Sailing from Sicily to Corfu
After a month in Sicily we decided it was time to finally make our way to Greece. Originally, the plan was to leave Gibratlar, sail to Malta and then head to Crete and travel around Greece. Due to necessary repairs we found ourselves in Sicily and stayed for a full month!
Our time in Sicily will never be forgotten. We made some excellent friends, ate amazing food and saw some amazing sites. For me, seeing Stromboli erupt was one of the highlights of my life.
The time came, however, to make our way to Greece. The plan was to sail up to mainland Italy, hit the toe of the boot then the toe pads and then over to the heal. Once we made it to the heal, it would be a simple 12 hour sail across the Ionian Sea to Corfu. Below lays out our voyage from Riposto, Italy to the West side of Corfu.
Getting to Roccella, Italy
We left Riposto around 5am with an estimated time of arrival at Roccella for 5pm – it was going to be a full 12 hours sail. Unfortunately, there was no wind and we had to motor the whole way. On the positive side, we could go about life in a normal way – I was able to type in my journal, read my book, play games with Sienna and clean the boat. Having no wind meant that the boat simple motored along completely upright. In most cases, I didn’t even know we were moving.
When we’re sailing it’s a different state of affairs. I usually get a bit sea sick, so you won’t find me any other place than in the cockpit. And typing, reading and playing are out of the question. Furthermore, if I have to take a seasickness pill, it knocks me out and you’ll most likely find me sleeping on the aft double bed cushion or in the cockpit.
Because the sea was so placid, we saw 5 dolphins and then another 2 sets later on in the day. It’s so funny because a few people told my cousin that she’d never sea dolphins on our travels. Being in the Med on several occasions I’ve been fortunate enough to see dolphins here and there. I told my cousin, Loryn, that we’d definitely see them – little did I know that we’d see them every time we sail!
Sailing from Sicily to Corfu – Here are the dolphins!
When we made it to Roccella, we had to be directed on where to go upon entrance of marina due to sandbanks
As we entered there were people on both sides of the red and green harbor lights yelling at us to turn towards our port (left) side. It was a bit tense.
Once we entered the marina, we were flagged down. Simon easily backed us up. I grabbed the slime line while Loryn throw our aft lines to our helper. Within 15 minutes we had our passerel (gang plank) all set up and we were off the boat. I thought, ‘Boy, we’re getting good at this!’
My husband took our daughter out for a walk while our marina helper stopped by. He asked for our fees and then told me that we could grab some bicycles tomorrow and cycle into the town. I was so excited! Not only have I not been on a bicycle for years but I needed to exercise. After eating all the cannoli’s in Sicily, I needed some form of work out!
The next day, we went to the Bicycle shack and a little old man pulled out bicycles for all of us
We put my daughter in a little seat between my legs just behind the handle bars. Oh-my-gosh, we had a blast. My husband, cousin, daughter and I rode along the most beautiful beach in Italy – and it was an amazing bike path. We didn’t have to worry about cars. I kept shaking my head thinking, ‘Gosh – I never know what beautiful things I’m going to encounter each day.’
We cycled into the town and drank a beer looking at the castle high above. Thereafter we thought – let’s get to the beach! We cycled back to the boat, got some towels and then cycled back along the bike path to the beach. It was bliss! We all had a swim – the first time all of us got on the water. It was lovely.
That night, we enjoyed the marina restaurant specialty – meter long pizzas!
I couldn’t handle another pizza so I ordered fried squid thinking it was a meal with fries and salad… Well, it was a massive basket of calamari. Yes – it was delicious but who can eat a full basket of fried squid?! Luckily, I had to help my family eat their pizza too!
Overall, Roccella is a great place to stop. You have an amazing beach, loads of lidos and restaurants in addition to bicycles to get around. The town has everything you could need. I definitely recommend this stop-off!
Heading towards the heel of Italy, our next stop was Crotone
We set off around 5:15am from Roccella and watched the sun come up – it was so beautiful! I must have taken 50 photo’s of the sun…and then it dawned on me that there are probably more photo’s of sun rises and sun sets than anything else in the world. I love you sun!
Anyway, everything was fine until a sequence of events occurred that freaked us out. First, my cousin yells out, ‘Kim, Kim’ and ran around with a huge bumble bee on her back. I ran from the saloon up to the cockpit to help her out.
Then, out of the corner of her eye she saw some dolphins jump out next to our starboard (right) side and head for our bow. She started to walk up to the bow and noticed the dolphins crossed our bow and kept going. That’s a bad sign!
If dolphins cross your bow and keep going they’re trying tell you to divert course. Then, a fishing boat seems to be approaching us at full speed on a collision coarse. Just when it started to get scary, the boat stopped and then went in reverse just as fast as it came. WTH (what-the-heck?)
Then, our engine suddenly made a terrible vibration sound
I quickly went to the helm and reduced our revs and the sound stopped. Come to find out, a bolt that holds the position of one of our alternators sheered off! We decided to cut the engine and sail the rest of the way. I was fine with that. You don’t need an alternator of the engine to work, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Once again, in Crotone, we had to be directed on how to enter the marina due to sandbanks
There were a few people yelling at us to go this was way and that. And once again, we moored up easily. It’s great because I’m no longer the least bit nervous about entering marina’s anymore.
Catone is very distinctive as there are a few gas rigs in the sea outside and marina with windmills up above and behind the town. And once in the marina, the pier leading to the boats if filled with graffiti, loads of kids and some street dancers. If I was in NY, I’d think that I entered a ghetto but it definitely wasn’t one. I suppose it was just a city rather than a quaint town.
So, as I mentioned, Catone is a city so you can get anything you want. There’s a castle set behind the marina with a Greek museum. The road along the coast has loads of restaurants and I noticed a sushi bar.
A funny thing happened to my cousin when we ventured out…
Hubby and my daughter went to find the office and my cousin and I went to find a supermarkado. After walking a while, we found a tiny supermarket and purchased a few things – milk, break and some snacks. We then went in search of vegetables.
While standing in the middle of a road, a woman with two little girls yelled out, ‘do you guys need help?’ We said, ‘yes, we’re looking for a place to buy some veggies.’ Our new tour guide, named ‘Pinky’ – a lovely Thai woman that live in Catone for over 15 years, said, ‘follow me.’
After a long walk and hearing Pinky’s life story, we discovered vegetables and much more! Pinky married a British guy, had 2 beautiful girls but the couple were now divorced. We finally found a supermarket with more than 2 isles. This place had 4 floors! Loryn and I went around grabbing all the things we could find.
And this is the funny bit. The following day, hubby, Loryn my daughter and I were eating lunch at one of the seafront restaurants. Loryn started talking about how two children from the same parents can have totally different personalities. And then, a nearby voice with a British accent yells out, ‘I totally agree!’
Can you believe that it was Pinky’s ex-husband?
We’re in a city, not a small town. How is it possible that we meet the husband of our wonderful tour guide the following day? Loryn and I just couldn’t believe it. I mean, what are the chances?
Other than that, we worked on getting our alternator repaired. Simon went from one hardware store after another. In the end an owner from a small hardware store drove Sim to a large store out of town. Then they brought the part back and the hardware guy set it up to work for Simon. He had to create a piece to get a bolt out and fiddle with something for a while. Sim offered him money and he wouldn’t take it. His response was, ‘this is the way we are in Crotone’. The wonderful hardware guy then drove Simon back to the marina expecting nothing. Simon paid him 20 euros and said, ‘this is for a bottle of wine for you!’
So… ask ‘Pinky’ put it, Crotone is a place that people end up because they need to get something repaired, not a place to visit for sightseeing. She’s probably right, but I’m happy we stopped. The people were wonderful and we enjoyed the ambiance of the city. And of course, we love our story about Pink and her ex-husband.
Our next stop was Santa Maria de Lucia
We left Crotone around 6am with a fixed alternator bolt and loads of vegetables. On our way to Santa Maria, we had an amazing wildlife show! We saw one sleeping moon fish (a massive fish that sleeps during the day and the fin bobs back and forth), 2 dolphins, 8 turtles, several blue jellyfish and unfortunately, an incredible amount of rubbish.
Side note: The amount of rubbish in the sea is depressing. I wish there was something I could do about it. Apparently many countries still dump there sewage right into the ocean. I wish I could tell you that it was every hour or so that I see some trash but it’s more like every minute something floats by – maybe more. It breaks my heart. Okay, side note over.
The sea was so calm that we had to motor but that was okay. It made finding turtles really easy. Anytime I saw something bobbing out of the water I knew that it was a coke bottle or a turtle head. It was so strange to look out that this massive blue expanse and see a lone turtle just swimming by. I felt as if they must be lonely! I do love turtles. Below is my daughter, Sienna, doing some turtle spotting!
We easily entered Santa Maria and moored up
Ironically, a British couple came in at the same time and had been travelling the same amount of hours from Corfu! They were going our way and we were going their way. It was great to swap stories and get an idea as to what to expect when we made it to Corfu.
Santa Maria was a very quiet place. I think it must be an Italian holiday area. There were loads of little shops, cafes and restaurants but many were closed. It was a beautiful little town. I can’t imagine that more than 1000 people live there in the winter.
If you need provisions this is not the town to stop in. The grocery store had two isles and very limited stocks. Thankfully we were full of wine – otherwise, we would have had to pay a high price for a very limited choice. We got some bread, cold cuts, a few veggies and stocked up on our pasta. This would be our last port of call in Italy before we hit Greece!
I felt sad. We were leaving Italy
Part of me wanted to move on but the other part of me wanted to honor and stay where we met such lovely friends…and had made some amazing memories. My heart felt torn.
The day after we arrived in Santa Maria, we left the marina and anchored outside the marina walls. Our plan was to leave at 2am and head for Corfu. Obviously we didn’t want to pay for another night at a marina!
We had a blast while we were anchored
Our Italian SIM card wifi had quite a few gigs left to use up so I decided to drink my wine and Skype friends and family. It was so wonderful. I spoke to my mom and step-dad for a while and then got to talk to my friends Becks and Steve with their lovely daughter Megan. It was just so great to feel at home even though I was anchored a million miles away.
At the end of the night I ate a wonderful meal made by my cousin and managed to pass out at the kitchen table – opps.
Oh well…It’s okay to have a bit of fun every now and again
Right before we left Italian waters, I decided to download a song that everyone loved that we didn’t have. The below video shows my husband and daughter dancing to the song as we traveled to Greece.