Monthly Archives: August 2019

La Dolce Vita – Cruising Italy

10738941328_IMG_2406From Licata we began to slowly make our way north along the Sicilian coast anchoring off small towns and eating simple pasta dishes alfresco in the cockpit at sunset.

Siracusa was a a wonderful stop for a few days. A snug comfortable harbour with a fascinating town. Taormina was also another highlight, life seemed simple and particularly sweet anchored in the pretty bay below the town, with the silhouette of Mt Etna in the background, days spent exploring the streets and eating buckets of gelato!

IMG_3420.JPGFrom Taormina we crossed over to the heel of the boot. Roccello Ionica turned out to be a great surprise, both an affordable marina with great pizza sold by the length and nearby was another great little town.

Settling more into the swing of cruising life and feeling more comfortable with sailing Blue Dancer our Moody 425 we started to enjoy ourselves more and more. The engine was behaving another big bonus!








After our somewhat dramatic arrival in Licata we set off to collect some mail and checkout the town and eat an Italian meal! Not really expecting a lot of this small town, as we were very much in a quiet unremarkable part of Sicily we found ourselves feeling really comfortable and loving the vibe of Licata. Admittedly the cheap, tasty Sicilian wine helped!  This quintessentially Italian yet unpretentious town was super relaxed and friendly, people smiled at you as you walked past and  stopped to greet the kids.

We also had the good fortune of being docked next to not only a kid boat but another Australian kid boat! Arakai are truly a wonderful, generous cruising family living an amazing adventure of their own and all the kids hit it off instantly. Playing for days and days in the warm Italian sun and water they happily turned this Licata and it’s harbour into their very own carefree playground.

The adults of course may of also enjoyed an aperol spritz or two! Arakai also kindly helped us remove the fishing net from our prop with their dive gear.

Despite our pleasant surrounds and new friends our engine woes were to continue.  Old ‘stinky’ refused to start and we spent a good couple of days tracing fuel lines and solenoids. Just when we thought Licata couldn’t get any better we had the good fortune of discovering  that there was in fact an Australian marine diesel mechanic living there who was a great help. Explaining that we still wanted to try and do as much as we could ourselves Matt was all to happy to let us give it a go while guiding us on the right track. In addition to getting us going he was also a great guy to have a beer and a chat with as well!

While visiting the Licata breakwater cats at dusk with Sophie and learning all their names, the day before we were to leave,  she told me she wanted to live on the boat forever and sail around the world.

‘This feels like real life, daddy. I’m meeting so many new people and learning so much’

*Matt runs Licata boat services and is an all round helpful great guy.

(Please excuse the fact that we are a bit behind on our blog posts!)



Arriving in Italy

After having been delayed by several weeks with repeat mechanical issues and bureacractic hurdles we eventually pulled up anchor just before sunrise in Gozo and said a fond goodbye to Malta. Sailing in that magical morning light we were excited at the promise of a new country and a new chapter awaiting us at the end of the day.

Motoring out of Gozo while waiting for a breeze to fill in the boat suddenly slowed and shuddered.

‘Oh no…I think something is on the prop’ I instantly put the engine into neutral and went to the back of the boat to have a look. I couldn’t see anything, so I put the boat into reverse for a bit hoping to back off a net if indeed we had hit one and then back carefully into forward.  We began to make way happily again hitting our 6 knot cruising speed under motor. Crisis averted! (we thought).

The rest of the passage was uneventful, some motorsailing, but the breeze did fill in the afternoon. Just as we sighted Sicily we were greeted by a pod of dolphins. Always a welcome sight!

As we approached Licata in the late afternoon we entered the harbour cautiously keeping a wary eye on the fish traps that crowds its entrance. As the boat slowed I felt that vibration again that points to something not right being right. We debated the merits of diving on the prop but in the end we figured we were still making way and would be at the dock shortly so continued.

As we approached the dock I slowed the boat and put her into reverse ready to back in Med style between the Catamaran Arakai and a large steel yacht Mediterranea.’ As I started to back, while steadily increasing revs the vibration magnified and I reached a grand speed of 1 knot in reverse.  ‘ Motore Problema! ‘ with the help of the great staff at Marina Di Cala Del Sole we eventually managed to get tied up incident free.

Feeling pretty downcast I sat in the cockpit looking across at the town of Licata, feeling generally sorry for myself and wondering what madness made me decide to bring my family here to the other side of the world sailing on a 25 year old boat with a clapped out engine.

Yet it actually would be here in Licata that we would begin to find ourselves, get to know our boat a bit better and start slipping more into the wonderful cruising life.


(Please excuse the fact that we are a bit behind on our blog posts!)

Cruising around Malta



“Not really a cruising ground but useful as a wintering stop” is how the cruising guide described Malta.

Yet if you stop and speak to any of the thousands of Maltese sailors and boater they will wistfully tell you about several of their beautiful bays and beaches.

Nott wanting to go too far afield until we got back into the swing of cruising life and got to know the boat we decided to make a plan to cruise around Malta.

In truth the time on the hard had gone incredibly quickly. We started with a very long job list in a dusty boatyard in the midst of  the oppressive July heat. I would like to say everything on the list got done, but we barely made a good start on the top third and then when our Australian registration arrived we had reached the point where I declared enough and abruptly put her into the water.

While launching the boat we were fortunate that my cousin Joanne and her family had decided to spend their summer holidays in Malta with us so that we had a great group of us to ‘christen’ Blue Dancer with a bit of champagne! It was also great to catchup, use the pool in their apartment complex to cool off and to have some great dinners together.

While its a it is true that Malta is a fairly small archpilegeo, there are actually several beautiful bays and anchorages with everything from (relative) wilderness with amazing clear blue water to stunning spots to anchor in the middle of the city of Valletta.

We spent a wistful week just in San Niklaw Bay  anchored off the Comino Hotel swimming, cooking and enjoying a drink sat on the hotel deck in what can only be described as a quintessential Mediterranean postcard.

It was here however that we had our first hiccup with a faulty starter motor as well as a few electrical issues.  As we decided we were ready to sail for Sicily, instead it was back to Roland Marina in Malta for a replacement!

While frustrated by the timing and delay,  it turned out it was also a good opportunity to finish a few other jobs and to play tourist for a few days. Special mention goes to two new friends, Jacques from JDV Boat Services and Petar from Medcomm for going over and above in helping us getting moving again. Sometimes a chance meeting in an unforeseen circumstance is what makes cruising fun and oh so different from package holidays!

Eventually after much longer in Malta than we ever intended, ‘cruising’ in an area one is not mean’t to cruise……..we headed over to Gozo and then finally onward to Sicily!