April arrived with improved weather; warmer days and less wind made progress on the job list easier. The canopy needed a good wash to get rid of the Sahara sand that occasionally blows across from Africa, then re-waterproofing and some sewing repairs made, mostly due to the thread starting to go in places due to damage from the sun. The sprayhood window plastic is clouding up in places but not enough yet to warrant replacement; not bad for 10 years old. I’m trying out a product called Vuplex to help keep the plastic in good condition for longer – it sprays onto the window and is polished on which adds a micro layer of anti-static wax to help protect from water and dust.
We were pleased that Colin was able to get far enough up to the top of the mast to replace our Lopolight tri-colour/anchor light. This is the third of our Lopolights to have failed (both starboard and port deck lights also died a couple of years ago) but at least they have all been replaced for free and the company claims to have solved the cause of the failure in all new units. New spreader lights, a clean of the mast and a check of the rigging completed the jobs up the big white stick.
Open Mike III
The final Open Mike of the winter saw the Bar Stella Marina full to bursting with many people returning to their boats having spent the winter elsewhere. Colin wasn’t suffering from a cold this time so was able to enjoy it more. There were a few new acts and a spot of stand up comedy to add variety to the returning performers. It’s great to have so many people who play instruments or sing and have the courage to get up and perform. I’ve really enjoyed breaking my ukulele out of its case where it’s lingered for far too long. A chance comment whilst cat-sitting led to the formation of ‘The Ukulele Girls’ with Maggie from H2OBO, we now have a repertoire of four full songs with plans to keep each other updated with any new songs we learn over the summer so that when we meet again we can play together. We even have a YouTube channel with recordings of our songs!
Back in December the Dutch winterers threw a party for everyone to celebrate Siinterklaasavond. The Brits wanted to give something back and Anne had the great idea of an Afternoon Tea. People were invited to wear smart-casual dress, a chance to get dressed up as we spend most of our time in jeans, shorts and t-shirts and requests to help with baking went out to anyone from the Commonwealth.
The afternoon was gloriously warm and sunny, which meant we could mingle and sit outside. The sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries and quiches created were completely outstanding, especially considering they were all made in boat galleys. The party room was decorated with bunting and Union Jacks, the tea and Prosecco was flowing and even the queen and Admiral Nelson made an appearance! It was great to see people dressed in their finery and there were some excellent hat creations using local blossoms and wildflowers.
The marina management threw a BBQ for all the berth holders on the main runway pontoon on a sunny Saturday. Sicilian sausage, local foods and pastries were provided along with wine and 5 x 30 litre kegs of lager. Chatting in the sunshine, eating and drinking was a perfect way to say farewell to the winter. The marina even had a free raffle with €1000 of prizes; unfortunately we didn’t win anything. As the day wound into evening a last unopened keg of beer sat next to the portable bar, ready to be taken away. Fast as lightning it was swapped out with an empty one before it could be taken away and beer was soon flowing again from the tap. The marina staff were clearing away the tables and chairs but agreed to leave the bar till last and around 15 of us made good inroads in emptying the keg with Colin as barman. A plastic barrel took the last few litres as the sun began to set and the bar was finally taken away.
Many thanks to the marina and it’s staff for throwing us such a fantastic party.
Line dancing would not be the first thing that would spring to mind when asked what I might think people do for fun in Sicily. But it seems to be a big thing with several groups active around the island. For the last couple of years there has been a line dance festival and this year it was the turn of Marina di Ragusa to host the event. As we arrived in the early evening some of the marina guys had been roped into joining in with a group dance and later on there was some singing and dance demonstrations from the professional dancers. We also got the chance to join in some of the group dances with an instructor calling out the moves from the stage. Not so easy to follow along when the instructions are in Italian but fun anyway; I usually get my left and right mixed up even when I’m being instructed in English! Many of the local people sitting around the main piazza seemed slightly bemused by what was going on, the marina crowd were definitely the most forward at joining in, clapping and cheering along the dancers.
We also managed to squeeze in some disco dancing nights, happy houring, having a go at stitching wounds (on a pigs trotter), sailing destination talks, karaoke and farewell parties as well as all the boat jobs; all in all it’s been a fun but exhausting month!
The town is starting to fill up at weekends now with locals enjoying the weather and those bars and restaurants that closed for winter open up again. The promenade is packed and the beach is no longer an empty expanse. I prefer the quieter Marina di Ragusa of the winter where the residents have time to say buongiorno as you pass by. The supermarkets and hardware shops were open all winter and there were enough bars and restaurants to keep us happy. The clothes and beach shops closed but that doesn’t bother me.
As the town fills up, the marina is emptying out as the winterers head off for their summer adventures in the Med or further afield crossing the Atlantic. We’ve met some great people here, many of whom we’ll see again which helps soften the sadness of farewells.