The night before our sailing from Malta to Sicily trip, we put our mended headsail back on. We waited until the wind died down and the three of us attached it and hoisted it up along it’s track. It was very dark but the moonlight helped us to get the task done. Once it was up, we furled it (wound it up) and spent the rest of the evening preparing the boat to leave.
Our sailing trip from Malta to Sicily was calculated to take about 9 hours
We wanted to leave with the rising sun. To prepare, we put everything away, did the engine and generator checks in addition to exercising all our stop-cocks. Stop-cocks are levers connected to the hull of the boat that let water in or out. We have 23 of them so it takes a good hour to pull up all the floorboards and make sure they’re all easily closable.
After going to bed early, us adults woke around 5am to prepare to slip lines. At 6am we left Malta in flat calm waters with an amazingly beautiful sunrise. Leaving the mooring was easy. I dropped the lazy lines, Loryn slipped the aft warps (ropes), and Simon calmly took us out. I couldn’t help but be a bit nervous – it was the first time that Simon and I took our Oyster out for the first time alone. Thankfully we had Loryn’s help too.
A video of the start of our sailing trip from Malta to Sicily
And some pictures of our departure – it was such a beautiful morning
Once we got out of the Marina, Loryn yelled out, ‘I love sailing.’
That made me happy. I was wondering if the trip from Gibraltar to Malta scared her. Luckily, today she’d be able to experience a very easygoing sail across to Marzamemi, Sicily. The weather report was calling for 10 knots of winds across our beam (light winds flowing across the center of the boat).
Once we were far enough away from land, Loryn and I hoisted the main sail. It went up perfectly. While in Malta we needed to have a few things fixed at the top of our mast. During our first sail, the mainsail got stuck ¾ of the way up and we had to go into Tunisia so that Simon could climb to the top of the mast and release a jam. It was fantastic to see the sail go up without a hitch!
While getting things all sorted on the boat I started to feel seasick
I’m not sure why as the sea was very calm. There was a tiny swell, but nothing major. Perhaps I was so nervous that it caused me to feel sick? Within ½ hour of getting the mast up, I was puking over the side. I puked once and then 20 minutes later I puked again. Feeling rough, I decided to put one of those seasick patches behind my ear. I knew that if I took a tablet it wouldn’t stay down so the patch was my only solution.
Thankfully, the patch stopped my puking response and I spent the rest of the trip sleeping on our aft deck double bed sized cushion. It was quite cool but under a blanket I felt very comfortable. The sun was out, the smell of the Mediterranean was strong and although I didn’t feel 100% I was still happy to be out on the sea.
While sleeping I woke to something walking on my back
I wasn’t sure what it was, but it did alarm be. To my surprise, I had a carrier pigeon checking me out – he walked from my foot to my head! When I raised my head, Simon yelled out, ‘We’ve had these two pigeons with us for the last couple hours! They’re tagged so they’re maybe they’re carrier or racing pigeons.’ The pigeons both had coded rings around both their legs. We named them Lavern and Shirley and they stayed with us all the way to marina. In fact, they stayed with us hours after we moored up.
I made a joke that the pigeons were a new form of customs and immigration for Italy!
A couple weeks ago I had a monkey jump on me and open my backpack and now a pigeon felt comfortable walking on me. I’ve never experienced such friendly wildlife ever. It’s kind of cool.
And that’s when the winds decided freak out on us
Unbelievably, when we had Marzamemi in our sites, and out of nowhere, the wind went from 16 knots of wind to 45. What the heck?! Simon quickly pulled in the headsail and then turned the boat into wind so Loyrn and I could lower the mainsail. Everything came down quickly and then we started shooting our cushions down below. It was really blowing a gale.
A huge wave hit Loryn while in the cockpit and her entire backside was soaked. Both Simon and I thought, what are the chances of this kind of weather again? Simon used the VHF radio to call the marina. The attendant at the marina didn’t speak English so it was difficult to determine if he knew we were coming in.
Simon used his mobile phone to call the attendant he spoke to before leaving Malta as he spoke English. His contact was in the car but said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll let them know you’re coming in. A tender will greet you outside the marina. Just follow him in.’
Sure enough, a tender did greet us. He yelled over something in Italian and then said, ‘Simon’. Simon nodded his head and we headed in. Three people lined the jetty ready to help us dock in the gale winds. The marina was sheltered but it was still very blowy. Loryn prepared to throw the back warps (ropes) and I put gloves on to grab the lazy lines. Simon slowly backed us in doing an excellent job. Luckily there was only one boat to moor next to rather than fit between two.
As we got closer, Loryn shot the port (left) side line and then I heard her yell out, ‘oh no!’
She forgot to tie the rope to the boat so the attendant had a line leading to the water. Working fast, the attendant got the warp back to Loryn and she tied it down. She then set the second warp while I offered to grab the lazy line. Lucky for me, the attendant said something that sounded beautiful and did it for me.
Within a few minutes we were secure and able to put our passerel (gang plank) out. A very nice gentleman greeted us and told us to visit the yacht club office when we’re ready. While Loryn and I cleaned up the boat, Simon and Sienna went off to do customs stuff. Within a few minutes they were back.
Sienna yelled out, ‘Mummy, mummy – we’ve received a present!’
She presented me with a huge tray of something wrapped up. I wondered what it could be. We opened the package to find 10 freshly made authentic cannoli’s. Oh-my-gosh – was I happy or what? I couldn’t believe it. So before stepping on Sicilian land, I managed to enjoy one of the best cannoli’s I’ve ever had. But where did they come from?
My husband, Simon, mentioned to our contact, George, who’s helping us with a leak repair that both Loryn and I loved cannoli’s. George, told us to go to Marzamemi Marina before moving onto Cantania as it’s Easter weekend and everything is closed in Cantania until after the holiday. George also told us to go to Noto, Sicily for Easter which ended up being a great recommendation.
Anyway, George told the owner of the marina that I love cannoli’s and off his own back he went and got them for all us girlies on the boat. (Yes – Simon was allowed to have one too!) As soon as I started eating my cannoli I knew that I was going to love Sicily! They were the most amazing cannoli’s ever.
The cannoli’s had ricotta cheese with a hint of lemon encircled with a perfectly crispy casing. Both ends had slivered nuts and the whole cannoli was powered with sugar.
Talk about happiness in my mouth!!
While eating our cannoli’s another boat arrived and moored up next to us. With a crew of 5 Italians we were happy to find that one of them spoke excellent English. We shared some stories and had a laugh. Everyone greeted us and we felt so very welcome.
That evening, we ate cannoli’s followed by some of Loryns homemade beef stew and I was in bed by 8pm. What a full day.
How do I feel?
Gosh – every day I seem to drift away for a bit and then I come back and have to pinch myself. I just can’t believe where we are and what we’re doing. It’s so wonderful. I feel so blessed and so grateful for everyone and everything in my life.
Read the next post…it’s by my cousin, Loryn and it’s entitled: I Still Can’t Believe This Is Happening!