Category Archives: Sicily

Marina di Ragusa

A weekend in Ragusa, southern Sicily. A marina wintering community beyond belief. Smiley. Open. Friendly. Tight-knit. Supportive. Knowledgeable. Diverse… the list goes on.

Seeing bike seats, netting, and pontoon chaos unique to kids-boats upon arrival already brightened our hearts. It took less than a few minutes to find new life-long friends right opposite us on the pontoon – the family crew on SY Maya. Later that night, we’d be sharing wine and chats until the wee morning hours – from boat parent to boat parent. So heart-warming. Unforgettable. Invaluable. Sharing the highs and the lows. Putting things into perspective. Reassuring. Hilarious. Fun. Love. Can’t wait to welcome them in Malta as they are starting their sailing season.

Maya_688

More to that. At least fifty life-aboard boats. BBQs. Dance parties. Regular radio nets where events are organized, give-always exchanged, advice given… Invaluable. On the pontoon, everyone smiles. We are equipped with a new manual washing machine. Another invaluable and BIG thanks to Maggie and Charlie. Little excursions here and there followed. Sicily never stops to embrace and hug – whether it’s the incredible hospitality of the locals, or the beautiful landscape and picturesque towns. Heart-warming. The 33 Euro per night marina fees aside, it was with a heavy heart we commenced our nine hour motor-sail back to Malta. As if the winds were telling us that sailing back to the same place is not quite right, the fore-casted North-Easterlies to take us South remained nowhere to be felt. But we got there, safe and sounds, just before midnight and snuggled up in our cozy beds for a good nights sleep after a beautiful long weekend.

Noah Sailing_690

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The Ocean is Zen

“All the times that I have cried, keeping all the things I knew inside.

It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it.

If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them they know not me,

Now there’s a way, and I know that I have to go away.

I know I have to go.”

sicily c suegros_647

Feeling so connected to my boat, my family, my universe, myself as Cat Stevens’ tunes rise through my fingers stroking the guitar in the gentle morning sun. We left Valletta in the wee morning hours followed by a crystal clear stunning sea sunrise. Five hours into our journey COG N to Sicily the forecasted Southerlies are still waiting to be felt. But our engine is ticking along sweetly. Both kids and in-laws (who are visiting from Argentina) are still sleeping. Pablo and I both indulged in the sheer beauty and peace that it is being out here again. He reads out an extract from Victor Dumas’ Los Cuarenta Bramadores (The Rolling Forties):

“La mente en esta maravillosa quietud sin zozobras… piensa también en que otros se sientan estimulados, salgan del reducido cauce en el cual se desenvuelven sus vidas y logren un concepto más amplio de la verdad. Corren los pensamientos, se deslizan por sobre el mar, se van lejos, saltan de un puerto a otro, de una figura a otra. Si después de un dia de intenso trabajo en la ciudad, el ser humano siente la necesidad de un descanso, de un ocio noble, como decían los griegos, aquí el rato se alarga y es menester vivir a costa de ese mundo interior que cada uno lleva y que nos permite sustraernos, alejarnos del núcleo en el cual vivimos y que por momentos nos aprisiona, no molesta. Ese mundo íntimo es un refugio, un remanso maravilloso, un don divino que se debe aprovechar. Pero aquí, porque fugarse, si el problema no es humano? Acaso, para calmar la ansiedad de una llegada que siempre tarde, ansiedad que aumenta a medida que el limite se acerca, se sueña con otros horizonte, se planean viajes mientras se está viajando… Es un querer irse cuando todavía no se ha llegado…”

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The sound of the fishing line pulling interrupts our chilled out creativity session. A bird had a go at Pablo’s lure. He looks at us half amused, half annoyed. Luckily he didn’t get hooked – and no fish either. I’m glad the lure stays empty. I always feel sad for those beautiful rainbow creatures as they struggle and fight for their life, long to get back to the sea. Four more hours to go. This journey is passing ways faster than what we expected – too fast. It feels I could be out here for days on end – if not weeks. The Zen in the ocean is so intense, rich and deep.

Night sail scribbles

Brucoli_144Brucoli_139 Brucoli_140 Brucoli_141 Brucoli_142Memories of Sicily fading into the background. With one sad and one happy eye, I notice how the smell of Etna’s volcanic fumes slowly drifts into the background. Five miles into our night sail to Malta, the attention has turned ahead where the moon is shining our way. Unlike the Ionian crossing, there’s plenty of action: Boats to look out for, strange and mysterious non-navigable zones with alien-like structures in the middle to be avoided, interesting shapes and forms appearing out of nowhere… Not to mention this 10-ish meter super fast powerboat which just pulled out right behind us as I was about to pour my ginger-ginseng-matte tea to keep me awake. Why did they come within two meters of us, stayed behind our stern for several minutes, checking us out with a massive bright spot light from port and starboard – no VHF communication – then disappeared about as fast as they had appeared? We shall never know.

Time to wake up Pablo. His shift. My time to get a couple of hours sleep in the cockpit – the best place to sleep while on passage, we find. Rigged in my gear, ready to help if needed. The forecasted ten knots of easterly, which were meant to carry us on a beam reach the 60 nm SW are still nowhere to be felt. Instead, we are steaming against a gentle southerly right ahead of us. Lucky our engine’s doing a fab job and reliable 6 kts and my very private little full moon ceremony just past sees it continuing that way for a long long time. Good night Happy Dancer, the big dark sea around and the vast starry sky above us.

Sicily by night

Siracusa by night

Siracusa by night
Siracusa by night

A text from our friends:

Already in airport in less than an hour. My bus driver chased another bus in the small streets of Catania. Then blocked the street, then told me to jump on that other bus. The other bus driver stopped at the next ticket machine, got out to buy me a ticket and then gave it to me to validate. Then took me to the airport. So nice! Italian service, and always with a smile.

We could tell plenty of stories to try and describe the incredible friendliness we’ve encountered in Sicily, but still wouldn’t do these jolly folks any justice. Blessed may they be. If everyone had a share of their savoir-vivre, generosity and happiness, the world would be a much better place!

Marzamemi by night
Marzamemi by night
Marzamemi by night
The Sicily we left behind