Thursday, 10 November 2011

Big Waves

Caught this on the BBC this morning. Blue Hound was there a few years ago. I think it's Nazare...

Thursday, 3 November 2011


After anchoring overnight off San Pietro in Panarea (anchor hooked on rock, no tripline, but got it out in the end), we anchored overnight off San Bartolomeo on NE corner of Stromboli, in 14 metres, bottom visible, sand, good holding. Lucky with wind - none, and little rolling except from cruise liners passing inside Stomboliccio.

Left at 08:00 just ahead of an electrical storm. Motor sailed down to Taormina Roads anchorage, and then on to Syracusa the next day.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Maltese Falcon

Followers will know that this is a yacht I love.

This was taken during the Perini-Navi Cup racing this year. Full story at

Pic courtesy of

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Etna from Taormina

Anchored in Taormina Roads, caught this pic of Etna in the evening sun:

Anchored at Taormina Roads - Mt Etna

Monday, 31 October 2011

Marina de Ragusa

A great little town, and Ragusa itself is worth seeing (UNESCO world heritage site). If you are coming into the marina though, then check this video first, and watch the weather. Read the notes below the video too.

Marina de Ragusa - enter with caution in strong winds. This video was taken after a couple of days of 20-25kts from the east, with stronger winds out in the Ionian. You could time it well and be lucky, but there's only 5.5 metres or so depth in the entrance and some rollers were big. Earlier in the year we passed by in an easterly F8 and anchored round Punta Scalambri off a good sandy beach in 5 m, out of wind and swell.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Aeolian Islands

We're tucked up in a bay, hiding from bad weather, on the island of Vulcano in the Aelolian group (Stromboli, Lipari etc.), under one of the two active volcanoes in the island group. Smells like rotten eggs a lot of the time. From Acitrezza we stopped at Taormina. Then it was an interesting, windy trip up the Straits of Messina, past the whirlpools of Scylla and Charibdis, which we didn't see. Almost turned back, but persisted through the wind and then the Tyrrenhian Sea was like a millpond - until yesterday. Salina next, then Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli.

In Porto Ponente, Vulcano

Understanding El Nino

Weather data analysis is now uncovering the secrets of El Nino. ENSO events - 'El Nino Southern Oscillation' is now understood better, at least in terms of the data. Predicting these events is still elusive.

As describes it:

"El Niño, meaning "the Christ child", is so-called because the first signs of its appearance are marked by a warm current off the coast of Ecuador just after Christmas. These rising sea temperatures are related to a weakening of the trade winds that usually transport warm surface waters to the western margin of the Pacific. During an ENSO phase – which occur every 2–7 years – these warmer waters accumulate in the eastern tropical Pacific.

Individual ENSO episodes can last up to two years and lead to severe flooding in Latin America and droughts in South East Asia. One extreme cycle in 1997–1998 had far-reaching consequences, including extensive fires in the Indonesian rainforests and mudslides in California. Another impact of El Niño is that the accumulated warm water acts to block cold-water currents, which usually transport nutrients from the deep ocean to ecosystems along the Latin American coast. This can have a devastating effect on the fish stocks that form an important part of the economy in countries such as Peru and Colombia. "

Full story at

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Etna's Anger

We headed up from Marina de Ragusa to Syracuse for a couple of days last week (one night anchored on north side of the strait behind Capo Passero (good holding) out of the swell), then on towards Messina.

We had some wind! Etna was playing hell with strong gusts backwinding us.

After a night anchored on rock outside Stazzo, the anchor came up cleanly and we headed back to Acitrezza for better shelter. The gale blew (46 knots in the morning gusts coming down from Etna), boxing the compass. 52.6 knots last night as we got back aboard from the pizzeria. It wasn't so bad here, given that it's open to the north and that's where the gale came from, give or take. Only 40 miles fetch from Messina, so that helped keep the seas down.

By the way, Stazzo had far less water in the harbour than the pilot books led us to believe, with scattered rock.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Back to Sicily

Well, it's great to be back after a few months in the UK working on some projects.

Etna is erupting, but the flight got in OK. A 2 hr wait for the regional bus and then 2 hrs again through olive and citrus groves, but it's well worth it. I'm impressed with Sicily.

They've had a dry summer, with no rain for almost 3 months. Blue Hound is fine apart from rust-dust (the dust is iron oxide based) which wipes off with a cloth.

Even the beach was tempting!

Now to planning the next sail - Scylla and Charibdis figure strongly in legend. Whirlpools and water spouts, then the contrary winds of the Aeolian Islands. Should be interesting...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sailing - How ?

A great illustration here

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Storm Cell

A great picture of a storm cell, by Mike Hollingsworth, published in the Daily Telegraph, 22 June 2011:

Thursday, 9 June 2011

and then, on to Sicily.

Mostly motor sailing in a light north easterly, but as we approached Sicily, it got up a bit. Sunday morning saw us racing past Marine de Ragusa in a F8, 44 kts max gust. Sunny, little sea and Blue Hound had her skirts up. I was unsure of the depths in the marina's entrance with an E F8 blowing directly in, so we opted to go a few miles further, around Punta Barcetto and found a lee, dropped the hook and slept for a few hours. Good holding off a pretty beach. Then we had a quiet entry to Ragusa that evening when the wind dropped. Then it came up again and blew for 2 days, up to 40 kts.

We are enjoying Ragusa - there's plenty of space in the marina, though we are a long way from the facilities. Wifi is a bit of a problem, but working now. And it's blowing NW 5/6.

Here's a mention of some of the friends we met in our 3 weeks along the Ionian way:

Alan and Gillian on Kumari
Ian and Mel on Jigsaw
John and Jan on Brigantia
Mike and Grace on Two Moons

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

After Fiskardo...

..we moved on to Argostoli. Sod's Law was in operation - as we dropped the anchor and went astern for the quay, the throttle cable broke. All ended well, and I had a spare aboard. Not inspiring, but it could grow on you. 1 night stay = 2 days' charges on the town quay. The extra one is a check-out charge. Not bad, about €9 a night for 15 m loa, free water (not potable), no electricity. The Transit Log was stamped by the port police, although we did meet people who say they sailed for 2 years without a transit log.

Anchored at Kioni on Ithaca
Refuelled from a mini tanker at €1.55 a litre, painful. Great fruit, meat, fish markets on the waterside. The new quay is taking cruise liners - a big P&O ship was in port at the time. The marina is unfinished and Leon in Cafe Eionian will do guardiennage if you need to leave your boat on the quay or in the marina.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Fiskardo before the charter fleets arrived...
After Ay Euphemia on Cepahlonia, we moved up the coast to Fiskardo. A great meal out last night at Nicolas Taverna overlooking the harbour. Sea Bream and Lamb. The harobour is jam-packed with charter boats. Each to his own. Today we need to get fuel and prepare for the trip back to Malta or Sicily - haven't decided yet. Then a 112' motor yacht tried to moor between us and a Farr50. There wasn't enough water for him though...

Friday, 27 May 2011

Ionian Contd..

Gaios in Paxos
 Paxos to Lefkas and down through the Levkas canal to Ormos Vlikho. Stunning.
Ormos Vlikho, Lefkas
 Then, past the Onassis Island of Skorpios and on to anchorages in Meganisi. Cloudy today, air temp 26 deg C. Super.
Ormos Abileke, Meganisi
Underwater artefacts too:

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Ionian Islands

Three days from Malta, mixed weather from calm to F6 and a thunderstorm, but all in the right direction. We moored in Gaios on island of Paxos on Tuesday afternoon. More to come on the check in procedure here in a later, have to find a bicycle tyre inner tube - the joys of cruising. Some Lymington friends here too!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Is this an Ugly Wally?

Now some people tell me that Blue Hound is ugly, and yes, the pilot house windows could have a nicer design - that's in my plans longer-term, but the new 50m charter yacht from Wally is, in my humble opinion, ghastly. What do you think?

Photo courtesy Wally Yachts Photo:
It's a design for a charter boat (I can't imagine anyone choosing this design for aesthetic reasons). 

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Serious Story, with a Funny Follow-on

A sailing couple nearly died of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by fumes from their generator, when they were anchored off Brightlingsea. I know that there's a danger of death from fish and chip fumes when anchored off Southend, and yes, the message is serious. Reminded me to check my carbon monoxide alarm.

Anyway, what really cracked me up was the comments that readers left - typical small town points scoring. What a laugh - I didn't know that people from Kent had webbed feet. Full story here:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Extreme Capsizes...this is something else....

...and really entertaining!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

And Here They Go, Auckland to Hawaii...

A  good picture of them with sails hoisted, and the full story. I wonder that the local authorities let them go, having heard how keen the NZ authorities are on yachts' seaworthiness and equipment...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Sunday, 3 April 2011

World's Largest Sailing Ship

I caught this item on the blogosphere. 141 meters overall, green credentials - wood build, wood interior, built for a Turkish company. She dwarfs Maltese Falcon, and appears to be a four-masted topsail schooner with a gaff mainsail...assuming the aftmost saile on this monster schooner is still known as the mainsail. And, the masts are all the same height (just as on Blue Hound, but the comparison stops there...)

Maltese Falcon has the so-called Falcon rig (an evolution of the Dynarig) with sail engineering that will take her very well to windward. From the pictures, this new one looks like she could be handy to windward (ish), as schooners go. There's always a problem - the after sails have to be sheeted harder to maintin the flow, and the more masts you have then the harder it gets...

She's a bit too big for me I think ...The full story is at Jameslist

Monday, 28 March 2011

Funny what you come across!

As part of my quest to be able to store the crew's c##p for wider waters, I got the holding tank into place in its assigned locker - a good fit - this weekend. During my research into active carbon filters (I'll need one for the holding tank breather), I came across a video which cracked me up. I'm going to make my own filter - the activated carbon is readily available - and once I've finished I'll post the details here. Anyway, I thought I'd share the video with you. It's adult only (not sexual) and maybe you'll find it as funny as I did, though I'm not going to embed it here. The sound track is hard work (at least for me), and you need to persevere through the first couple of minutes. There really is another world out there....oh, and the comments are a hoot too!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

This year's plans?

Well, what's it to be this year? Looks like a visit to Greece, then maybe back to Sicily - I've never been to Greece. Maybe Kefalonia and Zakynthos?

First though, I've got a small job to do - fit a holding tank. I've got the tank now - a good fit for its destination locker. Problem is fitting the breather vent and active filter - I don't want water coming back in, and the foredeck gets wet. Need to research it and keep it simple....

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Bitter-sweet is how I feel. The Tunisian people were lovely when we visited, but I'm sad to see the pain they've suffered. I'm happy too that hopefully things will improve for the people. I guess as tourists though we were sheltered.

The Boulevard de France in Tunis was very atmospheric, and it was sobering to see the film of rioting there.

We missed out on Bizerte last year, but look forward to an opportunity to visit when the harbour is open.