Syracusa via Taormina
37:03.652N 15:17.471E Mon 4th Jul 2016
We motor-sailed for 4 hours to the Bay of Naxos and moored under the chief Sicilian resort of Taormina. We took a buoy there and spent the evening bobbing around with views up to the old town above us. We had a brief swim from the boat but there were some jellyfish around in the still waters to spoil our fun. The next morning we woke to clear views of Etna and clear water too, so Lindsay had a lovely swim while David succeeded in fixing the outboard. As he had suspected, they’d put diesel in the cans rather than petrol and the engine needed a thorough clean-up. We were relieved that we didn’t have to wait around for a mechanic to look at it on Monday.
In the afternoon we went ashore and walked 2½ miles uphill along the road to Taormina, having missed the bus stop and found the direct footpath closed. The heat was stupefying. We wanted to see the Greek theatre there, described as having the best site of any in the ancient world. It does have a wonderful position, although all the remains you can see now are Roman rather than Greek. Taormina itself is very pretty but heaving with tourists and we were glad to get back to our boat and jump in the water again.
Greek theatre with Etna as backdrop:
On Monday we left for a rolly downwind sail past Etna and managed some goose-winged sailing later which was a bonus. First mate decided it wasn’t a bad way to spend her birthday although she was missing the family this year. By mid afternoon we were berthed on the town quay in Syracuse and looking forward to an evening in the lovely old quarter of Ortygia. Syracuse is almost unique in the western Med in having a Greek style town quay to which you can moor for free. It did involve some bureaucracy and a long walk to a well hidden harbourmaster’s office before we could relax, but it was good to be right in the middle of things. We didn’t discover the real downside till much later and after a lovely evening and some excellent local food. There was a bar just opposite our boat and it played very loud music until after 3am so we hardly slept that night! That probably explained why the quay wasn’t much busier. The next afternoon we moved out to the anchorage in the huge bay and had a much quieter night. In the morning we took our dinghy ashore so we could shop in the wonderful market here and we filled our rucksacks with fresh fruit and veg for peanuts. We couldn’t believe how cheap it all was. We returned to where we had tied up our dinghy to find it had been vandalised with a fatal stab wound. It was in the normal place for leaving dinghies and needless to say nobody nearby had seen anything happen - we were furious. Luckily we could limp back to Goldcrest with one inflated chamber but our poor dinghy now looks finally done for. Previous attempts to repair it had proved that the material weirdly just can’t be glued, and we were again unable to patch it up. This is the final straw and it really does have to be replaced now, so Malta here we come!
Old Syracuse from the anchorage: