We had extended our stay in Marina di Ragusa to wait for our second vaccination which is scheduled for next week, our intention was to leave after we had received it. However, we then had notification from the marina office that they had planned works starting this week to dredge the entrance channel (which should only take one week), during this time there would be no access in or out of the marina. Not wanting to be trapped here, especially if there were any unforeseen problems or delays to the works, we decided to make plans and prepare the boat to leave before the work commenced.
There was still time for a couple of social events before we left. We celebrated a friends birthday with a beach party. Boules, Viking Chess, Volleyball, swimming (for some), snacks and drinks were all involved.
We also had a barbecue on our Canadian friends boat which always ends up with lots of food, drinks and dancing! The boys were out barbecuing their meat while the girls looked after the wine!
With only four days notice now before our departure we had a list of last minute jobs to do including putting the sails back on and all the ropes that had been removed for the winter; planning routes; final engine checks; provisioning, (thankfully a friend with a car offered to take me to the shops so I took advantage and filled the trolley to its maximum); laundry, (this took a while as the launderette was being renovated, work was due to take one week but it has now been closed for nearly three, so this had to be done by hand); clean and pack away the bikes that we had been lent by our neighbours as they spent the winter at home; wash and pack away the enclosure; fill the water tanks; make sure everything is secured down or stowed away etc.
On our day of departure we had a lovely send off as friends came to say goodbye and wave us off.
It was a tight squeeze out of the mooring, then the marinaro led us through the narrow shallow channel and finally we were out in the open sea.
We set our course to go east approximately 30nm along the coast to Portopalo. It was an exciting first sail of the season, with good winds from behind, we were able to sail all the way with our Genoa only and were flying along with speeds up to 7 kts.
We heard multiple announcements on the VHF radio about live firing from an Italian war ship in the area and to keep at least three miles away, we checked our location and route and thankfully we would be outside of the restricted zone! We did have a hitchhiker along the way who sat in the same position on the bimini for over an hour keeping watch for us!
When we reached the bay, the wind was blowing 25kts which proved to be a good test for our new anchor!
Portopalo is in the province of Siracuse, and is the southernmost commune of Sicily. The harbour here is full of fishing boats and trawlers, it is widely considered to have some of the best fishing in the Mediterranean because of its location at the confluence of the Ionian and Mediterranean Seas and its temperate climate.
This is a popular first stop for many people from the marina and there is already a couple of others here in the bay. We plan to stay in this area for a few days to wait for our vaccine appointment as we will still be within an hours drive back to Ragusa to receive it.
It was an eventful day that ended with a spectacular sunset.