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.

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