Hélia 44 owners find helpful locals in Italy

Posted: 18 September 2013.

Sydney couple Gordon and Lou Coates previously owned a Fountaine Pajot Orana 44 “La Rochelle”, but have recently upgraded to the new model Hélia 44. Instead of having the boat shipped to Australia (as they did with “La Rochelle”), they have chosen to pick up their new boat ex-factory in France. They are now living the dream cruising the Mediterranean. From all reports they are having a trip of a lifetime, here is a short update from Italy!

Most times we get by with the few words that we now know in Italian, but we were having great difficulty finding someone to service our outboard engine on the tender.

That is until we came across this lovely man sitting on the dock mending nets in Porto Stefano. He knew little English, but called over a friend who understood. He then chatted with the other men who had suddenly gathered around, all having something to say – and all at once. Then someone produced a phone, dialed a number and talked at length. I could detect ‘Australian, Suzuki’….etc. He then said ‘be here, 9am tomorrow’. Sure enough, 9am met a man; told 3pm be back at dock and the job would be done that afternoon.

And so it was! People are amazing, so kind and ready to help if they can. And they can’t get over that we come from Australia. The usual response is a wide smile, ‘long way from here’ and ‘ah, kangaroo’. So if it was not for this lovely man we would still be frustrated and nervously running around with an engine that badly needed a service! God bless him!

Posted: 6 September 2013.

I got such a thrill yesterday. On our way across from Corsica to Isola D’Elba (an island off the Tuscan Coast,Italy), I was sitting at the helm and Gordon had just gone inside when I looked to my left in time to see a jet fighter coming straight at the boat. It was low and moving sooo fast.

I called out to Gordon, who would have been disappointed to miss seeing it. (being a pilot) saying, “look to the left, aircraft!….left….no, right, right, right side…….woooohooooo!!!!!!!!!”.

It was so close, I swear it was just meters above our mast, traveling extremely fast and man… the noise! It took my breath away and sent shivers down my spine! Poor Gordon was not in the galley as I had thought. He was just about to lower himself onto the loo when I screamed out.

Well, he rushed to climb up the stairs, kicked his toe as he was struggling with his clothing and hadn’t heard me say aircraft! His heart was racing. there was noise and screaming (he didn’t know what was happening) and he arrived on deck only to see the back end of the aircraft screaming off into the distance.

Well, it was a thrill for me – I had a grin from ear to ear!

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