Storms over Sicily

Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
Trip End May 31, 2014

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Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Thursday, March 7, 2013


Following on from the previous report…….

The wind kept blowing a hoolie for the rest of the evening and night reaching over 30 knots so we amended our destination and spent another night in the marina leaving at 6am for Agropoli on the other side of the Bay of Salerno and a passage of 55nm. Once again the weather is not what has been forecast but we're out into the Bay of Naples now so we might as well carry on!  Actually it was ok even though the wind was gradually increasing all the time…but cold and wet.  I had taken a travel calm tablet and I was fine until one movement while I was in the saloon and whoops I was sick.  We had a good sail across making the most of the following wind and entered Agropoli after 9.5 hours.  A scout around the marina and we did not know where to tie up so plumped for a nice berth on a pontoon with only 2 or 3 other yachts there.  Steve was doing the post sail tidying up outside when the Ormaggeatori came along and told him it was a private club and "no you cannot stay here!"  No capiche says Steve and so the guy throws his arms up and says ok you stay one night!! 

Next morning you would not believe it was such a beautiful day.  We motored around the headland to Acciatori enjoying the landscape as we went.  There was a derelict farmhouse in a fabulous spot on the hill by the sea crying out for a restoration project…but I couldn’t persuade Steve to give it a go! On reaching Acciartori we scraped in with less than a metre under the keel to tie up on the quayside.  After tying up at the stern I pulled the line up from the water and there was no mooring line there!  So we had our first attempt at dropping the anchor and reversing in which went very well and were congratulating ourselves when the Capitania came along and said “no mooring here, over the other side”.  We told him it was ok we had dropped the anchor and he said ok and he would be back later to see to the paperwork.  No sign of him again and we had a brief wander around the very nice town there and bought some provisions.  We finished with a glass of wine and a beer in a small bar by the harbour.  The town was undergoing a major refurbishment and was delightful now so in the summer it would be even better.  There is a stunning stained glass window in the church by the harbour.  The Ormaggeatori didn’t appear again so we had another free night without electricity or water but as we had those anyway it didn’t matter.  Diesel was getting low and the fuel pontoon here was closed!

A wet start to our sailing today (Tuesday 26th February) to Camerota. 

No wind to start so we motored out passing the rocks just outside the harbour.  The wind increased as we progressed and we put the sails up and had a decent sail to Camerota.  Steve had telephoned ahead to check out if the fuel pontoon would be open and if we could get into the harbour.  “No problemo”.  We scraped in with 1.7m under the keel at one instance but it was fine inside.  The trouble with all these harbours and marinas is that they silt up regularly with mud and sand so you have to read the almanacs very carefully.  Dunikolu has a draft of 2m with a .50m margin so you can see how touch n go it was.  We had a very nice berth there and could stay for 3 nights free if we liked!  After Naples my faith in Italians had been restoreth.

Camerota is a very small friendly harbour/marina and has a real community spirit about the place. We found everything we needed and along with some nice sunshine we enjoyed our stay very much. 

Our original plan was to head around the boot of Italy and make our way to Venice for early May but with the changeable weather and drifting from one harbour to another I asked Steve if we could go to Malta and stay put until May when the weather should be much improved.  After that we could make our way to Corfu and the Greek Islands easily for the summer.  Steve being the lovely man he is had no problem with that, so in about a week’s time we would be in Kalkara marina in Grand Harbour, Malta for 2 months.  The boat could be lifted and checked out and some repairs and refit done.  Venice and the Croatian Islands would have to wait for another day.


A very pleasant start to the day’s sailing to Cetraro although we had to motorsail all the way due to lack of wind until 5nm off our destination. 

We had to cross a bay to get to Cetraro and as we were nearing land again the wind went from 5 knots to 30knots in a few minutes and the sea from calm to white capped rollers off shore.  The change was incredible and so swift and fortunately we had already furled in the Genoa (due to lack of wind) and then after a few minutes Steve put both reefs in the main sail.  We rode out the squall with whistling gusts of 40knots and the waves crashing over the bow and sending spray up regularly and headed for the shoreline in the hope that it would be calmer there.  The marina was just around the next corner but we wondered if we could get in safely as the wind was off the mountains.  Anyway, as suddenly as it appeared it died away again and we could see behind us a line where the rough water was and we were back to calm water.  Then as were nearing the marina we could see another rough patch that we had to go into and right where the entrance was.  Fortunately we turned into wind as we approached and dropped the sail then to reduce the time getting into shelter. 

The sea inside the marina was calm enough but the wind was sooooo strong that we couldn’t get onto a pontoon unless we berthed alongside and even then it was difficult.  Two marina staff had to help us tie up and we put 4 mooring lines, 2 springs plus a midships line on for safety.  The guys said that the storm was set to last another day so we booked in for 2 nights with a buy one get one free stay.

Cetraro to Bagnana di Calabria

The wind subsided so we were away from Cetraro by 7.30am for a long day’s sail to our stop before the Messina Strait.  It was an uneventful crossing but we had a visit from some dolphins for a few minutes on the way.  We arrived at 9pm and had a free night tied up to the fuel pontoon ready to fill up in the morning.

Messina Strait and Grand Harbour, Syracuse

I was feeling more confident about the long passages so we planned to get across to Malta in one hit today because bad weather was coming in again. The sea was very calm as we left Bagnana and we were in the Strait in one hour and enjoying the smooth ride.  There was a lot of floating debris in the sea in the entrance that we had to work our way through including large logs that you do NOT want to hit!

As we cleared the narrow Strait and proceeded along the coast of Sicily we had more Dolphins come to visit us for a few minutes and they were leaping out of the water.  The wind was pretty much 'on the nose’ all the way so we had to have the engine running and it very gradually changed to 30’ sailing position and increased enough to fill the sails with the engine assisting.

As we headed South and it turned into night time it also got chillier.  I was on the early watch until midnight and was ok for quite awhile keeping an eye on things when I suddenly felt sick again with the boat beginning to bump over the waves.  Steve was cooking a delicious chicken roast but by the time it was ready I could only manage a few mouthfuls. Consequently the thought of having to do another 24 hours to get across to Malta was too much for me so we diverted into Syracuse and tied up on the town quay in Grand Harbour at 0145.  What a relief to turn the engine off and have some peace again.  We crashed out until 10am and were having breakfast when the Italian Guardia Costieri came calling and told us we couldn’t stay there.  “is not permitted” they said. “We’re leaving in an hour anyway” we said,. "We no understand, we fetch colleague who speak English, you cannot stay here”. "It says mooring on the board here” we say. "No longer allowed” they say.  "We can leave in an hour if that's ok" we say.  "OK, where you going?” they say. “Malta” we say. “No, not today very dangerous” they say.  ”Ok thanks” we say and so off we went at midday to Marzamemi.  What little we saw of Syracuse and Ortigia (the old town) was very nice and we plan to return on the way over to Corfu in May.

A great sail of 24nm to Marzamemi with winds gusting to 20knots and no engine noise and a passage time of 4.5 hours.  We were helped to tie up by 2 smashing guys and booked in 2 nights to sit out the storm in safety before leaving for Malta.

The weather deteriorated next day as forecast but we were safe in the small harbour squeezed in on a pontoon.  The waves were crashing onto the beach and over the breakwater all day and the surge in the harbour was rocking and bumping us about all the time that day and the next night.  The entrance was so narrow that the rollers were crashing through  and in the morning fellow yachties saw a fishing vessel being beaten back onto the beach area where the boat was then turned onto it’s side and stranded.  Outside the sea was calm.  Steve consulted with the other sailors who were also on transit to Malta and to Kalkara Marina, and we agreed to sit it out until the entrance became a lot calmer and head off together.  They knew the place well so it made sense for us to sail with them.  After waiting about all morning and studying weather charts the surge was not decreasing enough for a safe exit so it was agreed that we would go at 7am next morning the 8th March.

The other guys told Steve that there was a vineyard along the road where you could buy Sicilian wine for 2€ a litre so as it was a nice warm day and we then had nothing to do we went walking to find the place and replenish our store which was down to 2 bottles of red!  After some diversions we eventually found the place and bought 12 litres altogether in plastic containers. Our trusty ‘shopper’ came in handy again.

So there we were with hardly any food left onboard (but loads of wine) cooking the last supper before we were due to leave for Malta next morning - a crossing of 60+nm and accompanying Vadla a 34’ Beneteau to Kalkara Creek Marina.
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This trip has appeared to be exceptionally good fun for you both. You look like you are both having a ball.....! Trevor and myself think we would both be puking over the side of boat for 99% of your trip, we haven't got sea legs unfortunately.
you carry on having good fun, stay safe and find some sunshine. Have a great Birthday Steve on the 21st March, we will be thinking of you. Glug.glug.glug.

pauline and roly on

Hi! so, the adventure continues. Must say I'm impressed with all that free mooring!!(and two nights for one!). Hope the voyage to Malta is enjoyable-sounds good to have company on the journey-will look forward to your blog once you safely arrive, xx

Michelle and Pat on

Hi Jill and Steve,

Really enjoyed reading your adventures going south (taking notes for maybe one day doing the same trip). Good luck with the rest of the trip to Malta and we hope you have a wonderful 2 month break there (though it will probably be more like 2 months working on the to-do list right).

I will send our news soon but in short Pat and I are well, Croix du Sud also.

Cheers, Pat and Michelle

Mark Pilkington on

Sounds adventurous! That project building in Camerota looks a bit much though! Enjoy the summer weather in Malta, blizzards here today! See you soon.


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