SICILY - Taomina, Aci Trezza, Catania



At about 4am a large cruise ship came on the radar 12 n.miles off our stern showing a bearing heading for our course. It is my understanding that it is a passing boat's obligation to clear you. This boat shows no intention of changing course, even when it is only 2 n.miles away. Less than half n.mile away I gave in to slow right down and turned off course 20 degrees to port. I knew this would wake Ross but it was definitely on a collision course. We are sure no one could have been on watch, which is scary, and is just amazing out in this vast expanse of water.

I cannot believe I've slept until 10.30am. My last watch finished at 5.45am. Ross has a catch up sleep later.

Today is very calm and we are motor sailing up to 8kts with a favourable current as we pass the "toe" of Italy. We are now looking forward to sampling Italian food and culture. We cross Messina Strait with quite a roll happening, to arrive to anchor at Taormina at 5pm.
View of Taomina from our anchorage

This first stop is a wonderful introduction to Sicily. We have caught up with Free Spirit again so have an explore, and dinner together at Osteria Nero D'Avola. Taormina is situated high up on the mountainside with spectacular views. It is a well-preserved medieval town with its narrow streets lined with fashionable shops, restaurants and antique bazaars.
The Church in Taomina


This morning we wake up to find 2 delicious apple pastries on the back of the yacht. What a treat. Phil has done an early morning bakery run to shore. After spending time catching up on jobs on Impulsive we set off mid-afternoon in the dinghy to Isola Bella (nature reserve) and San Andrea, two delightful coves just around the headland. There is a magnificent grotto here, with stunning blue waters of different tones from light through to dark. We can see why so many tourists are attracted to these areas. We just tie up to a buoy to swim off the dinghy. This is a refreshing cool off, and then we sit and enjoy the scene.

It's very hot today so we wait until the cool of the evening to catch the bus up to Taormina to have another explore and then meet Robbie and Phil for dinner. This is a restaurant famous for its slow food, and its cuisine is excellent, especially the sliced squid cooked in orange juice and balsamic vinegar.


Later today Amanda Ladbury is joining us from London. She did a sailing course with her sister, Emma, in Corfu a few years ago, so are hoping we have some good sailing conditions for her.

We set off motoring to Aci Trezza further down the east coast of Sicily. The weather is calm and the water like glass. The very small harbour is most attractive, the main feature being the black basaltic rocks that stand up out of the sea like pillars. There is great mythology associated with this involving Odysseus.
Aci Trezza

We take Amanda out in the dinghy to swim at this area which is a designated marine reserve. It is a lovely place where you can tie the dinghy to a buoy and just enjoy being there.

This evening we catch a bus into Catania. We are disappointed with this city, written up as Sicily's "most vibrant city". It is very hot which doesn't help, and accentuates the tourist rubbish lying around eg. scrappy papers.

A local man befriends Ross on the bus stop while Amanda and I are keeping cool in an air-conditioned clothes shop. He generously takes us on a guided tour of the major sights and gives us valuable local knowledge, eg where to buy our return bus tickets and where not to walk after dark.

The architecture here is very grand and many of the buildings are built from the local lava stone. From all these places we have a view of Mt. Etna which is currently blowing out smoke. This volcano last erupted in 2007. The city has been allowed to run down but with recent renovations and cleaning of some of the more outstanding buildings you can envisage how impressive it once was. Many of these cities and towns do not allow cars through their centres to reduce the pollution.

Other locals we talk to recommend a perfect place for dinner, outside and serving fresh seafood. We are enjoying the oils and wines from the productive Etna region. Catania is a student city who fill the cafes and bars and give the place more atmosphere later into the night.

The gelati ice creams are good here - we sample one while we wait for the bus to return to Impulsive.



Zucchinis flowers stuffed with soft feta and anchovies
2 small zucchini with large flowers
soft feta cheese
lime juice
5 finely chopped anchovies

Lightly boil the zucchinis (should not be soft)
Stuff the lightly steamed flowers with a mixture of soft feta and finely diced anchovies and lime juice.
Serve with fresh smoked salmon and capers, and green salad including avocado and small cherry tomatoes (the tomatoes here have a wonderful flavour).

SICILY - PART II - Syracusa, Noto, Modici, Ragusa,Marzamemi



This morning we set out to walk to Aci Castello, another small town nearby. Unfortunately, we are unable to walk along the waterfront as planned (so we can swim), because people have built private homes down to the water. So we return to Aci Trezza for a relaxing morning cup of coffee and pastries and watch as the locals set up for a festival and food stalls tonight.
Now we set off for Syracuse experiencing winds up to 25 kts, so we can sail.
Amanda at the Helm

We have a stern-to tie up to the quay here amongst some of the largest and most luxurious cruises we have ever seen.

This is at Ortygia Island, which is the old part of town, surrounded by its elegant wide streets lined by Venetian palaces. The grand centre with its baroque style buildings has been cleaned and there have been renovations through the fascinating narrow alleys branching off from here. The town can handle its busyness.

We see several weddings and spend time looking with close attention to the details. Amanda has recently announced her engagement to be married so we have a keen interest in watching these. The dresses worn here are much fussier than are worn in Australia or U.K. but it is exciting to talk about.

We have dinner at a restaurant hidden away in one of these alleys. With its vaulted ceilings it is full of atmosphere, elegant and with friendly waiters. The wine cellar here is extensive, as is the menu. The veal dishes are particularly good. Amanda is sure her friends would enjoy this restaurant.


Today the five of us set off in a hire car (these are hard to find and very expensive in Sicily) to tour Noto, Modica, Scicli and Ragusa.

Noto was rebuilt with its baroque-style architecture after the 1693 earthquake. The central square, Piazzo Municipio, is very impressive, including the San Nicolo Cathedral and the Town Hall which was the old palace. Many of the buildings are a soft "peachy" colour. We enjoyed an art exhibition here, and also the famous gelati.
Town Hall - Noto

The next stop is Modica built from the valley below up into the side of the hill. The buildings in their pastel colours look lovely with the sun shining over them. The C18 rococo church is built high up, and from there is a view down over the old tile-roofed town. We find a wonderful, local Sicilian lunch in a wine cellar. Then we have a tasting of the famous chocolate of the area, which none of us think is extra special.
View over Modici

The scenery we drive through is lovely. It changes from rolling hills divided up with dry stone walls, covered with grapevines, olive trees and corn crops, to steeper hills setting out the landscape like an amphitheatre, and encompassing many hill top villages with baroque-style architecture. There are many steep hairpin bends with all the ascents and descents, often with views over the sea and the limestone cliffs. In the countryside off the freeway we meander through narrow lanes.

Scicli is set high up and we have to close the rear-vision mirrors to get the car through one of the narrow alleys. We have to walk up the last part of the very steep ascent to the church at the top of the rocky cliffs above the town. From here is a spectacular view over this country town with its attractive terracotta tiled roofs and beyond the countryside to the sea.

Ragusa is another town with the baroque architecture, with its many churches and spires set into the steep hillside. We wander through the old part of the town which has been rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake.

We really needed our navigational skills in this s.east corner of Sicily. Amanda excelled with this and we have a great day exploring the area.

Tonight we enjoy a simple dinner on the boat. We actually have dinner by candle light in the cockpit because this quay is a popular "passeggiata" (an evening stroll) with people walking by the stern of the boats and checking them all out. We prefer not to be too obvious. The large cruises are well lit so are of more interest. One near us lights up the water under the stern of the boat so we can all appreciate the beautiful colours here.


We have an early morning run (or walk for some) because it is the only time to exercise in this heat. We go around the old town island of Syracuse. This gives us a better perspective of the island. Later Amanda and I help Ross with the new cable wire for the steaming light. Ross has already spent a lot of time on this, so it is very rewarding when it works. He has to install it from the top of the mast. Amanda is in charge of catching the end of the cable tied to a series of small, ultra thin weights, with a magnet. This is quite an intricate maneuver as there are other wires within the mast, eg. for the radar, and the space to do this is very narrow. I operate the winch for the bosuns chair to get Ross up and down the mast.

Late morning we head off to Marzamemi. The conditions are benign but we are able to sail which is blissful. It is so quiet.

Another benefit is we don't get salt washed up over the decks. It is so concentrated here it dries on so thickly we have to brush it off whenever we get an opportunity to hose down the boat.

This is a small fishing town with tuna fish farms nearby. Ross takes us outside the marina for a late afternoon swim in the clear waters. The harbour here is very small and several boats venture in but have to move on as there isn't enough room. Near us in the marina is a magnificent super yacht built of carbon fibre, an incredibly expensive material. It is very interesting to see it.

Dinner tonight is in the local yacht club with a disc jockey playing all our old favourites. It is a balmy night, and it still seems a treat to be able to eat outside reliably in the evening. This is a fun and lively atmosphere.

SICILY - PART IV Trapani, Isola del Femmine, Palermo, Cefalu



We start the day with the repeat of yesterday's exercise programme. After an excellent sleep last night we are feeling very fit and well.

We have a wonderful sail averaging 7kts across to the coast to Trapani. This makes the skipper particularly happy. We pass by Isole Formicaone one of 2 flat islets, which has a tunny factory on it which looks as though it is built on the sea.

Isole Formicaone

Both the yacht club and the marina are fully booked for the next couple of days, so we are pleased to have Hermut's advice to use the relatively new buoys near the yacht club. This is a great place to be and only a short dinghy ride to shore. They are also free. The marinas at this time of the year are extremely expensive.

It is a chilling sight coming in to see a hydrofoil has driven up onto the groyne near the starboard marker. Thankfully, no one was killed, which amazes us when we look at it. We have been told the driver was drunk, but this is probably a rumour. Also we are told the drivers are paid now per trip so they come in and out of these harbours at high speed to make as many trips as possible.

Trapani is not busy and we really enjoy wandering through the lovely old town. We had planned to eat on the boat tonight but the atmosphere is very relaxed here, and it is such an attractive place with its old baroque palazzi, beautifully paved and elegant streets, and with the attraction of an outdoor karaoke session later in a small concert square, we stay ashore. There are several remarkable churches and we are attracted to go inside by their wonderful singing and music. This is more modern than usual and must help to encourage the larger congregations that are there.

For dinner we both try a trapani local dish, pasta alla Trapanese, a pasta of hand twirled pasta, called busiate, with a pesto of garlic, crushed almonds, small tomatoes and basil. This is just delicious and is accompanied by a local red wine.

The two main artists at the concert square have wonderful voices and it is happens to be a full moon. Our best entertainment is a gorgeous little girl, about 3 1/2, who is full of the joys of life and is in full swing with the music and singing. It makes us more conscious of how much we are looking forward to seeing our grandchildren again and having fun with them.

We have been told that this weekend is the end of the height of the season. Also, just suddenly the last few nights have been noticeably cooler - we need a sheet over us.


Today we explore nearby on a motorbike. We zig-zag up the steep mountain near the cable car route to Erice with its views below of the typical Sicilian landscape and the surrounding blue seas.

Views over Erice

It is a lovely place to wander through the cobbled streets, seeing the castle and several impressive churches, including one with an exhibition of wax figures made by nuns during C16. We have glimpses into the inner courtyards of some of the houses, and inside the homes themselves. Many have been tastefully renovated.

Trattoria Dei serve us a local traditional lunch. Prima course is aubergine stuffed with slices of ricotta cheese and topped with homemade tomato sauce with lashings of garlic, and a slice of Mozarella cheese. Seconda course is busiate served with prawns, crushed almonds etc. Ross is enjoying the local Biria Moretti. We have been looking forward to Italian food and we certainly are enjoying it. The waistline will need attention at a later date. Fortunately we both lose weight when we are sailing, so that should solve the problem.

Then we navigate our way back down the mountain and further down the coast south of Trapani. From here we catch a small ferry which wends its way through a canal cut through the flat salt pans, passing the old windmills and over the old Phoenician road (only 1 m. below the sea here) which connects the island to the mainland. On this Panteleo Is. is Mozia of ancient times, situated similarly to many other Phoenician settlements on a small island near the coast surrounded by shallow water, so it was easy to defend and gave a safe anchorage for its ships. It was founded in C8 B.C.

Modise - the old settlement

The bike trip itself is mainly through countryside and small towns. It has been a great day but perhaps a bit much to tackle on a bike. Ross drives very safely but we worry about other drivers on the road.

Robbie and Phil have arrived in Trapani ready to meet Sam on Friday. Ross manages to secure a booking over the phone with his little Italian in a restaurant we found last night in the Jewish quarter. It was difficult to find and it was still closed when we arrived there at 7pm. We decided to try to come here the following night, especially when we read a small label naming it no.1 Italian restaurant 2007.

This trattoria has a humble frontage and has the very appealing wine bar next door. The cuisine certainly lives up to its reputation. The local red wine is also very good. It is a lovely, balmy night to stroll back through the old part of town which is still lively with some music and groups of young people.


We are sorry to be missing Sam and Andrew Mellett but need to continue on with our schedule. We track further north and then east for several n. miles to Scopello. The coastline along here is very attractive with lots of greenery, dramatic rocks and cliff faces, and interest, eg another disused tunny factory and many small boats hugging the coast.

Scopello is referred to as "one of the most idyllic coves of Sicily". Unfortunately, we can only stop here briefly as the wind comes up and we are unprotected with an accompanying 1m. swell. The weather report is very wrong today, so after a brief swim we pull up the anchor and move on.


The skipper is not happy as we bash into the waves with up to 30kts. of wind against us. We track across the bay to Terrasini with both sails up and just a few degrees off course to steady the boat. Mooring in here is the most difficult time we have experienced doing this, with a stern to tie-up. We thought the guys helping suggested tying up along side the quay which we managed easily, but they thought we needed fuel. It is obviously the fuel dock so we have to move. It is a small port with not much room for manoeuvring Impulsive. There is still a lot of wind and the boat is being pushed down towards the next boat. Once tied up we are pleased we can manage this situation reasonably competently now. It can be quite nerve wracking. The local port control men are very helpful as well, as all the Italians have been. It would help if our Italian was better but they always get their meaning across eventually, especially with their gesticulations.

Terrasini is busy with holidaymakers, including a lot of young people. There is nothing special here, but we are pleased to be here with little damage to the boat. Because of the light weather report Ross had the full mainsail up this afternoon and, at some stage, one of the batons came loose in the sail. We will have to wait until the wind drops out to put the sail up and check if there is a problem.


There is no wind early this morning so we put the sail up for inspection. Firstly, the topping lift is fine and, secondly, one baton is broken but with no damage to the mainsail, so all is well.

The weather forecast is the same as for yesterday so we leave early for Isola Delle Femmine Marine, a small nature reserve island around the n.west cape of Sicily. This is a relatively short distance and we should get there before the wind comes up. A local port control officer led Ross to believe it is going to be the same as yesterday.

Isola del Femmine

We have a relaxation day moored on a buoy at the tiny Isola delle Femmine. This nature reserve proves to be very popular during the day with a couple of yachts and many smart run-abouts fully occupying the other buoys all day. The latter seem to be the latest craze here. People can get to many beautiful places here easily and quickly and enjoy a day swimming and relaxing in the sun. It’s lovely to see the children have such a great time, and they look so healthy with the sun glistening on their tanned, wet skin.

We follow-up on jobs on the boat, have several swims and later try our hand at taking up Warren's suggestion of washing our sketches with watercolours. This is great fun and certainly brings the subjects more to life.

A walk around the island at sunset is spectacular.


We motor in really calm conditions to Palermo, the capital of Sicily. The coastline is rugged, mountainous and with some greenery. There are attractive small towns by the sea scattered all along.

Palermo Marina

The marina guys here are particularly friendly and helpful. They organize an electrician and translator to come within the hour. They discover salt has got into the winch operations causing problems with the mainsail furling system, so service it and have it organized quickly.

The other issue is with the tri-colour and anchor lights. We are disappointed when Ross goes up to the top of the mast - the connection which was re-fitted only 2 years ago is deteriorating without enough protection. The electricians return in the morning but say we must replace the part. We spend time waiting for them only to find they say the part is not available in Italy, and we will have to get one sent from Australia.

We walk about Palermo to get our bearings.

Postage seems to be a real issue in Sicily. We are trying to post our postcards to the grandchildren. We see many red post boxes but they are all closed and not operating. After asking several people we find we have the same reply - we must go to the post office. We walk some distance to find it and cannot believe that it has no post boxes outside and it is closed. Fortunately the marina office can post them for us because we have a supply of Italian stamps. Our previous incidence with postage was at Taormina. We tried to post our weekly postcards to the children in Tabbachis, as we were used to in the Greek islands. We soon learned we had to go to the post office. This was a very long walk, it was hot and when we finally found it there were endless queues - it was pension pay day! That's why we now have a supply of stamps.

We cross the Quattro Canti, the centre of the city, with its curved facades to make a circle. We sit in the baroque style Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Teatini and take in the peace there. This area has many impressive churches and mansions. We wander over to the historic C14 Piazza Marina where the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition once were beside the tranquil Garibaldi gardens. There are now many restaurants in this area and we enjoyed dinner under the 150 year old Ficus Benjamin tree. On Scott's advice Ross enjoys a Sicilian pizza.


We walk to the market (Mercato della Vuccirla) very early. It is always good to stock up on the fresh local produce. Ross also finds several gadgets for the yacht that he has been looking out for eg. an extending magnet. It is an experience to sit and have an orange juice and lemon custard pastry and watch and listen to the locals. We are gradually picking up some more Italian words.

We have to return to Impulsive for the electricians. After they have done all they can we set off walking again a long way to catch a bus 8ks out of town to Cathedral Monreale. We just missed the bus but luckily found a taxi as it is a 50 min. wait until the next one, and we have limited time to be back for the electricians. William II had this most beautiful cathedral built. It is an excellent example of Norman architecture and the mosaics, finished in C12, are magnificent describing the important stories of the Old Testament. Mosaics also decorate the columns which surround the peaceful courtyard of the adjoining cloisters.

Cathedral Monreale

We just make it back for the electricians who are delayed. With the efficient Internet connection here we have a Skype session with Scott and Heather and family. Modern technology is amazing – we feel we are actually visiting them. Anna gives us a piano recital and we can even see her hands playing as well as hearing the music. We had long phone conversations with Steve and Meg’s children recently and so enjoy keeping in touch with them all.

The electricians don’t return because they are unable to replace the part, so we later walk into the Garibaldi Gardens area again to a restaurant the marine manager recommends. Local knowledge is always the best. (We came back to find the electricians had come to see us and return the disintegrated part. This was on a Saturday night so they had a very long day starting with us at 8.30 am.)


An early morning visit to the medieval Matorana Church and the neighbouring Arab/Norman style Chiesa di Sancataldo with its unusual small pink domes, near the main piazza starts the day.
Chiesa di Sancataldo

We have a final provisioning trip to the market and supermarket.

After a relaxed stay at Palermo we leave for a 6 hour motor sail westwards to Cefalu. It is glorious out on the sparkling waters today, using little power from the engine and with both sails up. We really enjoy the Sicilian coast as before. We must anchor 300m off shore here or you can suffer a fine of E100. Swimming off the back of the boat here is exceptional – wonderful scenery looking into the old town, the Duomo in the background, beautiful beaches lined with colourful umbrellas, and high mountains set further back covered with greenery.

Main beach at Cefalu

The evening lights come on as we go into shore. We have dinner at the foot of the well-lit Duomo and enjoy the pianist here. The gelati ice creams are still a favourite as we walk down the narrow cobbled alleyways to the dinghy.



A lovely start to the day is just sitting quietly near the Duomo, drawing and taking in the scene and atmosphere. There is such a colourful scene in the small port when we return to the dinghy, added to by many children swimming and playing with the sun glistening on the water on their healthy, sun-tanned bodies.

Later we leave Sicily mainland.

After the smaller ports in the Greek Islands where you tie up right in the town centre and everything is easily accessible, we found it difficult at first to feel part of the larger ports and touristy towns in Sicily. Also, in Greece everyone recognizes the Australian flag and makes you feel welcome straight away, as most Greeks have lived in Australia themselves or have friends or relatives living there.

As we could gradually communicate more easily as we picked up some Italian words and phrases, and especially when we came into the smaller ports and towns, we found the people to be more friendly and welcoming. Now we are great enthusiasts of Sicily.

We have seen the influence of the ancient Carthaginian days, the early Greeks, the Etruscans, the Spanish and the Romans through to Italy's unification in 1870 eg. the Norman and Baroque architecture and the different cuisines, eg. North African couscous with the fish in broth.

The Maffia have had a strong hold on society here for many years but we gather it is less invasive now. Ross thinks he saw someone leaving a shop with a gun two days ago, so who knows. The change of president will hopefully make a difference.

We motor the first section of our 6 hour trip to Isola Filicudi. This is our first stop in the Sicilian Aeolian Islands. There is no wind. It is calm and the sea is just the most unbelievable turquoise, changing to the mid-blues as it gets deeper. Later the wind comes up to 8-10 kts so we can motor sail. The skipper is always keen to get the sails up, even though we can't put the mainsail fully up until we buy the new baton. Also, a few clouds appear, and later a few spots of rain, neither of which we have seen for months. The barometer is steady so we are not worried about a change in the weather.

This area called the Aeolian triangle can blow up with strong weather like the Bemuda Triangle, so we are pleased the forecast for the next few days is calm with little wind.

Filicudi is a very small port with very few facilities. We go ashore for a walk and a simple pasta dinner. It is a beautiful calm night to be moored on a buoy but we are woken early with the swell that has loosened a stay which is knocking loudly on the deck. A broken sleep is always frustrating.


Off we go on our early morning jog/walk in towards the centre of the island. It is steep but with beautiful scenery as we head off along the coast road. We are looking for the prehistoric village from the Bronze Age, but miss the turn off. Late morning we set sail to circumnavigate this small island to view Faraglioni (a rock obelisks) and the blue grottos, eg. Grotto del Perclato Marino.
The Grotto
Anchored to see the Grotto
The waters here are so clear and blue that sitting up in the pulpit seat at the bow of the yacht is a treat. You can feel the power of the boat as she plies through the water and enjoy watching all the other boats out here.

Ross has us leaving to reach our next destination in good time to try and ensure we can find a buoy to moor on. Salina is an attractive port to come into as we pass its high cliffs and wooded inland with many vines. We have troubles settling onto a buoy though. There are still several available and we just manage to organize ourselves when a very officious young man in a run-about tells us to move (this one is reserved) and points out another buoy. It is quite difficult to have the boat in the right position and then for Ross to lean out over the side and pull up the attachment rope. Most times a young man in this situation would help - it only takes 3 minutes - but he chose not to. I guess our lack of language doesn't help but most yachties and boat operators help one another. It was interesting to see all the yachts come in and it wasn't long before all the buoys were occupied.

Wandering about onshore up and down the main street with its attractive shops (clothes and wine shops and alimentaria). We don't know where all the people are as these places don't seem as well patronized as they usually are after a hot day. We have one of the best meals we have had tonight though. The stuffed baby calamari were delicious.

Leaving Salina

We circumnavigate Filicudi Is. It is magic sitting in the pulpit seat at the bow of Impulsive as we cross over the most beautiful calm, azure blue waters. It is great to feel the boat surging through the water. We pass by the Faraglioni (obelisk of rock), and anchor off the Blue Grotto to take the dinghy in to see the sun shining through the different tones of blue and turquoise.

Scott recommends a visit to Volcano Island. It is quite a phenomena to sit in a small, natural spa with its warm, pale green water and hot bubbles rising up like springs. Sometimes your feet feel they are being scorched if you stand on one of the sources of the bubbles. You look up to see the volcano smoking out its crater.
Arriving at Lipari

We are pleased to be moored at Lipari in good time. This is the most colourful of the Aeolian Islands we have seen. The people here are very friendly. The mooring guy was particularly helpful, and when we went ashore some kind person had taken the dinghy further up the beach to ensure it was safe with the large washes from all the ferries.

We stroll up the busy main street and then up through some narrow back streets past the some lovely residential areas, and then up long, steep stairway to the Cathedral and castle. The streets are too narrow for cars so they use motorized carts or motorbikes. There isn't much room for pedestrians as well.
View from the Cathedral

Tonight we just feel like a home cooked meal so have dinner on the yacht. This is a good decision, as later there is seriously heavy rain. If we had been ashore we would have been soaked through, and all the hatches and portholes would have been open, as there was no warning of this except a few clouds. We are pleased for the boat to have a good wash down.


This is a good morning to visit the archaeological museum, as there are still heavy downpours of rain, which is wonderful for the island.

This museum depicts the history, particularly of Lipari, with its pottery starting from the mid-Neolithic and Bronze Ages in order through to Roman times. The impressive displays of the burial urns are as they were found in situ in the ground. There is also a treasured collection of Greek theatrical masks. There are fine examples of Obsidian, the black, natural glass which erupts from the volcano after the emission of the pumice. It is fragile.

We have another short passage to Panarea. This find this island hopping is very relaxing, and really enjoy this life style.

Swimming here off the boat moored just off the beach is a treat.

Ashore we find this island's individuality is its Greek style white washed houses. Carts are also used here to manage the steep, narrow alleyways. It is peaceful sitting and drawing looking over the small harbour with the late sun shining on boats and the large rocks rising up out of the water offshore.

We have a drink at the famous Hotel Raya, looking over Stromboli at sunset, with the oil lamps lit to add to the atmosphere. It is really fun seeing all the young here and what they are wearing. Panarea has a real holiday atmosphere.
Sunset at Raya Resort


We wake up to see the contrast of the high, rocky escarpment covered with green, cactus-type plants with yellow flowers rising up next to the bluest of blue sea. An early morning swim is a must.

Today is a short northerly motor-sail to Stromboli. It is a constant view of this permanently active volcano with smoke soaring from its crater.

It takes time to anchor as the depths here are hundreds of metres dropping straight down very close to shore. We anchor just off the beach. It is amusing to see people enjoying this beach with its black sand. It brings to mind the wonderful beaches in Australia.

The evidence of the rich black soil here is striking with the lushness of the plants with flowers cascading everywhere. The narrow streets are steep and carts are used here too.

We set off along the very narrow main road following the coast and then ascend up to the observatory for dinner. Watching the sunset over the sea is a bonus. As dark falls you can see the torch lights of people and their guides climbing to the crater. From here it is exciting to see the red fiery explosions from the volcano.

We hadn't planned doing this so we don't have a torch to walk back down this very rocky and uneven path. It is a very clear, starry night but with no moonlight yet. We get off to a stumbling start and then are lucky to catch up to a couple with torches, so we can follow in this light.

It is still very dark back in the town because there are no streetlights as the power on the island is from generators.

We are always relieved to find the dinghy where we have left it. It is a magnificent night to be out on the water - not a ripple anywhere.


Waking at 5.30pm means we can leave in good time for a 10 hour trip to mainland Italy, and marks the end of another section of the trip. The weather forecast is excellent so we head off motor sailing due north, leaving behind views of Stromboli, the northernmost Aeolian Island.
Stromboli Volcano

We find there is a fine black coverage of fine dust and particles over the boat from the volcano debris. We wonder how people make the decision to live here under an active volcano. Perhaps with modern technology they have enough warning to evacuate in time and it is chilling to see the signs for this. The last eruption was in 2007.

We have a good sail for several hours with 15 knots of wind during our 10 hour crossing to Italy's mainland. It is hazy as this coastline comes into view. This has been typical in Sicily too, and can make identifying landmarks difficult. Thank goodness for the GPS and chart plotter.

This western coast of Italy is very attractive with its heavily wooded mountains reaching down to the coast with its many coves and beaches. We anchor at Capo Palinuro with its beautiful, colourful and well cared for beach surrounded by farmlands at the foot of the mountains. Swimming in the waters here is brilliant.

SICILY - PART III - Marsala, Favignana, Levanzo



We take a dinghy ride across to the old town. It doesn't take long to walk through here as it is so small. The piazza is attractive with its baroque buildings, although some are in need of renovation. We enjoy a visit to the art gallery here, followed by a morning cup of coffee and share a delicious croissant and cream (custard).
Marzamemi - -Old Town
After a refreshing swim on the sea we set off to motor sail for about 4 hours to Pozzallo. We had access to electricity and water at the last marina (even though we were rafted up), so we enjoy being able to anchor here and enjoy the space. We can use the water maker to keep up our water supplies but it is good to have the opportunity to wash down the boat when we are on shore supplies. Also it is lovely being able to swim off the back of the boat.

Ross and Amanda go ashore to organize her ticket back to Catania to catch her plane home to London. At the marina they have a lovely experience after asking a couple where the train station is. Italo and Patricia suggest the bus is the best option and offer to drive them to the terminus to purchase a ticket and then back to the dinghy at the marina. Ross invites them out to Impulsive. Italo was born in Catania and they now live in Milan. They are also enthusiastic sailors.

The Melletts join us here later. This is possibly the last time we'll see them before we return to Melbourne next month. It is also Amanda's last night with us. Sam and Andrew Mellett are joining Free Spirit in a week. It would have been fun if it had coincided with Amanda's time with us.

After drinks on Free Spirit we have dinner at a typical local restaurant suggested by the people we were with this afternoon. They are unable to join us, unfortunately, as they are catching up with family. Amazingly, we see Italo sitting on his balcony as we walk to the restaurant. This is a real coincidence as we have no idea where they are staying.

The eggplant and pasta dish is the favourite tonight. We follow this up with a Greek tradition of a gelati in the main square where it is quite lively and has some live music playing. The finale is a nightcap on Impulsive.


After an early morning walk/jog we take Amanda into shore to see her off on the bus. She is a competent crew and we have had lots of fun. It has been a special time too with all the discussions about weddings and brides and future plans. We just hope we can make it to the wedding.

After speaking to Italo and Patricia we have decided to do an overnight sail along the southern coast and up the west coast to Marsala. This involves passing by Agrigento with its well known ancient ruins, but we can't do it all. We have a lovely afternoon sailing close by the coast. It is very attractive with rolling hills, studded with trees, many coastal towns and long stretches of beaches. The sea is calm and a beautiful blue with several fishing boats and yachts about.

Tonight is balmy and still the sea is calm with an almost full moon to see by and enjoy. Night sailing in these conditions is just wonderful. We are still tracking close to the coast, so can see the lights from the towns along the way. There is a lot of action out here tonight. Yachts are traveling in the same direction as us, fishing boats are going across in front and behind us, in and out to shore, and there are many large cargo ships, some anchored and some traveling further out. There is little time for reading!


I wake up just as we come into Masarla port at about 11am. This is quite a testing stern-to mooring as the quay arms are not far apart with little turning space. Thank goodness for the bow thrusters.

It is a long walk into the old town which is lovely with its large limestone pavers and its many Marsala tasting cellars. We have a slow food movement lunch at Garibaldi traditional trattoria. This is very appropriate for 2 tired people after an overnight sail. The anti-pasta dishes are delicious. Couscous is a traditional dish in Sicily. We don't think we can manage anti-pasta, then first courses, then mains, not to mention dessert. We tried the dry Marsala which doesn't suit our palates. We think the sweet Marsala will be too sweet, but we will try it next time.

Garibaldi Trattoria

The Flemish tapestries of Masarla are exhibited in some adjoining buildings to the Mother Church of Masarla. They are eight in number and depict the war of the Romans against the Hebrews.

We find advertisements to a concert and light dinner just out of town. A young man stops to see if he can help us. He says it is only 7ks. out of town and is a lovely place with panoramic views. He kindly reappears 10 minutes later with his mobile phone, just as we have dialed the number, so he books it for us. We really look forward to this, with the added benefit of the full moon. However, it's not to be. We can't hire a car anywhere, so we head off in the dinghy in our determination. Some n.miles later we realize this is too far and turn back. This is a wise decision as the wind is coming up. We then try to find a taxi which we do and then have a language problem. All is sorted, until the driver says the concert is 25 ks. away and if he picks us up as well it will cost E75. (about $120-), so we give up and have a lovely dinner in the old town at a trattoria with a marvelous guitarist and singer, and a view of the duomo which is lit up.


We take Impulsive over to the fuel dock at 6.30am because we noticed yesterday people were queuing for diesel and this would be very difficult for us in the tight space available. We are tied up ready when the operator opens at 7am. I have a counting lesson in Italian with him as we read the bowser dial for Ross. It is the pronunciation which I need most help with. It's all good fun.

We have a great sail to the Egadi Islands, even though it's only 10n.miles. We go into Favignana port which is very small and crowded. We are very pleased to find a place we can just manage to anchor in when someone warns us the huge ferries need turning space there. So we anchor just outside.

Favignana is famous for its past tuna fishing industry. It is particularly busy here, and we are unable to hire a bike (cycling or motor) anywhere. After a relaxing lunch in the town square we go back to the boat. It's very hot and Ross needs to catch up on some sleep. This is fortunate because the wind comes up and is forecast to be much stronger - force 7 - and in a direction that will make this anchorage untenable. As we take up the anchor we realize every one is moving from here. The people on a nearby yacht have brought out a diver because they are unable to get their anchor up, which is a worry in this situation. We sail the few n.miles across to Levanzo Island to the delightful cove just past the tiny port here.

The wind has come up already and it takes time to find a secure place to tie up the dinghy to go ashore at dusk. Some small boats and dinghies are being tossed around in the surge. We arrive in time to see what we think is a funeral procession. Everyone who lives on the island seems to be involved, including a band. There are only two places to eat here. Albergo Paradiso is very attractive, set up high and with delicious traditional cuisine. It is very popular. We don't have a reservation but they manage to fit us in. For a small island they certainly know how to charge.

This anchorage proves to be secure. We see some boats come and leave because there isn't much room. There are only 4 yachts here overnight. Unfortunately we are woken at 1.30am when one drags anchor, but we are really just pleased it doesn't happen to us. Luckily we can sleep in.


We start the day with a run around the coast to the next cove.
Nearby Cove
It is small and already has people swimming there in its beautiful waters. When we get back Ross picks up my clothes and shoes in the dinghy and the long swim back to the yacht is great. He swims out to meet me so enjoys a swim too.

We realize we are very tired after some broken nights sleep and traveling quite constantly for some time, so we have a relaxing day on the boat. It is a lovely cove here and during the day it becomes quite crowded with other boats, from large cruises and yachts to small run-abouts. It is only an hour from the mainland, so many are weekend day trippers. We enjoy hearing some young families having a fun summers day.

Hermut, an Austrian from a nearby catamaran, swims over. He is a very interesting person, running a livestock air-transport business, including tigers, snakes, and even koalas. Many clients are people moving their pets when they are moved themselves by a company. A large percentage of their work is for zoos, including moving males from zoo to zoo to prevent inbreeding and to keep the genetic pool as large as possible.

He is pleased we can give him a weather report, and we appreciate advice for mooring in Trapani, our next planned stop.

Ross cooks up a splendid prawn risotto for dinner and we watch the end of a DVD "Around the World in 80 Days" with Michael Palin. It's taken us 2 months to watch the whole series because we rarely use a DVD, but when we do it's very relaxing.