05/07/2013, 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.
|Delivery to the Adriatic|
02/25/2013, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
Last year we planned to cruise through France, Italy , Corsica, Sardinia and Sicily before entering the Adriatic. In the end the call of beautiful little harbours, ancient towns, fine food and fine wine proved too beguiling. We only got as far as Sicily before turning back to Sardinia to winter Trilogy in Olbia.
In 2013 our cruising plans are just as optimistic.
Trilogy will passage cruise from Sardinia to the Adriatic from early May before commencing to slowly cruise along the Croatian coast and its hundreds of islands. Late July will see Trilogy cruising Montenegro and Albania enroute to Corfu and the Greek Ionian islands. And by September she will have passed through the Corinth Gulf and Canal to Athens and the Greek Islands before wintering in Turkey mid-October.
Again our plan - once we get to Croatia - is to day sail between ports and anchorages stopping wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself to take in the sights, history, flavours and tastes of the Med.
This year we are, however, doing some things a little differently. Partners and their spouses will take it in turns to sail Trilogy with family and friends, rather than as in 2012 where we sailed together. We now have a better feel for both cruising in the Med and handling Trilogy. And so this year we plan to share Trilogy and the Med cruising experience with our families and friends where we can.
|Sailing Program 2013|
10/19/2012, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
John and Garth set off from Palermo at 10.30am 3rd October on Trilogy's last sailing adventure for 2012. The forecast was for light winds and for once it was accurate. We motored sailed all the way from Palermo to Arbatax on Sardinia's east coast, a distance of some 200nms, arriving just after 5pm on the 4th. The only excitement occurred when we were briefly surrounded by four Italian warships, with an aircraft carrier turning into the wind less than a mile away to allow three jump jets to land. We had a very clear view of the jets when they used us as a turning mark to line themselves for their final approach to the carrier.
Next morning we recommenced motor sailing north towards Olbia, our final destination. By early afternoon we had enough wind from the south to justify poling out the headsail, the first time we had had the opportunity for the whole of the Mediterranean season. We found a fabulous anchorage that night inside Capo Coda Cavallo, within sight of Olbia. After an early morning swim for Garth, we berthed at Marina di Olbia around noon. We soon joined Ros and Myra at the Grand Hotel President for a luxurious shower.
Sunday morning saw all four of us descend on the boat and start the long and tedious process of preparing Trilogy for the winter. After a couple of false starts on a couple of subsequent days, we took Trilogy around to Cantieri di Olbia to be hauled out. Naturally we were now experiencing a blustery Mistrale which tested to the full Garth's skills in ferry-sliding Trilogy in to the haul-out pen. She was hauled that afternoon and given a pressure clean. By Thursday morning- now completely windless- she had been chocked and settled in her place where she will stay for some six months.
The night times in Olbia were good compensation however for the hard work during the days. Ros discovered through a combination of Tripadvisor and the very helpful hotel staff, a number of excellent restaurants. So we had roast suckling pig and wild boar in sweet and sour sauce at Barbargia. (The next tables were Australians, some from Canberra.) At another restaurant, Ros had what looked like a giant squid - whole - and we had excellent seafood at another restaurant run by an extended family who ate with us. The best was saved for last - Clippers for its pasta night. The entree was matched with an aperitivo made from prickly pear fruit, called fico d'India here, and was delicious. Then came three plates, each with two small dishes of different pasta, matched with wine, and finally desssert of ravioli filled with myrtle ricotta and vanilla gelato and a liqueur called Drucci. Another gourmet paradise.
And as a farewell from Sardinia, they turned on a choral event for our last night. It was the 18th annual event of sacred music choirsters, and choirs came from near and far. The Moscow and Genoa choirs stayed in our hotel, the latter most elegantly dressed. The evening began with the choirs wandering through the old town, stopping at significant spots like the old Roman road, and singing entertaining songs to the crowd (such "Money cant buy me love" and "Short People" or traditional Sardinian songs that the Italians near us were singing along with, but told us they didnt understand the words as they were Sardinian dialect.) Then they went to Sant Paolo's church, built on top of a Greek temple, where each choir sang sacred music. The choir from Ossetia Alania, in traditional dress, gave the most beautiful performance, but the male Sardinian choirs, singing in a circle, werent far behind in beauty of sound.
We all finally left Trilogy to sleep perchance to dream - parting was such sweet sorrow.
When John and Myra headed off to Rome for a couple of days, Ros and Garth chose to see a little more of northern Sardinia. The region is a good mix of mountainous granite ridges and fertile valleys, cultivated primarily for wine growing. Tempi was an entertaining inland city, with a lively market and well dressed locals busily enjoying the crisp Autumn morning. A car drive to the top of Monte Limbara (1359m) allowed spectacular views in all directions, but not quite to Corsica, as had been suggested.
The Maddalena Islands were calling, so with the help of the car ferry, we were able to explore Isola La Maddalena and Isola Caprera.
The much revered Garibaldi spent his last 27 years on Isola Caprera, which he bought in two stages from 1855. His home is now a National Museum and has been restored to original appearance. A modest home for a man of his status, it was most interesting to learn of his lifestyle and main activities of agriculture and animal breeding.
The stable was not only for his horses but for his bathtub, as the stable was the warmest place on the farm. The other surprise was the purpose built 'Room of Death' built in 1880, where Garibaldi died on 2nd June 1882, aged 75. In his last days Garibaldi wanted to stay and look over the sea from his bed. The single four poster bed had original white lace edged linen with high bed pillows and light gauze netting creating an insect barrier. The original calendar still marks the day he died and the clock was stopped at the time he died: 6:21pm. Garibaldi suffered from severe arthritis in his later life and had been shot in the right foot in 1862, during the battle at Aspromonte.
We were struck by the suffering Garibaldi must have endured in his final years, with several wheel chair carriages on display and metal cages to keep the covers off his ankle. Set amongst the beautiful gardens, we visited the family tombs, with Garibaldi's grave in the middle of the row beneath a huge Italian Pine. Garibaldi had wanted cremation but at the time this was illegal, so his body was embalmed and buried under a massive piece of roughly hewn granite, with two large rings inserted to lift it into position it. Garibaldi must have loved his horses, for Marsala, aged 30 was buried close to the house and had a magnificent tombstone placed in her honour.
We departed Isola La Maddalena at sunset, the soft earthy colours of the buildings reflected in the azure blue waters beckoning us to return next sailing season.
10/14/2012, Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
With John and Garth itching to make a break from Palermo, Myra and Ros bid them farewell and headed for the airport on Wednesday 3rd. Being low season in October, the shortest flight route from Palermo, Sicily to Cagliari, Sardinia was via Milan, a total of five hours journey. Even so, we figured it was shorter than the sea voyage and likely to be smoother. Once in Cagliari we quickly settled into Hotel Regina Margherita and hit the town. Having spent a fair bit of time in Cagliari, Myra lead the charge for the evening meal at Su Lillicu, a wonderful trattoria serving typical Sardinian fare with flair, diners making their way through the middle of the kitchen and serving area to reach seating at long tables in a room filled with happy conversation. Tired, yet happy too, a little problem arose when we took a wrong turn back to the hotel but with our superior map reading skills employed, the hotel magically appeared from a most surprising direction!
Next day, we visited the old town which is slowly being restored after World War 2 damage and largely student inhabited with the university nearby. Fortified with a mid morning cappuccino, we left via the Elephant Gate, which along with the Lion Gate, were the points of entry for the old town. Depictions of an elephant and lion head on the respective gates, can be seen high up on the portal. We visited the Cripta di Santa Restituta which has been in use since per-Christian times. It is a huge natural cavern which was originally a place of pagan worship and later used by Cagliari's early Christians. Orthodox Christian's took it over and it was also a bomb shelter in World War 2. Later in the day we visited the nearby Chiesa di Sant Efisio to view the effigy of St Ephisius. This nicely made the historical link for us with St Ephisius, patron Saint of Cagliari, who was held here in a cell before being transported some distance to Nora, where St Ephisius was executed, for not recanting his Christian faith. We had visited the church built on the execution spot some weeks earlier. A nice wander through the attractive shops followed in beautiful Via Manno and then drinks at Antico Cafe, a favorite place to order Spritz's. A change of pace back at Hotel Regina Marguerite to recharge the batteries and then off again to wine and dine in the the very hip Cronta Wine Bar Enoteca. Needless to say, the food and wine are absolutely fabulous in Sardinia and rarely will a tasting of anything leave you disappointed. This wine bar/ cafe had an incredible selection of wine from all over the globe, with Penfolds represented from Australia and Cloudy Bay from NZ. The meal was served in the midst of the vast bottle collection and it was oh so pleasantness!
Friday saw us change to cruise mode in the morning, each succumbing to some pampering provided by the local salon staff who spoke not a word of English. Feeling recharged and ready for the next adventure, we headed off for a near five hour train journey through central Sardinia and north- east to Olbia. Our main entertainment was not the scenery, a fairly flat rural landscape, but the young lady who spent the whole journey preening herself from top to toe. We wondered who she was going to meet as the effort was extraordinary! Safely at the hotel we were able to ascertain that John and Garth were to sail into Olbia the following day.
10/03/2012, Palermo, Sicily
Garth and Ros, Zane and Andrea made a side trip to the Aeolian Islands in honour of Zane's ancestral origins.
The Aeolian Islands consist of a single volcanic complex: Lipari and Volcano originated from submarine lava flows; Alicindi, Filicudi and Selina are dormant, while Lipari and Panarea show thermal sources and Stromboli and Volcano are active. Zane's great grandparents hailed from Selina but the islands are a cohesive group and no doubt they had a good knowledge of all the islands in their homeland before emigrating to Australia in 1892.
The gateway to the Aeolian Islands is from Milazzo, northern Sicily to Lipari the largest island and the transport hub for the Aeolians. Our hotel, Giardino Sul Mare, offered a magnificent view over the Med from our shuttered windows and a large salt water swimming pool offered respite from the heat. A staircase down the cliff face allowed easy access for swimming in the sea water, a very pleasant 22 degrees.
Without delay, we unpacked and headed off for a walk through the old town of Lipari and up to the cliff top where remnants of the ancient town and castle remain. Just behind the castle was a Trip Advisor recommended restaurant 'Filipino' opened in 1910, where we dined on local seafood specialties. Zane, speaking passable Italian, asked the waiter if he knew anyone of the name 'Russo', which of course he did. Zane became 'Meester Russo' and from then on the fun continued.
Being small volcanic islands and somewhat difficult to access, we were surprised by the level of development on Lipari although many dwellings were likely to be holiday homes. An Italian holiday makers paradise, the Aeolian Islands offer something for everyone from all manner of maritime activity, land lovers delights and even an active volcano to climb.
Highlights of the visit were:
1. Aeolian Archaeological Museum of Lipari. This wonderful museum exhibits fine examples of ancient Aeolian culture from prehistoric, Neolithic, various Bronze Ages, the Greek and Roman culture of Lipari and Epigraphic (gravestones and tomb reconstructions from the island group). A world renowned collection of masks from the Lipari-Greek necropolis of Diana reveal fine artistry in depictions of theatre masks used in Lipari Greek comedy and tragedy.
2. Selina Island. We used local miniature buses to negotiate the twists and turns of the island roads to visit the towns of Malfi and Lupi where Zane's family history has been traced. Zane was very pleased to just be there and to feel the earth beneath his feet. Fishing and agriculture in the rich volcanic soil are the mainstay of these communities.
3. Stromboli Island. A unique swim in very clear water on a volcanic ash laden beach with big football size rocks under our feet, between a fuel tanker pumping diesel ashore and a pile driver extending the jetty. Al fresco eating, antipasto and pizza with the volcano blowing smoke above and the moon rising over the sea. After dark we motored around the other side of Stromboli, to see the spectacle of molten lava bursting skyward and tumbling down the slopes, with the tiny head lamps from descending volcano climbers appearing too close for comfort. As we gazed skyward, an electrical storm appeared from nowhere and silhouetted the volcano, enhancing the pyrotechnics...nature at its raw best!
4. Food, glorious food. It would not be fair to not mention the local cuisine. We were treated to many taste sensations in our short stay. The islands produce a range of high quality produce and plenty more is transported from Sicily. Memorable moments: super thin crusty wood fired pizzas, marinated octopus, caper stuffed olives, mellanzano alla parmigiana, pistachio encrusted swordfish, massive fresh buffalo mozzarella with sensational tomatoes, Sicilian cassata etc etc.
There is so much we didn't have time to experience, but the taste was magnificent. From a sailing perspective it is a challenging place to find safe anchorages and the marinas we saw were quite exposed also. It will be interesting to see if Trilogy pays the Aeolians a visit.
10/01/2012, Palermo, Sicily
Trilogy's first Sicilian landfall,Trapani, promised well for the pleasures to come.
Trapani's old town, along from the Marina Arturo Stabile, was pretty and full of churches, good restaurants, modern bars, and lovely boutique shops. Lonely Planet accurtately said it was easy to be charmed by the laid-back atmosphere of what is essentially a large Arab fishing village. One of Trapani's churches, St Agostino's, had belonged to the Knights Templar, with all the romantic notions that gives rise to of Christian Crusaders in the Middle Ages fighting the infidels in foreign lands.
Andrea's 28th birthday, which occurred while we were in port, was celebrated during a most pleasant night at a great restaurant with a very innovative menu and courtyard seating. And the wine was pretty good too.
A car and driver made visits to the nearby mountain top village of Erice and to ancient Segesta easy.
Erice was a gem. It was established by the Elymians who around the 7th century BC built a temple there to Venus, which later Greek and Roman conquerors embellished. The Normans who came in the 12th and 13th centuries built an enormous fort on top of the temple, called Castello di Venere, with stunning views out over the cliff edges to the sea some 750 metres below. The churches, monastery and towers of the town were built by the following Aragonese kings. The Royal Duomo has the most amazing lace stucco work any of us had seen all over the ceiling of the cathedral.
The impact on us of nearby Segesta's 5th century BC Greek temple, with its 36 columns still standing, on the edge of a ravine and in glorious isolation, is hard to describe. Then when we were sure nothing could beat that, the Greek amphitheatre, 60 metres in diameter, with another stunning aerial view out to the sea as a back drop to the stage, left us gasping.
Next the capital of Palermo, after quite a fast sail at times, broken by anchoring for a night at lovely San Vito lo Capo, where the locals were having fun at a cous cous festival! Palermo is big, grimy, gritty, crowded and fascinating. Everyone shouts, and talking or muttering to yourself and gesticulating seem to be the norm. Our first effort was to celebrate Ros's birthday at A'Cuncuma, the number one restaurant out of 521 mentioned in Tripadvisor. It excelled its rating in our collective view, with the food being the best of the whole trip. It made the birthday girl very happy.
Visits to the opera house that features in The Godfather Part 3, to the Norman cathedral where the Norman Hauteville kings and queens lie buried, to the Norman castle nearby with the most amazing mosiacs in the Palantine Chapel, and to the art gallery to see, amongst other treasures, the beautiful Antonello de Messina's C15th painting of "Assunzione" were a few of the Palermo highlights.
The real highlight however was the day trip south to Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. The photos in our photo gallery are the best way of describing the many temples the Greeks constructed there from 581 BC, as words seem inadequate. A first was seeing the gigantic Telamons from the Temple of Hercules - 8 metre high columns in the shape of men, interspaced with the much larger round columns, that would have held up the entablature on the front of the temple.
And a note for wine lovers indulging in the future: the brilliant wine at Ros's brilliant birthday dinner was Donnafugata Chiaranda. And for the gourmets, frutti di pasta di mandorle - almond marzipan in very realistic shapes and colours of every imaginable fruit. Delicious!