Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dispatches from Sicily

2013 05 24
Marina di Ragusa

About the only thing not dispatched from Marina di Ragusa is our poor Meredith.  Here we sit along with half the boats which were moored here on our return from Canada back on April 16.  Today is another in the series of "we leave on the morning tide" days.  It does not look likely and as of 0800 there has been no movement of masts.

Those boats which have escaped Marina di Ragusa have been trapped in Lucata or Syracusa or Malta each of those destinations within 45 nautical miles.

It has not been good sailing weather.  

Sadly it has not been good boatwork weather either.  Painting in 45 knot winds is ill advised.  The neighbours who admire the vanish being applied to your toe rail are less enthusiastic when that varnish is blown from your brush and touches their beloved topsides.  

Our tactic to get around the wind problem has been to rise at 0500 and get a coat of varnish on the boat before the wind picks up, usually 0930 to 1030.  The varnish hardens  in three to four hours after which none of the windborn Saharan sand and grit will amalgamate themselves permanently on our toerail, dorade boxes or hatches.  

Not withstanding such challenges boatwork is done and we look now to provision for a summer at anchor.  Destination this summer will be Venice and the Dalmatian coast.  Croatia is a very expensive country to visit; their government charging huge fees for sailboat entry and tourist taxes.  We hope to use Croatia as a sailing ground on the way north, hop over to Venice and then return via Croatia.  Italy is about 750 nautical miles of inhospitable coastline almost devoid of anchorages.  Croatia, according to Croatian friends of Canadian descent, is totally drop dead gorgeous.

We have to Go to the Hardware Store, We Are Out of Tomatoes.

Once you find it the local hardware store in MdR is a treat.  It is owned and operated by the friendliest and most inviting family we have met on Sicily.  Actually the store is run by Mama and daughter.  It is the old style store.  Once in the store you are lost in a labyrinth of interconnected small rooms stuffed literally to the ceiling with everything from cement to copper wire to housewares.

Every visit is accompanied by an Italian lesson as mother and daughter take delight in making sure we know the Italian words for what we need.  Laughing and talking is just part of the experience.  

Unlike the local chandler when you ask for a product the store does not carry, like blue masking tape, magically that very product appears on the shelf with the next order.

Best part of the hardware store comes when you complete your purchase.  Mama fills a bag with organically grown tomatoes.  The reddest sweetest meatiest tomatoes we have ever eaten.  Lunch is often just a plate of tomatoes and some fresh bread.

Truth be told we have bought stuff we did not need (you can always use a spare right?) just for the pleasure of the outing.  And some tomatoes.

Wine or Oil?

A couple of weeks ago we joined a co operative purchasing plan with other boaters to acquire some diesel motor oil.  In bulk we saved money.  Even with the advantages of volume purchasing our purchase of twelve litres of Shell Rimula multigrade lube cost €8 a litre.  

Doing the currency exchange 

                                Canada                   Italy

decent wine            $12/litre               $4/litre
decent engine oil      $4/litre               $12/litre    

Based on our consumption patterns Canada is doing something wrong.  

Uniquely Italian Challenges to Working on A Boat

No one in Italy sold our favourite wood treatment needed for the wooded areas of Meredith.  The website was impossible to use.  We tried to order from the UK but the product is classified "dangerous goods" and cannot be shipped.

Emails to International Yachtpaint, maker of the product, disclosed that Woodskin could be obtained from the very marina where we were staying.  Except the marina would not sell it to us.  The marina was a dealer for International Yachtpaint but informed us that they did not wish to be a "seller of paint".  More emails to IP and some assistance from their VP of marketing persuaded our marina to sell us four cans of product which now adorns our toerails, hatches and dorade boxes.

We are still trying to figure out how one can want to be a dealer but not want to sell the product.  

Commissioning the outboard and gas generator required that we have gasoline.  The marina has a fuel dock.  The fuel dock has a sign stating that it is open from 0700 to 1900 every day of the week.  That is Italian for "The fuel dock is not open".  To get fuel you must call central office and arrange an appointment for a marinero to come and pump the fuel.  Some boats have waited hours for their appointed fuel sale.  On Sundays the central office is not open and then you cannot get fuel.  Unless you can hogtie one of the marineros.  But since the boss is not in the office on Sundays marineros are impossible to find.  

To get fuel we took the little cart we use for groceries and walked the three miles to the only gas station that serves this town and carried back what fuel they would sell us.  

The local chandlery has a single answer to every inquiry about a product: "No we do not have that.  We cannot get that.".  A couple of days ago the owner told me just that about a spare impeller I wanted for a spare.   I had just picked the very impeller up off his shelf and was holding in my hands at the cash register as he was telling me he did not have and could not get that part.  There is something about the Med approach to business that escapes me.

Now all we need is to rent a car so we can provision the boat and then wait for the weather.  

In you think we get discouraged, remember that tonight is Happy Hour (every minute of every day is Happy Hour).  Large (500 ml) beers and six ounce glasses of wine are €2.

Tends to take any edge off.  The weather will clear.  We are not in a hurry.

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