Hand-over cruise from Sicily to Malta, Share the Sail, Southerly 42 Launch soon, New Exploring Under Sail DVD
Autumn leaves are falling and here at home in Canada boats are being hauled-out for the coming winter season. We, however, are getting ready to launch!
After cruising for several summers in the Mediterranean, we are turning our sailing seasons around this year as we prepare to launch our new Southerly 42RST sailboat in England next month and head south for the Canary Islands where, all going well, in early December we'll begin our 4th transatlantic passage. The hurricane season will be well-over by then so we're expecting a smooth 3-week passage to the Caribbean where we'll be sailing instead of shovelling snow for the winter!
And now we continue the story of our recent cruise from the west coast of Italy to Sicily to meet Two-Step's new owners, Susan Howard and Tony Camilleri, and do a hand-over cruise back to their and Two-Step's new home in Malta.
At the end of our last newsletter, we had just come south through the Strait of Messina following a delightful cruise along the west coast of Italy. We had anchored for the night beneath the picturesque town of Taormina and woke up to a glassy calm morning. The anchorage is an open roadstead so is only suitable in calm stable conditions. The nearest harbour is a few miles south at the noisy and touristic town of Giardini-Naxos where there are a couple of small marinas. However, we had no worries about rough weather this day, June 18/07, our last day aboard as owners of Two-Step.
Although the windless conditions meant a quiet time at anchor, we were a little disappointed that our last day was going to be a motoring day as we headed south to the port of Catania where we were to meet Tony and Susan the next morning when their ferry arrived from Malta at 0800. However, we really couldn't complain since we'd had such lovely sailing conditions during the previous weeks in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy – cool breezes and flat seas. Magical.
We arrived at the harbour entrance of the busy industrial port of Catania in the early afternoon and since enclosed harbours can be really hot and stuffy, we anchored off the long sandy beach to the south of entrance to enjoy the afternoon breezes and prepared the boat for our guests. At dinner we motored in to port and were directed to a visitors' pontoon where the friendly harbourmaster helped us tie bow to the pontoon. It was somewhat symbollic that also on the guest pontoon was a Southerly as if to remind us that we were really excited about our new Southerly and not to get too emotional about Two-Step who was about to begin some new adventures herself with caring owners.
There is a lot of motion in the Catania harbour with all the daily ferry and ship traffic so we were instructed by the harbourmaster who spoke good English to tie well off the dock. The local boats all have 3-to-1 tackles installed in their dock lines to make it easy to pull their boats close-to when they come down to the marina to climb aboard. From the port, the city of Catania looks pretty dirty and industrial but when you leave the waterfront and go into the town there is a transformation. Catania has been leveled by several volcanic eruptions of Mt. Etna over the years but the people just rebuild and start over. The architecture is magnificent with a mix of white and black volcanic stone, and numerous impressive statues and fountains. There are lots of nice squares where you can sit and sip a coffee, shops and boutiques to explore, an excellent market to stock up at, and wonderful seafood restaurants which we thoroughly enjoyed that evening as we wandered around this interesting Sicilian city.
We were up early the next morning, a little anxious, wondering how we were going to feel with the new owners aboard. Before we closed the sale Paul and I needed to complete our filming assignments in Italy so had offered Tony and Susan the opportunity to do a hand-over cruise with us back from Sicily after we'd finished filming so they could really get to know the boat and ask lots of quesitons. Now that the day had come, we wondered if this was a good idea. How we were going to feel with the new owners aboard running the ship?
Our 5-day voyage with Tony and Susan took us south along the east coast of Sicily from Catania to Brucoli, Siracusa, then Marzamemi where were were stuck in thick fog for a good part of a day. With clear conditions we departed Sicily to dodge ships on a night sail across the Malta Channel and on June 23rd cleared in to Malta. Of course we filmed the whole thing so look forward to episode #57 in season 5 of Distant Shores which will be broadcast this fall and winter in Europe on Travel Channel and Sailing Channel, in Canada on Canadian Learning Television and in the USA on WealthTV.
Wishing you all the best for the season ahead and a Happy Hallowe'en!
Sheryl and Paul Shard