Sicily and Vulcano 15 May - 28 May

SanVito (29K)
Capo San Vito

We left Cagliari at first light, and had changeable winds until midnight. Then a F3/4 north wind took us gently to raise the Isole Egadi off Sicily at midday, finally to anchor in the lee of Capo San Vito at midnight. How much more enjoyable it is to cruise with one's distant destination poking above the horizon!

B2  Castellamarre (88K) B3 Castellamarre (97K)
Segesta temple from the hillside above Segesta amphitheatre

We then moored in Castellammare, a pleasant small town, a short drive in a hire car from the magnificent temple at Segesta. They say this rivals the Parthenon, and now we've seen both, I'd say it surpasses it. Though a bit smaller, it is hardly damaged, and sits in splendid isolation on the open hillside. It was abandoned, unfinished, with no roof, and no one knows why.

Sferrocavello (49K) PursuitOffPalermo2 (21K)
Sferrocavello Pursuit off Palermo

Sicily is not a cruising ground to rival Sardinia, because it lacks plentiful, secure anchorages. But, in summer the north coast is manageable without patronising expensive marinas. From Castellammare we passed a night in Sferracavallo, where you could leave a yacht while visiting Palermo, were chased by an oil platform making 5 knots when we could only do 3 off Palermo, spent another night off Portocello, then reached Cefalu.

C1 Cefalu41 (64K) C2 Cefalu (114K)
Approaching Cefalu Looking down from the Rocca

After Segesta, Cefalu is the second reason for visiting the north coast of Sicily. The hilltop is the site of a prehistoric settlement, looking down on the medieval and modern town of Cefalu to the west, and the marina to the east. We anchored off the marina in a spot well sheltered from the west and south, to sit out the forecast easterly winds for the next few days. A man in a RIB came out to offer us a deal we couldn't refuse on the marina, so next morning we tied up and unloaded the bicycles in comfort.

The main events in Cefalu are the climb up to the ruins on the Rocca di Cefalu, for the view of the town rather than the ruins themselves, and a visit to the Norman cathedral. But for us an equal pleasure was wandering through the narrow streets and eating al fresco while the world walked by.

From Cefalu, we anchored overnight at Sant'Agata di Militello, an almost unused commercial harbour, then, at last!, had a favourable wind for Vulcano.


D1 Vulcano (111K) D2 Vulcano (97K)
Porto Ponente from Gran Crater Looking across Gran Cratere to Stromboli

Vulcano is the southernmost of the Aeolian islands, and has one excellent anchorage open north west, and another, adequate, open east. In fact, there is a posting on Captain's Mate reporting sitting out a F9 north westerly securely in the first, Porto Ponente. We certainly were very comfortable for 3 nights in light north westerlies.

Vulcano offers not one, but two volcanoes. The Gran Cratere, looming over the anchorage, erupted just over 100 years ago, and is still belching sulphurous fumes. There is a fine path carved into the slope that allows you to ascend and collect lumps of pure sulphur while you breathe the foul fumes. The view to Stromboli on a clear day is magnificent. The Gran Cratere is just a (big) pimple on the original crater, which comprises the whole island. We cycled round the Gran Cratere into the central, original crater, where we found an excellent restaurant, and then to the south rim, with views of Sicily, with Mount Etna. Sadly, the weather was not ideal for visiting Stromboli, which has no secure anchorage, and we wanted to get to Greece, so on the third day we upped anchor and headed for Scilla, on the mainland.