Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the modest Alberg inventory.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Sale or Sail?

Life is not static, it is dynamic.  We knew changing continents would be difficult.  We’ve done it before, many times in fact.

First Mate was the priority this time, not the Skipper.  So we moved overseas and left s/v Nautica in her berth at our Sailing Club in South Carolina under the careful supervision of Chef-Skipper.  He and his family continue to enjoy sailing this classic.

Funny how there are so many boats and skippers in the world.  They are everywhere. Just the other weekend we drove over to Lake Garda, this Pleistocene, i.e. “ice age,” type of lake with steep mountain walls falling down into icy dark waters, and found there, boats.  Many boats, of all sizes and ages and conditions in all sorts of berths and harbors.  And it was so funny to see the nice ones, the cute colored ones and the really ugly ones nestled in together, some wasting their lives away in an aquatically gorgeous environment without any hope of being part of it.  Life, like lakes, is dynamic and in between life’s movement are those other parts of life which are stuck.  Boats that rarely move. Boats that simply clink and clank in the breeze waiting patiently for their owners to show up!

We’re not stuck, we’re very engaged and active.  And our Nautica is not a static part of life either, she was designed to be in and on, lapping and dancing on the water.  We were so glad to have found her up in Nova Scotia as early as we did as she had come to the end of her sailing days in that region.  The past couple of years of intense work and revitalizing has made her a star on the water.  One yacht club member told me, “whenever I bring someone to the club I show them your boat first, because it is the most beautiful boat in the club.”  He told me this before I departed for Italy.  I knew looking at her graceful lines did something to me when I showed up too, but had no idea she was flirting with others!

Our situation has turned in another direction and the First Mate and I realize she deserves more play-time than we thought.  Or, maybe it’s that we’re too concerned about not being around to fiddle with her.  Oh well, not too sure.  We’ve got a great stand-in skipper caring for her, but we know that when you don’t have enough time, you miss getting things done aboard you want done. And when you don’t have any time you miss getting anything done.  We don’t have time at all for Nautica.  It wakes me up at night. 

I thought I could do it.  I’d not think about her.  Keep busy enough and it won’t bother you…well, that’s not working.  How do I forget about how she slides through the water on a near windless day at 4 knots and how she leans over and runs in 25 knot gusts and a beating hail of rain.  And in the end, she trots back to her berth like a race horse full of herself for a fast run in muddy track.

So, she’s on the market.  I had hinted at this some months back, but this time it’s true. 

And, like the original “BaggyWrinkles,” my Cape Dory Typhoon which started the blog, Nautica is a thoroughbred Alberg design.  All Alberg, from the original pegboard on the bulkhead, to the faithful little Yanmar diesel with her new stainless steel shaft and high tech PSS shaft seal and her vintage brass 3 blade prop.  I did not rebuild or completely refurbish this Alberg, I improved upon what I had.  I wanted to keep that “period” look she had.  Oh sure, I had fully intended to replace the pegboards with fir slats, but life is dynamic, and I had to relent on that.  The head I did refurbish with its portable that was cobbled together by a previous owner, and I added some accoutrements to accent her nicely.  I did the reinforcement work on the chain plates but did not improve when something was working.  Hers were all fine, just need better bolts and new metal.  Everywhere, things were redone without trying to make her look like a new boat, rather, she looks her age but has great bones!

When I had West Marine remanufacture her lifelines I insisted that if the pelican clamps were structurally sound that I preferred the originals to a bright shiny new device.  Keeps her looking her age.  I’m very proud that when I’m on the water people look over, wave and nod their heads out of respect for her design knowing she came from another time, another idea, and lines that never tire the eyes.  I realize there are other people like me, probably worse than me, who love their boats more than they like sleep, and those who never hesitate to spend more money on their boats than eating.  It’s love.  That’s all.  And a bit of obsession along with it.  They go well together.

It’s because of that it’s never a good idea to ask someone how much they want for their boat!  Well, they’ll tell you, “Well I can’t put a price on her…,” or “She’s worth a million to me!” or “Well I bought her for 10k and I’ve put about 10k into her, so I’d say about 30k, what do you think?” It’s monkey math but there’s something to it.  I know that when I sold my Typhoon, I did not recoup what I had put into her.  First Mate and I talked about this silly tendency to want to recoup upgrades and maintenance monies, it’s just silly.  If I were to tally up all the visits I’ve made to BMW over the past ten years to the price of a used car, it’d make sense to just go get a new one!  They’re used because they’re cheaper in price!

So, we know pricing is more an estimation of how much you want to put into the dowry, not how much something is worth by way of cumulative maintenance.  It doesn’t work in that way.  But we all who treasure our rigs do honestly think that way.

All sailors look at boat pricings.  

Have you seen the sellers who list their items on fore sale pages?  Alongside the shrouds, or sails or whatever part they put NEW in capital letters but that was in 1998 when it was NEW.  I laugh at those lists.  Nothing is new if you’ve sailed it and had it for 30 days.  It’s not about the stuff you put in it unless it’s brand new from the factory. We bought a new Beneteau years ago and walked the factory floor and saw it before it was put in the dunk tank to check for leaks.  It was NEW.  That’s the NEW part.  Most of our old boats may have some NEW parts but they’re just recent additions to the boat which is, not NEW.

Well, as I said, she’s on the market to the degree that if the right suitor comes along, I would entertain the discussion.  In the meantime I have my eyes on a plane ticket for home during which time Nautica and I will get out on the water together and stretch our legs again.  And we just won’t talk about how long it’s been!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Artistic Endeavor

Almost out of the hotel!  A couple more weeks.  But it hasn’t been easy living in the same room day after day. In fact, it’s like a very nice prison from which you can exit and return but apart from that, no activity except final escape will reward you. 

And it’s tiring too.  How can you go so sleep for six to eight hours and wake up more fatigued than when you went to bed the night before?  Boredom and endless routine is taking its toll.  Right now, I’m lying on the makeshift sofa with the First Mate’s suitcase at one end, my head propped on the one arm and laptop balanced on my stomach, leaning against my legs.  I can see good enough like his without my glasses so I’ll proceed to describe a bit of an attempt to stave-off going completely nuts in this somewhat luxurious prison. 

It goes back to a posting made by an acquaintance I bumped into during my days on the Cape Dory website.  Her and her husband live on the California coast and they have had in the past some postings about their sailing there.  However, Belinda DelPesco is quite an artist in her own right and has about 1200 followers of which I am one.  Well, I would like to think I’m somewhat artistic, at least I try.  And her most recent posting reminded me to get with the program!  She had had a posting of this sort back a year or so, at which time, I thought to myself, “yes, that is correct and I will begin right now, today, to draw….”  Crickets.  I did not do it then, although I did get the pencils and the art paper from my office closet.  The First Mate had given them to me for such distraction, and I put them on my desk.  But, since we moved to Italy they are now stuck in Genoa, due to a longshoreman strike, and it remains to be seen when those items will make it to our new abode; which by the way we will enter in a couple more weeks.  

The envelope was so accessible and random it made sense to give it some existence.  Now it will remain with me. Oh, by the way do you see the sea state?  Some current, but enough wind to push forward too.

But back to Belinda.  She had said a year ago, the greatest problem with artists is they just don’t get going.  And then in her latest posting she gently reprimanded this artist by urging us not to put ourselves down.  Well, with this sort of urging, it’s quite difficult to bring forth a suitable or even reasonable defense.  She makes perfect sense too, which makes anything I might decide to the contrary to be patently a waste of thought, and energy.  This time, I read her well crafted blog and admired her use of colors and thought, “…well I guess it’s time to bring on the effort, as much as I feel like I may not be ‘dressed right for the party’ I must put pen to paper.  I also thought, this torturous hotel stay might serve me well to begin scribbling my mental images of, what else,…but sailing.

I had this epiphany yesterday, yes yesterday.  And, so I decided at about 2:30 in the afternoon, after a well deserved and needed exercise of swimming laps in a training facility, I closed the laptop, plugged in my phone, and grabbed the nearest piece of paper, an envelope, and began to draw. 

Of course they are Albergs.  The drawing gives you permission to think what you wish about the situation and the feel.

There’s never a question in my mind how to start drawing sailing vessels, I always begin with the shape of the hull at a point of sail I prefer to see, usually the aft quarters, the rise of the deck to a point ahead where you can sense the need for a bit of distortion to make the boat flex in the wind.  After the hull is set I build the boat, and after the boat is built I put the sailors aboard.  I know, it’s strange.  But in my black and white mental drawing room, it’s fascinating to see the creation of my stick sailors come to life.

The only reason I’m using black pen is because I have not done what Belinda said already.  If I had done this a year ago, I might be using color by now.  But, I’m the only one to blame on that score.  After all, we had black and white TV before we had color, so I’m on track I think.

So then, I completed my little scribbled masterpiece on a piece of bank stationery (fitting) and tossed it on the couch with other assorted papers and left it on its own to survive the contest.  The big test would be to see if the First Mate might see this and might give me some commentary.  It was a test for my own negative self-talk (Belinda) but I decided that I was going to draw because now, I have time, and I have more of that than I do of sailing, so I am constrained to sail, whether in the sea or in my images.
I think I may have surprised myself by just starting this drawing on a piece of room trash.

She arrived to the “room” (You must read The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings, to understand the quotation marks around such a common word) and after a few moments of setting her things down she looked at the papers on the bed and burst with excitement saying, “What is this?”  I responded phlegmatically, “oh that’s something I drew, do you like it?”  “Like it? I think it’s really good!  That’s amazing!”  This burst of energy was like getting paid for your work as you might imagine.  I realized again, as this was not the first time she’s seen my scribbles, that this time in the hotel has brought out my dark side, the mentally creative side, the side we don’t touch unless constrained to do so.  It’s so much easier to plop down and watch some TV, or YouTube, or drink, well, sometimes drink, or smoke, or whatever you do because you don’t do anything from the creative well of your human being-ness. 

I am the chief sinner of this tendency, that of being active yet not creative.  So, turning a leaf I have decided to use this blog as an extension of the Alberg’s existence because much of what I am fascinated with is the elegance of old boats.  So there is this akin of one love to another.  From boats to drawings of boats and back.  My site is not an artist’s lair at all but a place to share the fascination of the love of sailing with those also who may never be able to sail, and who can share the love vicariously through the venue of words, photos, and drawings too.  I am surprised at how many people engage with this site to be part of the journey, the "extended life" of this boat and its skipper!

Let’s see where this goes!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wow, it's really been 5 Years!

I'm sitting in a fairly nice hotel in Italy writing this entry. 

Despite its quality of life, this hotel life has begun to be like a very nice prison.  You can check in and check out as you wish, and somebody comes by twice a week to give you fresh towels and toilette paper, and makes the bed, whether you did or not.  Breakfast, once a surprise to our waking eyes, has turned to be a regime of cheeses, meats, hot fare, cookies of all varieties, breads, croissants and European tartes of all sorts, sandwiching fresh fruits and yogurt blends that go just splendidly with a café American.  And yes, that is the name of it.  And even breakfast has become routine.  And that's not good.  Just the same, it will end soon, as we have chosen a place to live in the hills south of the hotel, in a quiet hilltop berg of a half dozen villas where wind is the noise outside and a terrace is a place to forget the problems of the world with your café.  That should be a nice change from this place. 

Such a digression is necessary so that you, the reader, understands that my creative ambitions are being tested to their limits in our luxurious camp site.

It's not a bad gig here in a hotel, but it has grown old.  "So, write in your blog," I say to myself.  That'll take an hour or two, especially if you can't get the photos from your iPhone onto your old-school Asus computer, ughh. The maid will be knocking on the door soon with a "buon giorno" and clean towels.  I'll be doing the wash at the house soon, I'd best enjoy this while I can!

So, I just realized while sitting here, I raced passed the five year anniversary of this blog back in May when I was preparing to submit my resignation as the Sailing Club Commodore, and handing over operations of everything about Nautica, to my creative chef and nautical side-kick back home.  Five years, 235 entries, 2 boats, and over 67,000 page views.  Surprise me, hush-up myself.  That's crazy!  

First Mate trying to blend in with the locals in the Piazza.

This blog is particular to the Alberg design but there are actually people reading it who don't sail either.  Some people just like to read it.  That might be their own fascination of some sort, but I do appreciate their readership just the same.  I do actually try to edit what I write (am not very good at it) and also attempt to make some sort of sense out of my subject whether it involves thru-hulls or keel hulls.  I'm not the best writer but I've read a few I try to emulate.  Perhaps I'll get better in the next posting.

I don't spend time thinking bout how many blog entries I've made over the past five years.  I'm not getting paid to do this so I really don't pay attention to details like that anyway.  I'm a big picture skipper.  We've been in this hotel now for one month while we have moved from South Carolina and despite the lack of our nautical participation, we've run into some boat stuff all over the place.  One of them is the Emerald something which arrived last week in Livorno with a dramatic message about lost keys, a locked car, and an insistent message to "come soon with keys or else!"  Apparently, as the message filtered to us in a warped statement, "your car is blocking the offloading of vehicles and cargo and must be moved immediately or it will be subject to damages."  First Mate used to work in exports and dealt with longshoremen in her other life, and she explained to me why I would race to Livorno, on the other side of Italy to rescue her ragtop BMW.  20 million dollars of ship cargo means nothing to the foreman of the unload teams...images of the Z4 disappearing in the waters below the ship came to mind.  I hit the road.

Our very friendly rescue team from Massaro Auto Care and First Mate's ragtop.

I was told to get there between 0730 and 0745?  Really, a 15 minute window?  Yup.  I arrived in my wagon and seeing a gaggle of guys in bright yellow suits and no supervision, I crept forward toward the tarmack until there were taps on my roof and a burly Italian began to show me with his fingers where I could go.  I held the email with his name on it and pronounced it correctly--made him happy.  In broken English/Italian I handed the "extra key" to the Z4 to him which he in turn handed to another lead foreman who was herding workers onto a truck headed to the huge freight ship at the end of the tarmack.  Deal done.  I very carefully crept around the crowd of workers and out of the "controlled area" and breathed a sigh of relief as I set out to race home with my Italian friends on the interstate highway, through Tuscany, which I didn't even notice, and back to Veneto in northeastern Italy.   Click on the underlined text to see that route!

The sad part of that race across Italy was I had no time to enjoy it.  I was 20 miles from the leaning tower of Pisa, which I had seen as a child, but hey, it was close!  And I didn't savor any Tuscan wines or even stay in a good hotel.  It was an emergency run to save a car.
So the 5 year anniversary of this blog finds us in a new country, learning new phrases, and enjoying the experience.  And, in a purely ironic way, a friend of a friend of ours met us in the piazza this past weekend, and we discovered our shared passion of sailing while having a café in delightful July weather.  He then later texted me a picture of the kind of vessel he has.  I shook my head when I recalled that he had mentioned in English that we could take his boat to Venice one day and then he texted me the photo of his "old" boat.  Makes the Alberg class look like sleek designs!  But these old boats have character! 

Remember what I said in my last post about the fact I had a hunch?  It didn't take long for that to come true!  Check out the YouTube videos of these boats in a Regatta on the water in Choggio, just south of Venice.
Friends of friends and also Sailors

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I have this sneaky suspicion that somewhere in our stay in Italy, we will come upon some vintage sailing vessels!

This probably comes from my childhood.  My oldest brother fell ill in Heidelberg in 1956 and died in the same hospital in which General Patton died.  There was no huge internet of friends posting life events to one another, and sympathy was slow to arrive by overseas mail, so my war tested young father, then a Major working at the Army Headquarters, was told by his General to take some time off with the family after the burial.  So the remaining four of us took off across France in the four door Ford and ended up in Portugal along the Atlantic Ocean coast.  Boy, things were different then, at least in our memories.  That trip across Europe at that time was epic to say the least!  Even today it would be a significant undertaking to simply jet off to the shores of Spain, with the planning, time-off from work, the travel agenda, etc.  My Dad whisked us off to the shores of Spain and Portugal!

During a segue on our walk to town, my eye caught sight of a suspicious but familiar sight!

I was 3 years old at the time but I can still remember the dark boulders of the sea wall, green moss on them, and the distinct smell of the sea as it washed in and out with its gurgling roar along the Atlantic coast in Portugal.  I could not get enough of it.  Too, it was there I became entranced with the wooden fishing boats pulled up on the beaches and tied to in the harbors.  Their lines captivated me and I thought they were the most beautiful things in the world.  Later, after returning to the States, my dad had some idea to have my brother and me carve a couple of sailboats out of balsa wood.  It was a good project for us while we were in temporary housing.  My Dad, though not a sailor, led me into a fantasy world about sailing boats, so that today, I'm tantalized by the same thing around seaports.  I just want to go wander, look and photograph.  The Alberg designs have that graceful look too.  That is what captivates me about the Alberg 30 too.  Something as important as a sailboat should look like it can provide you a journey, not just over the water, but into the aspects of artistry which began their construction on a design table.

So I have this suspicion, as I said first, that somewhere along this Italian coast I may find a vessel.  Perhaps a distressed owner will have it and part easily with it.  I just will be keeping my eyes open for just this sort of thing as I begin my exploration of this northern part of the Adriatic.  I've posted before on this blog of our sails into Croatia's small hidden village ports where we discovered timeless designs along the shoreline, adjacent to promenades, packed with nets and oars, bright colors of blue and yellow make them look like toys for working sailors.  I have a suspicion I might find a gaff rig sailing vessel in this area. And, we've got enough room in our shipment to add that to our household goods when we ship back to the states!  No freighter needed for a small sailboat!

Ironically, I glanced up through the scaffolding to see the Marina Associations of Vicenza sign!  Their logo: an anchor.

Just the other day walking from the Basilica in Vicenza we literally stumbled upon the offices of the Marina Association of Vicenza.  Who'd of thought? This isn't a seacoast town, and although there are rivers running through it, there is no boat traffic I've seen, not even a derelict gondola....   So to see this icon was quite a surprise.  And, they also had a couple of anchors secured to the building to catch your eye.

You wouldn't believe randomly stumbling upon this relic along an obscure sidewalk.  But it reminded me that there are lots of unusual things to discover in this country that have to do with nautical features.  After all, they were sailing here long before we were in the USA.

Staring at the phone in the piazza.

In the same way, I'll head down near Venice soon and take a look at the horde of vessels in that area.  This ought to be quite easy, as we've just made friends of a friend from the states with whom we were connected socially once we arrived here.  We met them in the Piazza dei Seignori near the Basilica Palladiana at the center of Vicenza.  And, they are sailors too.  Here we are in the Piazza together making plans.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Nautica meets Maddy

Since departing for the land of the Holy Father, Marco Polo and Pizza, we've been curious about the goings-on back at C Dock on Lake Murray where we left Nautica looking over her life lines at us as we made our way to the airport.  

That was a sad day, but since then, our Chef-Skipper Tommy has been doing a terrific job of caring for Nautica in our absence.  And he was recently joined by his own First Mate, Maddy, for a family cruise, in the evening, to see the Blue Marlins as they migrated the countryside.  I think you can see from this photo standing in the hatchway, Maddy was pretty enthusiastic about being aboard!

This was Maddy's return to Nautica actually.  Her first encounter was filled with anxiety and when Tommy had hoped to have her aboard for a get-acquainted sail, she was just not ready.  This time she was energized, the boat, the family, the birds!  Maddy calculated her arrival just right that evening and instantly fell in love with Nautica's kid-friendly sailing platform.

With other family members the group took off from the slip and headed toward what is called "Bomb Island," and previously "Doolittle Island,"or more recently, "Lunch Island."  The history of this little 12 acres in the middle of the man made lake is worth reading.  Try reading it by clicking on this text.

The migration of the Blue Marlins is a regular sensation for boaters on our lake.  

Maddy was especially fascinated with the sail and spent her time inspecting everything aboard, as well as enjoying the cuisine Dad had brought her for munchies.  She was decked out in her sailing outfit with a white T shirt and pink anchor and her custom couture huggies for the jaunt out that evening.

It is great to have Chef-Skipper Tommy and Maddy aboard Nautica.  It gives us a sigh of relief to see Nautica under power of diesel and sail being used and loved in our absence.  Even more it is wonderful to share the enchantment of a sailboat with a little girl who appears quite mystified by the lure of the wind and the sea as she peers out over the water to spot the Blue Marlins.

Maddy's Dad brings his enthusiasm for food preparation to the Yacht Club as well by providing great catering to our large events. It's apparent that both Dad and Maddy are striking up a love for sailing that will last way into the future.  Sometimes all it takes is a nudge to connect a kid to a life loving the sea.  When I traveled to Europe aboard the military Victory Ships in the late 50s I would stand starry eyed watching for ice bergs in the North Atlantic and I could not get enough of the smell of the ocean as it rolled underneath us and spread its blue green waves out with white froth making our way to Bremerhaven, Germany.  It was magic to me.  I think Maddy may have some of that enchantment from what I see in these photos too!

A suitable for framing view at the end of the day!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

La Bella Vita

Landing at Marco Polo airport was uneventful and long sought, after a delayed flight due to weather, a few kids in the rear of the plane who defied sleep, and the anomalies of row 42!  Being on the "end of the logistical train" is never more vivid than at the back of an Airbus.  And I have to wonder if they took a few inches of leg room away from us?

We greeted the "Bella Vita" hardly awake, and wondered what would occur as we funneled our way through a rather uneventful customs check.  I had prepared myself for the eventuality of my 15 Maduro cigars, carefully packaged in a zip-lock bag with a travel humidor bag, being pulled out of my luggage.  But no, nothing so dramatic even occurred.  In fact, the officers were not even interested in our Official Passports nor our bags. The Inspector had his face buried in his iPhone as we all rolled through the sliding glass doors and wearily looked for our friendly taxi which happened to be a new colleague of my wife's workplace.

And, as serendipity would have it, by way of a colleague of the First Mate, we were connected to a couple of expats, themselves about to move from Italy, who had invited us to get together upon our arrival and before their departure.

This made for a very nautical entry to Venice and our final stay in Vicenza, the city made famous by 16th century's, Andrea Palladius whose "Rotonda" designs later sparked a fury of building in America replicating the generously gracious style he made famous.  Goethe is said to have commented after visiting La Rotonda, “Maybe never architectural art has reached such a level of magnificence."  It's on our visit list.  I'll have to write something sage before visiting and hand it to the doorman just in case they want something artsy from us.

But upon arrival, we were called to the front desk of our hotel to receive a chilled bottle of Sparkling Wine, also a benefit of the region, from our sailor friends whom we were yet to meet.  All this made for an interesting landing after 11 hours and several bad movies plus missing out on choice of entrees due to the 400 people in front of us being served the fresh stuff.
Not sure if this is before or after the food, but our time spent in regaling each other with stories was well worth the price of the meal.  They kept their Nauticat 38 in a berth near Venice. 
We were pleased to invite our new friends to dinner at our hotel which had simply blown us away with their cuisine the night previous.  The last time I had rabbit was in an apartment in the diplomatic neighborhood of Strasbourg, France, while studying for my doctorate.   Our then newly acquired French friends were being regaled by a curious fellow named Thierry, whose  humorous and unbelievable stories of misadventures were made palatable by his wife's Lapin Nicoise (excuse the absence of circumflex, my laptop does not understand the French language).  My rabbit was good but the pasta the night before was deadly good as was the gossamer-like fried vegetable plate the First Mate had.  It did not cause me to want to go eat at the Golden Corral one bit.

So at the bar we made light pre-dinner chit-chat which led to the natural "sniffing out" period for sailors and we headed to the restaurant to unveil our unlikely real selves.  We ate sumptuous portions of everything and told tales until the night grew tired of us as we realized our ages required more than our wills could muster and achieve.  We realized that we had become fast friends over the course of the evening and promised to return for a revisit and following of our adventures while apart.  He had left his Nauticat in the water near Venice, overseen by a few trusted souls, even as I had left mine protected in much the same manner.  Neither of us have thought of using firearms for such things, as sailors seem to have a "code of conduct" around these things that don't require such unnecessary force unless we may find upon our return our vessels have been absconded with or are at the bottom of the sea floor as if in hiding upon our return.

Just the Mayor's Office.  What's yours look like?  I know. 
So, a good start in Italy, in all.  We hope to find more seaside tales here as we have in the past and I am sure we will one day make our way to the Nauticat and refresh the wine rack upon our friends' return.  

At this point in our journey we're stuck in the cycle of waiting. Waiting for the hotel to throw us out and waiting for the military to help us find a place to live.  Both activities are very enjoyable as long as we have this hotel's restaurant just below our room.  We'll make do for as long as it takes the Army to figure out how much fun we're having slumming along this way!