July, 2012

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Monday July 30. Stormbound in Port Cervo.

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I am watching the incredible skills of the assistants of Porto Cervo Marina help docking these mega yachts. They fly around in their outboard inflatables. Attaching lines to the mooring points. And the skills of the crew on these mega yachts. I am anchored very close to their moorings and the inflatable just nudged me a few feet away from the huge bow of one of these gorgeous toys. Probably a piece of cake for our friend Greg Clark, skipper of these behemoths.

I left Olbia at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The weather forecast on channel 68 was for N.W.force 3 in the Sardinia Channel. But after going from full main and the 110 % genoa I ended up motor sailing with two reefs in the main against the wind and tacking. The seas were rough. Very slow progress. I opted for ducking into Porto Cervo where I put the anchor down at 1 p.m. Then I found out that I’m stuck here in a Mistral that will last a few days with winds in the 35 knots plus range and extremely rough seas in the Sardinia Strait or“Bouche de Bonofacio”. The mistral does not calm down at night, like the prevailing NW summer winds of the Maestra. Otherwise I could at least get a ways towards my destination in the early morning hours. The wind gusts through here but my anchor is firmly set just off the beach, within a stone throw from the fancy Costa Smeralda YC.

Porto Cervo is where the rich and famous come to show off their floating toys. The Costa Smeralda was Agha Khan’s project, started in 1962. This is where the Sardinia Cup regatta is sailed by the top
guns from around the globe. And in September the annual Swan race meet is held here. My neighbor here, at his private mooring, came in with his family and
friends from a sail on his Swan 56 “Why Not”. He came over to introduce himself, Fabio and his daughter Martina from Rome. Very nice people, he asked me to let him know if he could be of any assistance. He has crossed the Atlantic to the New England area and down to the Caribbean and back. I went ashore to try and see if I could get the password to the wireless signals I receive here. The marina office was closed but I understand that costs $ 21.00. The beer was $ 10.00. Someone told me that the lack of wireless connections in public areas is due to the fact that the Mafia controls much of the action.

Waiting for the storm to calm gets on my nerves. I finished my last project, the 24 page MS Word translation of father Huijsmans China ordeal. I sent it off to father Tom Davit of the Irish Vincentian/Lazaristes congregation. Father Tom spent part of the last year, 1971, of father Huijsman’s life with him in Saigon. I hope that it will serve the purpose that I intended the project for. That little has changed in China since the 3 year (1951-1954) of brain washing, physical and mental torture, this good man went through. It is still the same regime keeping an iron grip on its people, restricting their freedoms of religion, political preferences, access to the internet and how they plan their families. The bosses in Beijing still give free reign to the local police to let their
peasant minions, given the chance to vengean their lower social status frustrations, by committing cruelties on the critics of the communist system. Like the recent events in China with the blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng and the murder, made to look like a suicide, of  of Li Wangyang of Shaoyang, Hunan province.
I have asked father Tom to edit the translation and after this is done I plan to give it a place on the web site for anyone to read.

I just added up the miles I sailed these 3 months, (as the crow flies, not counting the upwind tacking) it adds up to 2,300 nautical miles. By the time I get to the mouth of the Rhone it will be over 2,500 and there I’ll be back up to latitude 43 which is the furthest North I came at Split in Croatia. I started April 28 at latitude 38 North, dropped down at Crete to just under 35 North then to 43 at Split back down to just under L 36 in Malta. I visited 20 islands and six countries in these 3 months. And the addresses of new friends made just keep piling up. This afternoon I met Joel and Sitti from Marseille/Toulon area. She is a Malagasche, from Nosy Be, where I spent time in 2006, and a professor in French historic literature. Her mother is from Mailotte, near Madagascar.

Since I left the West Coast in 2005 “Fleetwood” has made landfall in 47 countries.

I have been reading up on the route through France and I’m getting more and more excited to get going. Through the countryside that Van Gogh painted in and near Arles, the Camargue with its wild horses and water fowl, to start. From Cannes westward I plan to spend some time in the Calanques near Marseille. This has been highly recommended by Thomas in Mazara del Valle
and other French cruisers. I’ve bene ashore in the mean time to try and buy the $21 internet access but the office was closed from 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., siesta.
I read the weather bulletin posted outside the office. It looks like I can set off tomorrow afternoon. Just off the coast here the winds today are force 8 ½ (about 36 knots) and near the West Coast of Corsica Force 11…. That is between 56 and 62 knots; just a notch below hurricane strength. I hope I’ll never have to be caught in anything like it. But you wonder, with the VHF continuous
weather report yesterday morning not to make any mention of it.


Saturday, July 28 Olbia, Sardinia

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

I tried to clear out of Italy at the local Coast Guard station. I rang the bell, told them in Italian that I wanted to clear out and the man answered: “Un Altima, Solo”. I waited, and waited and I finally decided that I must have forgotten the meaning of “altima“. I went my way. Put Italy with the Greeks.  It is a 45 mile sail to Bonofacio on Corsica from here. That is a little too much for doing after Sunday morning service, so, I’ll plan go to Saturday evening service and leave early in the morning.

It looks like I’ll still have the right winds. The usual N.W. can blow strong between the two islands, “La Bouche de Bonofacio“.




Friday July 27 Olbia, Sardinia

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I left Marzala di Valle at 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday and arrived at 7.30 p.m. in Olbia on Sardinia’s North East coast. Near the Costa Esmeralda and Porto Cervo, Agha Khan’s development and the location of the annual Sardinia Cup. It had been my plan to sail along the Sardinia West Coast because the East Coast is rather barren and has few or no harbors or anchorages. Except the N.E. corner. But the weather forecasts were for the usual Northerlies along the West Coast and that would have been a real struggle to get North. But I got real lucky with the wind directions and moderate strengths going straight up to  Olbia. I had Westerlies on Wednesday and the early part of Thursday then it turned this late morning into a N.Easterly. On Wednesday I had moderately strong winds around 20 knots and I ended up with two reefs in the main and using the 110% # 3 jib. But yesterday and today it was more in the 10 knot range and sometimes less but the seas were smooth so I had some outstanding sailing with the full main and the 140% # 2 Genoa. As the crow flies I covered 250 nautical miles in three days and two nights. On Wednesday I had to make some long tacks against the wind.

Thursday morning I was groggy from the lack of sleep but this morning I was fine, I am getting used to setting the alarm for 45 minutes and taking a quick look around and going back on my bunk. ot much traffic. I have just one page to go on the translation of father Huijsmans China imprisonment.

I am anchored in the main harbor and blew up the inflatable. Tomorrow I’ll try take a look around and I might stay Sunday. I want to clear here out of Italy and then cross to Corsica. About twenty years ago I  rented a car on Sardinia and saw a good part of it. I will spend more time to see Corsica. Then I am off to the Riviera and et ready for the long haul through the French rivers and Canals back to Amsterdam.

Tuesday July 24. Another stormy day

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I figured that I was safe to leave today but then the gale warnings came on again. But I think it has finally run out of steam and I should be on my way tomorrow morning.

It is possible that I might try to sail directly to Corsica because the winds on the west side of Sardegna are dead against me in the next couple of days. And that might mean that you will not hear from me for possibly two or three days.

The good thing that has blown the heatwave away and it is at least 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler.

I have had lots of company here in the last couple of days. Next to me is “Tap Dancer” with a couple from Strassbourg with his teen age son and Thomas who lives in Marseille but grew up in Frankfurt and went to school in Greenville N.C. and in California. I expect to meet him again in Marseille. Pierre and Marie France on a beautiful fast chined plywood 36 footer “Champ Fleury” took off this morning. This afternoon Pierre and Fabienne from the Bordeaux area arrived on their way to Malta and Syracuse, with their friends Alain and Nicole who are returning from here to France. A large Belgian trimaran came in yesterday and left this afternoon. This was a nice stop even though it was longer than planned.


Monday, July 23rd still in Mazara del Valle

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

We had thunderstorms off and on all day. But it looks like I’ll be able to get on my way north tomorrow. I had a battery put in my old cheap Velcro wristband watch for 5 Euro. Saturday night I woke up to the midnight alarm of the watch I lost in Syracuse. I was not awake enough to trace the short alarm. So, last night I set my cellphone alarm for just before midnight and sure enough the alarm went off. I had been excited for finding the watch all day. Then it turned out that the stop watch/alarm that Lynne Poland had brought on the boat in October 2008 also has an alarm going off at midnight. I had dug this out as a substitute watch. It has the identical alarm and I still can’t figure out why either go off at midnight and I was never able to figure out how to stop it on my expensive watch. It takes a twelve year old to figure that out and I am running out of those in my family. Tomorrow my youngest grandchild turns 16. I bit the bullet and bought a new pair of Maffia Polaroid sunglasses to replace the pair I lost.

I may be out of internet access now for a couple days.


Sunday July 22nd. Stormbound in Mazara del Valle

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

If I would have headed out to Sardinia yesterday I would have been caught today in a dangerous violent gale. The conditions yesterday were ideal, a south westerly wind. And there was no indications of a what was to happen today. This morning’s predictions were for WNW and NW winds from 8 to 21 knots. Not ideal direction but I set out after mass at around 10.30 but when I stuck my nose
from behind the break water I did not like what I saw. Big waves and the wind was right from the directions I wanted to go. So, I turned around and decided to sit it out inside the breakwater. I was firmly anchored. I started to do my laptop back up but fell asleep and when I woke up another French boat had anchored near me but the over 50 foot French ketch that has been there since
yesterday was moving away and there was no one aboard. There was little I could do. I would have to blow up my dinghy and I would not have been able to row in those wind conditions. I called the coast guard. They came out and put another anchor out. By that time it had stopped dragging but this was most likely because she had hit bottom. My guess is that the large crew, without any
indication of the sudden change in the weather went ashore and rented a car to do some sight-seeing. The other French boat had to re-anchor, I heard later that their anchor apparently was not getting into the sand because of the sea grass. Then the “Securité, Securité”, call came in on channel 16 with severe weather warnings. In the North Adriatic and from Corsica south to this area
gale warnings force 7 with heavier gusts in thunder storms. So, I pulled up the anchor figuring that for the € 25 I was not going to take chances and went back into the same marina. There was bit of mayhem going on in these conditions. One boat lost his engine just trying to back into the marina entrance. Lots of shouting in Sicilian.

Was I lucky or is Someone looking after me that I decided to go to mass this morning? I am writing this on the boat. The marina internet still is not working and I will have to find an open wi-fi signal like I did yesterday evening and this morning. I have tried a few park/board walk benches before I caught a signal.
I’ll have to bring an umbrella.

Mass was very rewarding. I could understand a good part of the sermon. In this magnificent old cathedral with elaborate ceiling frescoes. But a bit of a contrast from earlier experiences where several priests co-celebrated, a choir sang and the altar boys/girls were all in their red and white robes. Here the two teenage altar boys wore shorts, wild t-shirts and sneakers. No choir, no music. There was
acapella singing of songs most everyone knew by heart.

The last time I was in Italy was in 2004. Until then I went practically every year because it was my most important customer base. I love this country and its people. They have a natural charm, poise, elegance and grace the rest of Europe envies. I note a few changes. Pizzerias were imported from America and were few and far between 25 years ago, now it seems that every second restaurant is a pizzeria.
I see more overweight, particularly in the men. But they smoke less than half as much as their neighbors to the East.

It is hard to know when I can get going now. Tomorrow does not sound so good yet. I’ll be
working on the translation of father Huysman’s Chinese prison ordeal.

The wind
died down for now and it is not raining I shall go to my park bench.


Saturday July 21st Mazara del Valle

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

This small sea port is on the N.W. Corner of Sicily, just below Marsala. I covered over 60 miles in 13 hours. Except for the last two hours it was all under sail. One of the best sails I have had. So there is something good to say about the Med’s sailing. The water was smooth, at first I had to tack against the N.W. wind then it slowly lifted me with a S.W. wind. Full main and the # 2 Genoa, I had to reef for about half an hour. Hardly any of the other sail boats I saw had their sails up. This is not uncommon. Why don’;t they buy/charter a power boat?

This is a delightful small town. It is supposed to be the home of one the largest fishing fleets. But they must be all out fishing. The guide book talks about trawlers but all I see is drag queens or possibly long liners. There are several good size ship yards. A good size river runs though the town into the sea. There are still left overs to see in ruins/building/museums of the different periods of occupation/colonization since it’s origin from around the 8th century. Saracens/Arabs/Greeks/Romans and the Normans were here. Till half an hour ago, when a French boat arrived, I was the only white man in town. There are no other tourists than the Italians here. The ineternet service is stone age. I finally found one from a park bench. The one in the marina is as slow as molasses. I will go to 9 a.m. mass here at the Cathedral and then take off for the S.W. corner of Sardinia , close to 200 miles. This might end up a two nighter. But apparently the winds are again favorable. Today they are from the South. I walked a jerry can of diesel to the boat. Folded sails, did laundry and planned my destinations. I figure that I’ll spend two weeks on Sardegna and Corsica and then directly to the Cote d’Azur. And I should be on my way on the Rhone by late August.

Three days ago there was an American couple in this marina, Petersons on “Gemini” (my boat before “Fleetwood” was “Gemini”, being a twin and at the time I was dating Susi Stern, also a Twin and born under the Gemini sign) . Peterson is 85…. and his wufe 82 they are on a round the world cruise. So, maybe my kids don’t have to worry about me moving in for a while after all.







Thursday July 19 in Porto Empedocle

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

This is the third time that I attempted to make it to Tunisia and failed once again. When I was fifteen I hitchhiked from Holland to Italy and had wanted to cross from Italy to Tunis. My pocketbook and passport were stolen near Pisa. I had to return. When I was 17 I booked on a ferry from Naples to Tunis and when I got to Palermo they told me that is as far as the ride went. This time it was the wrong wind direction. I left Valetta at 7 a.m. and at 7 p.m. I could still clearly see the western most island of Malta, Gozo. I had managed to put 31.5 miles between Valetta by tacking against the wind, an average of 2 1/2 nautical miles per hour… I took the next tack towards Sicily and then the wind went more west, then to south west, then nothing and then it came in from the south east in the morning.

I arrived into Porto Empedocle at 3 p.m. Not much of a town but there is an old settlement near here I might check out. From here I plan to round the S.W. corner of Sicily and head north to  and Corsica. I am glad I saw Malta but I am sort of burnt out on the Med. It is a beautiful part of the world and a cradle of European history but I do not think much of it as a sailing/cruising sea. The wind changes, strength, direction, confused seas just wore me down. I am looking forward to the river/canal trip through France and getting back to Amsterdam.

I am at anchor in this port town. I have not found anything to take a picture of. I changed the oil. I had over filled the oil the last time and I hope that this might reduce the high temperature the engine runs at. The engine bilge is a salt mine. The little water that drips from the packing gland just evaporates and leaves solid salt. I never had that problem with the Renault.

Tuesday, July 17th Adieu Malta.

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

I shall be leaving early in the morning and aim to arrive by Thursday evening in Tunisia. Yes, back to plan “A”, after another opinion from the “Una Volta” crew. But it will depend on the wind direction. Today it calmed down and by tomorrow the seas should also be friendlier. It is 165 miles and with a little luck I should be in Tunisia by Thursday evening. I did not go anywhere except to get a few more provisions. I did some maintenance, clean up, e-mails. I stopped by “God Speed” a 52 foot Westsail, Cindy and Bob from Twin Cities, Minn. hey are only the second USA boat I have met this year. And I went aboard “Eclipse” to have a cold beer with Wayne and Cha-Cha. The 10 day heatwave has moderated and a nice cool breeze is blowing. I fried a chicken leg for dinner with noodles and fresh stir fry vegetables.


Monday July 16th Malta

Monday, July 16th, 2012

I took the bus to Mdina and Rabat. Mdina is also a fortified city on one of the highest points of Mal;ta, but not on the sea. The Cathedral in Mdina is the seat of the bishop and he shares his time with the Valetta St. John the Baptist Cathedral. It was originally built in the 16th century and rebuilt after the 1696 earthquake. It also has a huge dome, like the one in the church of O.L.of Mt. Carmel in Valetta. Next to the church in one of the old palazzoes is a an excellent museum with many of the works of art that were created here and brought here by the knights, church fathers and rulers. Again, as in the museum at the St. John’s cathedral also a large collection of religious art, vestments, song books, bibles and papal bulls going back to the 14th century. There were extensive ancient coin collections. The ones from Carthage intrigued me and I double checked to see if I was not missing an opportunity to go to Tunisia where Carthage flourished during the Roman occupation. But apparently the Vandals and Arabs did not leave a lot to posterity. So, I’ll be heading Northwest from here tomorrow. The wind came up today from the N.W. …

Rabat is right next door to Mdina. This is where the Church of St.Paul is. This is supposed to be the spot where Paul wintered after his shipwreck on the island. There is a grotto underneath the church. Pope John Paul came to visit this church and grotto. When I was confirmed in the Catholic church in 1957, I had to have a sainr’s name. I was given the name Paul. That was the last time it was ever used. But as a convert himself and his life and teachings have always made a big impact on me. Our mother wrote in her memoirs, which are part of “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” about the particular passage Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans. I quote from the book:

” It is in this wilderness that I learned so clearly some of the Bible passages. Much is said about the Wrath of God but for me it was the Love of God who brought us in to the concentration camps.

Roman 8 verse 33: “Who will bring any charge against those God has chosen? And verse 35: “Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

And verse 38: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, 39:  etc. will be able to separate me from the Love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’d like to have verse 38 on my tombstone.”

My neighbors on “Una Volta”, see below picture at sunrise, Bernard and his wife Marie-France and their crew friend Patricia spent the day as well in Mdina/Rabat. They had me over on board for a digestive. Patricia is a Parisienne artiste and there will be Una Volta mas when I pass through Lyon where the couple lives.