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Sailing around the Sicilian coast

23 June 2016

The most popular summer destination for Malta’s boat community is the stretch of coast from Marina de Ragusa to Siracusa. But for those who want to venture further, the Sicilian’s coastline can offer some stunning, less-populated areas. In August 2012, sailing enthusiast Mark Vassallo ventured on quite a unique trip, circumnavigating the island of Sicily together with his wife and two young children.

On board their 31-foot boat the trip started westbound to the South West coast (Licata then Sciacca) then onwards to the gems of Capo San Vito, Castellammare del Golfo and Mondello. At almost half way, they sailed to Cefalu and Capo d’Orlando and then further east to Milazzo and to round Messina for Taormina and Syracuse finishing in Malta after having covered 500 miles in 18 days.

“The longest stretch is the crossing between Malta Sicily, which even the less experienced sailors can handle....other than that it’s about comfortable coastal sailing with a nice stopping every 20/30 miles,” Mark says.

Licata, their first pit stop, is most popular for its churches, which are home to some interesting works of art, not to mention the quaint typically Sicilian tavernas! The next morning they took off early towards Sciacca, about 50 miles up the coast, where Scala dei Turchi made for great midday dip. Historically a fishing port, Sciacca is most popular for its ceramics and thermal baths, but take note, the walk up to town is not for the faint hearted!

“The highlight of the trip was definitely Capo San Vito, with its crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches just at the foot of quite an imposing landscape,” Mark says. “We spent a couple of days here, before moving on to Castellamare del Golfo and Mondello - both popular and charming for different reason - Mondello still looks like something out of a 1980s Italian comedy.”

A few days later, with a nice southerly breeze forecast, Mark sailed east towards Cefalu, a comfortable mid-stop between the West and East Sicilian corners. Popular mostly for its beach resorts, the old town square is well worth a visit.

Capo d’Orlando was the next stop, from where they beautiful Aeolian Islands, only 10 miles away, can be admired in full glory. At the time, most of the entrance to the harbour was restricted by sandbanks and therefore can be a bit tricky. It would be best to get local guidance before entering.

From this point, they sailed back into familiar territory, stopping for a swim on the west side of Capo di. and onwards to the Straits of Messina, Taormina and Syracuse.

“There a couple of things one needs to keep in mind”, Mark says. “Given the prevailing winds on the South West coast, it is best to starts travelling early in the morning. Fog is also common around Capo San Marco when the winds are light south and south east. The passage of water between Marsala and Trapani (passing between Favignana and the mainland) needs constant attention due to a number of reefs and shallows.”

Before embarking on such a trip, one needs to make sure to have a fully-functional boat and all the consumable spares for your engine, water and toilet pumps. Especially for those motor boat enthusiasts fuel prices at Cefalu and Capo San Vito tend to be on the higher side.

And of course for such a trip we cannot but recommend MAPFRE Middlesea’s Comprehensive Hull policy which covers your boat against accidental loss or damage – including damage to engines, machinery and equipment. Be sure to select our Italian waters extension which will also provide you with the certificates you will need to present to the port authorities, and to plan this trip inside your in commission dates!!. Before taking on such a trip, Italian waters cover is compulsory and you are also obliged to carry with you an Italian Waters insurance certificate which we provide with the Italian Waters extension.

For further details, please contact:
Middlesea Insurance p.l.c.
Middle Sea House,
Floriana FRN 1442
Tel: 2124 6262
Fax: 2124 8195