Hammamet -> Sciacca (Sicily): Out of Africa

Stephen & Anne
Tue 23 Aug 2011 15:01

37.30.251N 13.04.697E


Eek we’ve moved … a lot!


The planned weather was not perfect but quite good. Although the winds would start easterly they should turn southerly by mid Monday morning (and were due to be southerly for the next few days). The waves would initially be northerly less than 0.25m so should not be a problem. Our planned course was NE and the total time should be 24 hours. The only real motoring we would need to do would be on the last section near the coast of Sicily where no wind was forecast.


At Monday 8am we motored over to the fuel pontoon ensuring we didn’t tangle with the pirate ships. Stephen started the “long” check out procedures with border control and customs while Anne did the final prep for getting ready to sail (covers off, halyards attached, cats stowed!). Border control police were very nice and efficient and stamped our passport. The customs lady was very nice and efficient too, even when she asked for any Dinar cash we still have (a good wheeze to ask for as you are not allowed to take it out of the country). The customs lady then searched the boat making sure there were no Tunisians hiding anywhere. We were then given the OK to leave. We gave her some wine glasses as a thank you present and she seemed very happy (they were unwanted presents we had received).


The only problem was all this happened very quickly (30 minutes) and Anne still did not have the boat ready. When you are checked out the police want you to depart as quickly as possible. We completed the last few tasks, cast off, and headed for Sicily.


The first part of the passage was as planned, light easterly winds and light waves on the nose. Progress was good at around 5.5 Knots. Once we left the shelter of the bay the easterly winds increased in strength and the waves were now also easterly increasing in size to 0.5 to 1.0m. The best speed we could manage was a mere 3.0 Knots. At this rate we were looking at a 48 hour passage. The cats were not looking at anything; they went to sleep in the bedroom.


We had to wait until early evening before the easterly winds and waves died down enough so we could make better progress. We passed the island of Pantelleria around midnight but decided to continue on our way. Only then did we start getting the southerly winds and insignificant waves. Typical, we were now in the main shipping lanes and wanted to have the motor on to make it easier to avoid any big ships. Luckily the ships were fairly well spaced out and we only needed to alter course a couple of times to keep clear of the big ships. We both kept watch while in the shipping to help keep each other awake and for moral support.


We arrived in Sciacca at 15:30 Italian time, 5-6 hours later than planned. This meant the cats slept for 29 hours straight. We would like to say this is a world record for Koshka, but for any one that knows him you will realise that this was a mere light snooze. It is fair to say the cats were not happy getting bashed about as we sailed and motor sailed into the waves.


We arrived to a lovely Italian greeting at the Lega Navale pontoons. Once we had sorted out the boat, we went to the office to find out what extortionate rate we would have to pay for our stay. Luckily it is a very reasonable 35 euros per night. We have decided to stay here for a few days to explore. We made a quick stop at the supermarket, just over the road from the pontoons, to buy some food and wine for dinner.


This evening the cats were the stars of the pontoon. Yoyo especially had quite a large audience as she promenaded the decks. She even went up to the bow for a stroke from one of her admiring fans. There was a photo call, Yoyo true to form posed on command, and even muscled in on Koshka’s photo.


After a lovely meal of salad, buffalo mozzarella, filled pasta and pesto and parmesan cheese (Koshka’s favorite), we spent some time on deck with a glass of wine, taking in the evening’s entertainment. An Italian boat was circling around and shouting at the Lega Navale staff. It turned out they couldn’t get to their mooring as a boat had been moored blocking their way. We then headed off to bed for a long overdue sleep.


Sunrise between Pantelleria and Sicily – no wind or waves and glassy smooth – what was all the earlier fuss about?



Sciacca marina – Wanda is hidden behind the big motor boat!