Thursday 21 June 2012


As we near the port of Syracuse we see the faint outline of Mount Etna in the morning haze with a plume of white smoke hanging over the summit. The natural harbour of Syracuse opens up before us with the old fortified town of Ortiga on the water's edge and a promenade of leafy green trees beneath the huge stone walls of the city. We find our spot in the marina and busy ourselves with the process of settling into a new port; mooring lines to the dock, lazy lines from the sea bed, pasarel erected and suspended by a topping lift from the top of the mast and stabilised by brace lines to the deck. Fatty and Tina go off to the marina office with the boats papers and our passports while Kim and I connect up the shore power and water supply.

It is shortly after noon and we step ashore in search of lunch in the baking midday sun. Syracuse was once one of the most important cities in the world and the architecture bears witness to its heritage with a maze of dark narrow alleyways punctuated by classical piazzas and cooling fountains. We find an air conditioned restaurant for lunch and then go exploring along the Via Roma towards the Piazzo del Duomo dominated by Syracuse Cathedral. Inside the cathedral are the remains of the original Greek temple of Athena dating from the 5th century which the cathedral was built onto in the 18th century and the huge stone Doric columns line either side of the central nave. The sun is now at its hottest and we seek shelter in air conditioned retail therapy before heading back to Juno.

Kim and Tina pack their bags and we wave them off in a taxi to Catania airport. We have enjoyed their company enormously; cooking delicious meals in the galley, visiting the ancient sites of Sicily, eating in some fabulous restaurants and Kim has become a very able crew member in the short time that he has been on board. Before they leave we plan more sailing with Kim down to the Canaries over the summer and then Christmas with their family and our boys in the Grenadines, once Juno has crossed the Atlantic.

Fatty and I have a final day doing chores around the boat. My job is to service the bilge pumps, which pump water out from the bilges deep in the bowels of the hull. There are two bilge pumps; one manual and one automatic. The automatic pump is turned on by a pressure switch activated by a capillary tube which detects an increase in the water level in the bilge and then runs until the level drops. I am always surprised at the amount of condensate that drips off the sea water manifold and the air conditioners and finds its way to the lowest point of the bilge where it accumulates. My job is to clean out the strum boxes which sit in the bilge and to ensure that the pump is switching on and off so that we can leave Juno in the heat without fear of flooding.

With both loo and bilge pump working smoothly we go out in the early evening for a drink in the Piazzo Fontesa before having dinner and an early night. Our last day is cleaning, with Fatty house- keeping down below in air conditioned cool and me on deck in the blazing sunshine. Everything is done by the early evening and we pack up and take our taxi to the airport. The airport is a zoo but eventually Easyjet manages to muddle the passengers onto the aircraft and we take off. The forecast for the UK is for light rain this evening and heavy rain tomorrow, followed by more rain for the rest of the week - curiously attractive after three weeks of Sicilian heat.

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