I am writing this after our 7 month stay in the marina.
We looked for a winter berth only end of September 2016, most marinas we contacted in Greece and Sicily had already been booked out. We contacted the Marina di Cala del Sole and fortunately, they had space for us. The winter rate was very reasonable 1990 Euro for 6 months with 1 month free if belonging to one of a few cruising associations. Looking at the website, we were quite stoked about availability, price and services.
The homepage talked about 1500 berths, sports fields, 2 villa resorts, private beach, spa, maxi yacht mall in the marina, shopping centre. Quickly, we realised that the website did not match what we saw. The marina has not been finished yet: there is room for about 400 berths, only one villa resort has been build (3-4 villas available for rent), no private beach and most shops within the maxi yacht mall are empty. There are also cranes and construction vehicles around the area that look like they have been just left (website has been updated since then and now mentions that 394 berths are available at this stage and planned 1500).
Despite the discrepancies between website and real life we had a very good first impression. The office staff is fluent in English (and French) and the marineros are very helpful. It was sunny and warm when we arrived so everything looked quite inviting and my first shower block inspection returned positive results plus it wasn’t very far for us to walk there.
Maxi yacht mall: The Café Letterraio in the marina became our second home with delicious paninis, croissants and salads and good and cheap wine (at happy hour times 2 Euro) and plates of complimentary snacks. The only other shop in the marina is the chandler. He has been great, most things we needed he had in stock, or if not he was able to order within a few days (we are still waiting on a Lewmar winch service kit which we ordered in December – it is now April). Andrea has been really helpful, organising the sailmaker (we got new UV strips on both, main and headsail), the canvas maker (we got a new bimini) and he also tried to teach us some Italian along the way. Wait, there is another shop – a bag shop… never been there, though, and never seen anyone. The gelateria was closed from October until April, as was the little snack bar/pizzeria. Hoping they will open for cruisers in summer. There is a self-service laundromat – 4 washing machines and a dryer. Most of the time only 2 machines were working and everyone would queue up when the weather was good. The machines are commercial machines which can handle loads up to 8kg and 16kg and cost 6 and 9 Euro. The dryer we used once as it was just a waste of time (and money – 3.50Euro for 15min) as the clothes wouldn’t really dry even after 2 cycles – and why spend money when you can hang your washing on your yacht – after all laundry day should be a sunny day. Overall, the machines are very dirty as the fishermen use them to wash their fishing nets etc and they are too expensive (often the water does not heat up and clothes don’t get washed properly). Since wrting this, the prices for the machines have been raised by 1 Euro each - they are still not serviced or cleaned, though. Some cruisers resorted to renting an apartment for 25 Euros/night and do a bulk load of washing there.
Shower/Toilet blocks – there are 2 blocks on either side of the marina with 4 toilets and 2 showers. Looking at them quickly, they all look fine, but a few issues arose during our stay. Toilets would run frequently out of toilet paper and/or paper towels a couple of seats are broken and you need to be careful not to slide off. One sink drain was leaking so the solution was to turn the water off, the shower heads were calcified that hardly any water came out and the drains were blocked causing a major flooding every time you took a shower. The men’s shower rarely had hot water at all during winter. It took a few complaints and emails but it seems like these issues have now been resolved, new faucets and shower heads have been installed and the water is usually warm to hot.
Safety / Security – the marina is very well sheltered with double breakwater walls. We had a few days of very strong winds during winter and all the boats got a wee bit bumped around but overall we were quite sheltered. The boats at the ends of the pontoons had it probably a bit worse. There were a couple of incidents during a period of sustained 30 knots of wind – the lazy lines broke off and caused 4-5 boats to come loose and blow alongside the pontoon. This caused a bit of damage to those boats. Once this was discovered the marineros arranged to dive into the marina and re-secure the lines. On a different occasion, the floating pontoons (nearly) broke off from the quay. It took a couple of complaints to the office to get some ropes and chains tied to the pontoon as a temporary fix – both floating pontoons have been now fixed. ‘Security’ gates and fences around the pontoon consist of about hip high ropes and bushes; gates are usually not locked as cruisers go in and out to go to the bathrooms/recycling/chandler etc, but this invites non cruisers to walk up and down the pontoons. I personally feel like being in a zoo…
Shopping facilities – As mentioned there is nothing in the marina other than the (very good) chandler and the bag shop. Right outside the marina there is a shopping centre it has a good supermarket (Conad, reasonably priced), an electronics store, ATM, lunch bar, clothes shop, optometrist and others. Licata is quite small and any store is within walking distance – pharmacies, diy stores, a second chandler, fruit shops, wine shops, the Guardia Medica for medical emergencies, dentists, music intruments, post office etc. A store that has become quite important to most cruisers here is Lidl – and if someone is going there, car share is in order because it is about 30min walk. Every Thursday there is a market in town (about 20 minute walk) with fresh produce and olives which you can all taste before buying.
Marina staff – very friendly and helpful. The office staff can help with appointments for doctors and dentists, organise flower deliveries, look up timetables for buses, arrange drop off and pick up at/from the bus station, make reservations etc. The marineros usually don’t speak English very well but they are always happy to help, be it driving you from the café to your boat on their electric golf carts, carrying 100+ l of diesel to your boat, rescuing a bird from a locked (and empty) shop, helping with berthing etc. What we and other cruisers unfortunately witnessed was that when you did complain about things (no hot water in the showers, wifi not working), nothing would happen for a long time and you would just get excuses and the same old answer ‘domani’. When the wifi was down ‘domani’ meant three and a half months – a situation that many cruisers where angry about.
On the other hand the marina organises regularly events for the liveaboard community – BBQs, Christmas Tombola, Valentine’s theme party,… and they are always great fun with shiploads of food and wine!
A problem every boat will encounter here is a significant growth on the hull. Our antifouling is new so we didn’t have a big problem (it did take about an hour to dive and scrape through-hulls, propeller, bow thruster), but 90% of the boats need to be hauled out to get new antifouling. Although we had all new anodes in August as well as hanging a sacrificial anode off the back – our anodes (especially on the keel) are gone and need to be replaced as soon as we are out of this marina.
A few things happened during our stay that were not the marina’s fault (lightning struck the wifi repeater), but the way this was handled was very disappointing. Breaking lazy lines, blocked or leaking drains, pontoon boards coming undone… could have been taken care of before these things happened if some maintenance took place.
Overall we had a good time here in Licata, we met a lot of cruisers and some friends for life. Having a supermarket at the door step was great we were mostly sheltered from wind and waves. I would not come back for a winter season due to all the issues we encountered but I would recommend the marina for some days during the summer.
We have been living full time on our yacht since end of August 2016 and sailing since September. In that time we have fitted Tiny Nical with some bits and bobs to make things easier, safer, more comfortable. Obviuously, there have been plenty of unscheduled repairs, tons of cleaning, scrubbing, oiling, varnishing, sealing, screwing.... But here is an overview of what we did on our Bavaria 47 Cruiser Tiny Nical since we moved on to her permanently.
On Sunday 9th April, our French and Swiss cruising friends organised a rubbish collection event. All cruisers walked up the breakwater and collected all the rubbish along the way. Honestly, all the rubbish might be a little exaggerated but we did manage to fill up 80+ rubbish bags along with a pile of glass and treated wood (plywood, crates..) within 1.5 hours. It felt good giving back and doing something good. It is a little disappointing that it takes the cruisers/tourists to clean up the marina and the Licata community did not get involved. We wish that the people of Licata see the pictures that are posted on the marina website and hopefully get inspired and educated. From 10.30 until 12pm we were busy collecting rubbish - we found styrofoam boxes (from the fishermen), plastic bottles, ropes, plastic bags, tyres, brooms , crates, nets... What a difference 40+people can do in an hour and a half! We had then 30min to freshen up because the marina organised a farewell BBQ for all the liveaboards who where here during winter (and everyone who has come back). Like the previous BBQ, there was just too much food for our bellies to handle: Pizza, Salad, Focaccia, Lasagne, Sausages, Meat, Strawberries, Sweets. It was great. The weather was not so great but after a couple of minutes of light rain it was alright again. Shout out to all marina staff (Emi and Maria even played Moelkki with us) and thank you to everyone there.
This was the first year that we have been apart from our friends and family on Christmas. Even though we missed having our children/parents around it was also nice to not worry about a thing. No decorations, no baking, no Christmas lunch or dinner to prepare… Just a quiet night.
The cruisers (thank you Harriet and Gustaf) arranged for a little Christmas party on 15.12.16. Everybody brought some finger food along and a secret Santa present. This freaked me out a bit, because I didn’t know what to get (max limit was 5 Euro) AND I had no wrapping paper!! The most popular present was the olive pipper, which got stolen 5-6 times. I, myself, stole a Citronella candle from the French (I want to be prepared for summer), whereas Alistair stole a weird game from Rebekah – which we may play on New Year’s, I guess the drunker, the funner J
The marina organised a Christmas / Charity event on 23.12.16. We played the Italian version of Bingo. Rules were quite confusing at first bit after 5 minutes of constant asking and repeating we got the hang of it. The charity tombola was in aid of the Asante Sana Children’s Home in Mambrui, Kenya and even I got a bit frustrated at times because none of my numbers seemed to be called, it was good fun. Later the marina offered heaps of food and some bubbles to celebrate. Obviously, I ate too much!
The BBQ on Sunday 25th was a bit larger than our normal BBQs (there were Christmas biscuits and cakes and bubbles and nearly half a beast on the barbie, Eric brought his deep fryer along) it was ‘just’ a barbie. Great fun with the few remaining liveaboards here in Licata – no stress, just food and drink and the compulsory Moelkki game afterwards.
Now, the next task is to get us all together for New Year’s Eve….
(Some photos are not mine, but either by the marina or one of our cruiser family, Miriam – more photos on fb page Marina Di Cala Del Sole
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.
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