Sailing to Taormina and Mount Etna
Taormina whistles to us on the wind
We needed to leave Reggio Di Calabra on Italy to go to Taormina on Sicily but it is said that “if you listen to the wind whistling through the rigging in Reggio you will never leave”. I have to agree because the morning we left it was whistling like a builder’s stag night at a Nude Miss World competition. We really were in two minds about going but at least the wind was whistling in the right direction.
We had said our goodbyes to Richard and Tree on Tinkerbell and stocked up with brownies so we were all set to go back out into the Messina straits and head south.
By George its Taormina.
A day out with George and Donatella
Once out the marina the wind was not as bad as it sounded. We sailed across the Straits of Messina back towards Sicily and Taormina where we could anchor for the night. In the bay there were numerous buoys laid out and a dinghy making its way towards us. To our surprise the man in the dinghy, “George” spoke English better than the Queen, only in a deeper voice and he wasn’t wearing a Tiara. He did give us a price for the buoys which included being ferried ashore and back. When we said we were only staying the night and would prefer to anchor he was kind enough to show us the best place to go for the night.
Life’s good people.
George is Maltese and his wife Donatella is Italian. They later became really good friends and we have spent some wonderful days and nights with them. Anyone going to Taromina please say hello to George and Donatella from Mark and Angelina on Cygnus III. They really are some of life’s good people and will help anyone if they possibly can.
Taormina and Mount Etna
The Greek theatre in Taormina
When anchored in the bay at Taormina you are surrounded by high cliffs on one side and Mount Etna on the other. The views are truly jaw dropping. The city of Taormina is perched precariously high above you on top of the cliff and a snow topped Etna smokes away on the other side. It is at night though when both really stand out like an Eskimo’s nipples. The city glows and calls like a siren whilst the lava seeping down Etna radiates a soft red neon glow. Taormina is a city you fall in love with on first sight and its memory will stay with you forever. It is also a good base to visit Etna and take the cable car or one of the many Jeep excursions up towards one of the several craters. Talk to George or Donatella who both speak perfect English, Italian and other languages and they will help you get the best from your visit.
Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano on the European continent, currently 3,329 m (10,922 ft) high, though this varies with summit eruptions.(The Etna webcam). Whilst we have been in Sicily it has been erupting on a regular basis giving some spectacular views. In Greek Mythology, the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under Mount Etna by Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder and king of gods. The forges of Hephaestus were said to also be located underneath it.
Taormina has a long history which is depicted in its architecture. You can see the ancient Teatro Greco “Greek theatre” amongst the cities building that span every century. During the summer months many famous musicians hold concert in the open air Teatro Greco and there is no better setting. There are nature reserves close by and a vernacular railway leading from the top of the cliff down to the beaches. There is literally something there for everyone.
Giardini Naxos, Sicily
The next morning we were up early ready for a long sail down the coast of Sicily. We had been under way for only 10 minutes when Angelina thought the town just along the bay, Giardini Naxos, or just Naxos looked like it was worth a visit. Who am I to argue!
We anchored in the bay there and went ashore. Naxos is one of the oldest towns in Sicily but little is left to let anyone know. Since 1970 the beach has attracted tourists and the town has changed to accommodate them. It is now like any other tourist town with bars and restaurants along the front and characterless. The only good thing we could think to say about Naxos was that it is centrally located to get to other places which are worth seeing such as Taormina and Etna.
Sailing to Syracuse
Laving the Taormina anchorage
Later in the afternoon the swell started to come into the bay so we sailed back to our original position under Taormina next to the railway station and anchored for the night.
The following morning, the 25th September, we set sail early toward Syracuse. It was going to be a long sail so I picked another anchorage at Augusta along the way we could go into if we became too tired.
We initially had a good sail but then wind and seas began to get up. When we got to Agusta it was impossible to anchor there as the wind and swell were blowing strait into the bay. Instead we decided to carry on to Syracuse. We could not sail in a straight line because of the direction of the wind so we turned the engine on. The seas by now had become so short and steep Cygnus III was ploughing into wave after wave slowing her speed to almost nothing.
The engine has a big overheating problem
I then noticed that the engine temperature was higher than it should be and it sounded different. When I looked, the sea water which is sucked into the engine to cool it was leaking quite badly from the water pump. It would be hard work but the only thing we could do was turn the engine off and put some sail up. As we could not sail directly to Syracuse we would have to sail out to sea a long way before turning back to head in. Cygnus was faster and smoother under sail but with the high winds and seas it was still hard work and took a lot more time.
Eventually we sailed into the sheltered harbour in Syracuse and anchored in nice thick mud. At least we were safe and out of the wind and swell. Taormina and Etna were a long way behind but the memories they gave us will always be close.