The adventures of Yacht Flirtie

15 June 2021 | Milazzo (position: 38 13.217'N 15 14.710'E)
13 June 2021 | Taormina (position: 37 50.794'N 15 17.433'E)
12 June 2021 | Monte Pergola, Augusta (position: 37 14.234'N 15 14.010'E)
06 June 2021 | Siracusa anchorage (position: 37 03.604''N 15 16.734'E)
04 June 2021 | Portopalo (position: 36 40.140'N 15 06.726'E)
02 June 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
28 May 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
25 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
15 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
05 April 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
20 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
07 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
03 February 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
31 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
26 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
19 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
10 January 2021 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
23 December 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
17 December 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)
18 November 2020 | Sicily, Marina di Ragusa (position: 36 46.863'N 14 32.701'E)

Taormina to Milazzo

15 June 2021 | Milazzo (position: 38 13.217'N 15 14.710'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
Milazzo castle and citadel overlooking the town

We were planning on staying 3 nights for a couple of reasons. Firstly it fitted our plans better because it didn't mean quite as early a start to catch the tide up the Messina straits and also George offered a 3-day discount. It's been a while since we've had to work out any tidal calculations so we cheated and referenced the Google app, 'Correnti Stretto Di Messina' (which provides a graphic display of tidal strength and direction down to the minute).

However things changed and our cunning plan didn't take into consideration what was happening in the eastern part of the Ionian where it was blowing quite hard and the swell was heading in our direction. Speaking with George he couldn't guarantee how comfortable the bay would be so we paid for just the two nights on the basis that he was happy to honour the discounted rate if we stayed another. Just before midnight it started, the vicious pitching from left to right. With no wind we were beam onto the swell. The pitching worsened by the hour as the pendulum effect took hold. There was no point going to bed and no chance of us getting any sleep so we just relaxed in the saloon as best we could cat-napping. We contemplated leaving straight away (in the dark) but the captain declared it 'too bloody dangerous' to venture on deck in order to undo the lines from the buoy, dodge the other boats and floating buoys and avoid the shallow areas of rock close by so all we could do was endure it and wait and hope that at first light conditions were marginally better - fortunately they were!

As dawn broke the day started out really gloomy. In the distance we could see dark clouds and heavy showers which were slow moving in our direction. Somehow we managed to miss them. By the time we reached the Messina TSS (traffic separation scheme) all the showers had passed, the sun had come out and we had the company of the occasional dolphin.

The Messina Strait is not to be messed with, certainly for smaller yachts as there are strong tidal streams, eddies and whirlpools and not surprisingly lots of shipping. Mountains either side can accelerate the wind in a matter of minutes and yachts can find themselves in a predicament. Our first encounter with the Straits was at a spring tide with very little wind. We did see swirls and whirlpools with Flirtie making in excess of 7 knots down the Italian side of the TSS but it was all pretty uneventful. This time we had no wind, a neap tide and faced an adverse current for the final hour or so given our change of plan. Flirtie's speed fell from 6 knots to 4 knots but we made it through nicely before rounding the western tip of Sicily, Capo Peloro to head towards Milazzo for an overnight stop.


a swordfish boat darting around at great speed hunting

Total distance from Taormina to Mizzalo : 58.04 nautical miles
Total distance this season: 171.06 nautical miles

Monte Pergola, Augusta to Taormina

13 June 2021 | Taormina (position: 37 50.794'N 15 17.433'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
the 'Teatro Greco', Taormina

The motor up towards Taormina started out uneventful. Bruce deployed the fishing line and we ran the water maker for a few hours until Taormina Bay came into view then all hell broke loose as we found ourselves suddenly motoring in 25 knot headwinds. This was made worse because the tide was going in the opposite direction and created roughly a 2m confused sea which turned our gentle motor into a washing machine ride throwing us left, right, up and down. As normal Flirtie took it her stride but our speed was reduced to 3 knots. For a brief moment we questioned how calm the anchorage would be but thankfully as we motored closer the sea calmed.

Taormina anchorage is deep in places but there is also a buoyed area managed by George Rizzo of yachthotel. We last saw George four years ago when we came down the Messina Straits to stop here. At the time George said that the anchorage was going to be very uncomfortable and we were grateful for his honest opinion which prevented us from spending what would have been a very uncomfortable night or two. We decided therefore it was only fair to take one of his buoys. Speaking to George he now offers a full concierge service, garbage collection (which is important when rubbish bins are not easily found), yacht provisioning, yacht care management and it's even possible to pre order fresh bread, croissants, milk etc. for delivery the following morning. Nice touch George! For more information go to: www.yachthotel.it or email info@yachthotel.it.

Taromina was once a small hill village and much of its medieval character remains intact. The main street (Corso Umberto I) can lay claim to be the flashiest shopping street in southern Italy and sourcing a Gucci bag, necklaces worth £10,000 or genuine Baroque candelabra is no trouble. No surprise then that it's Sicily's best known and classiest resort but there are still a number of tourist shops!


Taormina town, one of the piazzas and a coastal view

We weren't there for the shopping experience but to visit the famous 'Teatro Greco', one of Sicily's unmissable sights. Carved out of the hillside the theatre gives a complete panoramic view of the Sicilian coastline, the mountains of southern Calabria across the water with Mount Etna as the backdrop. It's a stunning location to decide to build such a theatre which still holds live events.



The theatre was founded by the Greeks in the 3 century AD. It's the second largest theatre of Sicily after the one in Siracusa and easily reached from the anchorage 'Giardini Naxos' with a 15 minute bus ride up a steep winding road and then just a short walk from the bus terminal.

Our return journey was by foot down the 'Sentiero Madonna della Grazie'. It's mentioned in the Rough Guides Sicily Book but can also be downloaded offline on Google apps, (Maps.me).



Our first night at anchor was surprisingly calm despite the passing cargo vessels that transit the area however we can't say the same for the second night as the dreaded swell worked its way in! Sleep deprived in less than 10 days of being at anchor... but the Greek theatre was certainly worth it!

Total distance from Monte Pergola to Taormina: 38.67 nautical miles
Total distance this season: 113.02 nautical miles

Siracusa to Monte Pergola, Augusta

12 June 2021 | Monte Pergola, Augusta (position: 37 14.234'N 15 14.010'E)
Bruce & Caroline Trott
It was time to leave Siracusa for three reasons...

1. the holding (poop) tank was almost full;
2. it was time to commission the water maker and make water - we didn't think it wise to run the watermaker in Siracusa given the mud and silt around as it would probably clog all the filters;
3. it was time to move.

This season hasn't been planned at all apart from we would like to visit Taormina on the eastern side of Sicily then onwards to the Aeolian Islands, an archipelago of seven islands located north of Sicily in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Both of these were on our list in 2017 on route to our winter destination of Marina di Ragusa, Sicily. At the time the weather prevented us from visiting Taormina (blog: Scilla to Sicily, Catania via the Messina Straits) and we decided to miss the Aeolians when in Vibo Valencia (blog: Vibo Valencia to Tropea) based on the comment of another cruiser who had just returned saying that they were far too busy and to go by ferry instead.

So Taormina it is but this time we have a cunning plan that should allow us to spend a couple of nights - visit on a day when light airs are forecast (the theory, no wind, no swell).

The distance from Siracusa to Taormina is approximately 53 miles so we decided that we'd shorten it by 14 miles with an overnight stop at Monte Pergola near Augusta and commission the watermaker on route to produce some water.

It's been almost two years since we last ran the watermaker. Since then we've done a fairy major rebuild of the pumping unit so we felt it sensible to fill numerous 15 litre jerrycans, testing each one for smell, clarity and measuring parts per million (This measurement is the mass of a chemical or contaminate per unit volume of water ) before transferring them into the tanks.


The highlight of the day - few visitors just for a moment

The highlight of the evening as dusk approached was watching Mount Etna glow red in the dark sending the occasional belch of smoke and ash into the air along with lava overflow. The sight was truly spectacular and a privilege to be able to see her from a safe distance.


Mount Etna

Despite being next to a commercial port we had a comfortable night at anchor.

Total distance from Siracusa to Monte Pergola, Augusta: 13.58 nautical miles
Total distance this season: 74.35 nautical miles
Vessel Name: Yacht Flirtie
Vessel Make/Model: Trident Voyager 40
Hailing Port: Dartmouth, UK
Crew: Bruce and Caroline Trott
About:
Welcome to Sailing Yacht Flirtie's blog.

Our blog serves as a personal record of our adventures and experiences since leaving the UK in 2012 whilst allowing family and friends to keep up-to-date with our whereabouts. [...]
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Yacht Flirtie's Photos - Coruna 2014
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Yacht Flirtie

Who: Bruce and Caroline Trott
Port: Dartmouth, UK

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