Sail away with Paul Chopin.
A blog highlighting the steps taken to purchase a yacht, getting out to sail her and the adventures, not to mention the cost(!) in putting her to sea.
Rome July and August 2014
Having decided that it would be nice to have an extended break on board Electron Helen and I decided that six weeks would be a good start. Shuttle booked and an hotel en route with one for the return journey, both in Lyon, we set off early on;
Drive to the tunnel without any delays. Waited for about 25 minutes before boarding. Quick crossing, a stop off at Cite Europe for fuel and soon on the autoroute heading for Lyon. Rained most of the way, interspersed with a number of stops for cups of tea. Arrived in Lyon late afternoon and headed for the Hilton. Parked up, unloaded the car and into the room. Cosy but it lacked free wifi. A walk through the park on the other side of the road from the hotel - very pretty, and then a bit to eat in the hotel.
Up for breakfast, an early start, car loaded and off for Rome. Again, rain on the way down, plenty of stops for tea, and an expensive trip through the Frejus tunnel. Must remember to go via any other route than this one. Once in Italy the sun came out but later on the thunder and lightening appeared. We finally arrived in Rome and I called at my brothers apartment to pick up the boat keys before heading off to the marina, Porto di Turistico Roma. Car unloaded and stored away on Electron we settled down for yet another cup of tea before retiring for the night.
A quick look over the boat and it was quite obvious that the weather had not been kind to her. All the chrome had started to rust. This needed addressing soon. I ventured of to the chandlers and bought some cleaning items together with 'Radiant' chrome cleaner. The day was spent cleaning and trying to make her a bit more respectable. I had some friends coming out to stay with us, for six weeks, and wanted to ensure she was looking her best - for her years. Chrome work attended to, the interior cleaned from bow to stern and the decks given a hose down. Not quite as dirty / dusty as in Greece, but still enough to keep us occupied for the day.
One or two more jobs to do on the boat and then off on our recently purchased folding bikes. A trip along the marina cycle way and back to the boat to pick up the car keys before heading to the supermarket to stock up with food. Later that evening our friends arrived and a quick tour of the boat before heading down to the nearest bar for a few beers.
When I had installed the solar panels and wind generator I fed the cables along the deck as a temporary measure. Now that I had time I bought some cable glands and began drilling holes in the transom to feed the cables through the hull up to the batteries. New charge controller bought for the wind generator and repositioned under the navigation table, everything was taking shape. Next task was to install the radar and chart plotter. I was waiting for the radome to arrive as they had originally sent out the wrong one. Made by the same company I didn't want to mix and match the new navigation equipment, so a new one was being shipped out here. As we had to wait a fe more days before it arrived we took Electron out for a trip north along the coast. Wind conditions were fine, not too strong, but strong enough to cause problems trying to dock when we got back. A few attempts at getting her parallel to the boat next to us before tying her up to the pontoon.
In the morning we set off to visit Villa Farnese. However, it was decided that it was too far to get there giving us little time before the place closed at 14:00. Instead we had a walk around the rowing lake just outside Rome and then went off to Frascatti. In the evening we decided to take the boat out again. Having discussed the mooring of the previous day everyone was allocated tasks for when we returned to the marina when we took the boat out again today. But before we set off we went through a couple of trial runs, pulling away from the quay and then returning again. Signs of improvement we set off out of the harbour entrance for another sail. Steady winds and a few hours later we came back to the pontoon. Wind still taking us away from our intended approach, it was slightly better than before but still room for improvement. What I do miss about Greece, and I never considered this when I decided to head for Rome, is the lack of beautiful bays to anchor up in to while away the hours, go for a snorkel and have a bite to eat. It's only the first week but I hope there is more to Rome, sailing wise, than going out, heading up or down the coast and then back to the marina?
Everything except the chart plotter bracket had arrived so it was time to installed the radar - more hole drilling in the transom, and to wire up both the radar and the chart plotter. The radar mounting bracket had already been made when I asked for the solar panel gantry to be made. It was just a case of bolting it in place. The cable was then lead down to the transom, feed through a waterproof cable gland and passed through the hull up to the binnacle. The chart plotter was also wired up and I then made a temporary bracket out of a piece of marine plywood and a garmin gps bracket which was cut in half. This was then bolted on to the wood which in turn was attached to the stainless steel rail that runs around the top of the binnacle. Chart placed in the plotter it was switched on and it works. My brother came along that evening for a sail and off we went for an hour or so before returning, mooring up and going to a lovely fish restaurant close to Fuimincino airport.
Helen texted her son as it was his birthday. I got a call to go to the Marine office. On arrival they handed me my wallet. I hadn't noticed that I had lost it, but on checking the contents £110 cash was missing. At least all the cards were there. We gathered up all the washing and drove to my brothers apartment to use his machine. Once there Helen got a message from birthday boy, thanking for the card. No sooner had she got this then further messages turned up. Another son had been injured by a lorry and panic set in. She found out that he had been pinned between two lorries and had fractured his pelvis. Washing completed we returned to the marina to make flight arrangements for her to get back to the UK. Very expensive if you book last minute but nothing else could be done. Another call from a a very good friend informed us that a close colleague had died. We had had a meal together the night before we set off on this holiday. What a day!
A lazy day as I had to drive Helen to the airport at midday. On return I checked out a route plan to go north up the coast and then on to Giglio. The Costa Concordia had recently been removed for scrap metal! At least this would take up four days before Helen returned. Diesel put into the tank and off to fill up the containers. New neighbours have pulled up alongside us. Maybe that will help with the mooring as the boat won't be pushed in either direction by the wind!
Route planned to head towards Civitivechhia and to stay around there for the night.
Well that was the plan. The wind was against so it was motor all the way to Santa Marinella. A lovely little fishing village with a small and pricey marina attached to it. €75 for the night with electricity but no drinking water or wifi. Sunday mass was held on the quay, with a bishop taking it. I popped along and offered up a prayer to my good friend Dave. In the evening we went into town and there was entertainment going on in the square.
Our intended route was Isola di Giannutri but on further inspection there was little there apart from two bays to anchor in so we then headed for Isola di Giglio. Wind slightly helping and with calm seas we made good passage. We had to wait outside for instructions when to enter the harbour, dropping anchor as there were no lines from the pontoon. Neither was there electric or water but it was only €27 for the night. A few beers and back to the boat for the night.
We had to leave by 10:00 so up anchor we headed south to anchor in one of the toe bays on the east side. It gave me a chance to attack the chrome with the polish, trying to beat the salt air back. The other two took the tender and went to the shore to walk back into town leaving me to keep a check on the bearings and carry out a few repairs jobs. The wander eras returned just after 18:00, so tender stored on deck, outboard on the rear, anchor raised we set off back to Isola di Giglio. After a couple of attempts to get straight onto the quay we actually found shore power this evening so lights back on! Kettle on for a cup of tea before heading off to have a few beers.
A very early start, leaving Giglio at 06:45 heading back for Santa Marinella. About an hour into the sail we could see storm clouds building up behind us and it wasn't long before we were in the middle of it. The wind had pushed us forward at a good pace but once the storm passed by we were back to a slow pace, with little or no wind at all. Arrived at Santa Marinella at 16:30, boat firmly moored I went into town to use the internet. I needed to book a flight back home to attend a funeral and I needed to Skype Helen to get her to change the date of her return flight from 1st August to 8th August, to coincide with my return. All taken care of, a couple of beers, a bottle of wine and a beautiful seafood curry before hitting the sack.
No rush on Thursday, we had a bit of a lie in and set off around 11:30. Again, the wind and sea were in our favour and we had both sails out and were galloping along at close to 7 knots for most part of the journey. Ricky at the helm, he entered the marina too quickly for all the fenders and mooring lines to be set before attempting to reverse into our spot. As he had to stop he lost all steerage and we we blown onto the slime lines of the adjacent boats. People from other boats came to help but the Italians who are supposed to see us into the marina just shouted instructions in Italian which we didn't understand. Eventually, freed off the lines we got into our spot and moored up. Hopefully no damage done to the rudder or prop. That evening we went back into Fuimincino and found the other fish restaurant for a meal. Lucky to get a table, it was packed. Not as tasty as the other restaurant but worth the visit. A few beers and bed.
Friday is wash day so all the laundry has been collected and it is currently being washed and dried. I had to get a sail repaired as it was coming apart close to the sacrificial strip and I didn't want it to get any worse. Cost, €50. Hopefully it's getting repaired right now. Got back to the boat about 18:00. Dani hadn't been to repair the sail so I gave her a call. She apologised and said she would be along shortly, which she was. Sail patched up, hopefully it will last until the end of the season? Not a great deal doing on the boat so I ventured out for a drink and a bite to eat, returning around 22:30. Another bottle of Peroni before bed.
We had decided to do dome (more) repairs on the boat. We had to establish where the water leak was coming from, if not from the calorifier. Coming back from the shower I stopped to have a coffee with Cedric (South African) who was left on his own when his only crew returned home. I told him that if he needed to go into town to do some shopping then I could take him as I had a car. He jumped at this and we left at midday. I think Cedric bought the shop out, the amount we had to get into my car! That meant that Ricky had been working on the water system. No leaks appeared, despite filling the tank the previous night and running the pump this morning. Bilges all still dry, except the engine bay which had a combination of oil and water in it. This has now been cleaned. Ricky had stripped the galley tap down as the flow through this was poor. An improvement but still not perfect. Next was the calorifier. Having looked at it we decided the best course of action was to replace it, which will be done next time in September. A quiet afternoon and then into Ostia for a few beers this evening.
Too many beers last night, and too late a night for any work to be done today. Noticed that one of the closures to the hatch in my cabin was dripping. Removed the fitting, cleaned the seal and replaced it, tightening it a bit more than previously. Have to wait for the rain to see it it has been fixed. Went out searching for a longer gang plank. Visited two boat yards but no one had a lenght of wood that they could sell me. Came back and Cedric gave me some liquid to remove the rust from GRP. Gave the boat a bit of a clean but it needs a second go. Looked at the fridge to see why it isn't as cold as it should be. Nothing that I could see by pushing / pulling on the wires to make any difference although one of the pipes by the compressor was frozen! Have switched fridge off and will look at it tomorrow when the pipe will be defrosted. A very nice fish curry again tonight cooked by Chong and then finished off by a bottle of red. Have been working my way through the complete works of Shakespeare for the last few days. Measure by Measure finished and now on to Othello.
Up before 08:00. Showered and then got on to the internet to do some research regarding fridge repairs. Not much on offer. Could see that the pipe from the compressor was damp. Cold and warm air forming condensation on the pipe. Thought that by removing the foam around the pipe and putting a collection tray below the pipe to collect water would resolve the situation. Want off to find the wood merchant in Fiumincino. Got to the store eventually but nothing there. On the way back I called in to another builders yard and got a piece of wood cut to my size, 2.5m x 25cm x 4cm. Got through Othello and now on to King Lear. Back out to Ostia for another round of drinks at the same bar. Got chatting to someone who made his own wine. The white was a bit bland. He said pop back on Saturday to try his red.
Phoned Antonio to see when I could collect the bracket for the chart plotter. Offered to take next door into town as he was hoping to stock up before leaving later today as his replacement alternator was in Fiumincino ready to fix. Bought some bits and pieces so that the tank plank could be attached to the existing passerelle bracket. Went to pay for the bracket by card, his card reader wasn't working. Had to return with cash. Passerelle fixed to the boat so can leave more room between the stern and the pontoon wall. Fridge is still not correct. Need to switch it off again, seal the pipe with tape and then replace the foam around all of this. Hopefully to reduce the build up of condensation. Chon is cooking another curry tonight.
Returned to the UK
Returned to Rome.helen and I got to the boat about 19:30. Not much to do apart from putting the kettle on and having a cup of tea. Later that evening our two colleagues returned and we decided to go out for a meal. Nothing fancy.
During my absence Ricky had wound some tape around the copper pipe leading from the compressor to the fridge and then replaced the foam. Not all the pipe was wrapped but there was a slight improvement in the operating temperature. I had pottered over the boat with my chrome polish, still trying to keep the rust at bay. Ricky and Chon had decided to leave the following day so last opportunity for a drink! We went into Ostia Antica for a pizza and then returned to the bar that we had frequented a few times before. Several beers later and a further one back on the boat before hitting the sack.
Ricky and Chon finally got their car loaded and headed off for Naples and the Amalfi coastline. I got on to finishing off wrapping the fridge pipe in tapes, put some hose pipe over this and then replaced the foam lagging. I noticed a hole in the bottom of the fridge where the pipe entered it and squirted some expanding foam to fill this void. Fridge back on and several days later it is all looking good. Cold temperature rather than cool! A bike ride into town for a bit of exercise. We invited Cedric to join us for an evening meal.
Back into town to do a bit of shopping and to pick up some more pieces for the boat. The lights in two of the cabins were not working so I replaced the bulbs with LED's and they are now functioning. That evening Cedric returned the invite and we had a nice meal on his boat with a nice bottle of wine. Not before I had to cycle into town to buy some drink though!
Planned visit to Tivoli and a visit to Villa d'Este. About 75 minutes from the marina. When we got there the village car park was full - and expensive so we went out of town and found some free parking about a mile away. Lovely villa and exceptional gardens. Well worth the €11 entry fee. Got back and Helen was keen to go in a convoy with Cedric to Sardinia. Bit of a surprise so I went to the local marine electrical shop and ordered a Raymarine autopilot. I'm hoping it's the EV-200 model rather than the 100 model as he did say it was good up to 11 tonnes. This should arrive on Thursday and fitted the same day. €1800. Told Cedric and he suggested we go out for a beer to discuss the trip
Cleaning day. My son arrives tomorrow so the boat needed to be cleaned from inside and out. I got to work on the outside while Helen cleaned the inside. A few more jobs to do. The engine alarm light was coming away from the binnacle so this was glued back. Not sure how long it will stay put. The passerelle was getting a bit loose so the bolts were tightened up. Helen wanted a guide line along the passerelle so I tied some rope between the solar panel gantry and the end of the line leading to the shore end of the passerelle. Hopefully this should keep her happy - and a bit safer? Dried out the bilges as they were looking a bit damp.
Had to take the keys to the electricians for 10:00 so the autopilot could be fitted. Mario wasn't there but one of his colleagues said they would be on board in the hour. True to their word they arrived within 45 minutes. They got to work installing the units, the sensor, acu, display and then the drive unit. Problems. The drive unit could only be fitted to the binnacle by drilling a hole in the binnacle, rather than fixing it externally, as it is meant to be, and there lies the problem. How to fill the hole once the drive has been attached? This is up to them to do but it had better be a decent job. Their lunch break was an 90 minutes and as I type, they have just left for tea - 17:30. They've left all their tools on the boat, indicating they should be back once their tea break is over. Need to pick up my son from the airport, his plane has been delayed by 40 minutes, which is just as well because I would have needed to leave within the next 20 minutes to get to him! Son picked up, showed him around the boat and then off to Riz Cafe for an evening meal.
Not much doing today. Need to go out and get shopping for our trip to Sardinia (leaving Sunday) and just potter around the marina until then! Had drinks with Cedric, Cristophe (who rowed across the Atlantic and is now doing an 'around the world in 80 dates!' and Michelle, who is one of them)
Had the electricians back on the boat to finish off the last bit of wiring to the autopilot. Told them I wasn't keen on the idea of having the steering shaft cut and an extra piece welded on to give the required clearance. Solution found. Get a new panel made from fibreglass so that it fits flush with the binnacle rather than have 'raised' pieces. A bit more shopping, last minute checks with Cedric to ensure that the passage planning was as good as it could be, and then more drinks! Glad it wasn't going to be an early start!
Well I was up early, 7ish, showered and raring to go. Eventually we did leave, just after 09:00, but we had to wait outside the marina for Cedric as he was fuelling up his yacht. 09:50 we headed off for Sardinia. First problem, my chart plotter did not function. Not sure why as I had planned the route on it not more than an hour previous to leaving the marina. Initially we had the main and head sails out but it wasn't too long before both were brought in. Wind in our faces and it was down to the motor. After about three hours we were greeted by a very large pod of dolphins, circling the boat but not really playing with us. After that it was us and the expanse of sea ahead. Cedric and his crew decided to try to use whatever wind there was and go more west of our heading. I decided that we should remain on our course as I had no idea, other than our planned heading what lay around us. Tried to get the old GPS wired up, no good and probably fused the sockets as they no longer function. Could used the IPad but then realised that my iPhone had a compass and we could get Lat / Long from that. Reverted back to charts which they do say, make use in case all electrics fail! Just as well I had read the manual. Readings taken every hour and plotted on the chart, when I finally got the chart plotter to work we were less than half a mile from the reading on the paper chart. The night crossing began to get quite rough, wind in one direction, sea in another, neither in our favour and speed, under engine down to 1.9 knots. Glad I had the autopilot fitted as both crew fast asleep!
Last part of the crossing began to be better and we managed to get up to 5 knots, but mainly under engine as very little wind. Arrived at Cala Spalmatore just after 18:30 and began to wonder where Cedric had got to. Little did we know that he had only got there about an hour before us. Italian Water Pilot indicated that there were public mooring buoys there but we were informed that they were all private and nothing free to rent until tomorrow. We met up with Cedric and headed over to a bay close to Caprere, where Garibaldi lived and a museum erected. Anchor dropped, bearings taken to check if we were holding and all seemed well. An evening swim in what we thought was a very quiet cosy little bay. Cedric and his crew joined us on my boat and we had a few beers.
This quiet cosy bay began to get invaded by all the Italians. By midday we thought there couldn't be any more boats to anchor here but they still kept coming. By late afternoon they upped anchor and left, leaving that bay nice and quiet again. (Will they return tomorrow?). Off to Cedric's for evening meal and drinks. Probably one too many as I fell into the tender when trying to get into the tender and then fell into the water when trying to get on to my boat! What an end to the day.
An easy day today. Up at 07:30 without a hangover! Went for a swim as no water left in the tank. Filled up the fuel tank with 25 litres of diesel. Need more in engine is used for the full return journey. Cedric popped over for a chat and coffee. When he was going to return to his boat he noticed his flippers missing. They had got knocked into the water and sank to the bottom. Having retrieved a snorkel by swimming down yesterday it was too great a depth to do it again so on with the diving gear again. Flippers picked up and returned to Cedric, it now his turn to return the favour. Our fuel line on the outboard was gummed up so he offered to send his crew with his rib to the shore to get 47litres of diesel for me. That was very kind. My son also went along to check out the weather for the return journey and to get some provisions. Agreed to have supper on our boat tonight but with less drink! My son has arranged with Cedric to try and sort out a marina stop in Gibraltar for him on his way through to the Canaries. Details of boat as follows;
length =12.75 beam = 4.15 draught = 2m. Much quieter night with less alcohol consumed. An early morning tomorrow.
Thursday 21.08.2014 and Friday 22.08.2014
Up at five to prepare for an 06:00 departure. Didn't materialise, we finally left at 06:38. Strong winds and current in the bay. These changed once we were outside. Winds with but waves attacking the stern from both sides. Made it a bit of a roller coaster ride but nowhere near comparison with the out ward leg. Pretty good progress for the first 20 hours, maintaining an average of 5 knots, but this changed in the middle of the night with hardly any wind and by early morning the wind was in our faces. No sails, only a motor to get us the remaining 50nm. About three hours away from Porto di Roma we were once again greeted by the dolphins. Only about 10 this time but it was a nice change to see something. Arrived in the marina and went straight onto my mooring spot without any hitches. Helen got on with cleaning down below and I gave the top a good clean. Later I had to call in at the chandlers to see if they could repair Cedric's satellite phone, no they couldn't, and to do some shopping. Later this evening my son is going to take us out for a meal. He needs to catch a very early flight tomorrow so not much to drink tonight!
Up at 04:30 ready to take my son to the airport. He rose at five and we left about 05:30. No much doing when I got back to the boat. Spent a couple of hours just catching up on some lost sleep before going off to Rome to do the washing at my brothers apartment. Returned to the boat early evening and it wasn't long before I hit the sack, but not before a nice glass of JD.
A good sleep until 08:00, showered and then breakfast. Checked emails and daily news before cleaning all of the bilges. Thought there would be much more water in them but very little. Engine compartment probably the worst with a combination of oil and water. Will need to get that checked out before too long. Went out for a bike ride ( to get ingredients for the mussels with tagliatelle supper). On returning to the boat we noticed one of springs attached to the stern had completely broken. Just as well I had placed an additional line on that side of the boat but the spring was only a few months old and should never have broken. Went to the chandlers to get some replacements. Bought rubber snubbers rather than metal. It would appear that I have made friends with the chandler because he discounted them from €138 to €100 for me. A very welcome surprise and a chandler I would recommend you visit. (Get address and insert here) back on the boat I began preparing the mooring lines to take the new snubbers. Boat still moving back and forwards too much!