Hand-over cruise from Sicily to Malta, Share the Sail, Southerly 42 Launch soon, New Exploring Under Sail DVD | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Hand-over cruise from Sicily to Malta, Share the Sail, Southerly 42 Launch soon, New Exploring Under Sail DVD

Hello Everyone,

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.

Raising anchor we continued south towards Catania with the volcano of Mount Etna smoking gently to starboard. The lack of wind made the day unbearably hot and humid so at lunchtime we stopped, drifted and had a swim. And since we were about to present Two-Step to her new owners, Paul took the opportunity to give the waterline a scrub to get her sparkling.

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?

But we had nothing to worry about. Tony and Susan are lovely people and were very sensitive to how we must be feeling. They are big fans of Distant Shores which is broadcast in Malta on Travel Channel and Sailing Channel so knew the history of the boat and how special she has been to us having built the boat ourselves and sailed her to so many wonderful places. The transition took place gently and smoothly and seeing their happiness and excitement at sailing Two-Step made our sadness at parting with her immediately disappear.

The four of us had great fun together over the next few days as in light wind and flat sea conditions Two-Step showed her skill and grace. Susan and Tony are excellent sailors and brought out the best in her. The hardest part was the official hand-over cermony where we lowered our Canadian flag to be replaced with Tony and Susan's Maltese flag where Two-Step is now registered. A few tears flowed on both sides.

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.

When we got back to Malta everything on Two-Step had to be packed up and shipped to the new boat in England. See Paul's article on weight distribution under New Boat Blog! We've had a great summer at home in Canada and in the next newsletter we'll be writing about the launch of our new Southerly 42RST, SV Distant Shores, and her upcoming voyage south from England to the Canary Islands, and transatlantic passage to the Caribbean for the winter.

Wishing you all the best for the season ahead and a Happy Hallowe'en!

Sheryl and Paul Shard

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