Wednesday May 1
Still moving “stuff” from No.1 to No.2 – No.1 is much lighter now, I estimate by ½ tonne and there’s finally some extra storage space! Hurrah. Mind you, not my storage space but maybe Gen might concede now to giving up some of the locker space he’s occupied over the years. Anyways. Need to make new inventories / lists of where things are – all change, all change!
Thursday May 2
Julian joined us today, which is wonderful. In the evening Gwen and Pete joined us on No.2 and we had a bit of a party.
Friday May 3
Having checked the weather Gen decided that it was time to go and not for just a short hop to Kassopi (basically for a shake down) but for an overnight / long passage. So all hands to deck, last minute provisioning, moving more stuff onto No. 2, putting No. 2 to bed, getting No. 1 ready and off we go.
Left mid afternoon and headed for Italy – wind should be alright for hopefully some sailing but definitely picking up to F7+, hence leaving earlier than originally planned.
Saturday May 4
Anchored off the breakwater in Cortone after a 30 hour passage. Wind was sprightly at times. Managed to sail for a 1/3rd of the time.
As we approached Cortone we had a welcome party of three dolphins which amused us for nearly an hour, jumping and swimming about the bough, and then we were in a thunderstorm, and then approached a calm setting. The anchorage just outside of the commercial harbour was comfortable from the swell.
Shattered, it was an early night for all of us.
Monday May 6
Got up early and headed for our next destination. Calm for a while and then at some point we had F6 and F7 winds pretty much just off the nose making it impossible to sail to our next destination, although we tried. It was pretty tough going. So, we changed course and headed for a small harbour, with relatively good shelter.
Le Castella: http://www.italianways.com/le-castella-a-sea-of-legends/ is where we stayed. Went alongside the fishing harbour and tucked ourselves in the corner. There was a bit of swell coming in so a bit of wobble from time to time. Our fender board took a bit of a beating but that’s it’s job I guess.
Ended up at a restaurant near the harbour and had one of the best meals yet this year – fantastic fresh seafood.
Tuesday May 7
Got up early (6am) as it was planned that we undertake another long passage. The wind was not letting up and after much debate it was decided that we would not head out into the wind (F7/8) and chop and wait until the evening when the wind was to subside a bit.
Wandered around the village, pretty much a resort, with an impressive castle (which is closed until further notice).
In the evening left before 6pm, still a bit of wind so plan changed slightly to follow the coast for a while where there would be less chop and wind on the nose.
Wednesday May 7
Had an amazing night sky. The stars were so so clear and abundant. Anchored at Rocella Ionica just before sunrise. Had a bit of a sleep and then set off again. After a comparatively short passage anchored off Pilazzi, which is on the toe of Italy. Enjoyed a most spectacular sunset – the pastel pink hues of light on the mist surrounding Mt Etna.
Thursday May 8
Left mid morning and headed for the Messina Straits.
We picked up some passengers at anchor – don’t know what they were but egg sacks of some sorts attached to our anchor safety line.
Got a good run going through the straits – didn’t catch a fish, but saw a swordfish jump out of the water. Was so looking forward to seeing the swordfish fishing boats but there were none – a bit of a disappointment. We did see lots of By the Wind Sailor jelly fish https://jellywatch.org/velella The last time we saw them was a couple of years ago when we sailed along the west coast of Sardinia and then when they “sailed” into the bay in the Aeolians.
Completed another overnight passage and anchored (at 4am) in Baia Negro on Volcano, Aeolian Islands.
Having rested for a few hours in the morning we went ashore. Julian climbed to the top of crater whereas Gen and I went and enjoyed a wonderful meal at our favourite family run fishmonger come restaurant – the food is just wonderful and fresh and pure home cooking – heaven.
Friday May 9
Rested in the morning, went ashore again and then in the afternoon we took off for yet another overnight passage. This time heading for Palermo.
Other than the wonderful night sky the other memorable moment was, what we think was, the view of Stromboli’s crater glowing throughout the night.
Saturday May 10
Got to the harbour pretty early and managed to get a berth at one of the concessionaires.
Wandered into the old town – brilliant. Love the architecture, the ambiance, the culture. It’s a bit rough around the edges at times but a wonderful place. We visited other parts of the old town and had a wonderful lunch in one of the main markets: http://www.italianways.com/the-ballaro-market/