Our dismasting in October forced us to a long stop, but time ashore run really quickly.
In a little more than 3 months we got married, I spent almost a month with my parents, we moved all my wife belongings in the premises where I keep mine, I sold my apartment in Milan and I had also room to spend time with my old best friends.
But on March 2, when we moved again on board I felt going like being back home.
Certainly a return, but full of great news. This time Valentina was at my side.
The effort of those first days of March was only the prelude to the work that awaited us.
During my first year at sea, I had noted a series of improvements that sooner or later I wanted to do, but the idea of being in Outremer premises (the builder of Angelique II), to rely on their advice (and equipment) and the delay in the supply of the mast made me decide to do most of the work I had in mind.
We practically turned Angelique II in a small shipyard.
We started with the port front peack where we store our scuba dive gears, sanding it to bare fiberglas and complimenting it with few coats of epoxy paint. We also refurbished the whole seawater desalination system, repainting the electrical engine, replacing all the piping and many of the electrical components.
The same approach was addressed the star board front peack, which was completely repainted and equipped with self containing shelves to store spare parts and equipments.
We installed a new satellite phone, a new windlass and a new anchor chain. We added 2 solar panels to the existing 4 and installed a small panel to monitor electricity and energy consumption. We added some dorades on the deck to give more ventilation to forward cabins. We installed new shower trays in all showers. Not to forget all standard routine maintenance, i.e.. engines, generator, pumps etc..
I really want to emphasize that all the above works were carried out entirely by us. And Vale magically turned into a painter, carpenter, electrician, mechanic, all with an ease that left me really surprised.
As if all her life she was a "bricoleur".
This intense work significantly affected our PR performance although we still met wonderful people which we will definitively meet again in the future. Among them Daniel, one of the two founders of Outremer, today freelancer and actually assigned by Outremer with many responsibilities on the intervention on our boat. Really a simple man, sympathetic, generous. He offered to us a lot of help and suggestions on the work we have carried out on our own. We also had him for lunch on board with its charming wife and their young Micole. I hope we will have the chance to have them on board in the future in one of our cruises.
And finally Jean Michelle, Anna and their beautiful Isabella. A Brazilian family who has lived in France for many years and that has made our own choice: they bought an Outremer 55 and are about to start a trip around the world for few years. Isabelle will study through a program promoted by the French Ministry of Education for expatriates. Jean Michelle came to introduce himself in a cold March morning and immediately invited us for lunch in his boat. He was about to leave to Paris to join his family. Knowing that we were without any means of transportation he offered us to use his car while he was away. Sympathetic, generous and hospitable, we promised to meet in September in south of Spain to continue along at least to Cape Verde.
This is one of the many awards that this kind of life offers us. The spontaneous and simple friendship of the people we meet. When "arriving" from the sea and "heading" to the sea people down their defensive barriers. No threat of any kind. You are not measured depending on your social status, people do not question " what is your job?" They rather ask you where you come from or where you're heading to and often they offer you to share a leg of an ocean passage with them, or rather a "leg" of their life.
We left La Grande-Motte on April 21, about a month after our initial hypotheses, but we did not feel late, on the contrary, the feeling of not being slaves of time continues to move a comfortable serenity. We decided to take it easy, no long voyages and especially avoiding bad weather. I wanted the harmony that had been established between Vale and Angelique II not be altered by some unexpected spring storm. We sailed to Porquerolles, beautiful as ever. We spent a couple of days to immediately appreciate the harmony consolidated between the two "ladies" of my life, even away from the sheltered waters of a safe harbor.
My princess was turning into a real passionate about the sea. Every day all that had frightened her in the past became an element of appreciation. So the loneliness of being at anchor turned up in peace to enjoy away from the chaos of a marina. The unbearable pitch turned into a soothing lull that induces sleep.
But were the nights spent sailing, sharing the sofa in the saloon which has sanctioned the complete transformation of my wife Valentina.
The long nights away from the coast, alone, with outside temperatures often below 10 degrees, the radar hissing warning us that we were not alone, that someone was out there like us.
The cakes prepared and consumed at 2 am, the "Forrest Gump" or "Into the Wild" watched to keep us company when conditions require "vigilant" presence in the cabin, have granted Angelique II the dignity of abode, refuge, lair that Valentina was fearing to lose.
After Porquerolles and a short stop in Antibes, we sailed straight to Port de Saint-Florain in Corsica. The initial idea was to sail along the east coast of Corsica and then continuing south along to Sardinia but the weather conditions prompted us to opt for a more Italic route.
We made it just in time to reach Elba when a storm with winds over 30 knots joined us.
We were in the shelter of the island for a couple of days, then we pointed our bow towards Ponza.
Beautiful in this season even though we struggled just to find a pizzeria to enjoy a tasteful, real Italian pizza.
The infallible predictions of our weather system gave us a 72 hours window to reach the Aeolian Islands and so we left Ponza just 24 hours after our arrival. The first stop in the Aeolian Islands' was Pollara in Salina Island. It was 8 o'clock in the morning, the ideal time to enjoy the beautiful colors of this wonderful cliff. Pollara, a tiny fishing village stuck in a plateau overlooking the sea. Special features of this cliff are the refuges of the ancient fishing boats of Pollara digged in the tuff and in the rock. An enchantment.
From there we sail to Lipari where we anchored in Canneto, in front of that hotbed of goodies called "Papisca", a rotisserie, pastry, ice cream maker run by the Merlino family.
Gianni the pater familias was already informed of our arrival. Man of other time, a big man seemingly hard, but with a heart made out of sugar, which has been able trough sacrifices, hard work, ability and honesty to build a business appreciated and respected by everyone passing from Lipari. Of course despite the qualities of this man nothing would have been possible without the sweet Caterina, tireless cook, sweet woman, careful wife and dedicated mother. All qualities recognizable in Marco and Lucia, the second generation of Papisca, a second generation without shackles on their head, but solidly anchored to the principles and values that have made mom and dad not only successful entrepreneurs but above all a united family, appreciated and loved by all.
Lipari offered also a visit from my "compari", although in reduced force due to work commitments of Giovanni, Carmelo and my cousin Riccardo.
But Salvo and Gianni, the "originals" were there. We spent a wonderful day together when the dining table played a leading role as usual. We had also time to dust off my guitar. With the departure of my "compari" we hailed Lipari heading to Stromboli - with a quick stop in Panarea - which Valentina had at all costs to see before leaving the Mediterranean.
Always magic Stromboli, in every season and time of the day. The continuous murmur of the Volcano, the contrast between the blue sky, deep blue of the sea and black beaches give it an atmosphere of austerity, that makes you realize how small and insignificant we are in sight of nature around us.
Left Stromboli we set sails to the Strait of Messina and from there we turned north towards the Ionian targeting Savelletri, few miles away from my parents' house. The navigation of the first 2 days was very pleasant, a little but constant wind, pleasant temperatures, very little traffic.
On the second day the weather forecast informed of a low pressure front expected for the weekend with winds from the north, north / east up to 35 knots. So we decided to skip the scheduled stop in Santa Maria di Leuca and head directly towards our final destination.
We docked at the port of Savelletri Saturday, May 11th at 14:30 after having sailed over 1,600 miles, the first of this long The Lifetime Cruise 2013.
For a short video on this cruise click here