We left Siracusa on May 18 intending to head west along the southern coast of Sicily stopping overnight in various places in order to shorten the final leg of our trip to our new home in Sardinia. Our first stop was the large Marina di Ragusa near the city of Ragusa. We spent only 12 hours there before heading for Licata where we spent three days at the Marina di Cala del Sole. It is a new and not yet complete marina set in a planned tourist development that came to a halt in the Great Recession. Unfinished construction and idle cranes attest to the speed at which this project came to an abrupt end. The marina had lots of space and is very well protected by extensive breakwaters. The only problem for us is that wild dogs took up residence in the vacant land around the marina and they bark periodically throughout the night. Not a good situation for sensitive sleepers like us. Licata is an interesting town and we enjoyed walking around and sampling its ristorantes and trattoria. There is a Conad supermarket next door to the marina which proved very convenient for us.
On May 24th, we sailed 50 nautical miles west to the town of Sciacca, where a large fishing fleet is based. We were able to med moor at the pontoon of the local chapter of “Lega Navale Italiana”, a national association of Italian boaters. This is a charming town that dates back to the Greeks who enjoyed soaking in the thermal springs, as did the Romans who followed. It architecture reflects its occupation by, successively, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantium, Arab North Africa, Normandy, and Aragon Spain. It was once a great port for the grain trade.
Tomorrow evening, Wednesday, May 25, we leave Sciacca for the 260 nautical mile passage to Carloforte, southwest of Sardinia. We will be taking advantage of two days of (forecast) easterly winds to get to Sabbatical III’s new home marina without having to head directly into the prevailing westerlies. We should arrive sometime during the day on Friday.
We are now in Sicily, berthed comfortably in the little marina “Marina Yachting” in the adorable, historic little town of Siracusa. We took two weeks to get here from Turkey, covering a little over 800 nautical miles, with several all day sailing days, a total of 3 nights at sea, and a number of beautiful stops on the way (including several days at our favorite Greek island of Antiparos). The only really tiring part was the last two and a half days when we crossed the Ionian Sea between the southern Peloponnese and Sicily. We had a good sail, with wind much of the way. It seems that we are pretty much the only cruisers out yet as we did not see a single sail boat across the whole Ionian. There were hundreds of cargo ships, but fortunately all seemed to be just enough north or south of us that we could relax for the most part. Our AIS system identifies every boat of size that is out there so we always know what is coming up within about 35 miles, and sometimes much more.
We left Kas on the 24th of April and headed up the Turkish coast to the area around Bodrum. It was a detour from our route to Italy, but it was necessary, as we had to test out our new sails and rigging before leaving Turkey. We did an overnight sail (162 nm) from Kas to a very pleasant little marina at Port Iassos in Mandalya Bay (Güllük Bay) in the “Turkish Riviera.” Everything worked beautifully on the boat. This was a big relief as it is a bit scary heading out with brand new rigging and new sails. You never know if something is going to break.
We are friends with a warm and friendly Turkish couple (Mehmet and Begum on Kabuk) who were in Bodrum working on their boat. Bodrum is very close to Port Iassos so we took a bus there and spent a wonderful day with them before we continued our trip north. Our next stop was the town of Didim where we had arranged for our riggers/sail-makers (from Q Sails) to come and do adjustments to the rig. It was only a short sail between Port Iassos and Didim, but the winds were strong and right on the nose so we had a great opportunity to really test out the rigging and sails one more time by tacking to Didim. The marina at Didim was very nice and we enjoyed a couple of days there, meeting a wonderful American couple from LA (Mohammed and Ety on an Amel 54) as well as a very friendly Swedish couple on the Amel Super Maramu Kerpa. We hope we will run into these people again.
The riggers spent a few hours making adjustments to the rigging and delivered our spinnaker newly modified to be part of a Selden anti-torsion rope furler. Unfortunately, we did not have time to test it out, so if it needs adjustments we will have to have it done here in Italy.
We had a whole little drama on the boat during our passage that involved three small, land-based birds that must have been blown out to sea by the sudden change to strong southeast winds that we rode to Italy. There were two very pretty green-breasted birds, and one aggressive black and red bird. We don’t usually have birds with us while we are at sea, but three of them were on board as we crossed the Ionian and kept making random appearances during the trip….. at various times we found them inside the boat (near the bed and then on the navigation station), and other times we saw them in the cockpit and on the deck…. always looking as if they needed shelter from the cold wind. We tried to feed them, but they did not take the food. It also became apparent that the black bird was attacking the green-breasted birds, killing one of them. On the last night, the other one fled into the cockpit and hid behind the radar screen as the black bird sought her out. By the end of the trip all three birds had died.
We have been in Sircusa for four days and we find it a delightful town. The city was founded by the ancient Greeks 2700 years ago and was a powerful city-state that once equaled Athens in size. The city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is a wonderful place to explore on foot and the food is great.
The map at the bottom shows where we have been and the location of our new home base at Carloforte on the island of San Pietro just to the southwest of Sardinia.
A. Kas, Turkey
C. Didim, Turkey
D. Patmos, Greece
G. Mezapos, Greece
H. Siracusa, Italy
I. Carloforte, Italy