The end of June marked the end of our contract at Marina di Ragusa and with that deadline we were 'full'-on checking items off the to-do list before sailing. One of the last jobs was dinghy repair and that involved sanding down (roughing up) the hypalon surface, cleaning it thoroughly and applying a 2 part rubber paint, with the goal of solving pesky air and water leaks. As you can see from our paint pattern, some areas did not get a new rubber coating ... we ran out of paint! But after 5 days curing, the dinghy showed no sign of leaks and, with its 'unique' paint design it is never going to be selected for theft!
One more shot at getting the fridge fixed (unsuccessfully), some minor provisioning done and lots of cleaning and polishing so Sangaris looked pretty sharp and, we daresay, was much improved from the dusty appearance when we arrived in May. Oh yeah, did we mention we had to put the engine back in the engine room, too? It was worth the effort because we finally found a pesky oil leak that had been with us for months.
July 2, then, was our departure from MdR after some wind came up at 11am and we sailed for 3 1/2 hours and then motored 3 1/2 hours to Licata. Good news - no oil leak; bad news - the main battery terminal post to the starting motor solenoid broke so we figured we'd stop at the marina rather than anchor out. Next morning Craig pulled the starting motor and a marino drove him around town all morning looking for an auto electric shop to fix it. Three shops just gave the famous Sicilian shoulder shrug and said they couldn't fix it, but for 500Euros they could get a new one. Wrong answer, so Craig took it back to the boat, fabricated a new contactor-post from a steel bolt and it now works perfectly. Ah, "sail 'n fix", "sail ''n fix", mates.
From Licata to Sciacca it was 49 miles of "Motorterranean" from 10 am to 6pm and having seen some of the colorful seaside town and checked out its small harbor when we took the land trip a couple weekends before, we decided take advantage of a very light (and unusual) east wind and anchor out for the night, just west of the breakwall. Even though we'd met a local sailor who had shown us one of two Lega Navale's pontoons allowing visiting yachts (we think at 50-60 euro/night), we thought we were making a good choice. But with dead calm later in the night, it was uncomfortably rolly from a sea swell and we weighed anchor by 6am for Mazara.
Our travel day to Mazara del Vallo was not only shorter (1/2 the miles) but favorable NW wind allowed us to sail close-hauled for about 3 hours of our 6 hour trip. This time we went into the harbor and took a slip at the second Lega Navale where we were waved by very friendly Julio. The afternoon was very hot and, with our frig having lost all its cooling, we were happy to have the use of the club's cooler, take an afternoon siesta and after sunset, venture out for an evening walk and delicious fish couscous dinner.
Mazara del Vallo is a harbor port with a longstanding history and importance under the Phoenicians, Greeks and then with African traders. We learned that even today many of its inhabitants are Tunisian by origin and the Tunisian district, just behind the fishing port, was the first area we explored (left pics). The streets and cafes were relatively quiet even at 8pm on a Saturday night, background conversations and great aromas seemed to be all coming from local family kitchens. But the scene soon changed as we entered the medieval center of the city where many people were gathered in the Piazza della Repubblica (center top photo). There we admired a number of exquisite buildings including the Seminario, the Palazzo Episcopale and the town's largely baroque cathedral with its beautiful green domes. Mazara was still a-buzz at midnight when we followed the seafront's Lungomare Mazzini home to Sangaris.
Cruisers note:at a Lega Navale, 2nd in on the east side, stern-to facing west for 70 euro/night ... protected and with water /elec included, but harbor itself was not clean; we were told recently fouled with diesel from a fishing boat ... this time we should have anchored out in the totally calm area just east of the harbor, oh well!... see pic at bottom of flat, calm anchorage.
Egads the Egadis are beautiful! (we agree Gail!)
Offshore from Trapani lie the three Egadi Islands of Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo. Their remote location and beautiful coasts (10-19 miles from Trapani) lure nature lovers, diving enthusiasts and marine archaeologists. For this reason, they have been declared a marine reserve in order to protect their flora and fauna. The map above shows the island of Favignana and three zones with different levels of protection, allowing anchoring in some regions, required buoy moorings in others and sail-by on in the most restricted areas.
The Egadis used to survive on fishing and the cutting of tufa for building stone. Today tourism does much to fill the coffers. This area of Sicily was noted for its tuna, and the island of Favgnana had a very large fishery that (under the entrepreneurial Florio family who owned the islands from 1874 to just before WWll) had an excellent reputation. The annual mattanza, a tradition of catching and killing huge shoals of tuna, takes place over a few days between Mid-May and mid-June. A photo in a slide bellows shows a dramatic (yet clearly dated) scene of some pretty aggressive tuna fisherman.
The Egadi Island of Favignana was our destination from Mazara as we bypassed wine tasting in the historical town of Marsala along the way. Again we were going upwind, but the 50/50 rule applied and we were lucky to combine reefed close-hauled sailing with motor sailing for the six hour trip. We looked at many different areas on the south coast and selected an approved anchoring zone off Lido Burrone. By early evening we were alone as daytrippers returned to Marsala and Trapani and, after a cool (73 degree) swim, we enjoyed a sunset cockpit dinner with gorgeous scenic views of jagged rocky coves, turquoise water highlighted on small sandy beaches and, above us a fort shrouded in a cloud donut.
With a light southerly building and a forecast for more, we rounded the east coast of the island in the morning and chose to drop anchor right in the port harbor, in 3 meters of excellent holding sand near Praia and Palazzo Florio. We were only three boats for most of the day but the bay held 10 by evening, and that seemed about the max. We stayed aboard for a while after checking the anchor in order to observe the busy daytripper tour boats and ferry arrivals and departures, especially to evaluate the effect of their wakes. Although it was a pretty constant 'traffic' flow, most boats slowed sufficiently before entering the little harbor and were well practiced at maneuvering with each other and some private yachts that chose med mooring on the free wall.
The next day, again with a wind shift to the west and a threat of a strong blow from the same direction, we moved around to take a mooring on the east coast in a protected area called "Blue Marino" (24 euro for 24 hours). Most boats followed the moorings rules, but a half dozen or so local powerboats anchored close to shore and scooted off before the reserve polizia came to collect fees. The photo below shows the rock wall we faced in Blue Marino with its interesting caves and carvings and Sangaris tied to a mooring with a strong current holding us northwards ~ we had a challenging "in place" swimming workout next to the boat! Most boats wisely had lines with floating life preservers for swimmers.
In the charming town of Favignana that afternoon and the next day we found lovely bakeries, cafes, specialty food shops featuring salted tuna and capers and a mercato dei pesci that provided ample ice for us, as well as squid and the fresh tuna Craig's enjoying for lunch. Ah, life on a slant!