Kaya Reboot - Bari, Italy
After 1.5 years apart from S/V Kaya, Italy began opening its doors to visitors and we decided to pick her up. I was apprehensive about leaving New York and travelling during the pandemic, but once we saw Kaya, it was clear that she needed a lot of love. There was rust, dirt and sun damage all over from sitting unused all this time.
Getting into Italy was not too bad, considering the rules around entry are constantly evolving. The New York flight agent was the most confused and looked at the most documents, including our marriage certificate, while giving us a hard time about our Rapid vs PCR Covid-19 test results (although this was not a problem then, at the end of May). Italian immigration only looked at the test results. No one glanced at any vaccination records. On arrival in Puglia, we self-certified that we would isolate in a hotel first, then our boat.
People here were masked up and seemed to be cheerfully socializing outdoors. Italy was hit hard in March 2020, but we learned that the third wave in February 2021 was also very tough. We were glad to hear that the family who runs the shipyard were all healthy; only grandma caught the virus and she fully recovered.
We were jetlagged and still exhausted from moving out of our NY apartment when we put Kaya into the water and started an intense phase of cleaning and restoration. As we tested various parts of the boat, it felt like remembering our way into a not-so-distant life. Some parts were broken, and some we simply forgot how to handle. Step by step, the boat became more livable and ship-shape. Here was some of the work we did (TL;DR if you're not interested in boat tasks):
Prior to pickup, our trusty shipyard had made many fixes and exciting upgrades while we were gone, such as installing a synthetic teak deck and a hydro generator. We also printed new ship logos for the side and back - yay!
In the meantime, our plans were becoming more clear. Beautiful Puglia had been kind to us during this busy and poignant chapter, but it was time to go. S/V Kaya had technically overstayed the 18 month grace period (aka "temporary importation") for non-EU yachts to stay in the EU, making us potentially liable to pay VAT on her. Montenegro (non-EU) is almost directly across the Adriatic sea from Bari, ~100 nautical miles away. The day our new generator battery arrived, the winds were favourable, and so we set sail that evening.