Yacht Pipit


Parking problems in Sicily, 13th October 2012

Tastes nicer than it sounds...

We stayed in Cagliari longer than initially intended - not unusual. Last Saturday we ventured further into the old part of town, finding the city walls, Roman amphitheatre and botanical gardens, the latter of which are closed at weekends - strange, and a shame as they looked beautiful through the gates.

View from top of old city walls.

City walls.

City walls.

Roman amphitheatre.

On Sunday we moved to Villasimius, where we refuelled and took a berth in the marina. In hindsight we should have anchored off, as did Lazy Pelican, who had a comfortable night. At 0700 we slipped our lines and, after a brief chat with Lazy Pelican, headed out towards Marsala, Sicily. The sea was moderate and a bit rolly and we sailed for most of the day, until early evening when the wind dropped as forecast. Alas we had to motor for the rest of the passage, but at least it was fairly comfortable as the sea continued to calm through the night. We were both able to snooze a little below. Two hours on watch & 2 hours off works well for us - 2 hours on watch is not too long, and 2 hours off is enough to get some useful rest.

Leaving Villasimius - Andiamo a Marsala!

We approached Marsala marina at 1330 and, despite there being plenty of empty pontoon space, were directed to an awkward berth near the most inappropriate boat in the marina, this fishing boat:

Anyway our approach went well enough, and Ann picked up the lazyline and darted forward as usual. However, it became apparent that it was fouled on something on the bottom and would not pull free. Meanwhile at the other end the ormeggiatori was operating one-handedly as his other one was injured, and didn't get a stern line through a ring very quickly. So the inevitable happened and our bow was blown across towards the fishing boat. Having come to rest against the fishing boat (we were well fendered as usual, so no contact) we tried another lazyline, which was also caught on something. So now we had to try and exit whilst the wind was pinning us onto the fishing boat. We managed this and were directed a little further along the pontoon near a large steel yacht that was sitting at a jaunty angle to the pontoon. We reversed perpendicularly to the pontoon, rather than parallel with the steel yacht and, yet again, the lazyline was snagged and, without a stern line secured to motor against, the inevitable happened again and our bows headed for the steel yacht. We tried to motor out of the situation, but it looked like a collision would result, so we found ourselves coming to rest against the port bow of the steel yacht, whilst our bow was heading towards an enormous bowsprit of the yacht next door - it was not going well! Somehow, with judicious fendering and fending off, and not a little luck, we managed to extricate ourselves from the situation with no actual boat to boat contact made at all. All very undignified though, and not what you want at the end of a 30 hour passage.

Now the ormeggiatori wanted us on the other side of the pontoon, in between two very similar Pipit sized yachts. So we reversed into the slot and tied up quickly and easily - why didn't he suggest this in the first place?

We didn't let this put us off though - we were in Sicily! After a good night's sleep we ventured into town to find a supermarket and in the afternoon discovered that the Florio Winery, one of the producers of marsala, was just down the road from the marina - well it would be rude not to wouldn't it?

Florio Winery.

Down to business...

I'm going in!

The tour was very interesting, with plenty of information about the Florio family (Vincenzo created the Targa Florio road race in 1906), how they made and subsequently lost their fortune and of course the marsala itself and its production. We didn't come away empty handed...

In the evening we treated ourselves to an alfresco meal out in the old part of Marsala - steak with artichoke sauce and swordfish. The old town was rather more impressive than we were expecting, but alas we didn't take the camera, so no photos! On Thursday after a bit of boat cleaning we moved on just 14 nautical miles down the coast to Mazara del Vallo, where we anchored outside of the inner breakwater - very reminiscent of Peniche in Portugal, sheltered behind the outer breakwater with a steady stream of fishing boats coming & going.

Sunset at Mazara del Vallo.

Mazara del Vallo.

We had planned to stay at Mazara del Vallo another night, as it was quite pleasant (and free!) there and we'd had a calm & peaceful night. By mid morning however, swell found its way in and we started rolling uncomfortably, so we decided to move on to Sciacca. We had a pleasant sail for a while, then had to motor sail and eventually motor. About 10 miles from Sciacca we noticed a squall line of clouds in an otherwise clear sky. We donned warmer clothes, lifejackets and clipped on and within 2 minutes the wind had risen from 3 to 33 knots on the nose and kicked up an extremely steep sea. We endured, for the next hour and a half, the worst slamming we have had since off Cap de la Hague over 2 years ago. The wind & sea gradually eased and, by the time we arrived at Sciacca, all was calm. Another example of how quickly Mediterranean weather can change. In all the excitement I noticed that Ann had split her shorts - and that's not a typo...

It looks like we'll be here for a few days, as there is a lot of unsettled weather about, including thunder & lightning. It's been raining here all day! We have 3 more day sails before we reach our winter berth, but at least now we are in the right country and sailing around the right island!

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