Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Santa Claus

We wish all our readers that you were able to convince Santa Claus of your good deeds this year and that he has grabbed the sack instead of the rod, although I have heard that some people prefer the rod, but I digress again and should rather write about things of which I understand something.

As already announced last week, the rudders were about to be installed back in their original place in the boat. In the installed condition the rudders have a distance to the hull of about 1.5 cm, therefore we had removed them to be able to work better. When we freed the rudders from their antifouling and the weld, on which the shaft is welded to the rudder blade, was free, I noticed a hairline crack, which by no means belonged there and urgently had to be repaired. This required two attempts, since with the first time the welder had not worked cleanly and still a crack was to be determined. The rudders were now ready to be installed again this week. For this purpose a hole had to be dug into the ground, as the shaft is a good 1.5 m long and the boat is only 1.2 m above the ground. Unfortunately, the port rudder had a wooden beam 10 cm below the ground, which we had to cut in half first, exactly where the hole was supposed to go. But we had already done that when we removed it, so this time it went much faster. That was it then however also already with the fast going. On the shaft there were paint residues which were overlooked by me. I had wiped the shaft clean with cleaning gasoline, but the paint residues did not go away and glued the shaft guide. After the rudders were installed and over the grease nipples the shaft guides were filled with seaworthy grease, we determined an unusual stiffness. So the whole thing again from the beginning. Rudder removed again, shaft and shaft guide cleaned and rudder reinstalled. It takes about one day for one rudder, especially since the starboard rudder didn't want to leave the shaft guide so easily anymore. Now you can move the rudder with your little finger, which is much better for the hydraulic system. Next we have to do some small repairs and then we are ready to get back into the water.


Since we couldn't make any excursions during the last Sundays, Rome was on the program for the last Sunday. Meanwhile we are experienced here and have hardly any waiting times, at least for the outward journey. December 1st was also the first Sunday of the month. On these Sundays the entrance to the Castel Sant'Angelo, the angel castle, is free. This of course has the consequence that, as at the Sistine Chapel, queues form. That day seemed to us to be tolerable and so we lined up, in sunny weather, felt 20°C and approached step by step the entrance of the castle. Halfway a queen played chamber music and wasted our time. Again and again street vendors went the row off and offered mobile phone sticks, accumulators and other utensils. After a good hour we had made it.

The barrier tape was opened and with about twenty others we were admitted. An app that could be downloaded from the Internet - the castle is equipped with WLAN at every point - explained the individual points we visited on our tour. The castle was first designed by Hadrian as a mausoleum. Begun under Emperor Aurelian and continued throughout the Middle Ages, the complex was gradually converted into a fortress. In the Bastion of St Mark, a bastion of four, there is the end of the passage "Passetto di Borgo" to the Vatican, which was used by many popes as an escape route in case of danger.

In the bastion of Luke one can take a look at the pentagonal wall belt commissioned by Pius IV in the second half of the 16th century. This striking pentagon can be seen on every map of Rome and serves as an excellent point of orientation. The Johannes Bastion is an isolated tower surrounded by a moat. Bonifatius IX, who was just 33 years old when he was appointed pope, created this bastion, which was much more difficult to occupy because of the moat. At the same time, he closed the entrance to the mausoleum and created a new one that could be reached via a drawbridge. If the enemy should overcome the walls, he found himself in front of the moat and the bridge. But even that was not enough for Bonifatius IX, immediately behind the entrance there was a trapdoor, which could be observed from above from a shaft, if the enemy was on it, it could be released from above. 

The passage and the diametrical ramp lead to the interior of the mausoleum and the tomb where the remains of Hadrian and his family were kept. At the time of Hadrian, the walls were covered in marble, but today we can only see the holes in the walls where the metal clips that carried the marble were inserted. We went on and arrived at the Angel's Court, so called because of the statue of the Archangel Michael. Here, from the 15th century onwards, the popes had apartments furnished with all comforts, which they lived in when it became too dangerous in the Vatican. Clement VII stayed here for seven months during the looting of Rome in 1527. 

A staircase leads to the open tour, from where you have a magnificent view of Rome and the Vatican City. There is also a small restaurant. We renounced a coffee and continued the tour to the armoury that consists of four rooms. Many other rooms and halls followed until we finally arrived at the roof of the castle, the angel terrace. The bronze figure of Michael the Archangel is the most prominent. Since the Renaissance, fireworks have been held from the terrace on festive occasions. Next to the statue hangs the poor sinner bell, whose ominous ringing announced the executions carried out in the courtyard below. Further halls and rooms followed and we were fascinated by the size and the equipment of the castle, furthermore the web based guide was a great idea and always provided us with the necessary background knowledge in every room. We stayed for three and a half hours in this great castle without noticing how quickly time had passed. Suddenly we felt that we were hungry and thirsty. Crossing the angel bridge we headed purposefully for a restaurant in the Via del Banco di Santo Spirito. La Salumeria offers everything from pigs. Here one gets the best ham of Rome, as a plate or panini, in addition a bottle of wine or a beer. It was excellent and gave us new strength. We strolled for a while through Rome and discovered new places or places that we had already seen during the last visit and didn't even notice that it got darker and darker.

We decided to let it be enough for today and looked for the direct way to the bus stop and to the bus that should bring us back to Fiumicino. The queue was huge, the ticket seller, who should coordinate the passengers at the same time, was obviously irritated and overstrained, trying to form a queue. She really should have known that, the Italian generally lets himself be put in line, but not in a row. As soon as the row was formed and she had placed herself back at the beginning of it, there was grape formation again and the passengers asked the person to be pitied, holes in the stomach. Three buses or 45 minutes later we were sitting in one that brought us back. We then let the evening fade away in our restaurant on the way home to the marina and many of us tired to death into our berths.

The day has definitely made us want more and we will see what we will do next week. Until then, as always, Fair Winds and keep your ears stiff.