To Siracusa and on
28 October 2019
We had been looking at the weather forecast and although Plan A had been to visit Siracusa and for David and Jacquie to go back to Catania from there on Saturday for their return flight to Ireland, with an anticipated westerly wind of F6 for Sunday through to the following Wednesday, it was agreed to move to Plan B: go to Siracusa on Wednesday and then overnight to Licata in a westerly wind of 15kts (F4).
So we did … well, we did the 21nm to Siracusa on Wednesday 2nd October and even managed to sail for 40 minutes.
Siracusa is lovely – we were in the Marina Yacht Club Lakkios very close to the attractive island of Ortigia. We wandered its ancient streets, taking in the Doric temple of Apollo, built in 565 BCE, the magnificent Duomo which is a 5th century BCE temple to Athena and converted to a Christian Cathedral in 640 CE. It really is quite remarkable as the Greek columns have been incorporated in the outer walls of the cathedral. The streets have lovely palazzos and on the south-west side of the island is the Forte Aretusa, a freshwater spring with mythical connotations involving nymphs, Artemis (Diana), a male suitor Alpheius and a long running and alive to-day debate about whether rape was involved or they were consenting minor gods – so #Me Too is not new …
David and Jacquie took us for one of the best meals of our Italian experience at a local restaurant – truly local as we were the only non-Italians there. We dined and drank sumptuously and the craic was mighty.
Our stop in Siracusa enabled us to wash off some of the volcanic grit and dust that had settled on the boat in Catania – a long-term stay in Catania would not be a good idea.
Our route to Licata was 90nm direct, but we knew it would involve a beat so we anticipated about 150nm. We timed our departure for midday on Thursday 3rd October and slipped our lines at 1125.
There are two ways of looking at this trip which turned out to be 149nm:
1. it was an opportunity for David and Jacquie to participate in the full cruising experience
2. it was bloody awful.
So how was it? Answer: depends who you ask … Well, not really – view 2 was the consensus. So, we motored the 25nm to Isola di Capopassero and then began to sail and that 15kts wind, you know F4, turned into an F6 … oh, lumpy, noisy, lots of slamming into the waves … you know what it’s like …
Well, at one stage the tacking option included visiting Malta, but at 0100 it was decided that as OVNIs are not brilliant at pointing in big winds and waves we would improve matters by having the iron topsail contribute to a higher angle and help push us through the waves.
This was good until we were about a mile off the entrance to the marina at Licata when the turbulence had stirred up some crud in the fuel tank … and the pre-filter clogged up … and the engine shut off …
Well we had been in that situation before, so quick switch over to the clean pre-filter and quick check that diesel was coming to the engine, and the engine fired up fine, and we entered the marina.
We were helped to our berth by the lovely marineros and safe at last.
We had a quiet evening onboard … well, drinking so much wine kept everyone quiet …
The next day we moved to a more sheltered berth, climbed to the castle overlooking Licata and had a very nice lunch at the marina before we had to say a sad farewell to David and Jacquie: it was a wonderful cruise [subject to comments about the trip to Licata from D&J. Ed] and we really warmed to the Sicilian people and all the places that we visited.
For us there is much more time in Licata and the central Mediterranean. We are very happy with our choice of Licata for overwintering: there is a great community of cruisers, the town has lots of great restaurants and bars, lovely old buildings (palazzos and churches) and some of the friendliest people we have met.
The marina staff are great and we have met up with old friends Francoise and Jean-Paul, last seen in Trinidad in 2010, and made some new friends who share our enthusiasm for rugby and everything associated with it and cruising. So far, a great place to be.
However, UK and family and other friends call and so we are now back in York and looking forward to all that is on offer over the winter here.
Back on the blog in 2020.
Photos in the Gallery.