We had a lovely stay in the Aeolian Islands we arranged for our winter berth in the south of Sicily. With the wind and weather pattern for the upcoming days we decided to take the long way around Sicily and go west, rather than going through the Strait of Messina. A few hours before sunset we arrived in the marina of Cefalu. At first we didn’t want to go into the marina and tried anchoring just inside the breakwater but then decided to go further in. A big catamaran came in behind us but went straight to the pontoon where there were 2 marineros waving them in. We were ignored. We finally were seen and guided to the berth next to the Cat. We tied up and went to check in; on our way to the office (which is just a container) we were joking about the fees. We expected about 30 Euro for the night and got a shock when we were asked to pay 70 Euro! Let me tell you about the facilities in the marina: a vending machine next to the office! We had a shower and made some dinner. We planned on leaving early the next morning and had an early night. There wasn’t much wind but the swell was massive and all the boats along the floating pontoon were bashing about back and forth, left and right. We crashed into the pontoon twice and decided at 10pm that this marina will not work for us, so we untied ourselves and anchored just outside the marina. We got up at 3am and left towards Palermo. 70 Euro well spent – NOT! Any ideas what we could have spent the money on instead?
What to do when you suddenly have an aching tooth in a little town in a country where you don’t speak the language? Despair, was the first feeling we had. Then we remembered, one of our cruising friends here at the marina had lost his tooth a few weeks earlier and had it put back in. He was happy enough with the result and the price that he recommended having the marina office make an appointment for us. We had no better alternative, so we went to the appointment to get the tooth checked out. Consultation was done via smart phones and Google Translate – where would we be without technology?! And after a few translation sessions the verdict was simple: Root canal! The following day we came back for the procedure and Alistair put on his brave face, although I could see the stress in his eyes. A dentist you can understand is scary enough, but a dentist who does not speak your language is even scarier. But, from what I could tell, the root canal was a success and Alistair had no more pain (a few hours later he had feeling in his face and nose again, too, which is a plus).
Now, we should have gone back to the dentist to get a crown done, we already had an appointment – but then we cancelled. Why? A few reasons came together, probably: Not speaking the language, not having pain anymore, not having too much faith in south Italian dentistry (sorry!), and a message from our friend saying that his tooth had become loose and he will need to get a new implant in 3 months (in England). With the urgency of the pain gone, we decided to cancel our next appointment and do some more research to see if we can find a better alternative. Fingers crossed!
Christmas is over – now New Year’s is over too….
Again, we had a great time with our fellow cruisers.
On New Year’s Eve, we all met in the Yacht Club in the marina for some eggnog and a screening of Dinner for One. This comedy sketch from 1963 is an all-time classic and a favourite in Germany, Denmark, Finland and Norway and is watched traditionally every year on 31.12 – New Year’s Eve. I am glad we were able to bring this gem of NYE tradition to everyone else in the world – Americans, English, Scottish, Dutch, Italians,… Can’t remember, who else was there.
Afterwards, the group split up and some went out to a restaurant in town (We were told that it may not be too safe in downtown Licata around midnight because people are allowed to fire their guns – in the air only - but still this was a bit too dodgy for us). And we went back home to our neighbours on the Cat Takamaka for a deliciously scrumptious Raclette meal – special thanks goes out to Deimante and Saulius from Takamaka for hosting this event and Stefan and Jessica from SY Sundowner for bringing their Raclette grill from Germany. We had so much food, it wasn’t funny! After pan fulls of melted cheese, potatoes, bread, meats etc, the party started. Who knew you could have so much fun with glow sticks and party lights as a grown-up! So, we ate and drank and danced and just before midnight, we headed to the BBQ area where we met up with the others again to set off our expired flares. We heard that everyone seemed to have a few expired ones on board, and what better opportunity to learn how they work on, than on New Year’s Eve. A few days before we checked with the marina if it was ok for us to set them off and they agreed and also checked in with Coast Guard to make sure that there wouldn’t be any issues – all legal! Most of the flares worked alright – but, man, they are scary as! They are loud, they are bright, they are hot – which is a great plus if you are in trouble, but not so much when just doing them for ‘fun’.
When that was over we headed back to Takamaka (a Lagoon 440) and suddenly our little group grew from 6 in the beginning to 10 (or more?) after midnight – song and dance continued until the early morning hours.
And even though it was a long night, most of us still managed to head over to the BBQ on time for Sunday lunch – sailors are the real troopers!
Happy New Year to everyone out there – Have fun, live free, go on adventures, be happy!
Love from the STN crew
Today is the shortest day of the year, which means, we are heading back into summer - it's time to sum up our winter experience in Sicily so far.
When we arrived in the marina in October, we asked Maria what winters would be like. She said it is normally not very cold – minimum of 9 degrees, but it will get very windy. And boy, she wasn’t wrong!
It already started end November with some of the biggest thunderstorms I have ever encountered. In New Zealand we had the occasional 1-2 hour long thunderstorm with 100s of lightnings. I even recall one night in Hannover (the night we left on a school trip) that went on and on with thunder and lightning. But compared to what we had here in Licata, that was nothing. We had 4-5 nights in a row of constant thunderstorms – it would go on for hours. No chance of sleeping with the constant flashes of light and the long, deep rumbles of thunder. When we heard the biggest bang, that made us sit upright in bed, one of the yachts in our marina got struck by lightning, seemingly melting all the electronics on board. 4-5 other yachts had been affected as well: the Swedish boat Sans Peur lost their autopilot (we know how important that is!), the English Grand D’Artangan had troubles with their batteries, etc. Luckily we had no problems – I think what saved us was the fact that we had already lost power a few hours beforehand (due to water in the electric system – not so lucky) and were not connected to the shore power when the yacht (about 6 boats down from us) got hit. Right next to the Hanse 575 that got hit is an Irish boat, Windhover, whose owners already had some bad luck in September, when they, too, got hit by lightning, when anchoring in Lipari (next to a huge tanker)! Sean and Bernie are back in Ireland for winter so Alistair and I checked out Windhover for them and gave it the all clear. Imagine if they had got struck again!!! They, too, were not connected to the shore power.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the whole of the marina lost power for a couple of days and it seems the wifi aerial repeater things were affected too, so there was no wifi since end of November. For cruisers it is quite a nuisance as we need wifi to communicate with our families overseas, arrange flights for visits home, or even work! After 4 weeks I looks like the wifi is back, but now we have Force 9 winds, gusting over 50 knots, which will more than likely kill power and wifi again.
Obviously, with the thunderstorm there comes rain. And we did have our fair share of rain – one night it rained 160mm in 3 hours (http://floodlist.com/europe/italy-floods-licata-sicily-160-mm-rain-3-hours), and the town of Licata was flooded; roads turned into rivers and the parking lot, where my parents parked just days before turned into a swimming pool! (Last 4 fotos of the flooding from http://www.meteoweb.eu - I tried to avoid going out)
Rain and thunderstorms have eased for now, but we still struggle with the gales – especially being on a mono hull doesn’t help with the overall well being… You guys probably know what I mean :)
Stay safe, take care and keep warm - your STN Crew
65 Euro / night, for 14.49m boat, end September.
We called the marina about 10min before we arrived and asked if they had a berth for the night. No problem at all, and a dinghy came out and greeted us when we got to the entrance, checked out our size and guided us to our berth for the night, where he jumped out of his boat and helped us with the lines.
Again, wind was not quite in our favour, but with the second attempt we were safely in our berth and with the mooring assistance quickly secured. Top marks.
It feels smaller, or more personal, due to the layout of the marina/pontoons than Punta Ala.
The office is right at the transient berths pontoon, so we didn’t have to walk far and the office staff spoke a little English (it’s always a blessing if they speak a little English because our Italian is even less than a little – random words, yes, whole sentences, no)
After checking in we went for a walk and found plenty of restaurants, bars and boat related stores (chandler, canvass/sail repair, engine service, ropes, home store (for live aboards).
Although, there are many dogs around, I thought the marina was not very dog friendly as all grass and flower beds are fenced off. Luckily, at the entrance there is a bit of lawn that Tiny gladly used.
The chandler has a great selection of useful items. The first two things we needed were adaptors for the power and the water…. Still can’t get my head around it why there is not one standard connection for these things?!
Next time we passed the chandler, we got 50m of anchor chain, which we then had to cart to our yacht and then somehow get onto her too – that was the afternoon gone.
We didn’t feel like cooking after fighting with the chain for hours in about 30 degrees, so we went to a little take away pizza place. It didn’t look like much and all he had to offer was Pizza Margherita and focaccia. We got both, of course!
If you ever do come to Riva di Traiano, make sure to get some of the porchetta filled focaccia! It was amazing and it even had crackling! It was the best thing we had to eat for a very long time (or so it felt at least). Still dreaming about it sometimes. One thing we weren’t aware of when we ordered that the advertised price was per kg – that meant we had dinner for two days.
The marina has a wee grocery store but we didn’t bother to go there and headed straight to the Coop supermarket – about 25min away, there we stocked up with fresh fruit and veges and some meat for the freezer.
You will also find a self-service laundry (we didn’t use it), where you need to advise (and pay) the adjacent shop before using the machines.
Toilet / shower facilities are all along the marina – no matter where you are, you only have short distances. Some of the facilities were better kept than others.
Riva di Traiano was not only on our way as we headed south along the coast of Italy, but our electrician, Adriano, recommended the Raymarine service shop to check on our VHF and chartplotter. When we got to talk to the owner, Massimo, he said he had discussed the VHF issue with Adriano (Marina di Punta Ala) and he would be happy to have a look at it. We then mentioned the chartplotter as well and dropped both into his shop in the afternoon. No problem, he said, it should be ready in the morning. And sure as, when we came back in the morning, both VHF and chartplotter were ready and working! We were stoked. If you are in the area and need help with your Raymarine gadgets – we’ll gladly pass on his details!
I apologise that we didn't take more pictures of this marina - we have been too busy.
I will try to add a few more pictures from the videos later.
Follow Alistair and Nicola as they share their experience of traveling around the world.