June 2010 Letter

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June 20, 2010

My sister Valarie and my aunt Nola came to visit us from Texas.  They flew in to Rome and then took a train up the coast to meet us in Rapallo.  They really took to the boat like champions!  We were happy that they didn't find all the challenges too challenging!  

We only had one really rough night and that was in Portofino.  The surge was awful in the harbor.  We were on a mooring (the most expensive mooring we've ever had) tied to the dock and the surge hit us square on the beam.  It ranked right up there in our top 5 'all-time worst nights'.  I was awake half the night worrying about how Nola and Valarie must be feeling, thinking they were probably just holding on for dear life.  In the morning, I was going on about how awful it was, and my Aunt Nola said "Oh, you mean that isn't normal?  I just thought that's the way it was supposed to be."  I'm thinking, that's great!  Things could only get better!   ... wrong.

We had to get out of there, so we motored out into choppy seas to return to Santa Margherita Ligure.  The boat pitched and threw Nola to the cockpit floor.  She came up with her thumb dislocated!  She was amazingly serene as she stared with wide-eyed disbelief at her thumb laying flat across her palm with the knuckle bone sticking strangely up in the air.  I yelled at Mike to pull it back into the socket.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said he'd never done that before.  My frantic screams to "pull it! pull it!" convinced him, so he grabbed her thumb and gave it a tug.  It popped right back into place.  We kept ice on it for the next couple of days, but it didn't slow her down at all.  What a trooper!

My sister Valarie gets seasick, so she came equipped with wrist bands.  They worked amazingly well.  She was lethargic after that rough night in Portofino, but even with all the motion of the boat, she never got sick.  We had them walking at least a half dozen miles a day, up and down steep hills, or up hundreds of cobblestone steps.  But we saw beautiful places together.  We took them on trains and buses and even a cable car to the top of a mountain to tour a sanctuary.  We hiked the cliff trails connecting the villages of the Cinque Terre (five lands).  We ate pasta, pizza, and gelato.  We drank cappuccino and ate pastries.  We enjoyed blender drinks and snacks in the cockpit at sundown and watched DVDs on a couple of evenings.  We wore them out and they were great sports!  Except for the strong surge in Portofino that one night, our weather was good.  We had enough wind to sail from Santa Margherita to Lavagna, so we got to sail, not motor.  They both enjoyed the sailing, even going out on the deck and posing for pictures on the bow while underway!  I hope they had fun.  We certainly enjoyed their visit.

We continued up the Italian Riviera stopping in Loano to tour the Caves of Toirano.  Loano is a new marina, not yet completed.  I'm sure it will be way out of our budget when it is done.  It is huge and it has everything.  Side-tie slips rather than med moorings, private showers, pump out facilities at each slip!, beautiful yacht club, and everything very modern.  For now, though, it's affordable because those things aren't completed.  We caught the bus into the hills, so we could tour the Caves of Toirano, with its stalagmites and stalactites, remains of prehistoric bears and footprints of a Neanderthal man.

Our final stop was Sanremo.  Then we did an overnight to Calvi, Corsica, where we caught up with our friends on s/v Roaring Girl.  Sarah had made a trip to England where she picked up LED lights for our interior.  I love it!  The lighting is so much better and the energy savings is great!

Since then, we've been working our way down the western coast of Corsica, stopping at the same places we visited last year (Girolata, Cargese, Ficajola, Ajaccio).  This island is our favorite for beauty.  Next week we'll continue on to Porto Pollo, Roccapina and Bonifacio.

Boat Problems -- When it rains, it pours.  We're having problems with our water maker, our refrigerator, and our generator.  The only one completely not working is the water maker.  Our system stopped working last year just before we got into the marina in Rome for the winter.  We returned home from our Christmas holiday with a new Feed Pump, and the system worked for about 12 hours.  Then, suddenly, it won't pressurize.  We are working with on-line technical support, trying to find our current problem (to no avail).  Very frustrating.  Now we have to fill our water tanks at the dock.  Our refrigerator is acting strange.  Things will start to freeze so we turn off the main switch until the temperature returns to normal.  Then it's fine for a few days and does it again.  We may need a new controller.  And our generator is not producing the correct voltage unless we manually lock it to the high end jam nuts.  Mike thinks it could be the capacitors.

In Closing -- Sadly, my mom had a massive brain hemorrhage the day my sister and aunt were flying home.  My sister is the main caretaker of my mom, and she rushed to the hospital where Mom lingered in a coma for a week before passing away.  A memorial service will be held on July 10 in Whittier, California, where Mom lived for most of her life.  I'll be flying home for the service and will stay with my daughter for a couple of weeks, while Mike stays on the boat with Lucy.  He will be at the island of Menorca, Spain, anchored in Mahon at that time.

Click HERE to view the photo album for this update.

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