We sailed from Southern Italy to Sicily for the final leg of our 2012 cruise in the Mediterranean, arriving in Marina di Ragusa on 19 September. The voyage took us from Santa Maria de Leuca on the heel of Italy, across the Gulf of Taranto to Crotone, along the sole of the boot to Rocella Ionica, across the Gulf of Squilace to Riposto, Sicily and then south to Siracusa (see map).
We visited many of the same ports this year as when we were headed east in 2009 (see Logbook Archive for Southern Italy and Sicily). Siracusa was at the top of the list of places we wanted to visit again, so we were thrilled to have another week in scenic Grand Harbor. Late in the season, it’s a gathering place for migrating cruisers headed to their winter berths. We anchored in the company of several American-flagged boats and others passed through on their way to Malta, Tunisia, or like us, to Marina di Ragusa in Sicily. Continue reading Final Leg for 2012: Southern Italy to Sicily→
A southerly breeze carried us to the “heel of the boot” of Italy on Monday. We’re in Santa Maria de Leuca, a small summer resort town that is in the process of closing down for the season. A tall white lighthouse marking the Cape beams its light above the harbor at night. After sailing 160 miles in four days, we were ready for a lay day or two while waiting for the winds to become more favorable for crossing the Gulf of Taranto to the “sole of the boot.” Continue reading Gyatso in Italia…Again→
To say we touched the shores of five different countries on three continents during the 2009 cruising season sounds like a lot, but while we were underway, it just felt like we were slowly island hopping our way from Italy to Turkey. What was impressive is that this year’s cruising grounds happened to take us through the crossroads of the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean Sea and across the cultural divide between Europe and Africa, and Christianity and Islam.
We awoke and got underway before dawn today for what turned out to be a long day of motoring to Santa Maria di Leuca in the company of two French boats. It turns out that we had been sailing on a similar schedule the same two French-flagged boats since Malta where they first spotted us. We saw each other on the overnight passage from Riposto (Etna). Having not met a French sailor that doesn’t have a racing streak in him/her, we all had a good laugh when Gyatso arrived in Crotone well before they did. It turns out that we had some gusty, rough weather in the night — conditions that our bluewater boat could weather much easier than their racer-cruisers.
Another overnight sail — this time from the eastern shore of Sicily to the instep of the “Boot” of Italy. A tiny sliver of the moon set behind the headland as we reached the heel of the boot after sunset. When we looked closer, Etna towered in the background with a faint glow of dark orange sunset behind its massive silhouette. David sketched the scene in the logbook, hoping to capture the memory in some way.
Why do the prices increase the closer you get to an active volcano? Shouldn’t they be paying us to do something so foolish? We arrived at the Marina della Etna in Riposto, Sicily this evening to find that it is by far the most expensive place we have ever berthed Gyatso for a night — the previous record having been Brielle, New Jersey in Nov. 2005! Neither one makes much sense, unless you consider other factors, such as catering to a totally different clientele (power boats and fishing boats vs. cruising sailboats). Despite the awesome views of Etna from our slip, we decided to forego a land-based journey to the volcano and will depart tomorrow morning for the “boot” of Italy. We are now on-the-move en route to Greece and feeling the end-of-season pull to our final destination: Turkey.
Here’s a photo gallery of Leg 4 of our cruise through Southern Italy and Sicily:
Grand Harbor in Siracusa — what a sight to see! Having had so few opportunities for anchoring in the Med, we were happy to find that Siracusa exceeded our expectations — many cruising friends had highly recommended it to us. The old city of Ortigia sits on a promontory which used to be an island and overlooks the large anchorage and the newer parts of the city. We found plenty of space to drop our hook among the 25-30 other cruising sailboats. Unlike many places we have been this summer, the cruisers outnumbered the charter and local boats in this port. We spent our first night onboard admiring the views, sipping sangrias, gobbling down eggs-a-bras for dinner and going to bed early after two days of sailing from Malta.
We anchored overnight with a handful of other sailboats, including one with an American flag, and the local fishing fleet. With no wind to hold us into the gentle swell, we rocked uncomfortably for part of the night but managed to get enough rest to continue to Siracusa the next morning. Given all of the fish traps and shipping traffic in this area, we were glad to break-up the trip from Malta into two day-sails rather than making another overnight passage.
Although sailing in darkness is always a bit mysterious, the overnight passage from Tunisia was more so than usual. As we rounded Cape Bon under sail, we had not one but two close calls with fishing vessels, despite our careful efforts to stay out of their way. It was as if they were aiming for us. One did not even have its fishing gear down, and no matter what we did, our courses continued to converge. We finally turned on the engine to help us maneuver out of the way.
Before we could get underway today, we had to untangle the mooring lines which had become wrapped around the base of the mooring ball overnight. We took on 300 liters of fuel on the quay near the ferry docks and motored our way to Marsala, keeping well offshore due to the shoals along this coast. We spent eight days here before making the overnight passage to Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia on 15 July. The marina is located just across the street from the famous Marsala wine producers, so we took tours of two facilities, one making fortified wines (Florio) and the other (Donna Fugata) making innovative wines from traditional grapes of Sicily.