Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cruising the Strait of Sicily and Tunisia in October 2011

Its always a pleasure to sail with an expert crew. Everybody knows what to do, no directions necessary, enjoying wordless accordance. So this is reservered for the last cruise of the year, when you expect stronger winds and heavier sea conditions. With my sailing friends Gerhard Rothfuss and Gerhard Westphal we boarded S/Y Sea of Joy late evening on 19th October.

Next day before setting sail we had to re-adjust the hydraulic steering of the autopilot. A short sea-trial
confirmed good function, but we saw that during last month the underwater ship was grown over with algea. So a nice diver cleaned our ship in the morning of October 21st. We waited for a severe thunderstorm to pass and then set sail to Pantelleria, where we anchored at night in Cala Levante.

Next morning we moved the boat to the northern tip of Pantelleria where we found a quiet place in Porto Nuevo alongside some discarded boats used by refugees coming from Tunisia. We visited the town and had a traditional meal cooked by an old lady near the harbor.

At 4:00 am on Sunday, October 23th we sailed south west to Tunisia, where we declared entry in Port Yasmine near Hammamet. For Tunisia it was an important day, because they held their first elections after spring-revolution. Everybody seemed to be happy and all was quiet. Next morning we bunkered
diesel at a legendary price of 0.50 Eur and crossed the short distance to the picturesque harbor of El Kantaoui, where we found a secure place inside and a good fish dinner.

Next day we sailed on southward to Monastir. The friendly harbor master gave us a place alongside and we visited the famous Rabat and the Mausoleum of Habib Bourghiba. On Wednesday, October 26th we sailed on high waves on a 7bft northerly wind round the shallows southeast of Monastir and finally found a place on the customs quai in Mahdia. We had a long walk around this beautiful city to its famous lighthouse and had a very good dinner at Lido restaurant.  

Early next morning we declared exit from Tunisia and sailed east to Lampedusa, where we moored in front of the Capitaneria in the northeastern corner of Porto di Lampedusa. In search for the famous restaurant "al Berto" we climbed the hills north of the city, finally found it and had a great dinner with the nice family.

Next day before leaving we bunkered good Italian food and then set sail to Malta. We had a nice northerly wind with 6bft, but it turned west. So we had to tack for the last third of our distance. We finally logged 140sm and moored in Grand Harbor Marina in Birgu / Valetta after 25hours. We visited Valetta and the historical sites, enjoyed good restaurants (Chez Cyrille) for the next two days.

On November 1st we bunkered diesel at the tank ship in Msida and finally set sail for our last leg back to Licata. Weather was rather bad, a lot of rain, high waves, but strong wind from north east brought us with good speed back to our home marina in Licata.

The next two days my friends helped me to winterize the boat. On November 4th we left back to Austria after an eventful sailing season around Sicily, Malta and Tunisia.

This cruise took 11days with 100 hours sailing a distance of 564sm. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sailing Round Sicily

On August, 19th 2011 we started our first - but surely not last - circumnavigation of Sicily counterclockwise. Gusti & Richard Stastny, an experienced sailing couple, were on board with me right from the start. We left our new home-port Licata for Marina di Ragusa, where we moored in the "Porto Touristico" for two days and took a rental-car for a visit of Modica, Ragusa, Comiso, Vittoria and Scoglitti.


August, 21st we sailed east past Gela, Pozzallo and PortoPalo, rounded Capo Passero, and then sailed northeast to Syracusa, where we moored at "Marina Yachting SR" in front of the old walls of Ortigia. We visited the city and had a nice dinner at "Taverna Sveva".

Fish Market, Catania
Early next morning we continued our city-tour and finally left Syracusa with a nice wind and sailed to Catania, Mount Etna straight ahead. In Catania we moored at the end of the main harbor at the pontoon of "Diporto Nautice Etneo". In the evening we visited the city and had a very good fish dinner at "Osteria Antica Marina". Early next morning we bought fine food, fruit and vegetables at Catania's fish and food market - a remarkable and enjoyable experience!

With nearly no wind we motored further northeast passing some mundaene seaside resorts such as: Aci Trezza, Aci Reale, Stazzo, Riposto, Giardini Naxos, and finally anchored in Taormina Bay near the railway-station. After climbing through a narrow tunnel under the street and railway we catched a taxi to visit famous "Theatro Greco" just in time for sunset. We walked through the crowded streets of Taormina and finally got back on board for a good sleep.

With just enough wind to sail we continued up to Reggio di Calabria, where we spent the night in the small yacht harbor inside of the commercial harbor, but not missing a late visit to the excellent "Baylik Restaurant", where the nice host drove us back to our boat after our dinner. So we did not have to cross the complicated maze of highways and railroad tracks again by foot.

Pta. Peloro
August 25th was a unforgettable day for me: With a nice northerly wind we tacked northward across the Straits of Messina between Skylla and Charybdis and a lot of ferries, cargo-ships and other sailing boats. At noon we rounded "Capo Peloro" and continued west to Milazzo, where we moored at "Porto Santa Maria Maggiore" and waited for two additional crewmembers to arrive on board: Till Radermacher and his girlfriend Margit. Together we visited the fort and the churches of Milazzo, bouhgt some supplies and had a excellent dinner at "Al Bagatto".

With no wind at all we motored north to Stromboli, where we visited the island and anchored for a short night at the NE corner of Stromboli. Very early next morning at 03:30 MEST we sailed slowly to the northwestern side of Stromboli to have a good view of the eruptions and aflame lava streams and to hear the hissing and thunder of this impressive vulcano. With sunrise we left via Panarea to Isola Vulcano, where we had a late breakfast and a swim at Porto Ponente and then continued to Porto Levante for an other swim and a healthy mud-bath. After rounding the south of Vulcano we continued to Lipari, where we moored at "Porto Pignataro". For dinner we took a walk to Lipari town for a excellent Pizza at "Pizzeria Pescecane".

On August, 28th we tacked against weak northerly winds to Salina and continued west to Filicudi, where anchored in the south of the island east of Peccorini Porto; mooring right there is just not possible. Next day we continued west to Alicudi and then sailed south-south-west to the beautiful city of Cefalu, where we moored at "Porto Nuevo Presidiana". The the old port is now used only as a town-beach and is far too shallow. We also visited the impressive Norman catherdral and the old city. A very good dinner we had at "Trattoria L'Antica Corte" (Pizza and CousCous di Pesce). Early next day we wanted to climb "La Rocca", the Norman citadel, but we had to wait until 09:00, when it was opened by a guard. Nevertheless a worthwile climb to the fort with impressive views of the city, the sea and the ancient temple of Diana. At noon we continued further west via ugly Termini Imerese and the completely full Marina of "San Nicloa d' Arena" to the harbor of Porticello. As this harbor was also full, we anchored south near a boatyard, where we could land with our dinghy to stroll around this important fishing harbor and to have an excellent fish-dinner at "Trattoria Arrhais".

Cappella Palatina, Palermo
August 31st was the last leg with my crew on the way to Palermo, where we got a mooring-place in the central harbor at Salpancore. We took the new bus to Monreale to visit the famous cathedral and the old famous mosaics. In the evening we came back, strolling through the backstreets of Palermo and finally had a good pizza at "Pizzeria Pergamene". Early next day my crew left by bus for Catania airport and I visited the beautiful buildings in Palermo: Palazzo dei Normanni with most beautiful mosaics in Cappella Palatina, the great Cattedrale, a lot of old churches, Theatro Massimo, Catacombes dei Cappuccini, La Zisa and the lively markets Del Capo and Vucciria. Food was marvelous at" Sant'Andrea" and "Antica Focacceria San Francesco".

Convento dei Cappuccini, Palermo
To bring back the boat to Licata I had to continue single-handed for rest of this cruise via Trapani and Sciacca: In the early morning of September, 3rd it was good to have some wind to sail westwards via Capo le Vito to Trapani, where I moored at the shakily but nice pontoon of Columbus Yachting. There I had to stay for two nights because of bad weather, so I had time enough to visit this nice city and to taste real Trapanese food at "Cantina Siciliana" and "Taverna Paradiso". On September 5th I continued west to the Egidian Isles, first passing the nature reserve Maraone and visiting Levanzo, rounding the most western cap of Favignana "Punta Sottile" and finally mooring at a buoy near Punta Longha south of Favignana. Next day with nice northwesterly winds I sailed via Marsala, Mazara del Vallo and  Selinunte to Sciacca. As there was no free mooring place I had to anchor in the harbor and had a cold dinner and a good sleep. Early next day with a stronger northwesterly wind I continued along the beautiful sandy coast of southwestern Sicily via Capo Bianco and ugly Porto Empedocle to the little harbour of San Leone, where the nice crew of "Mediteraneo Yacht Club" helped me mooring in strong side winds up to 30 knots. In the evening I enjoyed  a delicious fish-dinner at "Ristorante Il Pescatore" again.

Marina Cala del Sole, Licata
A nice westerly wind helped me to finish the last leg on my single-handed cruise back to our new home-port Licata, where I was welcomed by the helpful team of "Marina Cala del Sole" led by Dott. Antonio Pasqualino in the afternoon of September, 8th 2011.

This cruise took 3 weeks with 120 hours sailing a distance of 635sm. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sailing with a 4-women crew

This cruise was very special, as I sailed with a very competent crew consisting of 4 confident women working in the consulting business. They came on board in Mgarr, Gozo, Malta on July 11th. As it was very hot we sailed to Blue Lagoon for a swim and returned to Mgarr in the evening for a nice dinner at "Porto Vecchio". Next day we went via Comino to Grand Harbor Marina and visited Vittoriosa and Senglea.

On July 13th we declared exit at Mgarr, went for a short swim near Fungus Rock and finally crossed Sicily Strait during a enjoyable full-moon night. In the morning we arrived in San Leone, moored the boat at the Mediterraneo Yachting Club. They called us a taxi and soon we visited the impressive Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. In the evening we had an excellent dinner at "Ristorante il Pescatore" in San Leone.

Next day we sailed upwind to Punta Grande, taking a swim and then sailed downwind via Port Empedocle to Licata. There we went into the new Marina "Cala del Sole", where marina manager Dr. Antonio Pasqualino welcomed us with his staff. This is a brand new and beautiful marina:
So I decided to use this marina as our new home-base for the next 12 month.

The proficient marina staff provided us with a nice rental car and so we visited Noto, Modica, Ragusa, Villa Romana Del Casale, Piazza Amerina, Enna and Catania.

I enjoyed this remarkable cruise very much: 166sm, 1 week. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

June in Sicily's Narrows

In June 2011 my family and I sailed from Gozo two times to Sicily and back to Malta.

First we explored Gozo and its excellent restaurants: Porto Vecchio, Ta' Frenc, Tmun in Magarr and Victoria. We sailed round Gozo, visited Xlendi, Fungus Rock, Marsalforn, Ramla Bay, made several trips to the Blue Lagoon, which regrettably became more overcrowded on each visit.

On June 1st we sailed from Gozo to the new Marina Licata on the south coast in Sicily, were arrived at midnight, beeing the first and only boat in this large marina. In the morning we were welcomed by Dr. Antonio Pasqualino and his nice marina staff with excellent Cannoli Siciliani, fresh croissants and a printout of an Austrian newspaper. After replenishing our provisions in the new marina supermarket we strolled around Licata, its churches and castle and finially had a exceptional dinner at "L'Oste e il Sacrestano".

Next day we sailed downwind to Marina di Ragusa, had a very good fish-dinner at "Trattoria da Carmelo". The nice marina staff there arranged for a rental car and we visited Modica, Notto, Syracusa and Ragusa, where we had dinner at "Il Barocco".

On June 5th we sailed back via Mgarr to Msida Marina. From Msida we sailed south to Marsaxlokk (excellent fish at "Tartarun Fish Restaurant") and then with powerful westerly winds dashed north on the west side of Malta back to Blue Lagoon.

7th of June we went back to Msida Marina - now managed by Creek Developments, where I had Sea of Joy's mainsail repaired by the competent sailmaker Anton and a service of the steering gear by Whitesails. Unfortunatly my old outboard engine was stolen during one night - while we were sleeping on board! So I had to buy a new one (Tohatsu 4PS).

On June 18th it was time for an other cruise to Sicily, Via Mgarr we sailed to Porto Palo, where we spent the night anchoring. Next day we sailed with a strong southerly downwind to Syracusa where we moored SoJ for 3 days at Marina Yachting Siracusa, explored the city and had very good antipasti & pasta at "Sicilia in Tavola". In the next two days we visited with a rental car Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa, Modica, Contrada Vendicari and Noto, where we had a remarkable dinner at "Trattoria del Crocifisso" and the famous ice-cream at "Corrado Costanzo". Next day we went Mount Aetna to Rifugio Sapienza at 1900m. Up to 2500m we took the cablecar and then climbed the last 500m to Torre del Filosofo and the southeast crater. Then we took a swim in beautiful Taormina beach.
Here you can look at Aetna's actual situation via webcam.

June 22nd we sailed south via Contrada Vendicari to Marina di Marzamemi and spent the night there after pasta and pizza at "Giramapao". Next day we sailed back across Sicily Narrows to the Blue Lagoon in Comino and finally moored Sea of Joy securely in Mgarr Marina.

The first trip took place from June 1st to 10th logging 235sm,  you may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

The second trip from June 17th to 24th, 2011 logged 200sm, you may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exploring Gozo & Valetta

Sunday 8th of May like many people in Malta we used for a sailing trip round Gozo, visiting Ix-Xini, Xiendi, Fungus Rock, Marsalforn, ir_Ramla Bay with orange sand and finally throwing anchor in the famous Blue Lagoon west of Comino, where we roasted our leg of lamb from Chania with vegetables and potatoes and spent a quiet night.

Monday 9th of May we motored to Valetta for a harbor-cruise, filling up diesel at the tanking ship and mooring for a hike round Valetta in Msida Marina for 6 hours. In the afternoon we visited Grand Harbour and then sailed back for Gozo, where we finally had our last dinner in Mgarr at Porto Vecchio restaurant, which was extraordinary good.

Tuesday morning we cleaned the boat and at noon took the ferry to Cirkewwa, where we boarded an anchient bus with open doors and enjoyed an adventurous trip first to Valetta and then to the airport at Luka.

In these 2 days we logged 70sm. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Comfortable Crossing to Malta

In Chania our last crew member Karl Hitschmann came on board and Klaus Darilion left us for some relaxing days in Crete. After an outstanding dinner at "The Well of the Turk"  we had a long sleep in the busy harbor in Chania. In the morning of Tuesday, 3rd of May after a nice breakfast we bought a leg of lamb, some nice fish and some cheese in Chania's famous market hall and finally declared exit with the obliging officers of the Greek coastguard.

At 11:30 local time we set the second reef for our 500 miles crossing to Malta. For the first 12 hours a nice force 6 south westerly wind gave us a cosy lift on our planned course on 280 degrees. But during the night the wind turned west - forcing us to a rather north-westerly course right to Ns. Sapientza on the westerly tip of Peloponnisos. But soon the wind turned farther nord - so we could tack and continue on our old course right in the direction of Malta. From now on it was a comfortable crossing with steady winds.

We sailed through day and night without any change of sails, meeting only few ships and accomplished about 140sm per nautical day. Soon our watch schedule became routine with a daily changing combination  of two crew resting and two crew keeping lookout for three hours at night and four hours during daylight.

In the night of Friday 6th of May we sailed near fields of anchoring tankers ablaze with light west of Malta when the wind decreased and we had to start the motor for the last few miles. Finally we reached the harbor of Gozo, Malta's nothern island and moored our boat in Mgarr Marina after 3.5 days of contemplative sailing.

Declaring entry was extremly easy with a friendly coustoms officer right in the marina. After getting some sleep we explored the island and had a very fine dinner at Tmun restaurant in the harbor of Mgarr.

We logged 540sm sailing 3 days and 20 hours. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Ardous sailing to Chania

On Saturday, April 30th my crew arrived from Vienna via Heraklion: Albert Burgstaller, Klaus Darilion and Aaron Kaplan.

Sunday morning 1st of May we set sail for Chania with a good but incorrect weather forcast. Instead of sunny and south 5 bft wind weather soon became bad and we had thunderstorms and gusty winds up to 40 knots first from south, but in the evening turning westerly.

So we had to beat all night and finally arrived tired after 130sm in Chania 10:30 in the morning local time.

You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

Easter Works in Agios Nikolaos

Late for the beginning of the season we started the usual maintenance works on April, Monday 18th. Sea of Joy was lifted out of the water by the travellift in Ag. Nikolaos marina. With the help of the competent team of Oh-Kay Service led by Udo Oesch new antifouling, fitting of new anodes, propeller cleaning and greasing was finished in 3 days and a new anchor winch with remote chain counter was installed - the old one had a crack right through the steel housing.

All works completed we enjoyed a nice easter week on land with roundtrips and hiking all over Crete after enjoying a remarkable easter night in Ag. Nikolaos:

The famous burning of Judas in the city lake accompanied by impressive fireworks.