Shafted !

My return to the office saw the electrical specialist leafing through brochures of batteries, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he had promised to return to Hejira 3 hours before. The news was depressing, the nearest battery to my specification was listed at costing over 1000 Euros each and dimensionally longer necessitating modifications to the battery bay to accommodate them. When I grimaced at the price he confidently suggested that the elusive Alessandro could ring and get a better price. Well, he did eventually, he gave me a 10% discount and added 20% VAT !

So the deal was struck at 3,300 Euros (very generous I was assured) and the order was placed to arrive the following morning.

I have to say that, to mitigate a compromise to my whole summer cruise, I am happy to pay what it costs and I am relieved that I should be back on track, albeit having consumed the slack I had in my schedule to allow for slow light wind sailing.

Unable to really do anything else and to assuage my frustration, I ventured ashore that evening intent on finding a decent beer. What an amazing discovery to find a micro-brewery/pub/bar just at the end of the dock. They served a pint of very acceptable IPA and a curious pasty thing in the shape of a skull…. There was a choice of fillings and I chose the one claiming to be ‘goulash’. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either and eating a skull was not particularly inviting; I think they need to re-appraise their product and marketing.

Self service in the micro brewery at the end of the dock
Not sure about the theme for food

Wednesday morning and after another good night’s sleep I was champing at the bit to get things sorted. When I had no news by lunch time, I made a visit to the office and I was assured that the batteries were on their way, would arrive in the afternoon and they then successfully plundered my card for the full amount.

Thinking that a visit to the supermarket would be prudent, I tried to find the one I remembered in the Marina. Such is the level of deterioration in the Marina that the supermarket and even the MacDonald’s have shut. Asking at the first bar outside the marina confines, the helpful proprietor was just leaving and offered to drive me to the supermarket over a mile away. He cautioned me to stay on the main road on my walk back and not cut through Ostia, a maze of seedy apartment blocks where he said it was unsafe due to gangs, the mafia and gypsies, robberies and murder were apparently regular occurrences. He blamed the Marina problems on the mafia but suggested it was improving. I was charged 65.50 Euros a night for the berth and there were no seats on the toilets – I think that is a form of robbery !

My wait was also punctuated by the arrival of two charming officials from the ‘Guardia di Finanza’ who had mistaken Hejira’s defaced RVYC (Royal Victoria Yacht Club) special ensign as that of a dodgy offshore country flag of convenience. Checking the rules for flying the special RVYC ensign when abroad, there is the following recommendation – ‘Foreign Cruises: When cruising in Foreign  waters a Yacht for which a permit to wear a Special Ensign has been issued should take care to avoid any action which might result in complications with a Foreign Power’. – was this a complication? Checking my paperwork and filling out copious forms convinced them that Hejira is British registered, VAT paid and currently has EU rights of passage. I dread to think what will happen if we Brexit. The officials were actually most courteous but refused a photo for the blog citing ‘National Security’!

I am very aware that the battery saga has been going on a bit and anyone who has stuck with it is probably glazing over by now, so, suffice it to say that the batteries arrived, the wrong capacity, the wrong terminals and doubtful spec. They apologised for the mistake and offered to replace them but it would take some time. With some adjustments and compromises I have made do with what they supplied but I think I have been royally shafted! Maybe the mafia still have a hold over the marina after all – they are known for extortion.

It is 275 miles from here to the Straits of Messina between the toe of Italy and Sicily and I am anxious to tackle it in the light. Not only is there heavy shipping, ferries and fishing boats, there are currents and strong winds between the mountains so I will need my wits about me. At an average pace, it will take 55 hours to get there so I am planning to leave at 06.00 tomorrow, Thursday.

12 thoughts on “Shafted !

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  1. Not a bad photo of you Nick, but I prefer the one I’ve got of you at Esher RFC – You know the one!

  2. Did you not mention that you were head of the Sunningdale mafia. I am sure you would have got the batteries cheaper and police protection for your walk back. ?
    Have a safe trip and look forward to hearing some good luck stories soon.

  3. Nick
    Good luck with the modifications to the battery bay. I am about to start doing the very same job for the very dame reason.
    I supposed that I could remove the fibreglass ?, modify it and put it back in place.
    No way! Having spent several hours trying to get it out I realised that I was in for a major demolition job. So I gave up and the job will now be done rather awkwardly in situ.
    Best of luck with yours!

  4. whatever happened to good old Duracell batteries eh..
    so after Sicily do you then drift over to Malta?

    1. What a pleasant surprise Andrew to see that you have commented which suggests you must be reading the blogs !
      Maybe Malta on the way back – asked Paula if she wanted me to look anyone up!
      All the best and regards to Wendy.

  5. We were recently at a large party in Italy with a live band – around 2am some men turned up and said the party was finishing as it was annoying a local resident – Godspeed with dodgy batteries

  6. Wow! A lot of warnings in that tale of woe. Thanks for the heads up on travelling in Italy.

    I’m already on my guard as just other day when driving around I had a black cat (another) experience. If you’ve ever had one you will know that slow deliberate path crossing walk with the casual but deliberate head turn and glare. The damage so far? A sim card from T mobile that doesn’t work, a blown apart Marinco 32amp (American crap) power supply plug, a fall while running up stairs resulting a bruised leg and sprained finger, and now a second failing Jabsco toilet pump (I am not a fan).

    Good luck (though I am clearly unqualified to offer it) with the next passage.

  7. Bon voyage Nic. I wonder whether your various suppliers see you experience as poor service,?English impatience? Keep in touch

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