The weather continues to bless us with clear skies and since the wind has diminished, the sea has become reasonably flat as well. Reviewing our course options after the next headland, the prospect of taking a longer inshore route had its issues with lots of ‘stuff’ just offshore so I favour the direct route taking us well offshore but inevitably losing the mobile of signal. With the light airs and the likelihood of using the engine more than I would have liked, I identified a harbour, Vieste on the headland so, establishing that it had fuelling facilities, it was a no brainer to pop in and fill up with diesel. The pilot book said it had charm and the view from the sea seemed to confirm this.
I was beckoned onto the fishing quay to refuel and a long pipe was dragged out to the boat. I had run the port tank well into the red on the gauge and only swapped over onto the starboard tank just before the needle hit the stop. Even so, there must have still been nearly 40 litres in the tank as it only took 210 litres. The starboard tank was a different matter, I expected it to take less than 60 litres according to the time run. Imagine my surprise when they insisted it had taken 110 litres! Sorry to bore you but this is very simple. The tank has a capacity of 250 litres. The gauge showed the tank to be more than ¾ full and I had calculated less than 60 litres used. Seems to me like another Italian extortion. I must have a ‘screw me’ kinda face.
Motoring on a flat sea prompted me to have a play with something I had made some years ago. Sailing the Atlantic on the trade wind route necessitates downwind sail planning and one of our arrangements was twin foresails. I only had the one spinnaker pole so I purchased a telescopic whisker pole so both sails could be poled out together. It did not need too much imagination to make a bracket to fit on the whisker pole for a camera mount so that pictures could be taken of the yacht from some distance away. The tiny Sony camera has a waterproof enclosure – well it’s almost waterproof as I discovered, it was all a bit much on my own to balance and adjust all the components and the camera got a good ‘dunking’ in the sea. As a result a whole tranche of photos were obscured by ‘mist’. I then had to dry it out and rig the kit all over again but I am pleased with the result of the second attempt. The camera was just left to take pictures at 5 second intervals and it threw up some interesting results as I went about my business!
I am anxious to use up the older food stocks to avoid a repeat of the massive cull that Paula, my wife inflicted on the stores before I left the UK. ‘You will have guests, what would they think if the use by date has expired’ – well, probably nothing actually! Anyway, so it was that some red beans and minced beef caught my eye as being on death row so it screamed ‘chilli con carne’ at me. For my Atlantic stores I had bulk bought chilli flakes (a feature of Hejira is masses of stowage) imagining that I would use a load. They were kept loose in a Tupperware with no label so they escaped last year’s cull but being over 4 years old, I imagined that their potency must have diminished. On this basis, I spooned in 4 teaspoons. Not surprisingly, I knew all about it and I imagine I will again.
I didn’t really supplement my stores during my unfortunate Roman pause so I had the last banana today and the apples, even when they had just been bought, tasted half rotten so throwing the remainder away won’t break my heart. There is still plenty of onions and garlic and that, as regular crew will confirm, is the foundation of every meal on board the good ship Hejira.
This sixth night at sea didn’t start well as we sailed through a fleet of at least 7 large fishing vessels. Thankfully they were showing on AIS but they tend to steer an unpredictable path and with nets over the stern, their presence is always a challenge. In the early hours, I found it necessary to call the tanker ‘Santa Lucia’ bound for Malta and doing 9 knots which was projected to pass too close for comfort. A brief exchange on the VHF resulted in the agreement that we both alter course to starboard to pass ‘port to port’. Bugger me, 30 minutes later I had the same situation with another tanker ‘Basiluzzo M’ then the ‘Grande Italia’ and it went on all night. AIS is the most brilliant safety tool, like so many new technologies, it makes you wonder how you managed without it in the past.
My wife ridicules the setting on my phone that congratulates me on doing 6000 steps claiming it should be at least 10000 before you get a pat on the back. I checked my report for yesterday and it had recorded 80. That will have been when it was carried from the saloon to the cockpit, to the push-pit seats and back again several times.
I asked ‘Gandalf’ (as my son refers to our IT guy Phil) about the peculiar boats seen in the Strait of Messina and mentioned in the blog of that name. He has done some research and the following link makes very interesting reading and needs no further comment.
I had corresponded with Alice at the Venice Marina, sent her my documents and had confirmation that a berth was being held for me. I kept her appraised of my delay and, confirming my revised dates, I asked for an invoice so I could pay the 50% securing deposit that she had requested. Not having heard back, I phoned today to be told that Alice no longer worked there. I had one of those cold shivers that seem to greet surprise bad news and humbly asked if anyone was dealing with her Emails and whether they had a note of my booking. Thankfully they were phlegmatic about it and said: ‘just turn up, a berth will be allocated and you can pay on arrival’ – Phew.
Currently my arrival in Venice is projected for Thursday morning. I think I will then sleep until my departure on Friday afternoon, waking only to check in for my flight home!