We recently returned to Sicily and Marina di Ragusa after a lovely winter with friends and family in the UK.
Whilst there, we had lots of parties and celebrations, I went back to work for a few weeks while Paul spent time planning and sourcing parts for our next phase of boat maintenance. Parcels kept arriving of various sizes containing all sorts of tools and boat equipment….how will we get it all back to Ziggy!?!
As our departure date approached we had everything laid out for packing. It soon became apparent that there was ‘slightly’ more than our allocated weight allowance, and with metre long heavy bolts and wrench tools, we needed some bigger bags!
After removing some unnecessary items, (clothes, shoes etc) and acquiring a longer bag, we managed to pack our allocated 90 kilograms. All we had to do then was get it on the train to the airport, in the plane and onto the boat! We had a long day ahead of us.
With very long arms and backache we eventually arrived back onboard ZigZag with all of our luggage intact.
It’s always worrying after leaving the boat for over 3 months and whether we will find any problems or leaks on our return. However, she looked to be exactly as we left her and the decks didn’t look too dirty (this was soon to change!).
The weather was not particularly good for the first couple of weeks, most days were overcast with strong winds. The UK was having better weather! The winds were blowing from the east which was bringing sand from the Sahara, plus the nearby beach, which left a thick layer on all of the boats. Unfortunately the marina was suffering a water shortage and there was a ban on cleaning boats so it was becoming full of ‘orange’ boats.
With our long list of jobs, we had plenty to keep us busy. The biggest job was to begin replacing the keel bolts, there are 13 bolts fastening the keel to the bottom of the boat. The nuts, washers and top part of the 1” thick bolts have rusted and so they all need to be replaced (one at a time). As always this was a lot more difficult than hoped. The inside of the boat had to be destroyed, table and steps removed and floorboards lifted.
The holding tank pipes are 20 years old and needed to be changed so this was a good opportunity to detach the pipes, remove the tank and tackle the 3 bolts underneath first.
After days of Paul having his head in the bilge trying to carefully remove rust so he could loosen the nuts, he then invested in a power wrench but eventually found that a less cautious approach involving an oversized hammer and chisel had the desired effect.
He cut the new bolts to size and eventually we had 3 shiny rust free bolts in place.
The holding tank could now be refitted and new pipes fed through, which is never easy as they fit into tight places which you cannot reach. Another day for Paul to have his head in the bilge to try to pull the pipes through small holes!
Alongside these major jobs there were also many others to tackle, the deck drain leak that we found and plugged last autumn still needed a permanent fix. This involved cutting holes into the back of the kitchen cupboards for access to the inside of the deck fitting and pipe.
The old teak on the transom step had rotted and needed to be removed and replaced. Armed with our new favourite tools, the hammer and chisel, I managed to chip it all off and it is now ready for the new teak to be installed which had travelled with us from the UK.
We are also making a new cockpit drain cover…work is still in progress for this as it involves a lot of sanding to make a square piece of wood fit into a round shaped hole!
I cleaned and sanded the teak on the decks and cockpit and polished the stainless.
Half way, hopefully you can see the difference, just the starboard side to do.
Towards the end of last season we had some problems with Ed, our outboard engine, so after watching a few YouTube videos Paul took the carburettor apart, cleaned it out and managed to put all of the pieces back together again! We inflated Fred for a test run around the marina and after a few pulls of the cord, a little cough and splutter, Ed fired up and burst back to life.
Of course it’s not all work and no play, we had some time to join the hiking group and enjoy various social events!
The weather gradually improved and people started leaving the marina for the summer season. Inevitably there were still some outstanding jobs on our list but we decided that it was not necessary to stay in the marina to complete them, so we focussed on getting ourselves ready to leave.
Finally the water shortage in the marina had been resolved and the ban on cleaning boats was lifted. We decided to start cleaning from the top of the boat and work downwards, so up I go to the top of the mast to check everything is ok and give the mast and rigging a good wash down, followed by a good scrub of the decks, Ziggy has never looked so clean! We then put the sails and lines back on, put everything back together inside and ZigZag was ready to sail again.
After a big provisioning trip we cast off our lines, and (on Friday 13th!) we finally bid farewell to Marina di Ragusa.