, people watching, having wonderful food and drink and hearing the water spouting from a Bernini fountain is a damn good time.

Girls with Bernini

Girls with Bernini

Maddy.

Maddy

Helen being drawn.

Helen’s turn

So our crew is changing. Maryly, Pete and the girls are returning to the US today and as I write this I am on the train back to Gaeta with Will and Cassie. Additional crew (my sister Pam, Ben and his friend Erin) arrive within the hour into Rome and will follow us to Gaeta.

 

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So, more adventures but I am already missing the family tremendously.

Update…..Rome

Well, here we are in Rome as Heldeleine gets her new swivel on and headsail installed in Gaeta. We are back at our favorite Convent in the heart of Rome. Same rooms, same peaceful and beautiful environment.

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When last we left you we were weather-bound in Amalfi. Not altogether a brutal experience. Cousin Will traveled from Amalfi to Salerno to Naples to get his girlfriend Cassie who had flown in by way of Paris from NYC. With a crew now of 7 we did a jaunt to Capri and a tight little anchorage. While I stayed aboard to look after the boat (and read….) the rest of the crew spent 5 hours doing chairlifts, taxis and much walking.

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Then it was off to….Sant Angelo on Ischia. We just can’t get enough of this place. It has a perfect blend of vacation town and real town. One of those places that 19th century authors came to hibernate while they wrote the next great novel. A wonderful balance of shops, restaurants and markets. And have we mentioned the lack of English spoken…

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The next day was on to Ventotene, an island 20+ miles northwest of Ischia. Well, this little spot also won rave reviews from the crew. Vast history (harbor carved out by Romans 2000 years ago) and visited by Keith, Jeffrey and me last year (see 2015 post).

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Back to Gaeta yesterday and serious packing (Maryly, Maddy, Helen and Pete leave from Rome and will not be going back to Heldeleine). We taxied to Formia and then Trained to Rome and are now settled in for a 3 day stay before the deserters fly back to NYC on Monday.

On the way back to Gaeta yesterday we observed storm clouds and from the clouds a series of Waterspouts raging down from above. The onboard Radar showed the storm at 13 miles and as it was tracking AWAY we could calmly enjoy nature demonstrating its power.

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Island vs Cities

Italy is different from New England America. Which is a bit of a “duh, obviously” observation, but the difference is made in ways you may or may not expect. First are the islands. While we were still in the Long Island Sound, the islands looked normal sized and nothing special. When we’re in Italy the islands look normal sized and nothing special. But when compared to each other our old islands of the Atlantic are suck-bunny. The “large” hills are no more than slightly slanted slopes compared to the giant italian cliffs. But when seen from above italian islands look like stubby meat chunks of the knife of some Morrocon Butcher compared to the majestic length of islands in the US.

imageOf course, islands that are short and small have their own beauty and do not wish to join their hulking brothers, whether long and short or tall and small
Each island has their own unique grandeur.

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Another difference are the smells. Now this was mentioned in my previous blog post, but because a cookie looked like it would rather be in my stomach, I stopped writing to eat something much more important. However dinner isn’t ready yet, so the smells will be addressed.
On the streets of big cities (like in America) or small towns (not so like in America), your nose picks up some interesting odors. Mostly issuing from puddles, they range from interesting to slightly unpleasant. This may be due to the old infrastructure, sewege, or the open air market’s rotting fruit. However these aren’t the only little gifts to sniff, in small food shops there are a variety of
Interesting smells. It may be from the frozen section, always smelling funky, that doesn’t have strong doors on. Or the meat and cheese open to the air emitting odors. But no matter where they come from, there is no shame in stepping outside for a breath of fresh air, though I do advise you to walk inside and experience the exotic discomfort of the nose.
Now, I will talk about the size of stuff. It’s small. Much smaller. Not as many chain stores as in America (Desigel or whatever the way you spell it, is the only one I’ve seen a lot). Except, drumroll please, CHURCHES. Big surprise right? (That was extremely sarcastic in case you were eating your own cookie and didn’t notice). Anything to do with religion is decked out, as usual, with gold and priceless frescos with huge fascades.
However I did see a church built in 2010 today. Very interesting. Not much in the way of ceiling art, and it was relatively bare (though extremely ornate compared to America, as Cassie’s jaw dropping pointed out). A couple of the art pieces were very old, so surprise there, because there is NO shortage of museum worthy art. However it was interesting to see what a new church’s plaster walls and marbles looked like, kind of like how the old famous ones would’ve looked in the Renaissance.
But now it’s dinner, and I’m done hiding in the bathroom from setting the table. So, the end.

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Hello from Amalfi

Well, we have been very bad about updating this blog. We are having too good a time and just couldn’t seem to find the time to sit down and write something… We are currently weather-bound in Amalfi (high wind gusts and a bit of rain) anchored in 12 meters of water. It was a rolly-polly night as swells came in from the sea and kept the boat in motion.

So, here’s the itinerary update:

Family (Maryly, Maddy, Helen, Uncle Pete and Cousin Will) arrived on Sunday and on Monday we were off to the island of Ischia and Ischia Castle for a wonderful overnight stay. The Castle is truly spectacular and we spent Tuesday walking everywhere around the Castle and town.imageNext we were on to Sant Angelo on Tuesday night. This is a favorite town of mine after a stay with Keith and Jeffrey last year and it did not disappoint the second time around. There is just something special about the place. We had a couple wonderful meals imageand spent a whole day at the Poisedon Hot Springs Spa. Next day it was a 5 hour half sail (no Genoa)with a drive by of Capri (we’ll visit next week) to Sorrento. There was much climbing to be done to reach to top of the town but what a view!

imageBeautiful buildings and LOTS of people. Also ENGLISH was everywhere. On Ischia we rarely heard english spoken because Ischia is more of an Italian vacation spot and as such is not overrun by…well…people like us. Sorrento is lovely and the view from the boat is the way to see these towns.image

On Friday we drove around the peninsula to the southern coast of Amafli. We sailed by Positano and came here to Amalfi. Another great town to visit and view from the sea. Toured the Cathedral and paper making factory (very cool).image

Pope Helen requires a Croisant!

Pope Helen requires a Croisant!

So, still in Amafli and life is good.