Log #34c A Hazardous Entry

April 16, 2005 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 34 Rome - Corsica - Sardinia, The Logs

Giglio Marina, Isola Giglio, Italy

April 16, 2005

Hi Folks,

In spite of the title of this log, Log #34c A Hazardous Entry, we are fine and waiting out the weather to go to Elba. I am happy to be on the water again even though we have the hazards, frustrations and uncertainties of sailing foreign waters; the open sky, horizons, and winds (or lack thereof) give me a nautical comfort to be at sea again. This log was written the same day as the frustrating situation developed, though I originally intended this log to be one of our pleasant tours of Rome, Naples or Tuscany before we left. I hope to summarize some of our travels in my next log, hoping that our trip to Elba is less stressful.

We are fine, and Veleda is in good shape, having come through force 9 gusts and seas quite safely.

I hope you have changed our E-mail address to svveledaiv@hotmail.com .

All the best,

Aubrey


Log #34c A Hazardous Entry

Giglio Marina, Isola Giglio

42 21.6N, 010 55.3E

April 16, 2005

We left Porto Turistico di Roma at about 1015 on Thursday April 14, and should have been in Elba today. However, Murphy’s Law is working well now that we are back on the water!

Our departure went OK, other than my VISA card was not operational for my final payment of four extra days, at the marina office. I will have to call back to Canada to find out what the problem is. Our send off was touching and enjoyable as the many friends we made over the winter called us on VHF or came over to our slip to see us off. Little Tiger from Alexina of Shoreham was in tears as she said goodbye to us. She, and Signe and Saga on Greip, the young kids, were most enjoyable members of our cruising community. We have fond memories of the many cruisers who shared the winter with us on the docks of Porto Turistico di Roma. Waved off by the crews of Casta Diva, Greip, Stratagem, GlenLyon, Tara’s Choice, Castlevar, Horizons, and Aquatint, as well as several other farewells and VHF messages of well wishes from others, we eased out of our winter mooring and headed off.

Shortly after exiting the marina and heading NW past the mouth of the Tiber River, I noticed our VHF antenna was crazily swinging loose at the top of the mast. We were motoring into a sloppy sea, and if we didn’t get it under control soon, it would tear itself off the antenna lead. So we went into the canal at Fumicino, a few miles up from the river entrance, and Judy went up the mast to tape it in place. The bracket had fractured, and will have to be replaced, but not today.

On we motored the 27 miles up to our first anchorage at Santa Marinella (42 02.17 N, 011 52.49 E) where we anchored off the marina breakwater for a sloppy night before leaving at 0630 next day for the Tuscan island of Isola Giglio. We had a great sail, wing on wing for 48 of the 52 mile trip! We initially planned to anchor on one of the east coast bays below Giglio Marina, but with a SE wind we decided instead to anchor on the west coast of the island at Seno di Campese. It was well sheltered and had good holding, even though a strong offshore wind came up during the night.

The plan was to leave early next day for the 35 miles NW to Elba, with the predicted force 4 SW winds, to increase to force 6 SW late afternoon. However, by 0630 the winds were howling SE force 7 gusting up to force 8. Judy did not want to cross the 35 miles to Elba with predictions of increased winds and felt this bay would be exposed if the winds shifted to the forecast SW, and so we motored around the northern tip of the island in force 7 (30 knots) gusting to force 9 (45 knots) and down into these gale force SE winds, pounding into three meter waves at high revs, but making good only 2.5 knots. The 4.7 mile trip to Giglio Marina took 2 ½ hours!

The harbour was well protected from the waves, but not the winds. We went straight in to the fuel dock, unassisted, to tie alongside in 5 feet of water (we draw 4 ½ feet). The attendant asked if we wanted fuel or to go to another pontoon. We took on some fuel, while I checked one of the other pontoons which had lazy lines for a stern mooring. I asked if that was OK, and he and the harbormaster indicated yes. No one came out to help us off the fuel dock which was very close to some fishing boats on an adjacent pontoon. However, we backed off in heavy winds, blown down by 50 knot gusts, the bow swung out towards the entrance, near the ferry dock and I had to execute a 270 degree turn to try to swing my bow over to the destination pontoon. Then we were waved off by the ferry about to depart, and so had to get in towards the pontoon. There was a large 50 foot, million dollar power yacht on the outer end of the pontoon. I had to get inside it, and nose up to the pontoon so Judy could hop ashore with a bow line. Neither the harbormaster nor the fuel dock attendant came out to help or take lines!

A 55 knot gust caught the bow and swung us towards the power yacht. I could not control the bow in this wind at such slow speeds. The anchors on the bow headed for the pristine white sides of the million dollar yacht! I tried to back off, but the bows headed for the money! Judy tried to fend off, and then put a line on the yacht’s bow cleat to at least give us a line that we might use to work our way forward. However the strength of the wind pulled us aft, and Judy fell off our bowsprit into the water!

I put the engine in neutral and went forward to see Judy in the water, hanging off the bow lines of the yacht, while our bow line was still hooked onto its bow cleat. I eased the line to stream Veleda away from the yacht, but our bow anchor was caught in its bow lines! I pulled for all my might against the howling wind to take the pressure off the anchors, finally freeing them and allowing Veleda to drift back 10 feet off the bow of the yacht, still secured to its bow cleat. Judy said she was OK and went to swim to the pontoon. I howled across the harbor for help, but no one came, my voice echoing against the harbor walls and the harbor side buildings! Damn them all!

Judy got onto the pontoon. I shifted the bow line to midships, and planned to advance towards the pontoon, if necessary using the midships line on the yacht’s bow as a fulcrum to keep me from being blown off by the 45 knot gusts. The bow swung again towards the yacht, and I had to go up to fend off hoping I would not face a several thousand dollar insurance claim for putting a gouge in that immaculate yacht. The flared bows were pressing against our dodger and bimini, and I had to go aft to fend Veleda off midships. I put the engine slow ahead and inched up to the pontoon to heave Judy a bow line. There were no cleats on the dock! She had to kneel down to take a wrap around a ring one foot below the dock level. At last, a line on the dock!

I then indicated the lazy line for the stern line, and reached it from Judy with a boat hook. It was a slimy barnacle-encrusted light line attached to a heavier hawser which I worked aft to a stern cleat. However the stern mooring swung Veleda towards the yacht on our starboard side! I asked Judy to hand me the other lazy line on our port, and as she hauled it up, found it was attached to the small fishing boat ten feet off to our port. OK, I still used it to keep us away from the big yacht on our starboard. I went forward to give Judy a second bow line to secure our bow, port and starboard. Whew, secured, bows to, Mediterranean mooring, the hard way!

I helped Judy over our bow anchors, on board. She was of course soaking wet, as was I, as it was raining and blowing during this whole exercise! Then the harbormaster came down to ask if everything was OK. I yelled my frustration at him and stormed off the pontoon over to the fuel dock (less than 75 yards away) and loudly and soundly cursed the fuel attendant for not coming to our assistance. He could not speak a word of English, but I left no doubt as to what I thought of him for his lack of help, my loud parade ground voice echoing off the walls of the harbour side buildings with a few souls meekly watching the altercation. If I insulted his manhood, so be it! My wife’s life was put in jeopardy as well as my boat in this gale force situation, and common sense, let alone seamanship dictates help one in distress! To hell with him! I walked away, back to Veleda.

Back on board I tried to rearrange our bow lines so we had control on board rather than the knots Judy hastily tied to secure Veleda. I had lifted the lazy line from the small fishing boat on our port to keep us away from the yacht on our starboard, and hauled in the line from the pontoon as an added precaution. However a few minutes later, the owner of the small fishing boat came along and told me to cast it off, as he did not want to disturb his mooring. OK, we could put our own line ashore to port to prevent us from drifting to starboard into the yacht. The fisherman demanded we release the line. I yelled at him, with an angry intensity, that I would not release it until we had our own line secure, and damn what he wanted! When he saw we had our own line to put ashore he backed off. Some welcome to Giglio Marina!

We are safe and hoping we can head for Elba tomorrow. Judy and I were both quivering from danger, exhaustion and anger at our reception here in Giglio Marina. We broke our Atkins diet and had pancakes with Canadian maple syrup for breakfast! (Comfort food!) The weather broke before noon hour, but there are still some thunderstorms about which we will gladly wait out.