On the move - Sardinia, Sicily to Taranto in Puglia Southern Italy.

190727 2 Andrew and Paul fixing Savvys sail  Porto Giunco  Cagliari

“Fixing yachts in exotic locations?"

190727 1 Not what we were expecting

Our first attempt to leave Cagliari as some of you may well know was thwarted by the weather. We had stayed an additional day in harbour and headed out confident we would have a solid breeze to blow us across to Sicily. Unfortunately the solid breeze turned out to be a little more gale like and the sea state responded in kind rising to around 3 meters. Within a very short distance of leaving harbour it became apparent to continue would be fast but very wet and uncomfortable.

We had left the harbour behind Savvy of London and could see that they were having difficulty with their main sail. It was determined at that point the safest option was to head around the headland into a harbour and to “hide” from this blow. It turned out to be a very wise decision as winds continue to build for the next 48 hours to 40 knots. Much nicer being tucked up on anchor rather than fighting the weather out at sea. On anchoring Andrew headed over to assist Paul with mending his main and left behind the appropriate needles and threads so Paul and Nicole could hand stitch their Bimini cover back together over the next two days.

190729 3 Looking from  Porto Giunco  towards Cagliari (1)

The anchorage in calmer conditions from Tower Giunco 

190729 5 The  Giunco  Tower built around 1578

Having said our farewells to Savvy in Cagliari it was a bonus to be able to spend a few extra nights together on anchor in the bay of Porto Giunco. With the weather finally settled on the Monday we climbed the nearby hill that lead to the remains of the Tower of Giunco. The tower was built in 1578 from local stone and was part of a series of towers that were built at a time of Spanish rule to assist in the prevention of  pirate attacks. The hill on which the tower is perched gave a good view of the bay below where Katherine and Savvy of London were anchored, of the marina Villamisus where we had stayed in 2017 and the bay back to Cagliari. It certainly wasn’t a place we could have ventured in the high winds of the preceding days.

190731 5 Our sailing track from Sardinia to Sicily

Our track from Sardinia to Cefalu (dotted line)

190731 2a Sailing Sardinia to Cefalu Sicily

Finally on Tuesday 30th July we were underway, farwelling once more Paul and Nicole as Savvy headed north up the Sardinian coastline and we headed for Sicily. Our original plan going by the weather forecast was to sail to a the small island of Ustica north of Sicily, however as usual the winds had other ideas and at one stage we thought we were going to end up visiting Bizerte in Tunisia again. Thankfully winds became more agreeable with our destination and after 35 hours we had covered a distance of 282 miles a maximum find speed of 8kn and with only ten hours under engine who below 2 kn. Andrew again super happy with the antifoul as the boat continues to sail in the lightest of winds. An unexpected highlight along the way was the sighting of whales in the distance and two turtles passing close by. 

190731 8 Stunning backdrop Cefalu on sunset

The Panorama of Cefalu on sunset 

190801 16 Cefalu Cathedral 1154 to 1267 to build

Our first anchorage in Sicily was at the doorstep to the old harbour of Cefalu. We could not have asked for a prettier backdrop to welcome us. The old town with its dominant cathedral glowed in the light of the setting sun, then on dark to our surprise the mountain behind was a glow of light. We anchored two nights in Cefalu taking the opportunity on the following day to visit the old town area. First stop of course was the dominating Cathedral that was commenced in 1131 under the order of Roger II the King of Sicily, who legend has it built it as a promise to God after his fleet of ships survived a storm at sea off Cefalu. The inside of the church is unlike any other we have been into with the central apse portraying an imposing figure of “Cristo Pantocratore or Christ all Powerful” along with many images in mosaic. 

190801 21 Cefalu Cathedral dominating the old town

The old town of Cefalu dominated by the Cathedral 

190801 5 Lavatoio Medievale medieval washhouse restored in 1991

Further down the hill we came across the Lavatoio Medievale - a medieval washhouse that was established at its current location in 1514. Using water from the local river the water flows through the “washhouse area” where stone tanks and pools captured the water before continuing to flow out through the caves to the sea. It was apparently well in  use until the early 20th century and underwent refurbishment in 1991 - now an opportunity for tourists rather than cleaning laundry. 

We hope one day to return to Cefalu and spend more time exploring the narrow streets and surrounding hillside. 

190803 5 Messina Straits Swordfish Boats

Sword fishing boats peculiar to the Messina Straits 

From Cefalu we ended up one night anchored off the Isle of Volcano - the closest island to Sicily of the Aeolian Island group, again as a consequent of wind direction as we had decided literally to go with the wind rather than fight it. 

Saturday 3rd August we sailed through the Messina Straits, the straits that connect the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north with the Ionian Sea to the south. It is a notoriously small section of water to pass through where the winds and sea state are always interesting. It is an area of a lot of activity with passing cargo ships, ferries, windsurfers not to mention the Swordfishing boats that seem to zoom around in circles just south of the strait entry. 

Finally we rounded the corner and were off the boot of Italy. Over the next three nights we made our way along the Calabria coastline stopping off at anchorages along the way. Off Capo Bruzzano it became apparent not many boats stop in that anchorage as we found Katherine being the backdrop for many a selfie taken from small boats or jet skiers. 

190804 1  A brief anchorage at Le Castella

On anchorage for all of ten minutes Le Castella 

190807 2 Early morning shot of our anchorage west of Crotone

190807 4 Arriving Gallipoli after beautiful code 0 sail

We had looked forward to anchoring at Le Castella with the castle as our backdrop but unfortunately that lasted for all of ten minutes before we were unexpectantly moved on by the marine police. Although all our pilot information shows it as an anchorage on that particular Sunday apparently it wasn’t. After a long days sail we were happy when finally three hours later we found a secure spot to stay the night - in fact we ended up staying two. 

Perhaps the highlight of our cruising this coastline has been the discovery of an anchorage just south of Gallipoli - no we haven’t transported to Turkey, here in Puglia there is also a Gallipoli. The bay is large and well protected from the southerly winds which are blowing strong at the moment and amazingly at night we are practically alone. 

Today we have arrived into a marina in Taranto to collect a few parts, re-provision the boat as it is a while since we have ventured to the supermarket and excitedly we await the arrival of some more friends. 

(Click for more photos) 

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain