The weather is getting warmer here this week (high 20’s) and people are preparing to leave. There has been lots of socialising and parties to celebrate before everyone finally departs. However, we are still currently ‘orange’ so there is not anywhere convenient to go without taking covid tests and potential quarantine. We await news of Sicily moving to ‘yellow’ to join most of the rest of Italy.
We went on the weekly hike with the group to Cava d’Ispica. Here there is a canyon that cuts through the Hyblaean mountains for 13 km, between the towns of Modica and Ispica, it is 100 meters deep in some places, and a half-kilometer wide. Carved by erosion of the river Pernamazzoni in its upper parts and by Busaitone in the lower parts.
It is definitely one of the most picturesque hikes that we have been on here, the long canyon is filled with a network of caves carved deep into the rocks giving it a troglodite appearance.
Although we were only able to look inside some residential dwellings, the full archeological site has many other structures including Christian catacombs, prehistoric burial sites and places of worship all demonstrating occupation dating back to the Neolithic period. Until the earthquake of 1693, the area was inhabited by as many as 6,000 people making it one of the largest rock settlements in Sicily.
When we visited Modica a few weeks ago we saw how the original cave dwellings have been built upon in medieval times and extended to form the current town. However, here in the Ispica valley this development never took place and some reports suggest that people continued to live in these caves until the second half of the 19th Century.
Not sure which Century this came from, here is one for our fans of ancient agricultural machinery!
Inside some of the caves that we visited there were large cooking areas, stone beds and many caves were linked by stone staircases.
We continued down to the river bed through fields of flowers, fought through areas of bramble bushes and along narrow pathways with trees overhanging. There were olive, almond and orange trees all bearing fruit, while the undergrowth was full of ferns, ivy, scented sage and fennel.
With birds continually singing in the trees, we were probably seeing this place at its best before the heat of the summer takes its toll on the flora and fauna.
In between the socialising and walking, there was still time to complete a few outstanding jobs. As the wind has now died down, we took the opportunity to go up the mast to check the rigging and upgrade our bulbs to LED in the anchor and tricolour lights.
To get to the top we have to be winched up with the halyards, this is hard work so it is always me that goes up and Paul on the winch!
It is always a great view from the top.
Finally, to update you about the rudder seals. After seeking advice from other sailors in the marina and much head scratching, it was decided that we needed to push the bearing as far down as possible. This gave us just enough space to refit the retaining clip plus one of the two lip seals that had been purchased for the job.
All of the metal joints around the steering quadrant were then given a liberal coating of Duralac to prevent corrosion (Pauls toothbrush came in very handy for this).
The quadrant was then bolted back together and after various tests, (including running the engine in gear at the dock) this seems to have prevented nearly all of the water seepage.
Hopefully this will be good enough for the summer season. Otherwise, we will need to be lifted out of the water for further investigation, which we are not planning to do before the end of next winter.