We had a really calm crossing to Sicily, once we got closer to the coast we started seeing a lot of floating stuff in the water, plastic floating devices and one of them was a sun lounger, which I said I would like, so I drove the boat and Robbie managed to hook it with the boat hook. It’s a beauty, double size, fits up to 160 kg! We also saw some of the helium filled plastic balloons floating, one with a sea bird perched on the top. The sad thing is these things don’t break down for years, if ever, and they aren’t good for the environment.
Once we got close to Sicily a pod of dolphins came and played on the bow! This was delightful, we have not seen a pod of dolphins since last year off Bali. About 6 broke away and stayed with us, diving and prancing around the bow for around 10 minutes.
We arrived in Giardini Naxos (the oldest Greek settlement on Sicily) around 5pm and wow the water was very nice and clear, there were a few boats anchored in the bay, and one was a huge super yacht complete with large waterslide!! Giardini Naxos sits directly under the active volcano Mt Etna, (last eruption was 2001 for 2 months) which continually blows smoke from her top. Just North East of Naxos high on the mountain is the village of Taormina and even higher on the mountain above that is Castelmola. It is very picturesque. I went into the village with Heidi and Lisa to check out rental cars to get Lisa to the airport tomorrow for her to fly back to Germany. No such luck, they are all booked out for a couple of weeks. It is peak holiday season and not one car, scoter or mini bus available. Taxis wanted 80 Euro for the one hour trip but Lisa asked in a hotel for a shuttle and found out she could catch a bus for 7 Euro.
We farewelled Lisa this morning, Peter and Heidi went with her to the airport. I cleaned the duckboard and cockpit, it’s amazing how quickly the stainless steel gets surface rust gets a hold. Robbie put a new pump on the water maker and cleaned out the anchor locker, he let all the chain out. The water was so clear we could see our anchor just sitting on the bottom. No need to snorkel to check it out here!
In the afternoon when Peter & Heidi returned we went into town with them and had a Bar-b-queued chicken dinner, they were grilling the chickens over an open flame in the back of the restaurant. Half a chicken and chips with a beer for 6.50 Euro. We all had this, except Heidi and I didn’t have the beer. It was not long after this I started feeling sick. Bad headache and aching body. Back to the boat for an early night.
Next day I was still not feeling too good, but we caught the hop on hop off open top tourist bus to the village of Taormina where we changed buses and continued right up to the ruins of Castelmoa on the very top. The road was narrow, windy and steep. We were all really pleased that we hadn’t been able to get a rental car. It would have been a nightmare driving on these roads. We had a really pleasant time wandering round the ancient ruins and then caught the bus back down getting off at Taormina for some window shopping and lunch.
I brought a sewing machine for 8 Euro! Ha its “China shit” Heidi says! Well Robbie has 2 pairs of board shorts that the crotch has split right open in, for obvious reasons he says, but they are the cheap take offs I brought in Langkawi. Worth a try I figured! It’s also just the right size for a boat! (it looks like a stapler!)
Back down to Naxos where we did a little shop for fruit and milk, I could barely put one foot in front of the other I felt so ill and back to the boat. Unfortunately we are not getting a peaceful night’s sleep here as the disco’s go until 3am and it’s really loud.
We departed at 6:30am for Scilla, on the other side of the Straight of Messina. This Straight separates Sicily from the mainland of Italy. 1.5 miles wide at the Northern end, and 7.5 miles at the Southern End. There are strong tides, eddies and whirlpools in the straight, and violent wind squalls from the high valleys on each side, but we had a great run through with no problems.
Scilla is a very small harbour lying under a rocky bluff. Once famous for its dangerous whirlpool which no longer exists after an earthquake changed the topography, it is barely a ripple today. Peter and Heidi were given a mooring but as we are too heavy we had to anchor. Robbie dived and checked the anchor and we had good holding through some weed into a sand patch.
Scilla is a very attractive town sitting high on the hillside and the houses extend right down onto the waterfront, almost seeming to rise right out of the water. There are lots of small fishing boats dragged up on a concrete ramp. I would have loved to go exploring but felt really ill and just wanted to crash. Peter and Heidi went exploring the village and called us on the VHF handheld from the top of the village looking down on us.
Robbie went for an explore in the duck, finding some interesting fishing boats for catching Swordfish with harpoons. The boats have a massive tower above the centre of the boat, it gets a spotter up very high and it also supports a tremendously long walkway off the bow of the boat where the guy uses the harpoon to harpoon the fish lying on the surface (poor Swordfish) . Certainly a different version of a Tuna Tower. The tower is fully equipped to control the boat, Robbie watched a guy bring the boat into the harbour and berth it on the wharf, all up in the tower. Peter and Heidi arrived back and Robbie went over to Stormvogel to complete some route planning while I watched a chick flick (If I Stay) I cooked a small roast Pork. I still am not feeling like eating and have lost over 3 kilos in the last few days.
Another 6:30am departure the following morning for Tropea a small fishing harbour with marina. Another very picturesque setting, with buildings constructed on the sheer cliff face. We anchored just outside the marina just after 11am, and off the tourist beach, heavily laden with umbrellas. The water is not nice, quite murky and full of plastic, and rubbish. Robbie still dived to check the anchor, there was a bit of a swell. It was hot, 35 degrees. We all agreed we would have a siesta and then explore the village at 5pm, hopefully it will be cooler by then. Peter now also has the virus or bug that I have. It’s no fun being unwell on a boat!
Sometimes there’s a price to pay, and today its 200 steep, steps up to the village. Oh boy as if I wasn’t already feeling drained and washed out, this virus is really knocking me down, I had to stop and rest after every 10-15 steps, and they were killers! Finally made it to the top and, yes, it was worth it. The view was stunning and the village is quaint. Narrow, cobblestone streets that you would not think a car would fit down, but they were – albeit Fiats and minis! There was one Mafia type tattoed macho skin head driving around in an open top Audi with attitude. Heidi and I had a quick squiz around the shops and then we sat and played a few hands of 500, the boys had a couple of beers and then we had a pizza. I ordered a vegetarian but it came with potato chips on it, and it was disappointing. Peter had a seafood anti pasto which looked amazing. The other pizzas were lovely.
We headed back down the 200 steps again, so much easier going down! There were now a lot of people around, it certainly livens up at night time in Italy. We headed back to the boat where there was now quite a roly swell which made getting off the duck quite tricky. We waited for a while hoping it would settle down before we lifted the duck back onto the boat. It didn’t really decrease so we just did it, which is actually quite dangerous with 500 kilos of duck and outboard swinging around and very difficult to control. Unfortunately we also suffered another disco night with loud music until the early hours of the morning.
Again we up anchored at 6:30 for our 50 nautical mile passage to Cetraro.