Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Italy 2018 ... 6 weeks of changes and surprises

Italy  2018
We had a soft landing on arrival in Ostia.  The approach to the fuel dock had silted in.  Jim and our new rebuilt engine managed to plow through the sandbar without much effort, we decided to continue on to our berth forgoing the fuel stop.  The marina tender directed us to our berth and we were soon secure enough to sit back and have a warm breakfast before the office opened for our formal checkin.  
Inishnee will winter over here in Italy.  The crew will head to the US in mid November and travel about the states until early March.  The longest break from cruising we have had since the journey began June 2015.  
We spent several days acclimating to the area and cleaning Inishnee.  The decks and cockpit were freed from the sea spray; the cabin given a good wipe down with a vinegar bath to help thwart the mold and mildew that accompanies the cool humid environment she will face the next few months.  Lockers were cleaned and sorted.  Boric acid was sprinkled in lockers and on surfaces to kill the little buggers that might happen to find their way on board.   


And, we took a few cursory trips to Rome, then rented a car for touring Pompeii and Ostia Antica.   
Ostia Antica, old Ostia; is only a few kilometers from (new) Ostia.  The once thriving Roman city founded in the 620 bc,  was built near the mouth (ostium) of the Tiber river.  This citadel  controlled the sea access to Rome.  With the end of the Roman empire the port city slowly was abandoned as the inhabitants moved on. 
 Over the next few centuries, the city was reclaimed by the elements and nearly completely buried in silt.  Today, there is ongoing excavation.  It is a remarkable site with mosaic floors, frescoed walls, statues, fountains, a theater.  Churches and government buildings.  Most streets leading to the Forum.   The main road, the Decuman, was nearly 2 kilometers long.  About 2/3rds of the original city encompass the park; around 34 hectares.  


The unfortunate city buried by Mount Vesuvius when it exploded around 79ad.  The city and its 11,000 inhabitants were buried under 4-6 m / 13 -20 f of ash and pumice.  Because of the lack of air and moisture many of the objects from the time survived remarkably well with incredible detail.  During the excavation, Plaster was used to fill in the voids in hte ash layers that once held the bodies of both humans and animals.  These casts show the exact position and location of those who died.  Homes, businesses and places of worship all suffered the same fate.  Artifacts and bodies are still being discovered in the ongoing research and excavations.  
Thousands of artifacts and body casts are housed on site, cataloged and stored in warehouses where visitors can view them beyond the metal gates.  A very moving and humbling experience seeing the body contortions and facial expressions contorted in fear and pain. 
With a bit of imagination, daily life can be imagined as you walk about the sprawling site.  Villas and businesses, gardens and fountains. 

Wine merchants and bakeries… Places of worship and  Forums for meeting.  

Public water was readily available throughout the town as well as latrines and bathhouses.  Stepping stones placed strategically at intersections and midpoints along the streets were used to keep ones feet from descending into the squalor that accumulated or flowed down hill toward the sea.


Rome and visitors… Our German friends (family) decided to holiday with us in Italy.  Maria, our exchange student in our other life, has continued to be part of our lives; as well as her German family;  Dirk and Heike (parents), Jan (brother) and Maria’s husband Jon… We have spent several holidays together over the years.  
Our first of many surprises while together was the news from Maria… she and Jon will become parents next spring!  A boy.  So very happy for them… congratulations!

We had decided to all share an apartment in Rome for the first few days.  
Unfortunately, the holiday coincided with longest spell of wet, cold weather we have experienced in several years.  In fact, it would be the worst wind and weather Italy and Ostia had experienced in over 18 years according to several locals.  The winds stayed steady at 35 knots for 2 days and gusted much higher.  Drenching rains flooded parts of Rome and partly submerged Venice.  Schools were closed and many business’ shuttered.  
Although it was quite damp at times, the tribe of 7 made the most of it.  Our apartment’s location allowed us to walk to the sites we most wanted to see.  After a family breakfast together we would all set out for the days adventure.  Maria’s brother Jan, was an excellent tour guide; having been to Rome nearly a dozen times for work on a previous job from a cruise ship.  

Rome has so much to offer… old ruins, churches, monuments… food, art work, and history.  The following are some of the many sites we saw / toured…

Trevi Fountain 

Spanish Steps


Palatine Hill
Piazza Venezia

During the height of the wind event, Jim and Kathy returned to Ostia to see how Inishnee was faring.   We had taken precautions before leaving for Rome and secured extra lines on Inishnee.  Rubber snubbers were placed on the bow lines to allow for surge. 
 The aft lines were tightened to keep the bow as far off the pier as possible but still allow for an agile boarder to span the distance as needed.  All loose canvas was stowed and zippers tied off before leaving for Rome…

Approaching the marina from the sea was stunning.  The beach was completely engulfed by the sea.  White water and foam crashing over the boardwalk. In the marina, many sails had come unfurled and were in shreds.  

We were much relieved at the sight of Inishnee.  She was riding the storm just fine, though giving the snubbers quite a workout.  Jim managed to clamber on to the heaving gangplank, Kathy opted to stay on the sturdy cement pier.  Below, Jim found all was well; scarcely noting the surge topside.  The wind however was formidable, gusting in the 50’s… Kathy struggled to maintain ground in the strongest of the gusts.  The screaming and howling through the boat rigging was frightening.  Waves could be seen smashing into and over the break wall, soaking the small runabouts tied to its wall.  Satisfied she was safe…we could do no more for her, we headed back to Rome.  If she can ride this out… she should do fine over the coming months.  

The Vatican Museum 

St. Peters Basilica


St. Angel’s Castel / Bridge

Campo Di Flori / Ghetto


and… An Audience with Pope!
Heike got us all tickets to see the Pope.  Free!  

Every Wednesday, the Pope makes a public appearance.  Up to 80,000 occupants, those with tickets get a seat.  We were up early to make our way to Vatican City were we waited a short while for the gates to open.  A quick X-ray search of bags before we located seats.  Huge screen TV’s strategically places on the perimeters for viewing the event.  Before taking to the stage, the Pope; riding in the PopeMobile, made his way around the crowd, stopping to kiss / bless babies as he went.  

The crowd that had been seated, jostled for position to get a better vantage point… squeezing up to the cordoned barrier or standing on the seats… Everyone seemed to get caught up in the ‘pregame’ show.  After circling the crowd twice, The Pope was  then escorted to the stage area and seated.  A few blessings were offered and some of the various country delegations were acknowledged.  Then a short message was read by the Pope… followed by numerous bishops who read this message in their native tongue.  An hour or so later, the ceremony in concluded, and the thousands assembled slowly made their way out.  
Our tribe shared evening meals out and a few in the apartment.  Then, it was time for us all to return to Ostia for part two of the adventure…
Jim and Kathy stayed aboard Inishnee while the German contingent shared an apartment.  Maria and family took day trips while Jim and Kathy settled in to life afloat again.  Evening meals were again shared together, either aboard or at the land dwelling.  Jan celebrated his 32nd birthday while here with a bbq; lots of meat was grilled in the cockpit before we all cosy’ed in around the table of Inishnee… Sea shanties from ‘Saturday Night at Sea’ were sung, a bit of grog was had and birthday toasts were made.  
The Holzloener’s left early Monday morning for their flights home to Germany.  
Life aboard Inishnee was consumed with winter preparations; and by far, the biggest task was to remove and replace the old windlass.  Several months ago we discovered the flange that holds the motor in place was severely corroded.  The motor was still working fine but the structural part that held it to the deck was toast.  The culprit was electrolysis from the new (15 month old / coated with tef gel) stainless steel bolts that we replaced in St. Martin.  The close contact of the dissimilar metals in the salt environment ate away the aluminum housing to where only one bolt was actually holding the unit in place.  Luckily, Italy manufactures a great line of windlasses at a reasonable cost.  

Removing the old windlass took a full day of beating, prying and hammering; and just a bit of cussing, to pry it loose.  Then the old deck holes had to be filled and new holes drilled to properly align with the new windlass and the anchor chain.  
The cabin was in shambles most of the time, the bunk upended daily, tools placed strategically on the dinning table, nav station and galley counters.  The weather was cool and dry for the most part.  We made numerous trips to the home improvement store to buy / replace drill bits and hacksaws, wires and sealants.  Our rental car made the trips effortless especially when it came time to take possession on the very hefty windlass.  
A few more days of fitting and tweaking, then the final installation.  Inishnee’s new hardware shining bright on the foredeck, ready for next seasons adventures.  Next the wiring.  Jim replaced the old wires, a span of 4-5 feet… an all day task, in contorted positions.  A test run, and nothing… then Jim remembered the fuse was yet to be put in… another go at it and it was whizzing around ready for duty.  Another day for installing the foot petal and wiring.   Success!  

Sorting and packing was next.  Every berth and cubby undone looking for things of little or no use.  Give aways and items to return to the US were complied and bags (x4) packed for the up coming looong journey to Chicago and beyond… 
Inishnee’s winter heater was set up as well as a dehumidifier.  Lines beefed up and doubled.  Canvas secured or stowed.  Perishables eaten or tossed… a final wash down.

Stephano will be looking after Inishnee while we are away.  He is the proprietor of the chandlery that is located within a few hundred feet of Inishnee.  
We wish her a pleasant winter here in Ostia.  We will return in March 2019 for the next adventure; still in the planning stages

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