Slipping our lines in Syracuse, Sicily was very easy
We were moored on an outside pontoon so we simply had to remove and drop our lazy lines (ropes tied to anchors in front of the boat), pull in our stern lines and motor forward. For the first time, Loryn, my cousin, took the boat out. We were sailing to Catania in Sicily.
After getting into the open harbor, we raised our main sail and unfurled our genoa (front sail). The water was deep blue, the sun was shining and the smell in the air was fresh. Lucky for me, there were no swells so I didn’t feel any seasickness. (Read my article on ‘How to cure Seasickness – Top 10 Solutions’). The picture below is Syracuse as we leave the city behind us.
Within a few minutes we were greeted by 3 dolphins that I named, Moe, Larry and Curly. They stayed and played with us for a few hours. Every time I thought they left I’d see them poke their head out or swim across the bow. I spent some time with them by laying down on the bow and holding my hand out waving. I’m sure they had a conversation with each other saying something like, ‘Here’s another realy crazy human!’ As with most animals, I love them and want to give them a hug!
And then the generator stopped working (again!)
What the heck (WTH)! We’ve worked on the generator for weeks now. I thought it was fixed. Simon tried turning it on a few times and it would start but die out quickly. His prognosis was air in the lines. Ho hum. We needed the generator to cook lunch. Loryn was concocting a warm meal so I was eager to eat it! Fortunately, we can turn our engine on and that will power up the oven. Lunch was great but I was annoyed that our generator was broke again.
The generator breaking wasn’t the worst thing that happened…
Just as we were getting into Catania waters, the wind started to blow and a little rain fell on us. There were some threatening clouds but what was amazingly more impressive was the mountain behind the clouds. To my utter delight we were sailing straight towards Europe’s most largest, and one of the worlds most active volcano’s, Mount Etna.
There in front of me was a volcano – an active volcano
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to see (and climb) a volcano. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to climb Mount Etna but just being next to it is amazing. I yelled over to Simon and Loryn, ‘Hey guys – not only are we sailing in Sicily but there’s a freaking volcano right in front of us!’
Then disaster struck – As we prepared to enter the port, I released our main sail but it didn’t come down!
Oh no – not again! On our way from Gibraltar to Malta we had to stop in the Tunisia port to send Simon up the 85’ mast to release our jammed main sail. While in Malta we paid 600 euros to get a special piece of metal created in addition to two new pulley wheels. We thought our problem was solved, but to our dismay we were right outside Catania with a jammed main.
Thankfully, the winds weren’t too bad – otherwise, we’d be in a potentially disastrous situation. You can’t enter a marina with a full sail in windy conditions – there’s no way to stop the boat. So…we got as close as we could to the shore, let out the anchor and prepared to send Simon up the 85’ mast. Fortunately, we’ve done this exercise before so it didn’t take too long to get the ropes sorted out. We hoisted Simon up with two ropes attached to him– the second was a safety line if the first failed.
Before sending Simon up the mast, we notified our new Italian friends that we’d be late arriving in Catania. Our friend Stefano offered to help us moor up and there was talk of going out for dinner so we didn’t want them waiting around for us. Who knew how long it was going take to get our sail down?!
Stefano phoned us back saying he got a rib and be out to help us within a ½ hour!
I was grateful for the call! Knowing that someone was coming to help us made me feel much more comfortable. However, in the mean time we had to solve the problem, so we hoisted Simon to the top of the mast. Yes, I was scared, but on the other hand, I knew what I was doing and I knew that it had to be done. And frankly, I couldn’t be too scared – I wasn’t the one going up the mast!!! Having Stefano on his way also made me feel as if there would be extra help if we needed it.
My cousin, Loryn, and I winched Simon to the top of the mast – you can see him in the above picture. Luckily, we have electronic winches so all I really had to do was push a button and ensure the winch worked properly. Simon yelled down that the main halyard (rope) was, indeed, jammed again. We sent up another rope to release the tension on the current halyard allowing Simon to release the jammed rope from the main sail. Loryn and I then dropped the sail – yippppie! It’s down.
While I started to slowly let Simon down, a rib of 4 men came out to greet us. It was Stefano, our other two friends Salvo and Mimmo in addition to one other. I was so grateful to see them. Yes, we managed to solve our problem alone but it felt so nice to know that we had friends to back us up. Heck, it was nice to know that we were in the middle of Sicily and we had friends.
Stefano boarded the boat and helped us easily moor up in Catania. I’m so thankful he was with us – the commercial port seemed very quiet and I don’t think we would have known where to go. Simon did a great job at lining us up along a concrete wall and it was so nice to turn the engine off and chill out. Looking around all I could see was 18-wheeler trucks and trailers in addition to some large fishing boats. I also noticed a marina near us but the boats were quite small.
In two hours we’re taking you out for Pizza!
Once our engine was off and we were secured, our friends Salvo and Mimmo arrived by car. Stefano helped us protect the ropes from chafing on the concrete (with cut-out plastic bottles) and we all cheered a sign of relief that our potentially disastrous situation was over. Everyone left and we tidied the boat, took showers and got ready to go out.
While we were cleaning up, Simon yelled down, ‘There’s a package here for you!’
‘What’s this?’ I asked. Simon handed me a package and said it was from Stefano. We took it down into our saloon and Loryn, Sienna and I opened it up. To our utter delight, we discovered 8 fresh cannoli’s.
Oh-my-gosh – could life get any better than this?
By far, these cannoli’s were the best cannoli’s we’ve ever consumed. The ricotta mixture was so smooth. There were chocolate chips AND candied fruit in the mixture. The shell was crisp and covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon. The ends where the cheese mixture was exposed had crushed pistachios (grown on the side of Mount Etna).
The four of us (Simon included) moo’ed like cows
We couldn’t stop saying, ‘mmmmmmmmm’ as the cannoli’s were incredible. We were all so thankful and couldn’t believe the kindness received from our new friends. Not only did we get cannoli’s but in a couple hours time we were all going out for pizza. Pinch me because I must be dreaming!
At 8pm we were given a box of Sicilian treats and whisked away to the best restaurant in Catania
We all piled into 2 cars and parked up in the city center. After a short walk, we waked into a restaurant, past a long line of people and were taken immediately upstairs to a beautifully laid table. I felt as if we were royalty!
After a bit of discussion, we all ordered pizzas. Stefano asked if we wanted starters but warned the pizzas were large. If only we knew that we could order a ½ pizza rather than a full one! Loryn and I each choose a pizza and then shared half with each other so we could sample different tastes. When the pizza’s came out we were astounded to see the size. I remarked that the pizza’s were big, even in American standards!
After a glass of sparkling wine and beautiful breads with dipping oil, we attempted to consume our pizza. I kept sneaking pieces of mine onto Stefano’s plate so that it looked like I ate something. The taste was exquisite. The half I ordered was simple with red sauce, pepperoni, olives and cheese. Loryn went for a vegetable option and the pizza was topped with zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and cheese.
Once again, we were moo-ing like cows
The night then continued with a walking tour of Catania. We saw the city center, several amazing churches, a square with a central pillar displaying an elephant, a water fountain powered by water from an unknown source, a manhole cover where people opened and fish from (flows with fresh water and has fish in it), a castle with a noticeable lava line (when lava flowed around it), the second University in Italy (ever), a market selling local foods and several eateries and bars all very busy at 11pm on a Sunday night!
As usual, I walked around saying, ‘wow’ or ‘holy smokes’ over and over again. The whole day and evening felt surreal. I just couldn’t believe how fortunate we were. Not only were we helped into Catania and greeted with goodies, but we were taken to see the real Catania with real Catanian’s. What a privilege.
Also, another part of me thought, ‘how are we ever going to top this?
How are we going to carry on around the world and experience life as amazing as this?’ I then told myself, ‘Just go with the flow, Kim. Just go with the flow…all will be revealed.’ I suppose my thoughts revealed a couple things:
- I’m still a bit uncomfortable not knowing what’s happening next. It’s not easy for me to live life going from day to day. I am a recovering control freak planner – I use to have a ‘to-do’ list and social calendar a mile long. And my business plans covered years. Not having an agenda, at all, is still unsettling for me!
- I have this belief popping up that life can’t get any better than this, but I need to remind myself that it can and it will! Each new experience has the ability to be fresh and amazing. Surely nothing will replace our experiences in Italy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have different and amazing experiences elsewhere.
Check Out Some Other Areas In Sicily & The Mediterranian
If you’d like a good summary of our time in Sicily, read Visiting Sicily. And if you’d like a breakdown of all the places we’ve visited while sailing the Mediterranean please read our destination overview: Sailing The Mediterranean. Otherwise, check out more posts about our time spent in Sicily.
- Malta to Sicily
- 12 Day Trips To Take In Sicily
- Marina di Ragusa Review
- Traditional Sicilian Fishing Boat Trip
- Sailing To Catania
- Riposto Marina Review
- Taormina Bay
- Sailing Around Stromboli
- Salina Island
- Sicily to Corfu