We could have easily stayed longer at Cannitello but we ran out of gas having totally forgotten to refill our main 10kg bottle before leaving Marina di Ragusa. Thankfully we had a backup, a small camping gaz bottle to switch to but needed to source a replacement asap. As coincidence would have it, the latest forecast reported a brief change in the weather with thunderstorms expected within 24 hours. Thoughts of not being able to cook or make a brew whilst being stuck onboard waiting for the storm to pass didn't sit well. We didn't feel that we'd be able find a supplier easily on the islands so decided to head back to the commercial port of Milazzo on the basis that having previously been there, the anchorage would shelter us from the wind and allow easy access to a number of supermarkets, a self service laundrette and the all important coffee shops for morning coffee and cornetto's - everything in one place.
The sea had already changed ahead of the pending bad weather. Long gradual waves lifted us up and over as we motored towards Milazzo keeping watch for all the hydrofoils and ferries around us given that Milazzo is the main departure point for the Aeolian islands.
With the anchor set our focus turned to sourcing a gas replacement. This was made remarkably easy thanks to a previous cruiser who had updated the Navily.app with a contact and we had the new gas bottle delivered and the old bottle collected from the nearby beach by late afternoon.
It's incredible how times have changed. Once upon a time we'd refer to the information in the pilot books - out of date before even going to print. A visit to tourist information was necessary to obtain a map of the place to allow for sight seeing and a chat to the agent would provide directions to a particular shop. Improvements in technology sees us referencing more and more both online and offline content that is far more up to date than paper format could ever offer however we feel there is still a place for having paper charts, pilot and guide books to reference when either the phones or tablets are flat or there's no wifi signal around.
Navily.app is a social cruising guide where users can share their knowledge on anchorages and book berths in marinas across Europe. It also includes weather forecasts directly in the app and calculates a protection score for each anchorage making it very easy to understand which anchorage is more suitable for a comfortable night - which is important to most cruisers. Another useful website is Noforeignland.com. Built and maintained by previous Marina Di Ragusa liveaboards, Steve and Helena off 'Amalia of London' to benefit the cruising sailing community with information on places to visit and boat tracking capabilities to help stay in touch with other sailors you meet on your travels. It also provides anchorage locations and services ashore. For weather we turn to Windy, the name says it all - Windy.app is a weather app for wind related sports and outdoor activities: surfing, sailing, kayaking, fishing, paragliding, cycling etc. All three of these apps are free for iOS and Android with options to upgrade for additional functionality.
With the gas now replaced we were ready to face the weather and Milazzo was certainly the perfect place to shelter from what was basically two days of torrential rain and poor visibility interspersed with thunder and lightening strikes. It's the first time we placed our tech in the oven to act as a faraday cage. The deluge washed all the dust out of the ropes, the rope colours have returned and they bend again from having no salt in them.
torrential rain and no leaks!
Over the course of the week we had the opportunity to catch up briefly with James off 'Pilgrims Way', Mike and Ina off 'Inyathi' along with Suella, Steve and Ian off 'Damsis' which was lovely before everyone departed.
Our adventures ashore just confirmed that Milazzo is a beautiful town with a long palm tree lined promenade looking across a sparkling sea dominated by a citadel that historically was of strategic importance which made it one of the most fought over towns in Sicily. It even became a base for the British during the Napoleonic wars.
The Milazzo castle is the biggest castle in Sicily, covering almost 14000 square meters. The town used to be a fortified citadel where the locals used to live. Built on an area where the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Muslims had previously occupied, documents trace back to the Norman period, 11-12 century. The castle was eventually turned into a prison in 1880. Unfortunately the changes made whilst used as a prison ended up damaging the ancient beauty of the original structure. In 1959 the site was abandoned even from prison duty and it wasn't until 1991 that restoration started.
Magnificent and impressive walls
great views from the citadel. On the opposite side of the Cape, a beach!
Milazzo was an excellent choice and worth a visit before heading off. The anchorage protected us from the NW gusts but our only criticism (and it's minor) was the arrival of a rouge wave or set of waves that occasionally caught Flirtie's side and rolled us viciously. Despite us becoming (Sherlock and Watson) investigators we could not determine where these waves came from. Was it the tugs, the hydrofoils, ferries or ships? We never did find the answer!!
Total distance from Vulcano, Cannitello to Milazzo, Sicily: 16.58 nautical miles
Total distance this season: 295.98 nautical miles