VHF and Radio things / connections when crossing an Ocean

The VhF was an important tool for my new life abroad. So it was that I started my “official” and “public” talking in English. At that time I remember it was an issue because even if I could communicate quite well with this foreign language I was still in doubt about my “listening” skills. Imagine when the skills needed are related to safety during sailing, approaching harbours, decks and having infos about weather, coordinates and communications with other boats. I really thought I could mess a lot with this tool in my hands, but everything went right in the end. First time using it was in the Caribbean Sea, Virgin Islands. Everybody on board thought it was my duty to do that, cause nobody was able to say anything in English. After this time that I remember with a bit of fear, this job was quite different…

When I started to travel with a more diversified provenience travellers everything become more “democratic” and the use of the vhf wasn’t a big deal anymore.

During my sailing trip I discover that the SSB Radio (single side band) was a great tool to communicate. In every area you can ask for the frequencies were independent volunteers advise you about everything related to the sea at least twice per day, at a certain time. I found it interesting, especially because you can communicate your position when you leave and people are taking notes of it. That means that they will look for you when you are aspected to come somewhere, somehow. This might sound a bit “too much” but is actually a very useful way to stay safe and “together” even when far apart from each other. Sometimes you meet new sailors because you hear their story on the radio and maybe you even talked, and the day after they are anchoring just besides you.

On those radio “rendez-vous”, there is normally a boat crew who is volunteering. They normally start to call people that were “in” during the last transmission. If you are signing for the first time you go on the queue waiting for the call for anybody else to join. After giving your name and position you can just keep silent and listen to the others or asking your questions and express your doubts on the end. I loved this system, I loved to hear from other people. I loved that we weren’t alone in a little boat in the vastity of the ocean. There were other sailors, many of them.

In Ritme, I was using the SSB radio also for sending very concise mails. We had the SailMail account provider connected with a Modem to the SSB Radio (it’s something like 280 $ per year, a pretty fair price for being connected with the world and being able to get the forecast wherever you are). It was quite a funny game for me to look for the best station with the most of the chance to get an email through, unless the Ocean was rough and throwing me up, down and left and right onto the desk. This system is actually very basic: you send a little email to a computer that is always connected on one of those radio stations offered (that is why you need to check the favourite one), that computer will eventually send it for you. Quite often “Niue” or “Honolulu” were the best options. One -few words (10) – email from the Ocean could take from two minutes to half of hour to go through. But, yes, I could tell my sister that I was still alive after many days of silence. It’s a great tool.

I turn 30 and I’m free (some lines I wrote for my birthday, the 25th of November)

The last decade has begun with two mourners that have struck me deeply. I’ve being followed by that cloud of bad feelings during my whole twenties. I can’t say they were horrible; better than the teens, for sure. Many things had happened, including moves, delusions, achievements, and doors slammed in my face. At the beginning of my young life I was a teacher of righteousness. I was good at being in advance in everything, especially in time, in reasoning, in reaching a goal. The ambition that always moved me did not even allow me to be competitive, to look around and compare myself to others: there was no time for these stupid things. I was good at doing many things and I expected the world and its inhabitants to reward me with their graces. This has never happened, especially from its inhabitants, who, despite having studied them long and wide, continue to cause me an immense discomfort and make me feel the need to go to lick my wounds in solitude more often than expected. I remember the times when I used to say that hard work would be rewarded. I have a word for those who still believe in it: “bullshit”. Just bullshit. What is rewarded is when you decide to fuck it all and decide to break through the door that has always been slammed in your face or write on it “Fuck you”, turn and walk away. Those are the finest satisfactions I have ever taken: me, my personal growth and the times when even if the world shows me how unjust it is, I look at him with my glittering eyes and tell him: sooner or later everyone slams the useless baby toe into the useless corner somewhere, somehow. 8d927b37392659.5606670fa529dI grew up in a wonderful place where despite the people I love are always there to wait and show me their affection they often have been the ones to make me suffer the most, with their prejudices and their biases. My mother is the exception. Despite her atavistic negativity, that is the result of ages of watching corruption, bad politics, mafia, and all kind of usurper exploiting us since many centuries, I believe she comes from a parallel universe: her mercy has always misguided me. She can do something I’m trying to do since a longtime now: “Do not bring rancor.” When I was little, except for my closest relatives (which are very special in this) every time I was curious about something, I was answered: “What’s for?” That, translating intonation and Sicilian sarcasm, means “let it go, it’s hard, you’ll probably won’t make it, this is not for you. ” Honestly, I think it is a miracle that I came out as I am from such an ineffective environment, devoted to the impossibility and poor ambition. I am astonished less and less, because in the rest of the world it does not work that way and, since I’ve lived in the rest of the world, I tend to forget the bitterness of an uncle or a relative who “stifles” your abilities. I promise myself that I will smile every time that this will happen in the future rather than get angry. As far as I am concerned, it is ten years that I’m getting all that I want, for terribly contorted and disgraced ways, and I do not think many can say the same. I can, aloud. I have always had very few money and earned with a lot of effort, but this did not stop me from appreciating the slowness of real travels, the struggle for survival and the “barefoot” conquest of what freedom, happiness, knowledge were for me. The difficulties did not stop me from pointing my finger on a globe and saying “I’ll go there” and do it in reality. In my homeland it is always said “no”. It’s an interlayer! Even when we agree with someone we say “no” to intervene. It is amazing how much this attitude for years transmitted makes you become an exile if you do not want to accept it or one of the many “sad” being if you accept it. This mystical impossibility (which in Sicily makes people answer to you questions “no, it can’t be done” and even if you ask why it is not possible to solve that problem, especially bureaucracy related, they answere “because it is so”) made me so angry that I started to denounce my hometown problems with complains that nobody has ever listened to. I started to cure myself with travels, music and moving in a very special city like Turin, which has given me friendships I can swear will last forever. Thos special human beings took me by the hand when my anarchy began to overwhelm the bigots around me, they taught me the beauty of the “blurred edge” while my “sunny” attitude was only admiring the “bright” side of things, they showed me that it is not necessary to hide myself only because I’m a bit different. cropped-fotor_145369593632151Then, It comes about the international friends who have helped me understand that the world is mine, and that love has infinite shapes, apple-shaped, home-shaped, sometimes grave-shaped, sometimes shapeless. Since then, since I only know how to make shabby shapes and chaotic things, I decided that I would have given so much love, free love, row love, fine love, in fact, inform love. Whenever I am tempted to judge a behavior or a choice of life I will ask myself a thousand times if it is not the case to learn again and to accept a new existence shape among my limits. I wish everyone to be free, to love without being “choked”, to be gentle and to send what makes you sufferto the hell, like I did yesterday that I quit my job! I’m going to build new dreams for the next decade, I know already they will be a million …

Liqueurs: a rustic, yet fine way to produce them at home

Every year I have a very important appointment: going to collect fruits and herbs to make my own liqueurs.

In some countries this process is forbidden, and this is something that I do miss when I’m abroad.

Since, little by little, I started to have some customers, what was an home-made activity became also a funny job.

What I love the most is the beginning and the end of the process, also because in the middle there is nothing (which is actually the “whole” thing) or just waiting patiently that the alcohol has absorbed all the flavours from leaves and/or peels.

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The beginning is collecting the ingredients. Most of the time I go for fruity digestives so I collect tangerines, oranges, lemons around. I often find people who support me offering their trees since I haven’t been so lucky to have a piece of land and have my own resources.

Some people do understand the meaning of sharing, especially when they know that they can’t use most of the product of those prolific trees, unless they have a farm, and in the end some of the fruit would be wasted.

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When I finish this part I rinse everything with a sponge and I start to peel in a fine way. Lemons are the hardest in terms of stress for your fingers but tangerines are the worse because it is very important to avoid the white part of the peel which is always very attached to the peel itself talking about tangerines.

I won’t tell how important is that every fruit, after been washed, is clean and dry, cause I believe is obvious. Once this thing is ready to go in a jar with the alcohol, all you need to do is just wait (for some liqueurs 40 days, some 30 days and some others a week or a couple).

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After the maceration I’m ready to prepare the syrup which is normally just water and sugar, boiled, cooled and finally rejoined with the alcohol. The filtration is also a sensitive process: it’s nice to find some imperfections (brown dusty dots) in a home-made liqueur, but it’s better to avoid most of the impurities released by the macerations. To do that I just use a funnel with a little linen sheet on top. It slows down the filtration but the result is remarkable.

This year my specialties will be

Finocchietto (Funnel Liqueur)

Arancello (digestive based on oranges)

Limoncello (digestive based on lemons)

Aurum (citrus fruits mix)

Mandarinetto (digestive based on tangerines)

Allorino (digestive with laurel leaves)

[text me for recipes]