Calabria to the Aeolian Islands to Sicily

Fri 3 Sep 2010 21:10
38:07.426N 13:22.328E
Friday 3rd September
Sadly left Calabria early Thursday 26th August, no wind so motored for 8 hours to Isola Volcano in the Aeolian Islands which lie between the toe of Italy and Sicily, anchored in a bay beneath the volcano and swam in the hot springs, lovely but with a strong smell of sulphur.  Next morning climbed to the top of the volcano and walked around the crater, amazing sight.  In the afternoon motored to the next island Lipari, visited the strange white pumice beach with it's clear water, then anchored in the bay near the town.  Saturday, walked round the town of Lipari, very picturesque but suprisingly touristy.  In the afternoon motored to the next island Salinas and anchored in a bay at the South near the port of Lingua.  Early start Sunday to climb one of the twin peaks of Salinas, Monte Fossa delle Feici.  Most of the island of Salinas is National Park so misguidedly thought walking routes would be clearly marked - mistake!  3 hours later still skirting the mountain and nowhere near the summit so gave up.  Wind started to pick up and gales forecasted so headed back to shelter on Isola Volcano for the night, sadly missing visiting the islands of Filicudi and Alicudi.
Monday, 30th left Isola Volcano 6.30am in moderate North West winds and sailed close hauled following the North coast of Sicily.  Excitement of the day, a whale sighting close to the port side of the boat, a large whale surfaced and blew several times, pretty spectacular, then dived.  Winds got stronger and seas were building as the gale warnings continued.  Arrived at the port of Cefalu and anchored in the harbour.
Spent next couple of days in Cefalu exploring the lovely old town and climbed to the castle high on the rock behind the town.  Weather became very mixed with wind and first rain in ages.  More gales forecasted so left Cefalu Thursday 2nd September and sailed with a strong Easterly wind pushing us along.  Arrived late afternoon at Palermo the capital of Sicily and anchored in what looked like a sheltered safe bay about 6 miles east of Palermo, skies got blacker, thunder and lightening started and the wind got stronger then suddenly changed direction straight into the bay overturning the dinghy, drowning the outboard motor so hasty evacuation to the safety of Palermo harbour to assess the damage.  Syd managed to clean and strip down the carburettor and got it working, then made the most of being in Sicily's largest city and went sightseeing.  Palermo is a large busy City with beautiful architecture which includes many Palazzos, unfortunately it poured down with rain so spent the afternoon at the amazing Palazzo Normani where we saw the famous Cappella Palatina with it's awesome mosaics, then were lucky enough to visit the parliament building as it was one of the few days it was open to the public.  Thought the city had a really nice feel and lovely friendly people.  Next stop the South of Sardinia.