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We sailed Serafina out of the Licata harbor on May 12, with Hannah Stapleton on board. Hannah played an important part in getting Serafina to the Mediterranean, and she was last on board in the Azores after being one third of our crew bringing her across the Atlantic. There was a nice symmetry too, since the last time Serafina had been out of the Licata harbor was back in early October last year – with her sister Sarah and Sarah’s fiancé Matt on board.
It felt great to be back on Serafina, and to have Hannah with us, and both those things helped deal with the tug exerted on our hearts by Licata – our friends there in the town and in the cruising community, our sometimes dirty street, the march of seasons through the vegetable stands, and the warm human atmosphere of Sicily.
Right away there were some reminders that life on a boat is not all a bowl of cherries (which were just appearing in the markets). The head (marine toilet) began to leak, the engine hour meter stopped, and on the first night at sea, in our first dense fog in the Med, our radar failed and our on-board navigation network got flakey. Then the oven quit. Ah, deferred maintenance, and the effect of a salty atmosphere on gadgets. The head was a simple fix – some bolts needed tightening, an electronics guy in Palermo helped us solve the network problems, and we found it easy enough to live with the two stove-top burners. The oven will have to wait until next winter in Licata.
Meanwhile we saw some beautiful places, had more dolphin visitations than usual in the Med, and had a wonderful time with Hannah, who we were sad to part from a couple days after our landing in Palermo.
Now we’re in the Aeolian Islands, enjoying some of our favorite places from last summer. In another couple days we’ll be heading toward the west coast of Italy, working our way north, seeing where the wind will take us.
Although we’re quite a few sea miles from the shores of Italy proper, we haven’t avoided noticing the ups and downs of national politics in the country. Now the hard-right-wing, anti-immigrant Lega, formerly the Lega Nord (Northern League) seems to be in an equal position to coalition partner Cinque Stella (the Five Star Movement) in a new government. These “unconventional” developments spring from the same roots as similar phenomena around the world – increasing impoverishment of the many and obscene enrichment of a few. Disgracefully, though, anger at the record of the ruling elite is yet again being turned towards those least able to defend themselves. It’s a long tradition of blaming anyone but those who have presided for decades over societies without human values. “Foreigners,” Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, welfare loafers, whatever – as long as we avoid talking about the greed and cynicism of the powerful. One can only hope that some of those who voted for Cinque Stella in the belief that it was a progressive alternative will challenge the destructive xenophobic rage of the Lega. We’ll see.