It’s not always sunny in Sicily

After a good but short night’s sleep in Porto Corallo, we untied our mooring lines and left the marina at first light for our crossing to Sicily. The different weather forecasts all showed not too much waves hence not too much wind, the moon was almost full; all conditions were gathered for a boring crossing (boring is good when it comes to crossings). At night many fishing boats were out (they don’t show up on the AIS until you get very close to their fishing spot, then they suddenly appear), so we had to keep a good watch. Fishermen seem to be incredibly bored as the whole night we heard them on the VHF making all kind of sounds (“mimimimi” was quite popular). They probably think it’s funny/entertaining, but we got really annoyed as it makes it very hard to fall asleep (you’re obliged to keep watch on channel 16). Overall it was a nice crossing and no crew member got seasick. We reached our anchorage on Isola di Marettimo (part of the Egadi islands) in the afternoon after 32h of sailing. We were so tired we decided to spend two nights there, so we could visit the picturesque village on the second day.

The morning we planned to leave Marettimo, we tried to lift the anchor and noticed the chain was stuck under a very big and flat rock. All the standard textbook tricks to get an anchor unstuck didn’t work. At the same time the wind and waves started to pick up, making our spot completely unsheltered and uncomfortable. We brainstormed for a while to find solutions to get loose but there was not much we could do during the day because of the weather. We called a diving company and while they said it was possible to send a diver, it would cost us 150€. That’s more than our weekly budget so we declined. In the evening when the wind went down a little we tried to free ourselves with our engine but again it didn’t work, we only succeeded in getting our bow submerged. After another bad night’s sleep (the boat was not only rocking but pulling on the chain so hard that the electricity wires for the navigation lights and the anchor roll got damaged), we called another diving company in the morning as we didn’t want to get more damage and there was no way we could get the chain loose ourselves. This company told us they could send us a diver in the evening and they would charge 100€ “only” (perhaps they took pity on us). At around 18:00 the diver showed up and after struggling for 15 min underwater got our chain loose! We were super happy to have our anchor and chain back. As it was getting late we took a mooring buoy south of our unfortunate anchorage.

The next day we decided it was time for a change of scenery, so we headed East to get closer to Sicily. We left in the afternoon with sun in the sky and Beaufort 3 to 4 winds, happy to sail again. Suddenly a big dark grey cloud appeared in the horizon while the wind shifted completely in a few seconds time. Before we could say “let’s reef” the wind picked up to a good Beaufort 7. We barely had time to head into the wind when the cloud was above us, luckily we can reef pretty fast from the safety of our cockpit. The cloud raced above us and disappeared as fast as it first appeared. We stopped for the night in Levanzo, the most eastern island of the Egadi. We were woken up in the morning by the rolling motion of the boat. The mistral had reached us and we were no longer sheltered. We tried to reach Sicily but with the wind and the waves against us (big waves!), our speed over ground averaged between 1.5 and 2 knots: we would not be getting close to Sicily any soon, besides that, we felt that sailing in these conditions was irresponsible. So we turned 180° in the direction of Favignana, the biggest island of the Egadi and the only one where we could anchor overnight and be sheltered at the same time. We waited there for the weather to improve, looking longingly at the Sicilian mainland which seemed quite frankly like some unreachable distant shore.

We had to wait two days before we could leave the Egadi islands for good. Our water tank was completely empty (we still had a few bottles of drinking water) and the fuel gauge was pointing firmly towards empty. We planned to go all the way to San Vito Lo Capo with a stop-over in Trapani to fuel up. The fuel station in Trapani is located at the end of the harbor, where there is also a ship yard with some berths. We tried to communicate to the staff member that we only wanted to fuel up, but he insisted that we moored on the quay, which we did. Once we were tied he finally understood we only wanted to fuel up but we thought we could just as well ask for the price for a night. They came back with a reasonable price so we spent the night there. By chance Jan and José (sailing Jonas) were there as well. We shared a few beers and said goodbye the next day as they were heading for the South coast of Sicily and we planned to cruise the northern coast. Just as we were leaving our berth the engine suddenly stopped: a Mediterranean mooring line got entangled in our prop. A staff member towed us back to our berth and informed us we were not allowed to dive in the harbor, and it would cost us 150€ to get someone to remove the rope from the prop (150€ seems to be the minimum price to get things done in Sicily). We told him we would first try to fix the problem ourselves. First we put the engine slowly in reverse while pulling on the rope. We got most of the rope out that way. Then we turned the shaft manually from the inside behind the engine, which worked to get the rest of the rope out of the prop. Victory! We left Trapani later than planned but with a working prop and full tanks, looking forward to cross the cape and reach San Vito Lo Capo.


9 Replies to “It’s not always sunny in Sicily”

  1. Wahi girls and guys,
    ‘Nice’ bad story. We never had any experience alike. If you are planning to go south, our log from2013 may be helpfull! If you take the north route we could try to find a periodical log from som friends. Both in Dutch. We wish you a very nice and beautiful trip as we had! Love, Hanneke and Maarten
    (Log is on the internet)

    1. PS: looking forward to have a beer with you again!

  2. Hoi Maarten & Hanneke! We read about your detour on the canals. How is it going there? (Keep checking your weed strainer in these dirty canals). We are doing the northern coast, a log is always helpful! We’ve been indeed unlucky but we still love it and enjoy the trip a lot 🙂 Cheers Thijs & Sarah

  3. Hey Arnie! Our own menu consists mainly of canned food since we don’t have a fridge. We heard that the Mediterranean food is pretty good though 😉

  4. Greetings from Holland
    Love to read your travel reports while enjoying summer vacation



    1. Thanks! Enjoy your vacation!

  5. Heri Putranto says: Reply

    Hi Sarah,
    Love your story… The scenery is so beautiful. Enjoy your journey, safe trip!


    1. Thanks Heri! So far the Mediterranean is living up to our expectations as we’ve seen so many beautiful places! Hope all is well in the NL. Cheers!

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