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Exploring Northern Sicily



The end of the season was getting close and I wanted to finish it with even more crew, adventures, and do a circumnavigation of the magnificent island of Sicily.

It is Wednesday 16th September 2020 and we just arrived in Trapani after a quick sail from Favignana.

If you read the previous post, “Sailing in Southern Sardinia and Passage to Favignana” you probably remember that it was time for Filly to leave and make preparations back home for her next adventure.

Filly was up until this point the person who had been crewing on board for the longest time which made it a sad goodbye. All the epic experiences, our two passages, and the countless good memories were about to become just that; memories.

Romina and I wished her a safe flight back home to France as we said our goodbyes in Trapani. Then we went to do some exploring. I didn’t have any expectations for this town, but it actually turned out to be pretty nice and lively.

Trapani Harbour
Anchored just outside the breakwater of the Marina in Trapani


We found a big square with lots of restaurants and bars where they had outdoor serving and enjoyed a few drinks. Here we met two guys from Germany who were in town for vacation.

I told them about the cruising lifestyle and that we were circumnavigating Sicily. The two of them had never sailed before and got super excited when Romina and I invited them to join us the following day for the short sail from Trapani to San Vito Lo Capo!

There wasn’t a whole lot of wind on this trip, but we all enjoyed it anyway and the weather was sunny as always.

Drinks in Trapani
Romina and I are having some drinks in town


San Vito Lo Capo is definitely a bit of a beach resort and as a result, there are lots of tourists here. Easily understandable as the beach and scenery here are beautiful. We took the dinghy to shore and went for a walk to stock up on beer and find me some new sunglasses.

I found a little shop and bought a set of polaroids for a great discount in return for posing on the shop’s Instagram page! I can say I felt a bit out of my element at the point, but really, polaroid glasses are a game-changer on board.

You don’t see the glare from the sun on the water as sharply and the details are easier to the eye. Which is pretty handy when you live at sea and maneuver a boat in various conditions.

Ellidah was running low on water and we went to fill up the water tanks in the local harbor. However, the taps were closed and didn’t open until later in the evening. We were eager to get going and figured we could just fill up in the next town instead. That didn’t turn out to be a good idea, but more on that later…

We set sail towards the next town close by, Castellammare Del Golfo. We were excited about going here as we were going to pick up a new crew member!

San Vito Lo Capo
Romina rocking the hammock in San Vito


My first thought when we got close was “This is like sailing into an episode of Game of Thrones”. The town lies on a hill, held up by a massive city wall built on top of a beach. There are several marinas tucked behind a big breakwater and that’s where we pointed our bow.

We hoped to find a place to fill up the water tanks, and as we came in, I called up the first marina on the VHF.

No response.

Then I tried the next one.

No response.

“Okay then, let’s just dock up and go and ask someone”, I said to Romina.

We put Ellidah alongside an empty pontoon and lowered the dinghy to the water. In the first marina, I got told that it was private and not possible to fill any water. The next one was the same, but the guy I spoke with tried to call the owner to make an exception.

No such luck and in the third marina I went to I couldn’t even find anyone to ask.

We untied the lines and set off to leave without any water. Then Romina said: “Looks like there are water taps on the pontoon over there” and pointed to a pontoon close to us.

“Well, fuck it”, I thought. “Let’s go alongside and help ourselves!”

Like taken out of Game of Thrones


I didn’t like the idea of just taking water, but after spending half a day chasing people to speak with to get a few hundred liters of water, I was getting a bit grumpy.

It didn’t help seeing all the people washing down their boats with water that I actually needed to cook, clean, and drink.

Romina jumped off and connected the hose in a matter of seconds and gave me the thumbs up that there was indeed water in the tap.

Quickly I opened the fillers and started to fill the forward port tank. Then the forward starboard. As I was about halfway in the starboard aft tank, a boat started to approach us and it wasn’t hard to figure out that I was in for some shouting…

“What the f… are you doing??”, the guy driving the little boat shouted at me. I put on a big smile and shouted back: “Just filling up my water tanks, almost done. I was just about to go and talk to you!”.

“You can’t just steal water, it isn’t for free!”, he replied.

I raised my hands in a defensive way and answered: “Of course not, I was about to come find you to pay for it”.

His angry face broke up in a halfway smile and he responded: “Just come to the tent over there when you’re done, it will be 10 euros” while pointing a finger at the other end of the pontoon.

“Sure thing, no worries!”, I yelled back.

Shit dodged that bullet!

Romina looked a bit skeptical during the conversation, but we both had a laugh at the situation and at least we now had full tanks and were ready to anchor up and cook ourselves some dinner.

Exploring Castellamare Del Golfo
On top of the city wall


It is Monday, 21st of September 2020.

We went into town to meet up with our newest addition to the crew. Filip Persson is from Sweden and was keen to go and do some good sailing for a few weeks. He was also keen on the adventure of circumnavigating Sicily!

It is a bit funny, as I am writing this, Filip is actually back onboard for the third time!

He got his things sorted onboard and the three of us went back into town to do some exploring and to have some drinks.

There was a little marked that day and we managed to buy some homemade pesto, fresh homemade bread, and Limoncello, which I later learned is a very common thing to drink after a meal in Sicily.

In the evening, we headed back to the boat to have a little farewell party for Romina. Her adventure was over for this time and she had to fly back home the next day from Palermo.

The following morning, we lifted anchor and set sail towards Mondello, just north of Palermo.

Exploring Northern Sicily
Filip and Romina in Castellamare Del Golfo

Ellidah bracelet
A local craftsman made me this beautiful bracelet for 3 Euros!

Monopoly in Castellamare
Drinks and a few games of Monopoly Deal


The three of us enjoyed an excellent breakfast with the local bread and pesto we bought the day before in Castellamare. Sadly, it was another day of goodbye and we went into town to wish Romina the best of luck and a safe flight home.

The anchorage in Mondello is like taken out of a postcard with a sweet white sand beach and crystal-clear water. Me and Filip spent the rest of the day swimming, drinking beer, and snorkeling around the area. Then we planned to do a little excursion the next day on the folding bikes.

From the boat, we could see a road along the mountainside crawling itself to the hills with sharp corners supported by small stone walls that at first looked like mini castles.

Of course, we had to go and check it out!

We packed each our backpack, and the bikes, in the dinghy and went off to a dock nearby. According to Google Maps, this old road used to connect Mondello and Palermo before the new road was built and the route was supposed to be quite scenic.

Around halfway, there was apparently a Sanctuary called Monte Pellegrino S. Rosalia and a nice viewing point and it didn’t look too far away.

Breakfast in San Vito
Awesome breakfast

Mondello bay
Great view of the harbor


Google Maps was wrong about one thing. Or maybe we misinterpreted. After cycling through the city, we started on the uphill road that finally led to a closed gate. Eager to continue, we managed to get ourselves and the bikes over the fence and continued uphill on this long steep road that wasn’t short at all.

When we got to the top and thought we were finally at the end, the road just continued down a valley and further up another hill. The temperature was hot and we were melting away on the bikes while starting to get freaking exhausted!

The hope of finding a restaurant or something that served ice cold beer and ice cream at the end drove us to continue along with the stunning view.

Finally, to our great joy, there was actually a small restaurant at the top next to the old Sanctuary. They did indeed serve ice-cold beer and ice cream to our great relief!

The way down was easier and lots of fun. We basically raced along the curvy road and before we knew it, we were back down. Exhausted, we went back to the boat and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Mission complete, great success!

Biking in Mondello
Steep curvy road

Exploring Northern Sicily
Our reward at the top, highly appreciated


Another crew member arrived the following day in Mondello and we were super excited to welcome Claudi Moser from Germany onboard. She normally lives in South Africa and runs a kiting school called Witsand Kite down there. We were now three people onboard and planned on picking up a fourth crew member shortly.

Our next destination was Cefalu. An old picturesque fishing village a bit further down the coast.

I had been following a storm on the weather forecast for a few days and Cefalu seemed like a sheltered place to ride it out with its cheap marina. After having a chat with a local sailor that could confirm this, the decision was made.

I was right about a couple of things, but wrong about another. This was going to cost me some headaches and give all of us some exceptionally uncomfortable days!

To be continued in the next post…

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