Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 7

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Carloforte, Sardinia


39º 08.76 N

8º 18.65 E

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Vulcano, Aeolian Islands, Sicily

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22nd June. At least there was no thunder & lightening that evening.

So next day (23rd June) as the wind started to ease down we got the chance we had hoped for. We hired a beach buggy (instead of 2 scoters) & headed for the island’s capital, Lastovo Town.



Unusual as it is built on a curved hillside rim, but overlooking an amphitheatre of cultivated land, not the sea. We climbed to the castle on the highest point, & strolled through the town, then carried on to look at some other little harbours/hamlets on the island. Generally there was more cultivation than on other islands & more greenery, so we found it very pleasant. Our vehicle inspired looks & waves!

Back at the boat in the afternoon we readied for sea then moved her round to the other side of the bridge – a 5nm trip through the narrow channels round Prezba island – to Luka Veli Lago & Lastovo’s Customs quay. Later that evening we were ‘cleared’ out of Croatia, ready for an early departure next morning.

Thursday 24th June. An early morning departure from the Customs Quay, & Croatia.

We were soon sailing, & fast with cracked sheets, although there was still a sea left from the several windy days. Mid morning the wind went to a F5 & a reef went in, then we crossed the shipping lane between Croatia & Italy, & early afternoon we arrived in Vieste, Italy, where we were directed stern on to a marina pontoon in the harbour. Pleasing to cover the 61.3nm in just over 8 hours.

The old town of Vieste climbs the hillside of a promontory jutting out into the Adriatic, & we went for our usual exploration through narrow streets & staircases & some wide plazas. Then some provisioning, & another walk around the waterfront, before supper in a resturant, oddly named Box 19, & recommended by the lady proprietor of the marina. A good recommendation, on both quality & price, thanks Christina.



Friday (25th June) was a reasonably early start, after extricating ourselves from the now rather awkward blown on berth. We had a reef in the main initially, but soon shook it out & poled out the genny. With the wind still from the N we wished to cover as much ground S as possible. We saw dolphins a couple of times, as night fell we started a watch system, & ran the engine to charge the batteries. As the sun set a full moon was already high on the opposite horizon. There were more ships as we passed Brindisi (where we stopped earlier in the year) & carried on down the coast, where there were more yachts to be seen.

Mid morning on Saturday 26th June we rounded the heel of Italy (Si Maria di Leuca), & were technically back in the Ionian sea. We were sailing with sails just cracked, then the wind came SW on the nose, so we started beating. With dusk we motor sailed to charge the batteries. In the early hours of Sunday 27th June the wind veered NW & rose to a 5 gusting 6. Hastily 2 reefs went in, later around dawn the wind died to nothing & we were motoring again. At 9.30am we clocked the 300nm mark from Vieste & some dolphins came & jumped in the bow wave. The engine went off & on as the wind came & went, & we had a distant sight of the strange vessels used for catching swordfish. They are steered by someone up a tall mast-like tower, & the catcher is on the end of another structure projecting forward (longer than the conventional bowsprit) so the whole vessel looks likely to tip over at the slightest motion. Despite this they appeared very manoeuvrable, & travelled at considerable speed.



At teatime we arrived at Taormina roads, Sicily & were directed to a mooring by the Maltese proprietor, George.

345.2 nm      2 nights at sea.

The anchorage looks towards Etna in the S, & Taormina looms over it from a hill high above. At dusk we could see lights winding up from the town to the castle higher still.

Monday 28th June. We went ashore in the dinghy & caught a bus that wound round the coast & up the hill to Taormina. It was busy with tourists, mostly in large guided groups. We found the famous Greco-Roman theatre, but decided €8 each was a bit steep, especially as we have seen Pula’s recently, so settled for an ice-cream instead! We explored the length of the town, & looked down from the central square at the boat on her mooring. Then we climbed the path, via a small chapel, up to the castle - good views over the town & theatre.



The castle was closed, but we found refreshment at a small bar with a view S over a cloud covered Etna. Then it was down again, amazingly the only people we met on the climb were Brits! From the main town we found a footpath down to the anchorage, as quick as the bus as more direct, but the bus won hands down on spectacular views. Then more provisions from the local shops & back to the boat for a quick swim to wash the dust off. Doug jumped in & moments later had been stung by a jellyfish. A quick application of our anti-sting stick & an anti-histamine tablet & recovery was assured. I admit I looked at a ‘jelly’ waiting for me at the bottom of the boarding ladder & cancelled my swim.

Tuesday 29th June. Our best view of Etna yet, with the top clear of cloud.



An early start to go through the Straits of Messina. This turned into a long motor as the high land each side of the straits funnels the wind so it blows either N or S. We wanted to go N & that was where the wind was coming from! With a lot of miles to do we didn’t want the extra miles a beat would add, plus there is a tide through the straits & so the sea had a wind over tide ‘chop’. Just before midday & after passing the town of Messina, & some small swordfish boats, we turned into the fuel berth at Paradiso. We hoped to get diesel & water, but it was a stub jetty at right angles to the shore with the berths alongside. The attendant said 2 Mtrs alongside, we need 2.1 M, so we backed off & pressed on. We were through the straits – Scylla & Charybdis without seeing any whirlpools! – about 1pm, & were finally able to sail.

Still a mix of sail & motorsailing as the wind changed direction & switched on & off. Doug saw a swordfish jump, I saw a flying fish, we gave a Naval convoy a wide berth – they had the clout even if we were stand on vessel! – then we had a fantastic display close up from some swordfish boats as they chased in all directions. Finally we arrived at the Aeolian island of Vulcano, off N Sicily & anchored in Porto di Polente around 7pm    74 nm.



The anchorage was busy, & from its circular shape was probably an older crater. Smoke was rising around the top of the little volcano behind us – a reminder that while inert it was not extinct either.



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