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.

image

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.

image

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…

image

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).

image

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.

image

 

 

 

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.

image
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.

image

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.

Ode to Julia

So before the best sister/daughter returns to her role as incredible scribe of the ship, she (me) has to acknowledge someone who’s been watching our every move. Last year a certain person read every post, saw every picture memorized each destination. (NOT a stalker, or an alien bent on destroying the human race, one cruiser at a time, by the way) this person is Julia Graham, my mom’s flute student and a very good friend. When I got back home last year, she would make references about wherever we went, stuff I’ve forgotten even happened. From her laptop screen, she’s sailed through Europe with us, as have all of you people reading this right now, and just like Julia, you deserve some credit. You’ve sat through all the exciting and desperately boring blogs, watched our progress, and followed the boat around the giant bathtub. Thank you for being interested to explore with us. It’s nice to know that the people back at home aren’t just playing PAC MAN on their smart phones like most of the boring population, but being smart and awesome people who read about our crazy trip. Thank you.

So now!! My first thoughts on Italy!!! There are a lot of smells. Not good or bad smells, just smells. The endimage

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

The past few days have been rather busy. Going through piles of plastic bags and freeing many cushions, linens and, of course, pillows has resulted in a livable interior once again. No surprises after 11 months (no mold or critters). Just a seriously ugly bilge and surface cleaning. So, Humpty  Dumpty is back together again.

imageimageimageSo much for the below decks, up above things are different. Heldeleine is now 1 sail away from being a motor boat. The saga of the top Swivel (please keep up people!) has taken a bad twist. As some of you know the Genoa (headsail) would not come down last year. The boat yard said it was a broken swivel etc….. The swivel was sent to Milan where my wonderfully supportive sister hand carried it to Denver and sent it to be “repaired” in Florida. The guy in Florida said that Nothing was wrong with the swivel. But while he had it there, why doesn’t he replace the ball bearings so it would be good for another 10 years? Why not? Well….the swivel is sent back to Laurie, she hand carries it to Milan and sends it back to yard here in Gaeta. Yesterday we attempted to hoist the Genoa and lo and behold the halyard lines that hoist the sail are CROSSED inside the mast causing them to jam and no way of them hoisting a sail. That is sorted out and they are a bit upset that the crossed lines were the problem and not the swivel. Up goes the sail and furl it does. Awesome. I request that the sail be unrolled and rolled up again as a test. As they unfurl the sail…BANG…the sail starts to come down. WTF!! Yup, the fucking Swivel BROKE!!image

Goddamnit. The Florida tech screwed up the bearing installation on a good swivel and made good into very bad. The Italian riggers almost cheered. It was the Swivel, it was the swivel last year! No, it wasn’t the problem then but is NOW. Shit. Bad Day. So, no headsail for at least half the trip (we might be able to have a new one installed while we go the Rome for 3 days). We will see. For now, we will have an unobstructed view of the beauties of Italy. No damn sail in our way….

I still have one sail, we still have a spinnaker, I am still on my boat and I am still seeing the awesomely beautiful sights of the Italian coast.

What’s not to Love?

Family arrives in 3 Hours. Updates to follow.

Back in Italy!

imageNice and easy trip yesterday with all transfers working out as planned. I am sitting on Heldeleine now surrounded with quite a mess. In order to do a project in one part of the boat I must keep moving crap to and fro. Projects today are: replace the burnt power cord plug, replace the power input (also burnt…), hanging awnings, replace water pump in Master AC. Replace solar controller.

This sad face is actually a burned power cord. I HAVE replaced it this morning.

This sad face is actually a burned power cord. I HAVE replaced it this morning.

imageBleach water tanks (shock to clean), install Bimini and dodger….Damn, I am in Heaven!! Well, it’s about time for an espresso and a treat. Bye for now.image

Flight to Rome

imageI am here at JFK ready for my flight to Rome. My 50lbs of boat parts have been checked through and an additional 30lbs are in my carry on. Excited to go and start putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. I’ll have a week to work my way down the “to do” list and I use the term ‘work’ loosely. Doing a week of Phantom is work, a week of projects aboard Heldeleine in southern Italy is not. I’ll try to keep you posted as I get to the boat and what I will find when I get there…warm regards to you all!

Short and Long Term Plans

I fly from NYC next Saturday the 23rd and arrive in Rome on the 24th. I will have a week to myself as I sort out all the various things required to put Heldeleine into cruising mode. Heldeleine has been launched and awaits my return.

 

image

Family arrives the next weekend and for the next 4 weeks there will be people rotating on and off the boat. Various flights into and out of Rome and Naples.
We will try to update daily as to where we are and where we are going. The basic plan is to travel south from Gaeta stopping in at Ischia, Sorrento, Capri and Positano before doing an overnight to Rome. We will spend 3 days at the convent again (it didn’t seem to work with my daughters last year so…) for some more walking and gazing at naked statues. Then back south or west to Sardinia with new and remaining crew. Then I will have the last week for some solo sailing and putting the boat to rest for another winter in Italy.
As for long term plans… Many have asked about our original plan to go to Turkey. The plan was nixed about 6 months ago not necessarily because of the more recent tragic issues but simply because Turkey would put the the boat 1,000 miles further east and that distance would have to be sailed on the way back across the Med on the way out. So… Italy this winter and then in 2017 we will sail west to Morocco (for a nice stay) and then on to the Azores to winter the boat. That gets us 1,000 miles into the Atlantic and prepares us for a 2018 tour of the Azores and a return to the US. Anyone interested?? Lots of time to think about it. Let me know.
Updates to follow!

Heldeleine gets some things sorted out!

Warning: the following is a boat geek Post and should be avoided like the plague by all of you who prefer cats, dolphins, camels, beautiful sunsets and all that other boring stuff. There will be none of that in this update. This is all about boat drivel and you should move on and wait for the NEXT post that will include the exciting plans for this summer.
OK boat geeks, now that we are alone…

As most of you know Heldeleine was hauled out and stowed ashore last August in Gaeta, Italy. During the past months various repairs and upgrades have been done with more to come. Though we sailed close to 5,000 miles last summer, crossing the Atlantic and half of the Mediterranean, there were very few failures and thankfully no emergency situations. I credit this to the careful preparation of the boat prior to the crossing and to the terrific crews that I had for every one of those miles. Once again I can’t thank you all enough for making this voyage with me and taking such good care of Heldeleine along the way!
As for the items that did need attention:
-a leaky seal to the front hatch which in heavy seas (we had a few) leaked onto the control box for the bow thruster causing some exciting moments in the middle of the night wondering WTF was happening in the bow of the boat. This was an easy fix after waiting a month for the part from Lewmar.

image

 

 

-a broken top swivel on the Genoa.(that’s the thingy that helps roll the front sail up, for the cat and camel lovers that are stupidly still here)

image
As we tried to lower the sail in August it would not come down and required an agile Italian rigger to go aloft and muscle the damn thing down. Due to the fact that sending anything to and fro from Italy is impossibly expensive (tariffs sending and tariffs arriving) they suggested that I buy a new part….there were 1,200 reason for me not to do that. Instead the part was sent to my sister Laurie (intrepid crew of the Azores-Gibraltar Leg) in Milan and she will bring it to Denver in May and send it to me. I will then send it to my repair guy in Florida. He will do the repair and send it back to me and I will return with it to Italy in July. Damn, what a screwy way to do the repair but….
-The Genoa. The cause of the top swivel damage was due to the New Genoa being cut too long. It looked good at the start but with a little natural stretch and my tightening the halyard slack…well… The sail loft in Gaeta has shortened the sail by 7″, repaired a damaged tack loop and cleaned the sail

image

image

 

-starboard electric Winch. This is a big, honking Lewmar ST66. Now this will probably sound like a first-world problem but the high gear was not working (very slow and no real power under high load). Again the control box could not be sent to England for repairs because of the above reasons and there were again 1,500 reasons why I could not do that. Also the electrician on site, Emilio, pointed out that the breaker (emergency shut off) switch was down below and in the case of a malfunctioning switch having the breaker at the winch was a smart safety idea. I agreed and a new, safer improvement was installed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

-the next item under discussion is the secondary alternator on the engine. My daughter Helen and I were on watch around 2am when I heard a sound from the engine (yes, we are on a SAILboat but…). Well, sharing a beautiful night on watch snuggled in a blanket with your daughter is priceless so I hesitated to leap below. Then a Bang, Bang, BANG got me moving. I shut down the engine and investigated. Yup, alternator belt had been loose, then REAL loose, then ripped the mount off the engine damaging the sheave as it launched the alternator around the engine. What a dumbass. From a priceless moment to a costly moment in seconds. As it was the secondary alternator, we were still able to charge the batteries but at a reduced rate. Well Emilio has some ideas and we will discuss how to tackle the repair over the next month.

Emilio

Emilio

 

Doing all of this from thousands of miles away sucks. My liaison there, Jayne Koehler, has been absolutely terrific but being a hands-on type of owner who enjoys getting his hands dirty, this situation is frustrating in the extreme. But stuff IS getting done and plans are being hatched and in the next post I will give an overview of this summer’s cruise. Here’s a hint: it will not involve 5,000 miles or an ocean. Sun and fun yes.