Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Over the past two weeks I have been stopped in Bari Italy, and I am just getting my feet underneath me here after the repairs to Home Free. Let me go backwards a bit.
On the way to Gibraltar, my father and I got as far as Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, and while there, I discovered that I had a hole in my muffler. As well, it was discovered that my low oil pressure problems were related to a rag being left in my oil pan. Those two events conspired to reduce my confidence, required for crossing the Atlantic this spring.
I discovered my muffler problem by pure chance when Nordhavn Europe contacted me, and highlighted that I might have a problem; they were right. They were also on their way to Bari, Italy to work on another N47!
Jinhee and I decided to scrap the crossing, leave the boat in the med for the summer and head back East to Croatia. It is supposed to be beautiful and we missed it last year. At the same time it was decided to get the muffler replaced in Bari. And here I am!
The boat has a new muffler, a beautiful new insulating blanket and it sounds way, way better than it used to. The old muffler may have had holes in it far longer than I thought, and the insulation just held everything together until last month. Whatever the progression, all indications are that it is all better now.
Having a muffler that was blowing dirty, hot air into the smoke stack meant that I travelled with the stainless steel grilles off to reduce heat. For about 700nm that muffler has been blowing sooty smoke onto a beautiful white boat. It would be fair to say that the cleaning is ongoing. If you didn’t know how beautiful the boat was before, you might think it was clean now. But the prior owner (hi David) would be aghast with the ghosts of grey in all that pearly white fibreglass. I will be cleaning forever to get it back to where it was (but really, I have used all of the chemicals aboard so far, so I will be bringing some 3M products back with me from Canada on my next visit.)
Bari is the capital of the Puglia region of Italy. The port is an old city with a picturesque old town. Jinhee and I visited the town in 2017 as well, so I haven’t really spent that much time in the old town. I will become a tourist now that the hard work has essentially wrapped up.
Like all the old towns, there are very picturesque alleyways and old walls and churches, etc. In Bari, they added a giant Ferris wheel on the seashore just south of the old town so that is a bit of an anachronism.
The weather here is far less enjoyable than it was in Southern Sardinia, the winds have been battering the town regularly and from every possible direction. Finding the right combination of lines (ropes) and bollards (on the dock) to keep the boat in place has been tricky when the wind direction changes so frequently. Hopefully it settles down over the next week or so, but the winds are unusually volatile according to the locals.
All of that activity has cut into the cycling time, but I have been cycling a bit here. Now that the Nordhavn team has completed the work and the weather is warming, I suspect I will find myself cycling more and more. The terrain is flat (South Florida flat) so I guess I will work on improving my speed on flat lands!
Megan is planning to join me at the end of the month for a week or so of relaxation after she is finished her classes. I will meet her in Rome to spend a day or two seeing some things there, then we will grab a train to Bari, untie the boat and head to Croatia. As I make those plans I found it interesting that it is cheaper to take a train from Bari to the Rome Airport (41 Euros with an advance ticket) than it is to take a cab from the financial district in Toronto to Pearson Airport (about $70). It is 450km and a 4 hour train ride vs. 40km and a 25 minute cab ride.
For many years I have been hearing about how beautiful Croatia is and how cheap it is. Apparently those stories got back to the government of Croatia as well. Over the past two years they have increased prices substantially (up to 700% by some accounts), and so I will not be leaving the boat in Croatia for the summer. I will just visit from time to time when we are touring or have visitors to the boat.
It is not ridiculously expensive everywhere, but Dubrovnik is one of the highlights and the prices there are crazy. It would help to back up a bit. We had the 40′ sailboat at Mimico Cruising Club in Toronto for 10 years and I think at the time we left we paid about C$3,000 for our annual membership and summer docking. By comparison a slip in Dubrovnik Marina is about C$300 per day on a weekend.
If you aren’t aware, the new season of Game of Thrones comes out tomorrow I believe, and many of the castle scenes are filmed in Dubrovnik, making it one of the hottest tourist destinations on the planet. (Literally, they are trying to figure out how to discourage tourists according to some reports, and of course raising prices helps!). The town docks in the old town are not accessible to private boats because the harbour is too small and crammed with tourism boats, so the Dubrovnik marina (about 15 minutes away) is where they fleece you.
There is still some uncertainty about where the boat will be all summer, but it is looking like Montenegro. Since it is NOT in the EU, it means that it resets various clocks for boat owners (boats can stay in the EU for 18 months before they are taxed, Canadian citizens can stay in the EU for 90 days out of 180 without a special travel Visa), and by staying a bit out of the heavy traffic areas, the rates are better, the cycling should be better and the boat will still be a day from Dubrovnik and Croatia.
There are many more stories to tell of course, but they may be better in person. For now I just wanted to update those who have been paying attention to the blog with the progress on repairs and our altered plans for the summer.