MoisJuly 2015

Roma – Ponza : ugly marinas and wonderful islands !

In the middle of the summer, sailing in islands’ archipelagos is so much more interesting than visiting cultural cities, as interesting as they could be ! in the marinas : 41°C pollluted air, 50€ per night and wasted seawater VS at the anchor : 33°C, free night and turquoise waters with stars in bonus : what would you choose ? I just forgot that fresh beers are unavailable under the stars. Well there is a good side to every situation ! But don’t be surprised we made a lot more photos of the second part of this step !

Once arrived on the Italian coast in Riva di Traiano, we set sail on the next day to Fiumicino. The nautical guide speaks of a litlle and cheap marina, with showers and water, for a very interesting price : no doubt we head there ! The thermal breeze allows us to sail the whole afternoon, letting the engine rest a little bit. The paradox are the ugly industries we see on the coast : the thermal wind is here because the coast is hotter than the sea, so they contribute to our well-being while wasting the landscape. Weird ! But less than Fiumicino’s surprise ! The marina is dirty and ugly : old TVs are floating with other garbages around the boat, and the night costs 45€. The showers are dirty, and don’t include a lock. The marina manager will start yelling at the ducks while saluting his sailors friends at 5 in the morning ! The really bad idea was to dock just in front of his office. We are clearly not satisfied with the services and so I try to negociate the night’s price. He threatens to ask for 60€ and call the cops if I’m not happy. Resigned, I still need to insist to get my passport back after he made a photocopy of it. Whatever, it’s 7 AM, and we head to Ostia, a marina we expect to be expensive, but with all the services included. The staff will be nice and helpull, smiling while giving us advices on how to reach Roma and where to start our visit ! We hurry up to be able to meet with the Roma Makers fablab team !

This fablab is actually a big community of makers, and the place we will visit is just its headquarters : they have other places in Roma and in nearby cities. The visit will begin by tasting a delicious homemade italian ice-cream. One sure thing : the Roma makers team knows how to enjoy their living ! Among all their projects (they have 150 members in the non-profit organization), they will first tell us about their own brewed beer, an open-source beverage ! Too bad they were finished when we visited, but thanksfully the recipe is online !

bière open source

We also discover their 3D printer : the fa()3D (falla3D) : the big sister of our Mondrian. The designs are very similar, but theirs have a little advantage : the X-axis carriage is sustented by magnetic rails, hence considerably reducing friction. A lot of advantages thanks to this innovation, and on Karukera, we think about the noise reduction that would let us sleep a little more ! A few pieces are almost malfunctionnating on our 3D printer, and they will very kindly give us spare parts in case they broke.

The fablab has two types of members : the very active ones who have access to the lab 24/7, and the other bigger part of the community who have access from 5pm to 11pm. Having arrived at 4 :30 pm, we can see the difference when the clocks turns to 5 ! The atmosphere is excellent between the different groups working on different projects but sharing laughs all together ! We will make a few group pictures, everyone trying to add his own funny input !

roma makers 1

They decided to take the picture file and print it… with a laser cutter ! A wooden plaque is sculpted by the machine. The picture is now in Karukera, and will remind us this nice instant !

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But other members are arriving while the picture is getting laser cutted ! We need to take an other picture ! The mechanics neighbour was just finishing work at this moment, and will have to be very patient for everyone to be ready to immortalize this quite chaotic instant !

Roma makers 2

How inspiring it is to see this nice makers enthusiastics and happy, doing whatever they want but very professionally ! We do share the same values, and that’s conforting !

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Two days later, they will come and visit Karukera. Quite a lot of makers for our beloved but small Karukera ! We exchange a lot of ideas about our projects, especially with some of them who are both skippers and makers ! We will finish the beers of the bar nearby before 9pm, with the help of Alix, the fifth crewmember of Karukera until early september, who directly meet us for drinks ! We clearly feel the « middle of the summer » atmosphere that has settled on board !

Obviusly we will enjoy the proximity of the ancient archeological site of Ostia to visit the impressive ruins of the old Roman harbour.

But wind is blowing : now is the time to head south ! Conditions are delicates for unseaworthy stomachs ! The swell is short and crossed, and it’s quite not confortable ! But the speed is there ! 6 knots average is pleasing on our old boat !

Karukera's crew!

Arriving to the Pontines Isalnds on Palmarola just before the sun sets is quite a show ! The archipelagos is composed of old volcanos, and altough we don’t really manage to see the « old volcano » part of the landscape, its beauty dazzled us !

Spi approche Palmarola

We rediscover the pleasures of moorings ! It’s so nice to be able to jump in the sea while waking up, to admire fishes circling the boat, and making little kayak tours to explore the surrounding caves and pikes ! No one lives on this Island, and that’s no surprise ! Climbing would be necessary to go living on the top of the impressive cliffs ! Not easy if you forgot to buy peper…

pic Palmarola

We enjoy a bit of peace and serenity : nautical guides advise not to anchor around the Island, so we are almost alones. By the way, this is not the first time that they totally mistake on a place : here the ocean bed is good for the anchor, that will hold despite the important gusts falling from the cliffs ! We already see the next Island, Ponza, reputed the be the most beautiful of the Pontines.

au mouillage près Ponza

And Ponza, the nautical guides speak about it ! Hence the night in the harbour costs 100€ ! We will find a nice spot to drop the anchor instead. Sailing between the Islands is awesome ! Palmarola protects us from the swell, which allows us to make a planktoon sampling, and will let Alix participate to the manoeuvers.

olivier borde

The Island is beautiful, and the litlle harbour charming ! But we have to anchor very close to the shore to let room for the hydrofoils manoeuvers ( a « flying » very fast ferry). The coast guards check that we don’t anchor in the forbidden zone, but altough we are far enough, they will ask every boats to leave on the following morning ! We will finish the breakfast in the nearby cove, and after a litlle bit of snorkeling, we will head to Ventetone, the most southeastern of the Pontines Islands. Naples is getting closer !

Spi ponza

Yahia Ponza

Ponza c'est sympa!

From Corsica to the Toscana Islands

We leave the Oscellucia in the afternoon of July 11th, heading to the Agriates desert, in NW of Corsica. The forecasts let us expect a total lack of wind, but happily, we manage to reach a good 5 knots speed average after hoisting the spinnaker. Once arrived, we start snorkeling as usual to cool down a litlle bit but avoid the jellyfishs. Adrien will discover a strange and unusual fish : a 15m long achoring chain in very good shape. No need for it on Karukera : we decide to give it to our neighbours, which only have 8 m of chain ! Our litlle walk in the desert wild land will let us see a few wild cows. We will leave them alone quickly when a big bull will appear in the middle of the « maquis » !

The next morning, we head to Capraia, the first beautiful Toscana Island. Having to turn the Cap Corsica, we have to sail against the wind, but hopefully the wind will slowly turn, letting us getting there without having to tack. Once at the Cape Corsica, we have to start the engine : the wind will unfortunately stop !

cap corse

We wait there a few hours, go snorkeling for a while, and then the wind comes back from the good direction ! we will sail to Capraia, and arrive around one in the morning. On the next day, we go on a hike on this wonderful Islands, wild and preserved from turists !

capraia

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We head to Elba without any wind : 30 miles with the engine under a hot sun are not the « sailing » conditions we like the most ! We take advantage of this boring day to design and 3D print the piece of plastic that turns the engine off. The original piece was partly broken, and each time we wanted to turn the engine off, harming our hands was a bit necessary ! The new piece is softer for them, and will work tremendously well !

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On Elba, we will stop in Marciana marina, a nice port in the NW of the Island. The next morning, an unfortunate surprise is waiting for us : the engine won’t start ! So far, we had been experimenting absolutely no problem with it ! After a little investigation, we discover that the exhaustion gaz are exhausted in the admission, on the wrong side ! Why ?

vidange moteur

After a few repairing trials, we change all the lubrification oil that got spoiled from exhaustion wastes. We finally call our mechanics partner Gwen marine (www.gwenmarinevolvopenta.com), who gives us tips by phone. He suggests that the exhaustion pipe is clogged somewhere. We will discover an important quantity of carbonised waste, that were effectively blocking the pipe… After a methodic cleaning of the different pieces, we start the engine. He will start immediatly, which we weren’t prepared to ! A black cloud of smoke will project soot all over Adrien, that will have to wash for a long time before being clean again !

suie estivale

nettoyage moteur

With the engine working, we leave to the next island : Giglio. This is the island where the Costia Concordia sunk a little less than a year ago. Entering on the accident site is forbidden, but we will still see a few cranes in action. On the next morning, we go to visit the castle at the top of the islands, offering a wonderful view !

giglio

Afterward, we head to the last of Toscana islands : Giannutri. Only 2 miles long, this island is actually the remains of an old volcano’s crater who collapsed ! Whil approaching the island in the end of this sunday afternoon, we see a huge number of motor boat leaving ! Thanksfully, because when we will arrive, there is still not so much space to put the anchor ! We can only imagine how crowded it was earlier in the week end !

On the next morning, we head to Riva di Traino, our first stopover on the Italian coast, not so far from Roma. Once again, there is absolutely no wind : 100% of the crossing with the engine… And guess what, we will be short of fuel in the middle of the ocean. We have two jerrycans of gasoil that will allow us to refill, and re-pressure the engine. After a ten minutes immobile, everything is back in order. Exept Yahia’s flip-flop : we have a FOB (flip flop over board). A good situation for an exercise. Don’t worry, it’s safe, and not to frightened !

pêcheur de claquettes

Approaching Roma, we need to choose the harbour offering a good compromise between proximity of the capital vs price : here one night in a harbour can sometime cost 50 € !!!

Barcelona-Corsica: delightful crossing and sea animals festival!

We leave Barcelona Sunday the fifth of July with a good favourable wind coming. We will be sailing at 7 knots along the Costa Brava until the sunset. Dolphins allowed us to leave the spanish coast with a smile on our face! They stay 30 minutes playing and jumping around the boat.

A gale force wind is expected to blow over the Mediterranean sea a few days later, and we have to reach Corsica before it does. But the wind will abandon us in the evening of the first day. We are worried about it because the weather forecast predicted good wind during the two first days. The third day should be a day without wind and the fourth day the arrival of the strong wind.

We turn the engine on for some long hours, the wind won’t come back for all the night. We manage to sail one little hour during the morning but the little breeze disappears and the « sweet » engine noise come back again.

During the second day, the mood is not here for Karukera’s crew. Living with the permanent noise of the engine is hard for the moral. We read, we try to rest as long as we can to avoid boring aboard. Fishing still doesn’t work, even with all our motivation. We would want to stop the engine for some hours, jump in the sea and enjoy the silent of the ocean but it is not possible because of the strong gale expected two days later.

And…the wind comes back in the end of the second day: the opposite of the weather forecast’s prediction. Anyway, we are sailing at 4 knots without the tedious noise! Happiness comes back aboard: the second night is amazing. The sea is calm, very comfortable with a breeze just as we want it to be, not too gentle and not too strong. We will be able to sail at 6 knots at some moment. We go through a bloom of phosphorescent plankton and we also see phosphorescent jellyfish. Under a sky full of stars and without the moon, the show is magical.

In the morning of the third day, the wind is still here! The half of the crossing is done and we put the French colour on. After two months out of our country, it sounds strange to be back in France, it will be too easy to speak with other people.

We enter the pelagic natural reserve where a lot of marine mammals are often observed: we won’t miss them! After having seen some dolphins playing near the hull, we see two whales 100 meters away from the boat. They disappear under the water as fast as they appear and we are not speed enough to take a picture of them. After that, the tunas will start to make the show. They jump around the boat, stay near the surface very close to the boat. At this moment, we want only one thing: fish one (or two/three/five…) of them. We put three towing lines behind the boat but fishing is apparently not our vocation: we won’t fish any of them.

In the middle of this natural reserve, we are shocked to see so many floating plastic. Plastic bags, polystyrene foams, helium balloons… We take those under our way but they are too many.

The last night will be short! We heard a weather forecast at the radio: the gale should arrive sooner than expected. It will also be stronger than expected. Thanks to our satellite beacon, we talk with Leo and he confirms us the bad news. At 4 a.m the wind begins to blow stronger, we keep all the sail out in order to maintain as much distance as we can from the real strong wind.

Just before the sunrise, the Corsica mountains appear and one last time the dolphins come and play around the boat. We are sailing at 7 knots, we like that and the dolphins too. With all those events, we forget to sleep but that is not important. In 4 hours we will be arrived.

We are going straight to Calvi bay, it is a good shelter from the SW wind. By crossing the punta Revellatta, we discover the citadel of the ancient city.

But the shelter that we had chosen (Oscellucia) is not as good as we thought; Even if the wind is coming from the earth, it is too strong for the anchor (until 45 knots). We can’t stay here. All the boat are moving to the marina of Calvi and we do as well. The summer season has begun and it is difficult to find a place in the marina but thankfully we find a place in the fisher’s harbour. It is 1 p.m and we are walking on the ground. We will spend the rest of the afternoon sleeping.

The day after, the wind blows more gently. We leave the marina and go to a small shelter from the E wind named Port Vechio where we go snorkelling.

There we enjoyed the sea and the beautiful Corsica landscape before moving to the next stopover: Capraia, one of the beautiful Toscana islands.

Costa Daurada : Crew shifts, planktoon and Barcelona

Peter has joined us a week ago, and it’s his turn to do the planktoon samplings. After collecting the planktoon soup with a 20 microns net, we need to filtrate the sampling and dry it.

Once in Peniscola, it’s time for Leo to leave Karukera’s crew. The farewell with our friend, that left Britain with us, are very early in the morning. The bad coffeewe drunk in the morning and our wet legs,  depicts quite precisely our mood at the moment. He is going back to France with the plankton samplings we collected since the departure, and a flight being too « easy » after two and a half month of sailing adventure, he will hitchike for two days to arrive in Britain, where he will spend the summer as a sailing instructor ( for Leo’s fans, you can suscribe to his lessons by going to the International Pointe Saint-Gildas Sailing Yacht Club).

The washing up, a matter of disagreement aboard every boat : Peter will put everyone in good mood by doing it moningly in the kayak !

Aymeric has joined us near Salou, in a desert cove, by night, without light nor GPS. The 3km walk will be a little longer than expected ! We will leave next morning, heading to Sitges.

A good opportunity to visit Sitges’ fablab, the beachlab (http://beachlab.org/). In front of Sitges main beach, it will be the first lab that we will visit in swimsuit ! Initially, the town Hall had forbidden that this place was only a « fablab » : in front of the beach they have to sell beverages. It became a hybrid bar/fablab, that finally works a lot with the city Hall. They need a lot of sensors, and the fablab is able to produce/design them for a much lower price than the regular industrial sensors. Sitges might become a high-connected city : useful for public service, the fablab lives from interesting projects that have a direct impact on cityzens ! Noise sensors in front of bars send texts to barmans to prevent them when they are over limit, thermometer giving real-time seawater temperature on line, etc. Francisco, our maker contact, is very entusiathic about the idea of a nautical lab : they have a « Marine research unit » inside the lab, a program that works on complementary issues of those of Lab-REV !

We leave to Barcelona with the wind on the side of the boat : even with this low breeze, we manage to sail at almost correct speeds. Perfect conditions to test a new sail configuration we’ve been thinking about for a long time. In additon to the three regular sails Karukera can carry simultaniously (artimon, mainsail, genoa/spinnaker), we can hoist an other jib, on the artimon mast. We set up a halyard to hoist its 12m2 solent, and Karukera makes the show with 92m2 of sail!

Once in Barcelona, we long to go and visit the masterpieces of Gaudi, exerience the incredible local night-life, and taste all the tapas. But patience is required : a good task list remains before setting sails to Corsica, our next step. We fill up the tanks to prevent the probable lack of wind. Oliver will sew for hours in a raw to install reinforcement patchs on the Genoa, repair the textile arrangements and other pieces of stuffs that require to be stronger. The inflatable kayak requires a patch after a sea urchin accident ! All that works during the European heat wave, under the hard sun beams of Barcelona, on the docks of wealthy Yachtsmen surprised to sea us in underpants manipulating clamps and glues in this incredibly protected and expensive marina.

Released to have reduiced the task list to its minimum, we are free to go and visit this cultural capital. Laura will join us for a few days to enjoy discovering the city with us, and Cassandra comes back for a few months of sailing.

Together we will visit the fabCafé (http://fabcafe.com/barcelona/), a hybrid place mixing fablab, bar and coworking space. Amazing mood in this place where maker clients drink beers while waiting for their 3D printings to finish !

We will also go visit the greenlab (http://www.valldaura.net/greenfablab/). A remote fablab, lost in the mountains just outside the city, on an 144ha property ! Not well referenced on google, we need to take a cab to head there : but the adress is wrong ! We end up visiting the surrounding valleys, and after 1h drive, the cab will drop us « not too far » from our goal. A little hike with flip-flops begins. We will end up lost in a closed restaurant, and use our « joker » by calling Jon from the fablab, who will pick us up with his Land-Rover, a necessity for the trail that leads to the fab.

We discover this amazing place, set up in an old hunting territory for gentlefolks. A big part of the forest was destroyed and replanted in the twentieth century : we clearly make the difference between parts of the valley where old oak trees remain and new pine trees were replanted. The goal of this lab is to look for sustainable solutions for our lifestyles. Food, energy, furnitures, transport… no lead is negliged, the idea is yet to identify the most useful –and feasible- ones. The place is used weekly as a fablab, host workshops for students, rent rooms on airBnB, and organize 400 peoples partys with Djs for the IAAC students (the architecture school linked to the lab : http://www.iaac.net/).

After a fight between the dog and the oaks, we go back to Barcelona : it’s time to finish the boat set up. A good weather forecast is arriving : moderate winds, in the good direction. Routings predict less than 3 hours of engine on the whole crossing : let’s go !

We will leave Barcelona Sunday the fifth of July, heading to the gulf of Porto on the west coast of Corsica !