Sicily to Sardinia

Dick and Irene Craig
Sun 5 Jul 2009 17:01

We left Lipari and with no wind, motored to Filicudi, via Salina. Despite the prohibiting of anchoring and fishing off Punto Perciato, with an arch, carved from the rock by the elements, on the north-west point of Salina, a dozen boats were at anchor there.

As we entered the bay at Filicundi, a sword-fish jumped out of the water to greet us.

We anchored in 12metres on sand and weed, disturbing a couple of small jellyfish in the process. These were the second lot of jellyfish we have seen this year, the others were observed while we on passage, a couple of days ago. There were only two or three and were of a different variety to the ones here.

The water was clear and warm and it was easy to spot the patches of clear sand, among the weed, on the sea bottom.

Behind us, there was a sharp incline, with a natural fortification of rocks, rounded by the constant movement of the water, sloping up towards the beach. Several metres below us, to our starboard side, were empty, white, plastic containers attached by rope or string, to rocks, or large, rough concrete, conical shapes. Perhaps these are used for mooring small boats. If so, it would be necessary to dive below the water to access the “marker”.

Late afternoon, the rain fell heavily for about half an hour, the clouds moved eastwards and the sun re-appeared.

We were on our way before 8am next morning and made passage to Cefalu, on the northern coast of Sicily.There was a circle of fair weather cumulus clouds all around the islands and over Sicily.

Although there always seemed to be a number of boats at each of the anchorages around the islands, it is doubtful that in total, that there were as many as one hundred, including the charter boats.There are just not many places to anchor, away from the prevailing winds.

There are a great many ferry boats and tripper boats, traveling between the islands, also between Sicily and the islands. It didn’t seem possible that there would be sufficient passengers to justify so many boats. However, whenever a boat was due, there was always a long queue of passengers waiting for its arrival.

On passage to Cefalu, we had a tow most of the way which saved us 5 nautical miles. Although we motor-sailed half of the journey, there was never really sufficient wind to justify using the genoa and it was probably relieved when we finally furled it in.

We spotted dolphins frolicking, some 500metres ahead. They swam across, in front of the boat, to starboard, where they stayed but never came any closer. Five minutes later another two did exactly the same.

On arrival at Cefalu we re-fueled and then anchored in the beautiful blue bay, from which huge rock formations protruded.

Mid morning the following day, traveling between Cefalu and Capo Zafferana, while on passage to Palermo, we came upon a pod of about a dozen Risso’s dolphins, with their almost pure white bodies, beakless, bulbous, square shaped heads, long pointed flippers, dorsal fin and unmistakable flukes. As we passed them, they tried to hide under the water, their white bodies easily discernable below the water. Four or five of them were submerged less than a metre from the starboard hull. They were so vulnerable.

Reaching Palermo, we were fortunate enough to find available, a berth wide enough for our boat. We tied up, stern to the quayside, between a fly-bridge motor cruiser and a 36foot sailing boat, with a French ensign.

The sailing boat was just preparing to leave. As the berth was vacated, another monohull, of similar size to the departing boat, with a British ensign, reversed into the space next to us. There were no longer any empty berths in the harbour, at any of the marinas.

The English couple had brought their boat from Brittany this year, via the canals, arriving in Sicily from Sardinia, on their way to Greece. They had fallen in love with Brittany so had delayed their journey for a season.

We did the tourist bit around Palermo. A few buildings had been refurbished to the splendor of yesteryear but for the most part, there was a general lack of TLC. The decaying beauty of the architecture reflected things as they really are, as opposed to a modern, sometimes sympathetic, reconstruction.