Nothing is finished until it is finished,
or something to that effect.
When you think you have done and seen everything, you start to relax , I guess,
and that is usually when stuff happens.
Exactly like in our case !!!!
POSITION : 43°50'.3 N and 016.07'.5 E
DAY / TIME : 12.05.2013, 08:30 UTC
MOOD : ABSOLUTELY STUNNED !
Those who know the island will appreciate that I will not even attempt to cover its history, as it is so rich and powerful, so I would never finish anyway, even if I attempted.
Some notes nevertheless.
The people there are fantastic, the food is beyond belief, and the country side is dramatic.
Folk, if you have some time, go there and explore for yourself.
where we stayed in the Marina,
was totally destroyed ( 90% !!!! ) during an earthquake that lasted only 30 seconds in 1908.
The locals call themselves "second time lucky",
as Messina was also heavily bombaarded and again destroyed by the Allies during WW II.
Nevertheless, a nice city to visit for a couple of days, and some remaining nice features like the dome.
The foundations of few buildings that survived the earthquake are actually 3-4 meters lower than the city,
as the planners had decided it was not possible to clear up ( in those days ) all the collapsed buildings, etc,
so the city was rebuilt on top of the remains of the old one.
what I will describe to you now,
is either sheer luck or the opposite,
depends on whether you think
a glass is half full or half empty.
We finally left Messina on the morning of the 7th of May,
and whilst at first it was nice sailing during the day,
the wind died down in the evening and we continued under engine along the sole of the "italian boot".
It was about 2 am on the 8th of May, 2013, Fati's watch and me sleeping in the cockpit,
when I was woken up by a huge torch beam directed at the cockpit.
Now getting to grip with reality takes some time,
and having written so many stories about pirates
I thought at first.....but then it was just the
Guardia di Finanza,
doing their 'normal controllo'.
All was amicably done and they were about to leave
when I realised that our engine had shut down for no apparant reason.
Even with the help of one of the engineers of the Finanza boat, it wouldn't start again.
No fuel in the system, fuel pump gone for good !
POP GOES THE DIESEL !!!
upon arrival the next surporise was waiting for us :
5 custom officers
their sniffer dog,
the size of a small pony actually.
All climbed on our beautiful boat and started searching for drugs. Even my assurances that the last time I had taken an illegal substance was roughly 45 years ago, did not stop them.
And of course, after 3 hours, they were disappointed :
The highlight in the aftermath were 2 things:
The question by one officer whether he could
place a substance on the boat to train his dog
( can you believe this !!!! Am I stupid , or what ? ),
and the other :
an invitation for a coffee and a croissant in a near by coffee shop.
2 issues remain in my head:
We had sailed with people we didn't know, I didn't know.
What if one of them had left some "stuff" on board ?
The boat would have been gone now,
for good,for sure !!!!
The other is more from a managerial point of view :
When we were towed into Crotone , we were parked next to the boats of :
Guardia di Finanza,
Does anybody, including the Italians, understand fully the difference in their maritime responsibility ?
also organised two elderly mechanics who
- I must give them full credit -
finally restarted the engine after 2 days of work.
The fuel pump was replaced,
the phasing of the engine re-defined,
and one broken part provisionally fixed.
I don't know how to express it,
but when you need the engine ,as the remaining distance was almost entirely with no wind or against it,
and with every little noise you think :
that's it, the engine had it,
it is no good anymore.
So we finally arrived on Sunday morning , the 11th of May, in Croatia,
in Cavtat, south of Dubrovnik.
AND IF YOU THINK OUR TROUBLES STOPPED HERE, YOU ARE UTTERLY WRONG !
CROATIA, OH MY CROATIA !
Sometimes I have the feeling you are still at war with somebody,
me for example,
or you want to show how tough (and unfriendly) you are in order to restrict too much of tourism !
IS IT JUST INSECURITY
or even an
INFERIORITY COMPLEX ?
After clearance with police, the troubles continued.
The croatian licence for the boat would expire the same day at midnight, and we were advised
in very strong words,
that any disrespect of that limit would create serious punishment.
Are you serious ????
After 13000 miles with almost 9 months of travel,
after having kept the croatian flag up in all the countries we visited,
after all the trouble we went through to come 'home',
specifically over the last 48 hours,
we had more problems during the last 5 days
than in any of the 9 months of previous travel.
I can't believe it.
I went straight to my friend
who has this fantatstic restaurant in Cavtat, and ordered my favourite food and wine.
What else can you do in these kind of situations .
Just don't get too upset with croatian burocracy !
We left Cavtat without a word,
made it to a fuel station 10 minutes before their closure on
Saturday night, in Korcula,
( birth place of Marco Polo ! ) ,
sailed through the night against the wind with an engine running
that clearly has a problem,
and arrived quietly in Sibenik, Croatia,
our home port,
on Monday morning, 12th of May,
after 8 months and 14 days,
sneaked into the marina,
put up all the flags from all the countries we had visited,
( 14 in total !!!)
and went to bed.
Enough, I really have enough.
Master Mike !