Course set for Maretimmo

It’s wonderful to wake up on a yacht and in a new location. The sun was streaming through the small windows o Aria and into the galley. I popped my head through the hatch and into our new world and into the glorious welcoming sun lit marina. It’s a great feeling being back in Sardinia and Sant Elmo marina.

Our new home – Cagliari on our first morning

Alex was still sleeping, but awoke shortly and we made our way for coffee and doughnuts at club Rari Nantes.

A text from Massimo said that he was running late and we arranged to meet on Aria at 1130.

We had loads to do. Bringing the tender on board, taking down the old genoa and putting up the new one, filling tanks and general yacht readiness. We were done by 1300, and then we joined Marta and their home for our customary pasta and the famous Massimo ragu.

After lunch, one last task of provisioning and we were ready to set of.

We slipped lines at 1600 and engined out of the marina and into open water, setting a course of 117 degrees for Maretimmo, one the the Egadi islands.

Alex at the helm, leaving Cagliari

We engined as far as Villasimius and as predicted the wind picked up to between 8 and 12 kts, just ahead of our port beam, enough to turn the iron maiden off and sail under Gods own.

Sunset over Sardinia – Our first sunset at sea

I volunteered for the first 3 hour watch from 2000 to 2300.

I spotted a bright red/ orange glow and initially wondered what it was, but within seconds realised that it was the moon rising over that last, eastern part of Sardinia. Within half an hour, it was high enough and bright enough to illuminate our passage, almost as if it was twighlight. As it rose higher the whole area was flooded with intense moonlight making for the most visible night sail i have ever experienced. The constellation of Orion, together with Venus setting in the west were clearly visible in the heavens.

By the time of my second watch at 0200, the moon had passed overhead and although obsured by light cloud, still managed to illuminate our world at sea.

The cloud cover soon passed and once again the moon cast shadows of Arias mast onto the deck and illuminated the horizon.

The wind picked up to 10 to 12 knots and Aria was consistently pulling between 5.5 to 6.5 kts.

Beautiful as this was it was nice to get my head down when my watch ended at 0500 and Massimo took over.

Hidden Treasure

We spent our last few days in Cagliari. Relaxing, having lunch with Marta and Massimo, visiting our local Aquila and Rari Nantes ristorante.

Massimo, me and Barbera at Rari Nantes

Alex, with our favourite waitress , Barbara, at Rari Nantes
Alex having a very large horse steak – where does he put it?

Marta suggested that we make an afternoon outing to “Sella del diabolla”

Its name seems to be derived from an attempt by some devil taking possession of this part of the coast because of its special beauty. The legend says that God decided to stop the devils’ attack using the army of his faithful angels, whose head was archangel Gabriel. The battle between angels and devils took place in the sky above the gulf. They say that while Lucifer was  running away, he lost his saddle. It fell on the sea and became petrified rock, giving origin to the headland. That’s why the mountain was called “Sella del Diavolo”,meaning the devil’s saddle, while the sea below was named “Golfo degli Angeli”, that is the Angels’gulf. You can visit St.Elia’s headland and “Sella del Diavolo” walking along a path which takes you from Calamosca to the top and which is of great naturalistic and archaeological value. According to certain accounts evidence of ancient human activity can be found inside some caves. Along the way you can see the ruins of the Tower of St.Elia, which can be reached by a steep ascent, then a small fortification dating back to the Second World War and finally the ruins of St.Elia’s Monastery.

Marta had been here once before, but it was a first for myself, Alex and Massimo. It’s am amazing walk up to the summit and the forna resembles that of Africa rather than Italy. Cacti and exotic plants along the route with amazing views of Poetto, Marina Piccola and the small anchorage in the waters below, where we had played and swam in last summer 2019.

Picolla marina and Poetto and Cagliari bay

Ruins of the Pisan Tower

WWII gun positions

Our holiday concluded with a visit to our favourite cake shop for a fond farewell cake and coffee, before being driven back to the airport by Marta, Massimo and off course Arba.

The Final Leg to Cagliari

After spending a day and night in Viulasimius we pondered our situation. With the weather getting worst over the next 3 to 4 days our prospects were slim and a 3 day stay in Vilasinius seemed likely. No one seemed particulary happy about this prospect, one becasue nearly everything is closed in the winter season, two, theres nothing to do and three, anything open is extremely expensive.

Waking up on the morning of the of the 21st I made a decision, if everyone agreed, that Massimo and I would sail back to Cagliari in a Force 7-8 and Alex, Marta and Arba, would take the bus back to Caliari some 65 kms.

And so it was decied and after breakfast, Massimo and I readied Aria for a short, but windy hoope to Sant Elmo marina and Cagliari.

Alex and Arba looking on anxiously as we prepare to depart

We slipped lines at 1010 and motored out of the marina and immediatly put out our genoa. The wind was more or less behind us 42 kts ( thats a Force 9 ). At times we were pulling 12 kts on the surf. A cracking and auxhilarating sail. Some of the wave must have been 4 to 5 metres. It was great fun and Massimo reveled in the fact that he had been out in such strong wind and that is was manageable.

Large waves on our trip back

High speeds achieved the en route

Massimo having fun

We arrived at 1302. Thats 2 hours and 52 minutes, covering 20.2 nms, an average speed of 7.04 kts. We entered Sant Elmo to very suprised marina staff who helped to take our lines and we were safely in.

Waves breaking over the harbour wall upon our arrival

Literally 2 minutes later we were greeted by Alex, Marta and Arba, who had just arrived. We had beaten them and the bus.

A wonderful sail and a fantastic climax to a great 363 nm trip to the Egadi islands and Sicily.

Chart of our 10 day voyage

Back to Sardinia

We’ve been watching the weather on “Predict Wind” for the last week and all the different models seem to match and we seem to have a weather window for our return trip today. We were initially going to leave at 1900 to miss heading straight into 3 metre swell and also catch the wind which picks up from nothing to a 8kt south easterly at the same time.However, walking along the sea wall after breakfast, suggested that the swell was minimal. So we decided to leave early and motor the first few hour to miss the ever increasing wind and swell towards the end of our planed passage. This was predicted to increase to 30 kts from the south east with a 3 to 4 metre swell in the same direction.

Weather forecast at Favignana

Weather forecast at Cagliari

We slipped lines at 1100 the 19th of January, gently springing off the harbour wall and heading out through the entrance and into the open sea on a beautiful sunny day with no wind. As we engined out our own swell prediction was correct. The was a metre swell heading towards us, but not breaking and we easily skimmed over it as it had a fairly long wavelength. Just goes to show, that the forecast can be out, this time in our favour. But the prediction was correct as far as the wind was correct, picking up at 1750 and enabling us to unfurl the genoa, turn off the nine and start sailing.

The wind progressively increase, also as predicted and we had a cracking sail all the way to our destination of Villasimius. The last few hours were challenging, with gusts of over 32 kts and 3 to 4 metre swell. Our boat speed was consistently over 7.5 kts, hitting over 12 kts surfing down the swell and breaking waves.

Massimo at the helm through rougher times, when the auto pilot just wasn’t enough

A happy Alex in a Force 7-8

Not the highest recorded speed, but an indication of what we achieved

I must say that the sail was exhilarating and I personally enjoy pushing myself as each time you gain more experience and confidence, no matter how many miles or hours one has sailed.

We arrived at Villasimius at 1410 the 20th of January, reversing into our mooring, to a waiting Marta, who greeted us after travelling from Cagliari to Villasimius by bus that day.

We almost immediately ordered a cab and headed out to town by taxi and to probably the only open restaurant. We all had steak and I also had a spaghetti vongole. The food was good, but not cheap.

And so we returned to Aria, to a very well deserved rest and sleep having managed our crossing of 154 nms in 27 hours, door to door, averaging 5.7 kts, which included getting in and out of moorings and harbours.

Happy to be on dry land after a successful crossing of 154 nms


We were going to take a train ride into Marsala, but over coffee Massimo suggested that we sail to the island of Favignana. The wind was 25 kts, a north westerly and in our favour to achieve the short 10 nm crossing.

As we slipped line, Massimo was a little late in applying power and the wind caught our bow and turned the boat through 90 degrees and pinned us port side the the pontoon, damaging our front bow metal work and bending it in several places.

Getting off in 25 Kts of 30 degrees behind the bean isn’t easy and I suggested we rig a forward spring line and try and get the stern through the wind.

We just about managed to do that and reversed out without further incidents.

We managed to have a fantastic sail and reached the island in one tack and just and 1.5 miles east of the harbour entrance. We engined the remaining way and into the harbour to access our options for mooring.

There was no apparent place for yachts of our length and draft to moor. We eventually choose a harbour wall a per the diagram below, circled in red.This proved very roly and we walked around the the other side of the harbour to access the situation there. Not many option except for mooring along side or dropping anchor and revering into wind and onto a lower part of the harbour wall.

As there in effect only two adults on board, mooring along side was not an option, especially as there were no cleats to speak of on the harbour. In fact, it was a tangled mess of large diameters lines, around bollards and some fed back to fishing boats.

So we opted for dropping the anchor and reversing. This actually would have worked out fine, had it not been for a couple of friendly locals recommending that we pull along side. So we raised anchor, reversed back into the 25kt wind, got one lone ashore and then tailed a long line from the bow, outside the yacht an into the hands of a local. All we had to do then was sweat the line in and we were along side. We ended up moored in location marked by the green circle in the diagram above.

Aria on our first mooring attempt

Aria on our second and final mooring- still had a rough night

Aria in the background – the only yacht in the harbour

Whilst Massimo and Alex stayed on Aria, I took a quick walk out of the harbour and along the quay wall to take in the views and snap a few photos.

View from the seas wall

Ferry arriving from Trapani

Castello Di Santa Catarina on the summit

View of Aria

Sammy fishing market on the quay

View of Plazzo Flora, the palace of the owner of the tuna ferries, in the background

In the evening we all walked into town to provision, for our onward journey. There are many patisseries, butchers and supermarkets with fresh produce, especially fish. Even for January, the town square was a bustle of locals and some tourists enjoying evening life in the local café, bars and restaurants. We managed to find a lovely restaurant, “Ristorante Ammukka on via Garibaldi”, which had steak on the menu, one of Alex’s musts and probably the only reason he agreed to visit this island. The food was absolutely excellent, Massimo had a stuffed squid, Alex the medium raw steak, whilst I had my first spaghetti vongole of our holiday. All followed by some local Sicilian deserts and coffee. A final walk through town and the back to Aria for a welcome sleep. Well that’s what we thought.

Chiesa Madre Di Maria SS. Immacolata

Two hours of sleep and then the fun started. The swell in the marina proved for a very uncomfortable night, wit line squeaking and jerking throughout the entire night. Although we were protected from the main sea swell, it made it’s way into the harbour and bouncing off land and other harbour walls proved not to be so sheltered.


Our second day in Trapani was started with a trip to Erice, a small town on the summit of Mount Erice, some 750 metres above sea level.

Unfortunately, the cable car that I had used to get their last time was undergoing maintenance work and so the only option left was a ATS bus ride all the way from Trapani ferry port to the summit.

We had breakfast as we waited for the 1130 bus, which would take an hour to get there.

The bus arrive promptly at 1130 and the bus ride was extraordinary beautiful as it wound its way up the narrow road with wonder sea views including that of our marina and the city of Trapani.

On arrival we immediately noticed the drop in temperature from the city of Trapani some 750 metres below.

View from the bus as we ascended to Erice

Massimo and Alex in the narrow cobbled streets of Erice

I had come prepared as last time I was here I was caught out. This time I had dumpers and coats for Alex and myself, even so it was only e cold side and we made our way up the narrow cobbled streets to find a hostilely for a spot of lunch. It wasn’t easy finding anything open out of season and all the tourist attraction and restaurants were closed, but we found a hotel ” Hotel Moderno on Via Vittorio Emanuele” that was offering a menu of the day as well as steak for Alex.

Massimo pointing out the city of Trapani from the summit of Erice One of the lovely gardens and fountains in Erice

After lunch, we walked through the cobbled street and thought of what life might have been like for the people who established this town and the reasons that drove them to do so so high on the mountain.

There we only another two buses returning that day the 1500 and the 1830 and we opted for the earlier of the two. One to get back whilst it was still light and two we had a restaurant booked for 2000 in the modern part of Trapani.

Have dog will travel – catching the bus back from Erice to Trapani

We had to put Arba in my ruck sack to permit Arba to travel by us by public transport. Thankfully she didn’t stay in it for the whole one hour journey, Italian bureaucracy.

Back in Trapani, and a walk from the marina to the new town, approximately2 kms

Our fine dining restaurant in the new town


We awoke to another beautiful morning on the island of Maretimmo. Massimo and I wanted to stay another day, but Alex was keen to get to the hustle a bustle of shops and restaurants so we decided hat we would head to Trapani on the Sicilian mainland, some 20 miles east. But before we did, we had another wonderful breakfast on deck and took one final walk through the village and along the coastal path. The walk, although short, provided spectacular views of the east coast and Castello Di Punta Troia.

The east of the island with Castello Di Punta Troia in the distance

We eventually slipped lines at 1100 and with no wind, motored to Trapani and the Marina “Vento di Maestrale”. I had stayed here before a few years ago when I visited with Ed.

The passage was uneventful when we were 500 metres from the harbour entrance announced our intentions to Trapani VTS on channel 10. Soon after we called the marina on channel 74 and within minutes were greeted by a rib describing how to enter and find our berth, great service. We reversed into our berth and by 1615 were snuggly in our new home, connected to water and electricity for the first time in 3 days, not to mention very decent WiFi connections at good speed. The office was closed, so we relaxed before heading into the city in the evening for a well deserved pizza at “Pizzaria Calvino”, apparently the oldest in Trapani.

Sunset, as seen from our berth

On our way to the pizzeria, we walked along the city sea walls and ramparts and popped into a few shops and bakeries. We stopped at a fantastic ceramic and pottery shop called ” Ceramiche Perone”, to buy gifts for Marta and I was surprised to receive a gift myself from my very good friend Massimo. The shop is fantastic, full of wonderful hand made items. Some are even made on the premises.

Massimo talking to the owner, who’s proudly showing family photos of the business

My pressie from Massimo, a spoon drip holder

Then another quick stop to a fantastic Sicilian party shop “Panificio Oddo Michiele”, to buy some fantastic Cannoli.

View of Trapani from the ramparts with the town of Erice on top the mountain in the distance

Finally, we arrived are “Pizzeria Calvino”, for the long awaited of fantastic pizza. Would you believe it, we even ran into a Polish couple, originally from Tczew, where Alex goes to school, at the moment. Alex was not amused and did not want reminding of Poland, let alone Tczew. Still the pizza soon made him forget and he was back in the land of the living.

The plain surroundings, but made up for the exquisite Pizza

Massimo and Arba tucking in.

The chefs of Pizzeria Calvino.

Isola Di Marettimo

Another beautiful night sail, once again watching the moon rise, although this time over sea. It started as it’s usual orange, then blood red, before turning to a brilliant white and illuminating the sea. The waves reflecting and refracting its majestic light made for an awesome and tranquil scene. Alex wanted to stay up for all this and we laid together staring at the heavens, discussing and exploring constellations. Out the blue he described how to find north using the Ursa Major ( The Plough ) and Polaris, I was impressed. Every few minutes, we would see a shooting star as it skimmed the earths atmosphere. I then asked Alex to momentarily, turn of the navigation lights so as we were in total darkness and showed him a different Universe in the sea below as Aria sliced through the water, disturbing the sea and agitating sea plankton making them sparkle like little stars and sometimes in larger pools of light.

Alex eventually retired and Massimo and myself started our night watch. It was 0200 as we approached Marettimo. Massimo had already planned to anchor off the South East corner of the island, in a bay called Conca. We arrived there at 0300 and edged our way in, but in my opinion it was unsuitable. Firstly there was swell and secondly there was no way of knowing what the seabed was like, it also looked pretty exposed. So I suggested we head for the small and only village and harbour of the island, located on the mid eastern side of the island.

As we approached and then entered our strange new home, it seemed completely different to photograph we had studied. No berthing pontoons to be seen, we later found out these are seasonal and removed for the winter months. As we edged closer to the beautifully and delicately illuminated village I decided the only option was to reverse onto the harbour wall, as pulling alongside was impossible due to one foot protruding concrete just above sea level. So we motored out some 50 metres dropped anchor and started reserving toward the harbour wall whilst letting out chain. We aimed for a spot where two sets of stone stairs dropped to form a one metre platform and this is where Massimo stepped of and I then threw him one of our stern lines, which he secured to one of the bollards on top of the harbour wall. We were successfully and safely in. After securing our other stern line, we briefly explored our location and situation, and decided to stay. We made Aria secure and retired for the night.

Google Maps image of marina with visitors pontoon clearly visible – this was not there when we arrived and is only in place in the high season

Alex and I awoke are 0830 and went on deck and then onto the harbour wall to briefly access and view our new surroundings. Everything looked so different to the night entry we had performed a few hours earlier, as if transformed and repainted by glorious sunlight. Quaint little white houses with blue shutters peppered the skirt of the harbour and soaring terrain towered above the only village.

Alex, enjoying land after two days at sea. In the background you can clearly see the steps we aimed for to assist with getting ashore and mooring

Maretimmo – looking out to sea

The small village of Maretimmo

Seal sculpture with Aria in the background

After a leisurely breakfast on deck we decided to take a walk up towards the “Casa Romane” some Roman garrison buildings, well worth a visit. There is also a small Byzinetine church which is open to the public together with a small calling to prayers bell outside.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Chiesetta Bizantina – near the Roman ruins

Alex and Massimo examining the font in the church

The calling to prayer bell near the church

It’s a really pleasant and easy walk up to the ruins and even more pleasant coming back down through wooded pines and almost African style forna.

Many routes are available

There are 18kms of walking trails on the island, including a summit trail and one to the castle. Apparently, there are many caves accessible from the sea, but we didn’t have the time to explore these. You could literally spend a week on this island and still have places to discover.

Fantastic view of the harbour and Aria on our walk back down

Donkeys on route

On our decent we saw donkeys and much flora and fauna specific to the island.

When back on Aria, we had a brief rest before heading out for the evening to a local restaurant. In the winter months you have to call early and they I’ll open and cook specifically for you. Menus are limited to pasta and sea foods and depend very much upon the catch of the day. As we walked along the quayside, we passed groups of locals fishing for squid and many with much success and wondered if this is what would be on the menu tonight.

Alex, Massimo and Arba on the quayside

Aria, at her moorings

Squid caught in the harbour, metres from Aria.

The chef, we think, makes an appearance at the restaurant

The New Year Begins

Our sailing season has opened early this year with an invitation from Massimo and Marta, to visit with them for a sailing adventure.

The adventure begins with a late night flight out from Gatwick to Gdansk. Wizzair, are now flying from Gatwick and I caught the 2130 flight, on Thursday the 9th of January, arriving at Gdansk at midnight. Everything is a lot easier in Poland now compared to several years ago, even the car hire companies stay open 24/7. So I picked my car up from Express rentals and after a few hours kip at the airport made my way to pick Alex up from the dull town of Tczew. The only good thing about this place is the road out of it. Even the advancing Russian didn’t stop here in WWII.

Alex joined me at 1345 and we made our way back to Gdansk airport and for our 1830 flight back to our home of Esher.

Much to do, including cooking steaks for Alex, packing, haircuts ( as there seem to be no barbers in Poland ), and general getting ready for our Saturday flight from Stansted to Cagliari.

Alex has found the money pot – Not for you Alex, this goes to charity

Fantastic steak at Giraffe at Stansted airport

The time at Stansted passed quickly with a visit to “Giraffe” for a steak and chicken Terriyaki and then onto our RyanAir flight to Cagliari. We took off on time , 1740, and with a good tailwind, landed at Cagliari 30 minutes early to a warm welcome from Marta, Massimo and off course Arba.

Our friends took us to the Sir Francis Drake, in the town centre. A fantastic restaurant and bar open 24/7.

After a long and very busy day, we were driven back to Aria, at Sant Elmo marina for a well earned rest and a peaceful nights sleep in our new home.

Trapani – boat cleaning and maintenance

A day of leisure and boat maintenance is how we started day three in Trapani.

Alex and I set to work cleaning the top side of Aria, whilst Massimo went on an expedition for a haircut and spare fuel filter.

He can back whilst we were half way through cleaning and promptly set about change filters, dismantling, cleaning and reassembling the fuel pump, which upon inspection had a few bits of diesel bug in it.

Job done, and we had lunch on the boat and relaxed for the remainder of the day, before venturing out for a final day in the city and finding and indulging in a new pizzeria called “Le Vele ristorante pizzeria”

Another pizza

Trapani is a beautiful city and well worth a visit and a few nights stay. It’s my second time here, but with every visit there is more to discover in this beautiful city and surrounding area.

The marina and staff are the most helpful I have come across and Gabriella, the marina manager, is always happy to assist and recommend places of interest and eateries.

The marina office – still with Christmas tree

Massimo and Gabriella discussing terms

Aria at her mooring in Trapani

Fishing boats and daily fish market, not 200 metres from the marina – great daily catch