You would think that after several thousand miles crossing oceans and seas that sea sickness would not be an issue but don’t be fooled! Crossing overnight from Greece to Sicily kicked up some confused and unpleasant conditions that caused a few hours of nausea for me and the sight of Mt Etna puffing white smoke in the distance was a welcome sight.
Riposto Marina at the foot of Mt Etna and located on the east coast of Sicily, was our launch pad for the next almost 3 weeks. Much to see and do! In between driving up seriously winding roads to visit the filming location of parts of the Godfather to roaming the streets of Syracuse while staying on Ortigia, the island nestled in the arms of the city, and consuming large amounts of pasta washed down with delicious Sicilian wine accompanied by our friends from yacht Meteorite aka the Meties (Hugh, Janice, Andy & Deb). Through the Messina Straits and onto the Aeolian Islands…the perfect sailing destination for our trek west! Miss T, fully laden with 7 onboard, crystal clear water, volcanoes to climb, bohemian restaurants and cocktail bars to visit and food babies to grow, put on a good show as to why the Oyster 575 is not just a reliable and hardy blue water boat but a great cruising yacht as well! Erupting volcanoes do seem to follow us and not more than a week had passed since our departure from the Aeolians than Stromboli put on a spectacular volcanic show sadly taking a life with it and providing graphic footage of fleeing boats.
Sicily is spectacular in every way; scenery, culture (particularly the food and wine, now protruding proudly around my waist and other parts of my anatomy) and the thrill of being in a place once overtly dominated by the Mafia. Nowadays, although the families are still in business, deals are done more in hushed whispers. There is a pervading sense of mystery and mayhem with rapidly spoken Italian, often with an argumentative tone, and boss men sitting at their desks with unlit partly smoked cigars clamped between their teeth assessing you through half open eyelids. Don’t be put off though! The local Chinese shop keepers in Palermo did recently stand up for themselves with a level of success and local prisons are full of Mafia Family fiends!
Further west but still on Sicily, we collected Sal and Melbourne friend Deb from Tripani, for a few days in the Egadian islands, more specifically Favignana. Sadly we had to cut our time short to make passage across the Tyrrhenian Sea to Sardinia before some howling westerly winds were set to impede our progress. In Cagliari we had a lucky encounter with another Oyster Rally yacht, Unconditional; Tom, Sara and friends were on their way to Sicily. The morning after few local wines and a delicious dinner, we picked up our most regular visitor, Jude Turner, on our way to Carloforte. Here we left Miss Tiggy for Bari and ultimately Polignano a Mare in Puglia and a week long family celebration for Will’s 30 birthday. Fun filled, with plenty more delicious Italian food and wine onboard, our last sail across to Palma in Mallorca will be quiet and alcohol free in preparation of our Circumnavigation celebration.