Marina de Ragusa impressions after our first ten days here……………..
We selected this marina to keep the boat for the winter for a couple of reasons. First, it is cheap. The marina is about 40% cheaper than what we were paying in Texas. It is also a very safe harbor and well protected from the seas and weather of the Mediterranean. To add credence to this, we had a very strong front blow though a couple of days ago. Some people told us they saw 50+ knots on their instruments, although the highest gust we saw was 47. Although we did move a little, the marina was safe from the very heavy seas pounding on the breakwater.
We arrived at twilight Friday on week ago. It was dark by the time we had dropped the mainsail and readied the boat for docking. We spoke to the marina staff by radio and they told us to come on in and a member of the staff would meet us in a dinghy to lead us to our berth. The entrance was well lit, so we had no trouble getting into the marina. A half hour later we were made fast to the dock and ready for showers and food. There is a little pizza place here close to the dock so we went over to get something to eat. I ordered a pizza with cheese, sausage, tomato sauce, and mushrooms. We were hungry, so I ordered the “Max” size. While it was being prepared we got a bottle of local wine. The pizza arrived and Laura and I were shocked at the size. It was like a manhole cover. The square table we were sitting on was completely covered by this thing, so we moved to a larger table. We ate our fill and took half of it back to the boat for lunch the next day. It was delicious! The cheese and tomato sauce were much more flavorful than we get in the states. It was one of the best pizzas we’ve had. Total cost for a monster pizza and a bottle of wine – 23 euros.
Marina de Ragusa is also a very social place. I think the marina here has a capacity of over 800 boats and it is almost full. A lot of these boats are owned by Brits, hence there is a huge English-speaking contingent here. They have organized numerous clubs and regular meetings, including the Happy Hookers (a knitting group), a writer’s club for established or aspiring authors, a book club for those who like to read, and occasional sightseeing trips, wine tastings, and dinners. Each morning at 9:00 there is a radio net on the VHF radio where they announce activities for the day. There always seems to be plenty to do.
The afternoon two days ago we had a “Rock the Dock” party on one of the boats. Richard plays a very good rock and blues guitar, and had sort of a Karaoke machine for the drums and bass. He played a lot of classics (Red House, Knocking on Heavens Door (Guns ‘N Roses version), Thunderstruck, and of course, Free Bird). Another cruiser named Stefano from France joined him and he was just as good as Richard. Stefano teaches guitar and is renowned enough that he mas made not only a reputation for himself but enough money to go cruising. Together, these guys were awesome. We had a great time!
One thing about the marina, it is very spread out. This translates as a long hike from our boat to the washrooms. There are two facilities in the marina. The closest is about a third of a mile away, and the other is slightly over a half mile hike. These are one-way distances and we have measured them a couple of times. At the first little twinge of your “system” you need to get ready for the walk to the restroom because by the time you get there, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait. This helps keep us in shape!
The town is very nice and very family oriented. On Saturday evening the Piazza (an open plaza) is full of adults talking and the kids kicking soccer balls or riding bicycles and scooters. Dinner is not until late – 8:00 is the Early Bird. On Sunday afternoon the family dinner takes all afternoon. The restaurants are full of families sharing great food, bottles of wine, and the enjoyment of being together. It’s really great to see.
We have been to Mass twice here and both times it has been PACKED. Like “standing room only” full. This is one big difference between Italy and the other places we have been. Church is much more attended here than in Portugal, Gibraltar, or Spain.
There is a fresh market each Tuesday. It is about half produce and half clothing and household items. Last week we bought fresh tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, a bag of potatoes, and a pineapple. We also bought dried dates, dried tomatoes, some confectionary that was a mixture of shortbread and pistachios with a chocolate center. It was awesome! I also bought a two liter plastic water bottle of red wine for 3.50 euros (call it $3.75 US). It is actually okay wine for the price. I’d like to know where it is made, but I think the guy told me it was local Sicilian wine.
To summarize, I would say that we have really enjoyed our first ten days here. The marina is great, but the best surprise has been the Italian people and the community. We will be able to enjoy this for another three weeks before heading back to Texas for Christmas and visiting.