Good Bye Sicily

The moment has come. After 11 months in Sicily, at the beautiful Marina of Capo D’Orlando, it’s time to set sails again and move to our next destination. We avoided the subject as long as we could, knowing that until we said it out loud it wasn’t going to happen: we weren’t going to leave.


Deep down though we were getting ready to say goodbye to those places that had grown on us, becoming part of our daily routine, and to those marvellous people we now called friends.

The same people that helped us design and build the frame for the solar panels; that gave us tips on how to fix bits and pieces, and advised us on places to visit and restaurants where to try the best of the local cuisine.




With them we shared our concern about that engine which made a rattling noise when on; we laughed when one of us – I mean GC ! –  ended up in the water once or twice when, jumping from the boat, he missed the pontoon.

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With them we were on the radio at 4am, when gusts of 40 knots of wind swooped on Gladan with no notice, in the island of Salina, causing the gennaker to flap open and disanchoring many boats around us.

We managed to lower the gennaker and put it away and made a flash decision to pull the anchor up and leave the bay, right when a boat was about to crash on us. At full throttle, with rain hitting our face with rage, we slalomed through the many boats and went out at sea – the safest place to be in these circumstances.

We wondered around for couple of hours waiting for the sun to raise and the wind to calm down before being able to drop anchor again. Our friends were in the bay next to us. Their presence was reassuring and made us live the storm with a different spirit – knowing we were on the lookout for each other.


Thanks to them, we discovered the restaurant Le Siciliane, in Capo D’Orlando downtown, whose host, Calogero, is not only a talented chef cooking with seasonal, fresh ingredients, but also a very skilled practitioner of shiatsu massages –  keen on fixing your cervical while delighting your palate.


I still remember when one night after dinner, having seen me in pain, touching my neck, he reappeared from a back door with a portable massage-chair and gave me a 10minute massage right in the middle of the restaurant! I went back home with a fixed neck and dreamy eyes still picturing before them a delicious carpaccio of freshly picked porcini mushrooms followed by a mouthwatering plate of porcini tagliatelle. 


You feel so nostalgic when it’s time to leave, and realise how lucky you’ve been to meet such special people. You start thinking that maybe traveling is not that great if you have to keep moving on, even when you’ve found people who make you feel at home.


Then you force yourself a bit and set sails – the sea is calling. It’s time to go again. Arrivederci amici. I’m sure the wind will blow us towards you again one day.


P.S. Read Patty’s amazing blog on life at sea & more…


Sailing towards Cefalu’

We set off from Capo D’Orlando Marina around midday on a Sunday morning.


It was a glorious day of sunshine and the wind was very little: it never went over 9.5 knots. We opened the jib but kept one engine on. Gc read on the Lagoon forum that it’s a good custom to alternate the engines: so we use one at a time; it doesn’t make a big difference in terms of speed and we consume less fuel and engine hours. We turn both on only when there are strong headwinds or when we need to manoeuvre.

_DSC1197On route, there was a moment of excitement when we thought we were going to eat fish for dinner. The fishing rod kept bending forward and Gc really struggled to reel the line in. It must have been a big fish. Probably a tuna.

May is the mating season for tuna and swordfish so you find big specimens out there looking for a date. An adult bluefin tuna weighs on average 250 Kgs!


Gc fought with the fish for fifteen minutes, rocking back and forth with the rod, trying to slowly pull it in without rushing it: the objective is to get the fish tired before pulling it in, otherwise it still has enough energy to unhook itself or pull you in for an unwanted dip. Tunas are swift swimmers and travel at a speed of up to 72.5 Km/hour so you don’t want to be towed around by them.

My contribution to the fishing exercise was mainly verbal: “Come on Gc, bring the sushi on, keep pulling!”. I avoided any parallelism with the very famous “The old man and the sea” as recently Gc had become quite aware of the growing number of grey hair.


In preparation for the catch, I grabbed fishing net and grappa and had them ready to be used. I chose the grappa made by Nino, a Sicilian friend, thinking the fish would depart from this world on better terms with a mouthful of orange-flavoured grappa, zero food miles. It turned out the fish wasn’t ready to die at all and swam away leaving us and the Sicilian grappa behind.


_DSC0280Thirty-five nautical miles and many snacks later, we arrived at Cefalu’; it was just after 6 pm.


We decided to stay at anchor just outside the small harbour, in what is definitely a picturesque scenery: ahead of us a rocky promontory and on top of it, standing out against a clear blue sky, the remains of some stone buildings.

After settling in, we had a refreshing swim and found a small beach on which to do a bit of yoga and some push-ups. Exercise is always welcome after many hours of sailing.

We took a hot shower, left the dingy inside the port and walked to the town centre.


The landscape was grand and when the sun started to set we experienced a feeling of fullness which was then taken to the next level by a beautifully cooked dinner at La Botte, in a side street of the main road, Via Vittorio Emanuele. A bottle of Rapitala’ (grapes grillo, catarratto and chardonnay), a freshly fished sea bream for me and ravioli alla cernia with langoustine sauce for Gc. Had life ended there and then, we would have had no regrets.

Or maybe just one: I didn’t allow Gc to order a dessert.




Vulcano – Eolian islands

Visiting Vulcano island is an experience that sticks with you for a while: if anything the smell of sulphur certainly will!

We got to Vulcano easily after 3 and half hours sailing. There was little wind so we had to motor almost all the way there from Milazzo.


The sea was finally calm after a few stormy days, some whirlwinds still forming in the sky, stretching all the way to the water.


Incredible to see at a distance – not very pleasant to experience directly with the boat, I’m sure.

We anchored on the eastern side of the island, Porto Levante, opposite Fumaroles Beach, where the mud pond and the hot springs are.

The morning after we decided to climb up the vulcano. The only one still active on the archipelago, together with the more spectacular Stromboli.

It’s an easy walk, not to steep and the vulcano is only 386 metres high. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water as there are no refreshments available along the way.


Once on top the view is grand: the huge crater below you, the blue sea all around and the gas emissions coming up the volcanic soil: the so called fumaroles. Make sure you don’t breathe them in for too long tough, they are quite toxic.


We walked along the edge of the crater and managed to spot Gladan, safely anchored in the well sheltered bay.


It was quite hot on top, despite it being the beginning of October, and our stomachs had started to rumble so we decided to make our way back to the centre and enjoy a well deserved meal after our short but intense adventure!


After lunch we went back to the boat and had a very pleasant surprise: some fishermen came around with their boat offering some freshly fished capone and gamberoni. What a dream! With 15 Euros we secured a delicious dinner for the 4 of us. DCIM100MEDIADJI_0033.JPG

We couldn’t leave the island without visiting the mud pond and experiencing the ticklish sensation of swimming above the hot springs. It’s 3 euros to access the pond so we paid the entrance and made our way to the mud pool.


I did it many times as a teenager when the entry was still free and I remember the funny looking people all covered in mud walking around the pool waiting for it to dry out. Somehow though I did not remember it being so gross…!

When we stepped in the initial feeling was of disgust! You really feel like a pig crawling into mud…and there are so many people in such a small space.

After the first few odd minutes though we started to enjoy it. The mud was hot and felt very good, forming a protective layer and gently releasing heat on the skin.

The abrasive consistency of the mud and the acidity of the sulphuric acid peel off your dead skin and leave you with a baby skin when you wash it away. The mud treatments are also supposed to be highly beneficial for arthritis, cervical and skin problems.

And there is always the fun side of it! Who can resist the temptation of turning into incredible Hulk for a few hours..

Once the mud is dry and you get tired of the very intense smell of sulphur surrounding you, it’s time for you to go down the staircase and immerge your body in the warm sea water. Follow the bubbles coming up from the sea bottom and you’ll find the hot springs. Relax while washing off the mud. Be careful as you should definitely try not to get any in your eyes as Gc very well knows!

A quick stop at the supermarket to buy some Insolia wine and some crisps to accompany our G&T and there we were, back aboard of Gladan, sipping our aperitif and getting the bbq ready for the night. We had fresh fish to cook…What a treat!


The day after we started making our way to Lipari but stopped very soon for a yoga session on the beach of the Faraglioni. The perfect spot to feel blessed and perform a sun salutation while breathing in the sun and breathing out all your worries…if you still have any left after such a great time around the Eolian islands!