Friday, 8 August 2014

We got there! Final leg of the Voyage to Sicilia - The Sicilian Coast from Riposto to Marina di Ragusa

So NUTSHELL completion of voyage to Sicily: Went up Etna day after we arrived, incredible blackened moonscape, ashes still hot when you buried your hands in them, wandering off-piste on Etna and getting scared by plumes of steam suddenly appearing from the ground (it was only the day after it had erupted, remember). Cool.

Catania: city-shock, everything too mental and busy and filthy (turned out it was covered in ash from the eruption! durr), port area quite horrible and very noisy, vagabond-type marineros trying to charge us €60 a night to tie up on a crap pontoon (in November), proper fun touristy day getting local bus to Taormina and wandering around.

Syracuse: anchored off incredible historic Ortigia, for 2 nights not enough time to spend there, promised to return on way back, more refugee boats strewn with the detritus of the dispossessed, heart-rending.

Caught in first serious weather of the whole trip on penultimate day, as trying to dodge 2 thunderstorms which combined to create a horrible squall. Went from learning Italian in shorts and tshirt whilst autopilot took care of the driving to full waterproofs, 30 knots, hailstones, quickly building sea, purple lightning within a matter of an hour. Took us a fair bit off course, caught the strong winds on the periphery in our bid to not go through it which probably prolonged the pain. It was all over in a couple of hours but a timely reminder that it was November and time was definitely ticking.

Last day of the journey - an error in chart-reading and incorrect depths on chart (yes both he said), resulted in our first foray into "touching bottom".  No damage done but sent me into a shaking mess whilst we tried to wiggle ourselves out of it. Scary.

VERY relieved to arrive at our winter home of Marina di Ragusa.  Was met by Maggie (of Maggie and Branko, Canadian WaterHobos, who inspired us to come to Sicily and became very dear friends) with nibbles, a huge bottle of frizzante and cold beers (we had run out) as soon as we got the lines on - and the pattern of behaviour for the rest of the winter was set (Maggie feeding us; me poisoning everyone with my cocktails!).

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