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→
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.
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.
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.
We returned to Trapani from Favignana and spent two more nights on a mooring in the outer part of the harbor — a bit cooler than being tied up at the dock. After a quiet Sunday, we launched Rinky (our dinghy), went ashore to the excellent daily market and filled our new “Gimi” shopping trolley with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, and other local food specialties. We stopped in at the local fish market and decided to treat ourselves to some fresh swordfish. We also found a small supermercato to stock-up on bottled water and a few other provisions before returning to the boat — a real Sicilian shopping adventure, which turned into a culinary adventure when we were back onboard. We ate the swordfish raw for lunch with lemon, olive oil, onion, sea salt, cracked pepper and parsley, and then seared it in olive oil and served with couscous made with pine nuts and raisins for dinner. Both meals were washed down with tasty Sicilian wine.
An ENE wind at 8-12 knots made for a nice sail from the Porto Vechio anchorage in Cefalu to Termini Imerese. As we entered the harbor, our friend Jayne on Aorangi was headed out for the second time that day with a group from Lega Navale, the local sailing club. We tied up in the slip next to hers for an unexpected reunion — she had to delay her departure for the Tuscan Islands, and we decided to ride out some windy weather in this safe harbor. Two other boats that were in Gaeta this past winter are also here — small world!
Here’s a photo gallery of Leg 2 of our cruise through Southern Italy and Sicily:
We departed the Aeolian Islands today hoping to find some wind for sailing either today or tomorrow as we make our way to Termini Imerese on the north shore of Sicily. No luck with the wind, but we were fortunate to have settled weather for anchoring in Cefalù’s Porto Vechio. We floated peacefully near a rocky promontory, the old city and a long, sandy beach in relatively shallow water (15′). David took the lead in the galley and made a delicious bucatini pasta (hollow spaghetti noodles) with a botarga sauce for dinner. We really love anchoring out.