Southern Italy

and a little of

Sicily and Sardinia

August 2008

Part Four


August 17, 2008


We left Salerno for Scario, a pretty little fishing harbor 74 miles south at 0625 on August 12. Motoring in light winds along the coast we admired the beauty of the steep mountains and tall hills rolling down to the sea. All remarkably green for August. Occasionally there were vertical limestone cliffs and here and there we would find secluded, rocky beaches or larger, sandy beaches. The latter always packed with colorful umbrellas for the sun worshippers. Towns were scattered sparingly about the shores, in canyons and on hilltops, but the majority of the land was undeveloped. All along the coast were crumbling look-out towers from bygone days.

A lush, green ravine plunging from the mountains to the sea near Scario

Our plan had been to anchor just outside the harbor as it was well protected from the prevailing NW winds. Unforecast, the winds were blowing from the S, to which the bay was completely open so we opted to try for a berth inside. Twelve hours after beginning the day, almost all the time motoring, we puttered into the tiny harbor which was buzzing with small ferries and tiny fishing boats.

The small fishing town turned tourist town for Italians lies in a beautiful, green, mountainous setting

The harbor and promenade at Scario

There appeared to be several vacant spots along the wall so we jilled about while the ormeggiatori helped a power boat get settled. When he was finished, 20 minutes later, he looked up and said "no room". We would have appreciated this information a bit sooner but we just waved and headed out to the anchorage. It turned out to be a quiet evening with light winds but the warm, clear water did nothing to drench my exasperation.

The anchorage at Scario was pretty and peaceful

The next morning we took the dinghy into town to have a look around. Needing some groceries we went in search of a supermarket. This is always fun and goes something like this: Using my broken language skills I ask a pleasant looking woman where a supermarket is. I watch and listen to her description, nodding and making the appropriate hand motions, smile and thank her. Then it is off in the right direction looking all the while for people carrying grocery bags. Sometimes the shoppers are plentiful enough to lead me directly to the store and other times I have to ask directions again. Like taking local busses without a route plan, it is a fun way to interact with the local people.

The waterfront at Scario

The Aeolian Islands, off the NE corner of Sicily were our next destination. Fantastic, rugged, volcanic islands, the name comes from Aeolus, God of the Winds. In Homer's Oddessy Aeolus gave a bag of contrary winds to Odysseus to help him get back home. While he slept his crew opened the bag allowing the winds to escape. His ship was blown away from his homeland added more years to his voyage.

The twin peaks of Isola Salina

The northernmost island, Stromboli, has been spouting volcanic pumice and fiery gasses regularly for thousands of years probably making it the world's oldest lighthouse. Just as the soon-to-be full moon set and the sky was the darkest of the night we sailed by this fantastic sight. Stromboli blew off some fine fireworks in our honor.

Stromboli at dawn

After fueling up at Lipari, a story in itself, we motored over to Vulcano, the strangest of all the islands. A nice anchorage guarded by several large rock towers sits just under a fuming volcano. There are hot springs and sulfurous mud baths on the island but the water is what captured our attention. In the August heat we were happy to swim and snorkel. The underwater terrain was ideal for snorkeling.

Boats packed it tightly at Vulcano

The boats in the anchorage under the fuming Grand Crater were packed in tighter than we have ever seen. Although we were a bit nervous that some of these did not have enough scope out for the predicted change in wind direction and speed, we stayed the night. In the morning we saw there were 2 more coves just beyond that were almost empty. Next time we'll go there.

Looking across the narrow channel to an anchorage on the S side of Lipari we saw the big, blue boat carrying a sailboat and helicopter again, the same one we say last week off Capri.


The pretty town of Cefalu sits on the shore under the shadow of this promontory. Mountains of green and brown rise up behind.


Leaving Vulcano we were finally able to sail! The first two hours we sailed wing and wing until the wind died and we rolled in the sails. When it picked up again we had glorious sailing with 10-15 kts. on the beam for about an hour and a half until it died again. Very fluky. We arrived at the ruggedly beautiful rocky cove below the mountains at Cefalu in the early evening after 8 hours and 57 miles.


Rock outcropping at the eastern edge of the cove is topped by an old tower

The buildings on Cefalu's most seaward street rise directly out of the sea


From Cefalu we motored to the modern and efficient Porto Acquasanta in Palermo. This was a pleasant and safe place to leave Tenaya while visiting the city. We took the advise given in the pilot book and dined at the charming, old world hotel nearby. What a lovely evening we had! Seated outside with a stunning view of the harbor lights, the evening was magical. The food was delicious, the service impeccable and the ambiance delightful.

We took a cab into the center of Palermo early Sunday afternoon. Shops were closed up tight and traffic was light, leaving mostly tourists out wandering around. A nice breeze kept the temperature pleasant. Our route lead us to several churches and around the old quarter.

The cathedral is of Norman origin although the dome added in the 18th century seems out of place, the matching towers and 3 apses are all original and date from 1185.

The Norman church of La Martorana dates from medieval times. It was remodeled in 1588.

The dome of San Giuseppe dei Teatini, a Baroque church

The twelfth-century chapel of San Cataldo was build by the Saracens.









The Cappella Palatina inside the Palazzo dei Normanni (Royal Palace) of Palermo is exquisitely decorated in mosaic tiles.

The Quattro Canti are four corners in the heart of the old town where two major streets intersect. Each corner has a curved building with a fountain. This is the SE building.


August 23, 2008

Early Monday morning, August 18, we left Palermo to visit the Egadi islands off the NW coast of Sicily. As we neared the first island we had second thoughts about stopping. The wind was blowing nicely from the E, a perfect direction for our trip to Sardinia in a few days time.

Sometimes you just have to go where the wind blows! We changed course and headed NW across the southern Tyrrhenian Sea.

245 miles and 37 hours later we arrived at what appeared to be an ideal marina to spend the night and top off the fuel tanks. Perd'e' Sali seemed like a good alternative to congested Cagliari and it was right next door to our next stop.

We motored closely around the mole because according to the chart and pilot book the water was deepest there at 5 meters. A man waving frantically was running down the jetty yelling and trying to get our attention. He motioned for us to stop and wanted to know our draft. When I indicated 2 meters he said we must leave but not to turn around. Back up. The depth had silted to 1.3 meters and we hadn't much time or room to get out of there.

As Jim quickly shifted into reverse the prop walk swung the stern closer to the rocks of the mole and the bow over the shallower water The depth gauge plummeted ... 4.5 meters, 4, 3, 2.5, 2.2, 2.0. Jim held firm on the helm which was battling as they do when forced abruptly into reverse. We bumped the bottom a couple of times but managed to back out into the wind and oncoming waves unscathed except for a fender that tried to get away. Over the side it bounced but I was able to reach over and retrieve it as Tenaya heeled. Oh yes, I haven't mentioned the wind was blowing 20 kts. and choppy waves directly into the entrance. That was exciting.

Now it was 5:00 pm and we needed to find a safe place for the night. Our only real option was to anchor 5 miles away at Capo di Pula, our next intended stop. It was fairly protected but the swell from the E wrapped around the point making for a rolly night.

Jim at the ruins of Nora with the lighthouse of Capo di Pula in the background.

Tenaya anchored by the Nora archeological site

The ancient town of Nora borders the anchorage at Capo di Pula. Wednesday morning we put the dinghy in the water and motored over to the site to have a look around.

The archeological site of Nora beside the sea

Founded in the 8th century B.C. by the Phoenicians, Nora was later colonized by the Carthaginians and then the Romans. Most of the remains unearthed at the site date from Roman times, the end of the 2nd century and beginning of the 3rd century A.D.

A Roman theater from the 1st century A.D. It is the only Roman theater on Sardinia.

Nora is situated in a pretty location on a promontory. It had harbors on either side of the cape. Paved roads, sewers, four Roman baths, several temples and other public buildings were scattered among the many dwellings that have been excavated thus far. Begun in 1952, the digging continues.

Many of the buildings had tiled floors

Another view of the anchorage at Pula

Looking down from the promontory to the water below

The local fishing boats. We left the dinghy tied among them.


Later in the afternoon we headed off on another multi-day passage. Mallorca was our destination, one of the Balearic Islands we visited in June. The harbor at Palma has excellent repair facilities and we need to make use of a couple. The watermaker is still giving us trouble although it has been usable and the generator quit working completely. We paid a fortune for that oversized hulk in the engine room to power the air conditioner for which we paid another fortune in order to have a cool boat in hot places, like Italy, in the summertime. It didn't work the entire time we were in southern Italy. I realized I could live without the chilled air but I missed it all the same.

We saw 5 of these floating off of Mallorca. We thought the first one was some sort of memorial or maybe a raft but when we saw 4 more we decided they were just interesting buoys for fish nets.


Nice sailing. Motoring. Nice sailing. Motoring. That is how this passage went. When the wind blew strong enough we sailed wing and wing and when it didn't we glided along with an unobstructed view of the nearly full moon. Having 4 hour watch schedules around the clock allows us plenty of time to sleep and to get into a comfortable routine. With very little ship traffic we both enjoyed the passage very much.

We arrived at the anchorage outside Rapita Marina on the island of Mallorca at 0315 this morning after sailing 336 miles from SW Sardinia. It took 61 hours.

Our electronic chart is not accurate for this area. The marina is not where it is supposed to be and neither is Tenaya in the adjacent anchorage. Jim remembered this from our last visit so we motored up in the dark using only our eyes, the paper chart and the depth gauge.

Swinging on the hook just outside the marina, we can receive wifi and take the dinghy in to the small market, chandleries and trash cans. We have the peacefulness of a quiet anchorage with clear, clean water and the entertainment of watching charter boats and local boats come and go. A wonderful breeze blows through our floating home. We will be happy relaxing here a couple of days before being confined to a marina in Palma for four days.


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