Yes! We made it safely to Catania, Sicily! This crossing was the longest one so far and Boaretto and Zé Cassab were a pivotal help for our successful jorney! Unfortunately, right after we arrived in Sicily Boaretto had to leave us to go back to Brazil, however, on the following day, Zé’s family arrived and we had fresh joy again at Ipanema! Daniel and Cecilia are a super fun couple with great sailing experience they got from sailing around with Zé. Daniel is always in high spirit, he is super sharp and is always making fun of someone or himself. Cecilia is super sweet, has a very positive attitude and she is also always helping on the boat.
As per Sicily, the initial impression was not great as we found a lot less welcoming infrastructure for cruisers like us than we found around Greece where you can dock your boat in prime Real Estate in every city for just some Euros. In Sicily you either keep your boat on anchor or you pay expensive marina fees to stay in a not so great location like those in Greece. So in Catania we accepted the system and spent a few days in an expensive marina to do the paperwork, get some rest, supplies and drop Boaretto and receive new guests more comfortably.
But then our impression on Sicily started to improve dramatically as we also took the time to explore the city of Catania, which is amazing! It felt just like Sicily I imagined, it had great food (pizza for me!), a bit dirty, loud and messy, yet, lively, charming and with lots of style and power.
Then, you get to meet the people, and you start to suddenly love Sicily! We came looking for tough, crazy, mafia like Godfather and what we found was the coolest, polite, sweetest, caring Godfather called Vincenzo. This gentleman took us “under his wings” and showed us the way around Sicily, as if we were his friends from a long, long, time ago. He saw our Brazilian flag and came to our boat speaking Portuguese, and again, we had a lesson on how to properly host and care for guests. Vincenzo is a super interesting guy! He lived in many places, including Brazil; he knows the world, the history, the people and places, but most important, he is eager to share his knowledge with others. Every time he was around we were hypnotized by his wisdom and sympathy.
In this same marina in Catania we also met Didier: a super successful French businessman who has the greatest boat we have ever set our foot in. He also introduced us to his captain who gave us great advice about the Atlantic crossing.
After Catania we then moved further north to the well-known Taormina, an extremely beautiful city on top of the hills. Unfortunately, Italy in August… it can’t get more crowded, so the city was a bit too busy for our traveling style. Yet, we manage to enjoy it and even watch an opera in its incredible Greek-Roman amphitheater. “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro. Figaro, Fiiigaaaroooo, Fiiiiigaaaaaroooooooo!!!” How cool is that?!?!
One quite scary memory about Taormina is that I had to climb the mast to fix our VHF antenna. I am really scared of heights and this was not a very pleasant experience, not only is the mast super heigh, but it was rocking a lot with the passage of other boats. Well, at least the job was successful… so far.
From Catania, we continued to move north, we even crossed to a small town called Scila in Calabria, where we had to say goodbye to Zé (our longest standing crew member – 15 days!), Daniel and Cecilia. What a family… we miss them a lot already. By the way, In Scila we had Ice Cream sandwich as we saw the locals eating them. Not bad at all!
After Scila, we were following Vincenzo’s advice and heading towards Lipari, one of the Eolie islands, but the wind was too strong against us, so we had to move back to the main Sicily coast to Capo D’Orlando, then Cefalú, then Mondello (Palermo) and then finally to Capo San Vito (our latest stop in Sicily before we crossed to Sardinia). Unfortunately, we planned really poorly our time in Sicily. It was too short and we had to rush through the region without getting to know some classic places like Siracussa, the Eolie islands and others.
In Palermo, our friends Diego and Laura joined the boat again. They had visited us in Athens and now it was time for Sicily, followed by a crossing to Sardinia. They are very interesting, well informed and self aware of the disgrace we are turning this planet into, so we are learning and chatting a lot with them. Laura is vegetarian/vegan and an extremely skilful chef. If you are ignorant about this subject like me, you should spend some time with her. Vegan food is not only super healthy and ideal to balance off this crazy planet we live in, but it is also SUPER tasty! Seriously!! I could not believe it. We are seriously adopting some new delicious veggie recipes at Ipanema, and incorporating the Meat Free Monday campaign! Diego is a super cool guy, super friendly and quickly becoming a serious sailer. They are just so cool that we are trying to convince them to keep one side of the boat for a long period and we would keep the other side. Feijão and Pudim (their little “Shrek like” cat) can keep the living room and the fly bridge.
Well, now it is time to say goodbye to Sicily and guess what?! We are now moving torwards Sardinia and Vincenzo continues to guide us through Italian waters. Not only I want to be like him when I grow up, but he is the type of person that makes us proudly say: “we are now starting to become part of this amazing sailing community which literally has no boarders!” Thank you Vincenzo! You are AMAZING!