From 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!
From 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 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!)