Sunday, 10 March 2019

It was with some regret that we left Montalbano country behind us. The beautiful streets and restaurants of Ragusa have left a lasting positive impression. The coastal part of the cruise is coming to an end soon. It is mid-September and the weather is starting to put on a threatening face. We have to be back in Gibraltar no later than the second of October.

Our next destination is the marina at Licata. Sailing conditions are good but as we unfurl the main we notice that it has become hard to pull out. To our distress we discover that somehow the shackle that holds the tack in position is twisted and broken. We abandon attempts to use the main and instead plough on under Citadel’s very large genoa. We hope that light winds will prevail at Licata because the main will need to be unfurled head to wind in order to make the repair. Our arrival at Licata is inauspicious. Having happily managed to get allocated a berth which points into the wind the "marinero” crosses and pulls the slime line under the hull so that it fouls the propeller! Once secured in place we have no option but for two of us to take turns at snorkelling around the shaft to remove a very tight spiral of rope around the prop and shaft. It's hard work but after 30 minutes we emerge looking like Smurfs from the blue anti-fouling that has rubbed onto our bodies!

The following morning the wind is perfectly still so we unfurl the mainsail and carefully replace the shackle at the tack. It's a fiddly business. We can’t afford to lose a part into the mast. Plus I have only one spare shackle of the right dimensions for this job. Success after a few tense and sweaty moments brings a collective sigh of relief. We are back to being a fully functioning sailing yacht. We motor out of the marina and set sail for Porto de Empedocle out last port in Sicily and site of the ancient Roman ruins at Agrigento.

The yacht marina at Empedocle consists of two floating pontoons deep in the harbour among smelly fishing boats. We have three tasks to accomplish in the next 36 hours; a crew change, victualling for the one week cruise back to Gibraltar and a cultural visit to the Roman ruins. We complete the first 2 tasks in short order to find that we have plenty time for the cultural delights of the ruins. Soon we'll be heading back as the first high winds and thunderstorms and heavy rain make a strong appearance. Next month I'll tell you about the 900nM passage back to Gibraltar.