|Gozo to Trapani|
The passage from Gozo to the Marina di Ragusa was unexciting but enjoyable. We motored out of Mgarr harbour and for a short distance northwards before setting sail and reaching most of the way northwards across the 50 mile wide Malta strait. Having entered Ragusa Marina we were berthed on a pontoon miles from anywhere! The nearest facilities were a 5 minute walk away and the offices the same. It is a new and very large project but very empty; that said I was assured by the staff that in winter it is a very popular place to lay up for the winter and is always full. Certainly their winter storage prices seemed very reasonable (for Kurukulla, at 12m length, it was €1300 Nov – Apr inclusive).
|Sunset at Licata Marina|
After two days in Ragusa, a not very impressive town but it had good beaches, we set off west, motor-sailing in light winds, heading for Licata and intending to anchor in the eastern part of the harbour. On arrival we found that not only had the new inner breakwaters been completed (they had been under construction in 2008 during my last visit) but inside what used to be the best anchoring area was now a fully fledged marina. Initially we anchored outside the marina but were very quickly informed, by a man in a RIB, that this was now a private part of the port and if we wished to stay we would have to enter the marina. Slightly disgruntled we first checked out the other berthing option in the port, the pontoon on the inner side of the west breakwater, but this was overflowing with local boats (and costs a lot less than the marina!) hence we returned to the marina and resigned ourselves to the cost. In fact it was cheaper than Ragusa by €20 per day, so not so bad.
|Licata by night|
Our plan was to stay two days with Christoph and I doing some maintenance on the boat on day one whilst the other two went doing the tourist bit and for us all then to have a relaxing day on day two. On the second night we had an enjoyable meal at a restaurant in the narrow streets of the old town before doing a tour by night of the sights. Although full of some pretty brutal architecture of the 1970's and 80's the old town retains considerable charm. The following morning a visit to the ex servicemen's club museum explained the reason for the variability in the architecture; Licata was a landing point for the allied invasion of Sicily in WWII and had obviously been bombarded to soften up any resistance prior to the landing. I was lucky enough to be engaged in conversation by a veteran who had witnessed the landings first hand and gave me a guided tour of their small museum.
|Arriving Porto Empedocle|
Later that morning we departed Licata and headed west, on the wind, towards our next port of call, Porto Empedocle. Knowing that space here was at a premium I took the precaution of getting the staff at the marina offices of Licata to call ahead and book us a space. We arrived an hour before sunset, sailed in, dropped the sails and entered the inner eastern harbour to find the space reserved for us. Nothing and no one! After several telephone calls I managed to get through to the “Marinaio” who manages the berthing there who knew nothing of the pre booked space but was kind enough to leave the wedding he was attending and sort us out a berth. For that night we were rather precariously perched alongside the end of a pontoon (fortunately a quiet night was forecast) but the next morning he kindly moved us into one of the best berths in the small marina.
|Self at Viale di Tempi|
It was from Porto Empedocle that Simon and Nikos were due to leave but first we all wanted to visit the Viale di Tempi at Agrigento, which was a few miles inland. Plan A was to hire a car for 24 hours, visit the temples and then take S&N to Palermo Airport the next day. Several telephone calls later and we had discovered that the cheapest 24 hour car hire was €140; plan B was to go by bus to Agrigento, visit the temples and research trains from there to Palermo. This we did and a suitable morning train was available but no bus from Porto Empedocle to Agrigento! A taxi solved the problem! The Viale di Tempi is an amazing sight with some of the best preserved Greek temples in existence, partly because one at least was converted to a christian church and was therefore well maintained for a thousand years or more.
|Berthed in Porto Empedocle|
Next morning we wished Simon and Nikos goodbye and spent the rest of the day relaxing before a relatively early departure the following morning. Our plan, given the forecast of light westerly winds, was to head to Capo Bianco, a delightful and un-commercialised beach with suitable anchorages East and West of the headland such that, unless there is a southerly element in the wind, it is suitable for an overnight stop. The next morning we were awoken by the arrival of another boat's crew whom we had met in the marina at Licata and again at Porto Empedocle. They were unaware of the anchorage at Capo Bianco before meeting us and had decided to try it out. Initially the sea was so calm they were able to lie alongside us but as the day moved on and the west wind set in we all decided to move to the east side of the Cape before nightfall. By 1700 we were anchored off the second more commercial beach to the east of the headland and settled for the night. We invited the crew of the second boat, Philippe and Dimitris, over for supper finally sending them off into the darkness at 2300 before turning in for a slightly rocky but not unpleasant night.
Next morning we moved back to the west side where we stayed for the next 24 hours before departing in a flat calm on Thursday morning, heading west, towards a destination yet to be decided. Within one hour we had enough wind to sail, an hour later a reef in the main and an hour after that rolls in the genoa as well. It was a boisterous beat to windward but by using the bays along the coast we managed to stay clear of the rising seas and enjoyed a pleasant, if slightly wet, beat to windward; taking in the sights of the equally impressive temples at Selinunte on the way. Sadly the weather was such that a stop at Selinunte, as planned, was not possible. Further west at the most South Westerly point of Sicily, Capo Granitola, we were greeted by the sight of fifty four kite surfers all doing their thing and that did not count the ones on the beach. An amazing sight! Having rounded Granitola we had a final hour on a close fetch, along the coast, before anchoring in the shelter of the breakwater at Mazara del Vallo. This is the largest trawler port in Italy and we decided to stay outside the port and simply shelter behind the breakwater for the night. Interestingly there was evidence of a new marina here as well, inside the harbour, but we did not investigate. Outside is an easy anchorage in weed and gloupy mud, with good holding, perfect for one night.
By 1000 next morning we had weighed anchor and set off for our next destination, the island of Favignana in the Egadi islands. It was flat calm so motoring was the order of the day, at least for the first hour. After which a light westerly breeze set in allowing us to ghost along at three knots or thereabouts. By 1600 we were anchored just east of Punta Longa on the south coast of the island. There are several anchorage points around the south and east coasts of the island, some with mooring buoys laid.
The following morning, after a swim and a quick telephone call to the Lega Navale in Trapani to book a berth for the following night, we set off to complete the final 10 miles in a flat calm. Motoring all the way; boring; arriving at 1330. By 1400 we were berthed in their part of the marina and settling down to lunch; prior to undertaking a victualling run ashore in the afternoon in preparation for the crossing to Sardinia.
More when we leave Trapani.......