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Slipping our mooring lines

Seven long, but busy and enjoyable months have passed since we arrived last September at Marina di Ragusa in Sicily.

My Italian has slightly improved and we never have eaten that many pizzas before. We have also spent a lot of time on projects to upgrade the boat with new equipment and cushions for comfort and style. The projects all seemed to come together in the last few days of preparing to depart, so everything seemed to end in a rush and there was little time to give details on these projects.

Last Monday, 2nd of May, we finally slipped our mooring lines and it was time to try out our new FFR sail.

A gentle breeze (around 4 knots) is what this very light winds sail needs to get us going. For a couple of hours, we had between 5-6 knots of boat speed with around 12 knots of wind. Just lovely!

Whilst Peter enjoyed a little siesta, there was a sharp “bang” and as I looked at the bow of the boat I saw this beautiful new sail flapping way above the bow with the furler hanging onto it. Mmmm…don’t think that this is the right set up: PETER!!!

Once Peter was on the deck, nicely clipped on to one of the safety lines, he realised that the shackle that keeps the furler connected to the bowsprit had disappeared altogether. So, what’s next?? By easing the FFR sheets Peter tried to get hold of the furler that is still hanging onto the sail. He looked like a figurehead whilst hanging as much over the bowsprit as possible (no time for photos).

Finally, he managed to get his hands onto the furler, used a rope to bring back “the package” and a soft shackle to re-attach the furler to the bowsprit. Some extra rope was added to limit chaff from the movement of the assembly.

Good news is that we didn’t lose our new sail or furler, bad news is that we had to change our plans.

Instead of sailing in one go to Taormina, we decided to make a pit stop in Syracuse. Always great to make a stop in this delightful place, but we wanted to sail onwards.

The next morning at 05:35 we were rudely woken up by the coast guard. "Hey guys, you've got to move!"

A new guy came into town and needed some extra space!

Once at anchor in the lovely bay of Ortiga/Syracuse we got hold of our sailmaker Paulo from One Sails in Marina di Ragusa. It was agreed that we would bring the boat into the marina the next morning to get the hardware for the bowsprit checked out and repaired by a colleague of his.

Yesterday morning, Fabio came on board and by early afternoon all was done: new shackle, repositioned the bowsprit, locktite on the loose bolts and everything back in place. Peter was not happy with the small movement of the bowsprit in the bow ring and at the spring attachment to the deck – even though Selden confirmed that this is in their design. A little plastic tube was added around the fasteners to stop the movement – no more squeaking or rattling.

Whilst he was there he also changed our anchor and tri-colour lights at the very top of the mast (he is quite tall and his very long arms making this job lots easier than it would have been for Peter). It is surprising to still see traditional light bulbs in place, so we changed everything to LED’s and hopefully there will be no need to get up there again for many years. All ready to go again.

Syracuse is our favourite city in Sicily with its domo, quaint, clean streets, a fantastic market for fresh products and restaurants that know how to look after you. Of course, we couldn’t leave Syracuse without relishing a gelati at the best gelateria in town and went to bed with bellies full of Pistachio and Cubana flavours (dark chocolate with cherries) .

Right now, we are on way to the marina of Riposto. The original plan was to anchor in the bay of Taormina with Etna in the background. Unfortunately, we have to abandon this plan as of tomorrow there is a swell of +1,5 meters in the bay expected. Hence not a good idea to stick to the original plan. Our “troubles” may have saved us a few uncomfortable nights !

For now we enjoy our sail.

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