Dolphins at Sunrise
07 May 2013 | Aeolian Islands, Sicily
DOLPHINS AT SUNRISE
We left Trilogy in the tender care of Cantieri di Olbia in Sardinia for the winter and, as we do not winter our yachts in Australia, it was with some trepidation that we saw Trilogy being prepared for launching. But our fears were groundless and she looked very smart in a new summer dress of light grey antifouling paint below the waterline.
The launching went smoothly and a team of cleaners descended to remove layers of North African dust that blows in on the Sirocco. Then some gremlins in the electrical systems began to appear and we spent the next two days chasing technicians to help us solve the problems.
Rigg Sails looked after our sails and made some minor repairs to the mainsail batten cars and reefing lines. They also made up two jackstays (to clip on our tethers when we work on the deck at night or in risky weather).
To make up some lost time we decided to go directly to Lipari in the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. This is a passage of 290 nm and we set off mid-afternoon on Thursday 2 May in light winds and some sea fog that softened the boundaries between sea and sky.
Fiona had prepared a wonderful Italian meal and we toasted our departure and the gods of fair weather. We collectively may have asked for more than we needed as the next two days were spent casually motor-sailing straight down the rhumb line to the island of Lipari on a languid sea of greys and mauves, pinks and blues.
Night watches were set as 2 hours on and 4 hours off and we followed the tracks of shipping on the AIS system to ensure our safety. It was a beautiful sail (albeit mostly under motor) with some memorable moments that included Jean waking up the Skipper at about 0300 to report a light that was getting nearer and almost directly ahead. Rick rushed to the cockpit by which time the identity of the light source became more apparent above the sea mist. It was the moon rising and, after confirming that there was no collision risk the skipper repaired to bed.
As the sun rose we were greeted by a pod of dolphins who played around Trilogy with several young leaping in the air to keep up with their mothers. For some time we were accompanied by a small bird similar to a starling. We were surprised to see it so far from land and it became apparent that it was quite tired and was circling Trilogy looking for a safe spot to land. Sam's head was the obvious choice so the little bird rested for a short time on Sam's cap before heading off towards the Italian mainland. We were later visited by 3 of these little birds who found Trilogy a very convenient resting place.
We finally arrived in Lipari and berthed at Pignataro before walking about 1.2km into the main township. It is a lovely city that traces its origins back to the Neolithic era with many civilisations occupying it at some time.
Rod Heikell, in his excellent Italian Waters Pilot, mentions that around 580BC the Liparese practised a form of communism whereby all land, housing, ships and goods were held communally and redistributed every 20 years in a huge festival. Their pickings from piracy were also distributed equally when the ships returned.
We toured the island by taxi and saw the remnants of mining for pumice and obsidian. This was the main industry on Lipari until about 2007 when it was closed due to heritage concerns so the island economy is now almost entirely based on tourism with some farming of capers and a little wine production.
Our visit to the citadel and the archeological museum was very interesting with their collection including artifacts and shards of pottery dating back 9000 years. We slaked our thirst on the waterfront and then sampled the local cuisine at a lovely restaurant before walking back to our home afloat.
This is how we remembered our life on Trilogy from last year and it was a special joy to share it with some good friends.