This is a really plain looking fishing port (not a marina, despite the name) – but we just love it! Getting to tie up in a safe harbour is a real novelty for us. We go into town to have a look around and discover award winning gelatos and a fiesta – stage, street lights, street stalls, dozens of bouncy castles, trampolines.. It goes on and on. The place is buzzing and it’s all centred around the harbour.
In the morning, after the fisherman return, we get treated to a tuna gutting display over breakfast. The girls are somewhere between enthralled and disgusted.
We left Vulcano mid-morning and headed south east for the straits of Messina, reaching them by lunchtime. Our timing was perfect the currents were at their peak running south. I’d like to say this was due to hours of careful planning, but the truth is we just fluked it. If we had got it wrong it would have made for a very long trip.
As we entered the strait there was a wall of water in front of us and the infamous whirlpools everywhere. The girls had been sat on the bow watching our entry, but we quickly got everyone back in the cockpit, as we weren’t too sure what to expect when we “hit” the wall.
Thankfully it was nothing Hector couldn’t handle and we were pretty comfortable. We entered doing just over 5knots and were soon speeding along at 9. The next adrenalin rush came from the game of chicken we were playing with the ferries zigzagging the strait and the large container ships coming in both directions, if we were going fast – they were going faster.
Swordfish migrate the strait and the Sicilians have over the years developed these bizarre boats that look like they shouldn’t be at sea. They have a 10ft mast with a lookout on top, they also have a huge 15ft bowsprit. The idea is the spotters up the mast find the swordfish, the captain who is apparently up the mast also steers the boat toward the sleeping swordfish. Then the fisherman walks out on the bowsprit to harpoon the fish without the bow of the boat disturbing it. Sounds like a long shot?!
So we have left the Tyrrhenian Sea and are now in the Ionian, which is apparently saltier and cooler. The trip along the sole of Italy to the arch takes forever. We were in the company overnight of several other yachts – this is a real transit coast not much here for the sailor everyone is headed for Greece.
There are many fires along the coast and watching the helicopters tirelessly, and futilely, fight the flames fills in the hours. The destruction is heart breaking, but at less they don't all have wooden houses.
By midday we search for, and struggle to find, a safe anchorage and end up spending another night up – this time on anchor watch. The forecast has been wrong this whole transit, sometimes in our favour, but not so when it comes to a sheltered anchorage. In the morning we travel further up into the arch of Italy’s boot and take refuge in a fishing port, tied up with the fishing boats, we finally get to sleep.
Yesterday we went to the beach, we rented a peddleo for an hour. We have been wanting to do this for ages. A peddleo is a car that goes in the water and has peddles and a slide. It was really fun. The water here is really salty and we need to wear goggles, but only Asia remembered her goggles. She shared them but we all got sore eyes. I had a great time anyway going down the slide.
We just went to the mud pools next to the volcano. It was so hot. We also went for a swim on the beach, there were bubbles coming up from the bottom of the sea. The water was extra warm and we burnt our feet. It stunk because of the sulphur that smelt of rotten eggs!
We are anchored in a bay on Vulcano Island. On land there are 5 volcano’s, one of them is live. It is a bit smelly here. I think it is pretty cool being near a live volcano. Sometimes smoke comes out to let us know it is still alive.
We stop off at Cala Rotonda for the night for old time’s sake. We stopped in this bay 16 years ago (argh ..surely not!?) in our yacht Summer Song. This is the first time our path has crossed our last trip around the med. We had fond memories of stopping here with our friend Kate and it is great to see if remains unspoilt.
A pirate sailed by..
We just went on a big walk to Favignana town from where we are anchored on the boat. It was soo hot and I was so hungry. But it was worth it. I got an ice cream or gelato as the Italians say. It was so big I could barely believe my eyes. Asia gave me a taste of her Watermelon Granita – it was delicious. No wonder it was $3. Anyway the walk back was way better than the walk there because we all had refreshing ice creams!
It seems a bit strange, but during these long hot nights we are thinking about what we are going to do during the winter in Europe. First we have to find a marina for Hector. At this stage we think we will winter Hector over in Sicily. Sarah is still negotiating with a couple of marinas. I expect we will have that locked down shortly.
We are then thinking about hiring a house for a couple of months during the winter break. Not really sure where...anywhere really. Maybe a small village where we can meet the locals or maybe something different. Sarah is starting the search process now. So if anyone happens to knows of a house that's available in Europe, please let us know!
We were crossing from Sardinia to Favignana, a small Island off the coast of Sicily. We left at 3 in the morning and it took us two days. If you have never seen a sea turtle in the wild then here’s your place! We saw at least 6 turtles swimming towards Spain. There were no jellyfish in Sardinia – maybe this is why. We think they were probably Green Turtles which are making a comeback in the Med. We were busy watching a school of dolphins when we saw a turtles swimming along furiously all on his own. We got so excited!
The dolphins were small so we think they were spinner dolphins. They were a little afraid of the boat and didn’t come too close to us.
On our last day in Mahon, Sarah sent me off in the dinghy to pick up Asia’s birthday presents, which had been sent to the local post office (incidentally this is a great service Amazon offers – you can buy on line and arrange for the item to be sent to a local post shop).
Anyway, she sent me to the wrong bay, so after a looong time I found the post shop and retrieved the package. No big deal, but deserved an ice cream.
While traveling back to Hector in the dinghy I noticed another dinghy with two ladies in it (both clinging on to a small rock in the middle of the harbour) and a man frantically pulling on the starter rope of the engine. Now in these situations one must proceed with care…normally the male definitely does NOT need help, while the female is more than willing to be given a hand. In this particular case, we had a husband and wife and mother-in-law. Well, the wife was not talking to the husband (this is normal), but the interesting one was the mother-in-law. She was ready to jump ship. Before I had a chance to ask if they needed help, the mother-in-law was throwing me the line and yelling bravo, bravo! For the husband, it was a rather long tow back to their yacht.
The French being French were very hospitable and friendly. Later that afternoon Sarah and I were down below and we saw a yacht very close to our port window. At this point I would normally go up on deck yelling, but when I arrived on deck, I saw the French with the husband (yes husband) holding up a bottle of red wine, yelling, “thank you very much, this is a very fine bottle of French wine for you”. We successfully transferred the bottle without damaging either ship and I promised to drink the wine on arrival into Sardinia.
Indeed the wine was outstanding. For those interested, it was a 2014 Chateau Fauzan, Minervois. See a photo below of our celebratory dinner on finishing our three day crossing to Sardinia.
To the French (sorry I didn’t catch the name of your yacht)…Thank you very much for a great wine!
We're an ordinary family of 5 dreaming, planning and now beginning our adventure around the Mediterranean (and further afield), having an awesome time! Look out for our boat and come and say hi.