Ponza with its crystal clear bays is the ideal place to put our watermaker into operation, we thought. Clean water, a quiet anchorage all alone, perfect, we thought. I was a bit nervous, if I installed everything correctly, everything is tight, so here goes. I went through the installation instructions once more, checked every water pipe and then connected the power supply line to the battery.
Hmm I thought, maybe I could have put a switch in the positive line so that the control panel doesn't always light up, but I can do that later. So open the pressure valve, open the seawater valve and let the water flow through the test outlet. Press "On", nothing happens. Operating instructions once again taken to hand, everything done correctly. Press "On" again, nothing works. Great, I thought, so switch box open and voltage measured, 12.76V so far everything good. In the switch box there are three micro switches, one for both pumps and one for the magnetic valve for the flushing process. In the manual it is written for emergencies. That it was an emergency was clear to me. I pressed the microswitch for the flushing process and lo and behold, the process started, the boat internal water pump started and flushed the system. I used another switch to start a pump and lo and behold the pump delivered seawater to the watermaker. Slowly I closed the pressure valve to set the necessary pressure of 7bar. Up to here everything was good. Actually water came out of the test outlet. A little bit incredulous we both stood before it. Who should try now? Carefully I sipped the water and it actually tasted neutral. I was about to pull the lever to let the water run into the tank when I discovered a leak at the water-maker. Shit, I thought everything was tight during my installation, but the "black box watermaker" is leaking. At the bottom of the watermaker it was spilling out. When I looked at it with the torch I noticed a crack in the aluminium housing, which could not be repaired with on-board tools. So I wrote an email to the seller and was surprised to get an answer on Sunday evening. The next day the Italian manufacturer contacted us by email and we agreed on a repair in Salerno in the Marina d`Arechi next Saturday. Although the marina was only half occupied, there is of course a 50% catamaran surcharge and so the fun for 3 days stay cost us a whopping 450€ a proud price considering that except for a bistro, the whole infrastructure was out of order. But the service crew of the water maker was exemplary. Obviously they knew the problem already and so the watermaker was completely disassembled, the defective parts were replaced and also the control panel, which had a pin on the housing, was functional again. After a test run everything was tight and on the way south from Salerno we produced our first 50 litres of drinking water from the sea.
But first we visited Salerno. As the marina was too expensive for us, we lay down in an anchorage directly in front of the city. Admittedly the marina was more comfortable because some swell from the southwest set into the bay, but we only had five minutes to paddle with the dinghy and were in the city. Salerno, like the other towns, continues to suffer from the corona crisis. At least, at the promenade and in the pedestrian zone there were a few people to meet. But also here, many shops and restaurants still closed.
|Empty streets in Salerno|
We filled up our provisions a little bit and then we went on the way to Agropoli, with a small port that has a transit pier where you can moor 24h free of charge. In the early morning the wind was still a bit lacking, but in the late morning it picked up with 10 knots from the west and so we had a wonderful sailing day, which also showed over 6 knots over ground for a longer time. A decent speed for our cargo catamaran. The small town of Agropoli, with its old town and a fortress is located on a rock above the harbour. You have to be a little bit careful when approaching the transit jetty, because in front of a sailing school there are numerous mooring lines which are tensed and lie close above the water surface. We did not pay attention and so a snorkeling of 11/2 hours was inevitable to free the propeller. The nice thing is, after such an action one can easily remove the calluses under the feet. After that we went to visit the little town and we found a little pizzeria in one of the numerous narrow alleys and stairs where we could have dinner.
The next day we left the Gulf of Salerno and reached the small port of Acciaroli, which also has a transit pier and is just 20 nautical miles from Agropoli. Also on this day we had a great sailing day and as there was a lot of space at the quay wall we went alongside. The Mediterranean Sea, which is normally very busy in this region, shows itself from a completely different side during these days. Empty anchor bays, hardly anyone on the water, quite different from the usual. In Acciaroli we had our body temperature measured for the first time in the restaurant and we had to fill out a slip of paper with our name and address.
When we left Acciaroli the next morning, a mighty black wall built up in the north. It didn't take long before the first lightning bolts were twitching out of this pitch-black monster. But if that wasn't enough, a grayish yellow haze swarmed in from the west, and from this haze there was no less a rumble than from the wall in the north. So we were wedged in and the first raindrops were already clapping on deck. The land, which could be seen just a moment ago, was swallowed by the gray-yellow cloud and could not be seen for the next half hour. As a precaution we took the Genoa in and took out a little speed. The two thunderstorms passed in front and behind us and we only got a little wet, but the wind didn't really set in anymore and so we had to motor the rest of the day until our planned anchorage. When the thunderstorm had passed, the coastguard called and asked if everything was ok. It's nice that somebody is looking after us. We reached the bay from which we want to start to the Aeolian Islands in the early afternoon, exactly at the time when the promised wind finally set in. This made grabbing the buoy a challenge for Gaby, which she finally mastered after some good coaxing. Slowly she is developing into the perfect deck hand.
How we reach the Aeolian Islands and what we experience there, we will tell you next time. Until then, as always, fair winds and keep a stiff upper lip.