We arrived to a favorite anchorage, inside Capo Carbonara, where we spent time in 2013 on the SE tip of Sardinia for a peaceful night sleep. Our second and new anchorage, Porto Malfatano, on the south coast we thought would be calm but periodic katabatic winds kept the anchorage quite active during the day. One minute we had 16 knots and seconds later 42 knots. Our Rocna anchor held firm! Luckily the nights were much calmer.
Around the SW corner and up the coast we stopped at Carloforte on Isola Di San Pietro. What a gem!
Ferry between Sardinia and Carloforte
Iron designs on the balconies is famous here
Carloforte is the only village on the island and it is bustling but yet relaxed. Marine Sifredi has very friendly and helpful staff with full services. For any drafts deeper than 1.5 meters, do not expect to get fuel here due to the shallow depth in the fishing harbour. Across the main street from the marina is a fuel station where you can fill a portable tank.
The annual Tuna Festival was due to start on the day we departed. It was obvious this is a big event for this village. Sound stages were erected in several places and many tables were set up for tasting Tuna in a variety of preparations.
Party in town!
Tuna sales are booming
Street is getting ready for the party
Our favourite restaurant in Carloforte
UNFORTUNATELY, the lack of winds for many days to come forced us to depart for the 30 hours of motoring to Menorca. It is so true that appointments do not mix well with sail boats. As we had to be in Palma Mallorca on a certain date to get our life raft inspected and re-certified we had to leave, wind or no wind.
We departed Malta at 0630 with our friend Karolina on board. As we departed the harbor I prepared breakfast which we enjoyed while sailing along the coast of Malta. The 10 hour sail to Sicily proved to be a bit more choppy and tough than the forecast so the first sail of this season gave all three of us some minor sea sickness symptoms, even Roland after 45 years of no seasickness. Arriving Ragusa Marina, a walk to the local village and a late afternoon coffee and Sicilian delight was the perfect cure!
With unstable weather we slowly made our way up the south coast. One stop was at San Leone Marina where we quickly grabbed a taxi to take us to the Greek “Valley of the Temples” in Agrigento before sunset. The breath taking Doric temples were built approximately 400BC dedicated to Zeus, Heracles, Concord and Hera. For me, this was one of the most impressive and spectacular sites we have seen in our travels.
Next day we pushed on to Trapani on the west coast where Karolina would fly back to Malta. Roland was ill with a virus that I had earlier so he stayed with the boat while we explored Erice. Roland and I had visited this two years ago and enjoyed it so I wanted Karolina to see this small village perched high on a mountain top. We reached the medieval village via cable cars.
This walled in village has many churches, narrow cobblestone walkways, and stone houses with interesting doors. Hand crafted ceramics and hand made woven rugs are prominent for this village. We dined for lunch in a old stone house where we tried the speciality of this area, Cuscus Pesce with a fish stock. By the way, the cuscus is hand made. We were told we must try a very special pasty made in Erice called “Genovese”. This pastry is filled with either ricotta cheese or a vanilla cream. Incredible! We could not of picked a better day weather wise. Nice temperature, no wind and sunshine.
The next day we toured the streets of Trapani before Karolina had to leave for the airport.
We departed for our 24 hour passage to Sardinia. As the sunset we were sailing comfortably and having dinner. On a short passage we take 3 hour watches so I took the midnight to 3 and Roland 3 to 6. It was a very dark night with thin clouds and only patches of stars until about 1am when the bright moon broke through the clouds. It makes such a big difference sailing in a moonlit sea.
We had dolphins with us for most of the trip, some playing in the wake of the boat for hours. The faster we sail the more playful they become. Dolphins are very calming for me. When I am feeling anxious about sea conditions and dolphins arrive, I immediately know all is ok. When I awoke at 0600 to relieve Roland from his watch, there were many dolphins so I enjoyed my cup of tea, listening to music, the sun breaking through the clouds and entertained by all the many dolphins. Bella Luna was sailing 8.5 knots so they were very energetic. Not many times you start the day in such spender.
We said our goodbyes to Karolina and continued west. The North Coast is mountainous and beautiful. The number of villages that sit on mountain peaks are fascinating and I contemplated possible earthquakes and the consequences. One peak in particular looked like it would just fall off like gelato from a cone.
Cefalu is a old fishing village that sits below a steep conical hill. Cefalu has retained its medieval appearance and is famous for its medieval monuments. There is a well preserved Norman cathedral that was started in 1131. The narrow streets are enhanced with elaborate architectural decorations. The village today is a busy tourist resort. We watched Kite flying on the long sandy beach in the early evening. It is comical to walk the narrow streets and listen to the elderly Italian ladies yelling back and forth to each other from their apartment balconies as they hang out their laundry.
Termini Imerese was our next stop and a very NON-touristic but authentic working town. It is here that Fiat cars were once built and a few models of the Lancia. We stopped to break up the long miles and lack of wind for sailing. We found one of the largest supermarkets we have seen in sometime and I just wandered around admiring the selection. In the evening we made quite a steep climb up many stairs to the upper town looking for a restaurant, which we finally found in the large cathedral square. As the days push on in September the villages become more quiet, less restaurants open, with the tourist season coming to an end.
Castellammare Del Golfo is a old town built on the slopes around the bay. There are many stairways, bridges, and steep alleys to navigate. We spent 3 days here and enjoyed the area very much but as a forecasted gale was coming we rounded the NW corner of Sicily, San Vito Lo Capo and retraced our route from 2 years ago along the west and south side of the island. We took refuge from the gale in Licata and met some nice people on the dock. This marina is popular for many to leave their boats in the water during the winter months.
Now that we have circumnavigated Sicily, our favorite area is the north coast and our favorite city is Siracusa. Sicilian cuisine is centered around fish, vegetables and sweets, fabulous sweets I might add. The best local wines tend to remain on the island instead of exporting, therefore they are not as well known but are VERY good. We look forward to passing Sicily next spring and making some short stops to enjoy the wonderful food and wine and friendly people.
After a very long day of mostly motoring and some sailing we arrived to the port of Licata on the south coast to wait for the next gale to blow through as it was too early for us to arrive Malta with our slip reservation.
The storm produced some incredible waves outside the double breakwater to the port but inside we were comfortable and meeting many cruisers who were preparing to leave their boats for the winter. Departing the marina in early morning we were quite surprised to see the water temperature outside the breakwater was 16c when we have constantly seen temperatures 23c +. It was not until we were half way to Malta that the temperature increased again. The second half of the trip we had a great sail and approached the island of Gozo at 8.4 knots and enjoyed a swim when we reached the anchorage.