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SAILING YACHT KABARDAR

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SAILING YACHT KABARDAR

2015 Cruise



PAXOS Tuesday 12th May

Kabardar was successfully launched last Friday and we left the boat yard wild life behind. Leaving Preveza on Saturday we came approx. 30 miles NW to the island of Paxos where we are tied up on the quay in the main town Gaios.


Only relative minor problems have arisen so far - we needed to flush a sparrow’s nest out of the boom, unfortunately complete with 2 eggs and (after the flushing) a small avian corpse and on the trip up from Preveza we noticed that the wind direction indicator at the mast head had lost the fin.  Chris has fabricated a new one and hopefully that will be OK.


We’re now waiting for a window in the weather to cross to Italy; for the last couple of days there have been strong Northerlies coming down the Ionian, but it looks as though from tomorrow, there might be a 48 hour opportunity before the Southerlies fight back!


TARANTO  Monday 18th May

We left Paxos last Wednesday evening after the strong NW winds coming down the Ionian had subsided.  The forecast didn’t promise much in the way of good sailing winds but our objective was to get across to Italy before the next front brought near gale force winds from the SE.  Unfortunately, the forecast we had for the trip proved correct and we made most of the 120 mile trip under engine.  The first few hours during the night were particularly uncomfortable as we bashed against the left over sea from the NW winds. After approx. 21 hours we were tied up in the marina at Gallipoli.  The near gale force winds came, as forecast, during the night.  We had planned to stay for 2 nights but the weather system was very slow moving and we ended up staying for 3.  Gallipoli is a nice town, although fairly touristy but we enjoyed all the touristy things that it offered.


For the last 2 days the winds have been very variable and light.  Yesterday we managed to sail very slowly, taking just over 4 hours to cover 12 miles to spend the night at anchor in the very pleasant bay at Porto Cesareo where we enjoyed some delicious cake from an Italian anchoring neighbour who came across and admired Kabardar. Today our objective was to cover the 40 miles to Taranto before dark so we sailed when we could and motored when we couldn’t (most of the time!).  So on this dull, grey day we’ve arrived in the very large port of Taranto which we hope will be a good base for a trip or two inland.


The officials here in Taranto seem to be more on the ball than in Gallipoli and tell us that we should have formally checked into Italy at Gallipoli. The necessary formalities cannot be completed here until tomorrow morning and so we are confined to the port area until the forms are completed.  All this in spite of the fact that we are EU citizens in an EU registered boat and have come from another EU country!


TARANTO Wednesday 20th May

As we had thought, we do not need to formally check into Italy, we do not need any more bits of paper.  But yesterday morning we did as we had been told and went off in search of the authorities located somewhere in the Commercial Port.  It proved to be a bit of a challenge finding the right office; having been told to start with the Guardia Costiera in the pink building didn’t help too much as most of the buildings are pink!  However, after asking about 3 people we found the right place; they were very friendly and apologetic that they had asked to see us and said, no, there are no formal procedures to go through.  I guess if more foreign yachts visited Taranto then the Marina staff might have clearer guidelines from the authorities.


The officials were surprised that we planned to stay a couple of days in Taranto - ‘There’s nothing here’ they said.  But there’s a wonderful ramshackle, crumbling, faded glory old town with large, once imposing buildings around narrow streets; still alive and with lots of small shops and a large, very impressive cathedral.  


We’ve also been inland on the train up to a Alberobello, a village with several hundred Trulli - the small dwellings seen all over the Puglia countryside.  By the time we got there I felt I’d seen enough of them from the train in their natural habitat!  An interesting place to see but very touristy and even in May there were several coach parties in evidence.



Trulli in Alberobello


Surrounded by the ‘new’


REGGIO DI CALABRIA  Tuesday 26th May

We’ve covered 240 miles since leaving Taranto last Thursday and this morning arrived at Reggio on the Straits of Messina.  We had a plan that we would cover the distance in 4 longish day jumps but like a lot of our plans it didn’t quite work out that way.  Our planned 1 night stop in Cariarti turned into 3 when we had forecasts of F6 and 7 from the SW, the direction we were heading, and which we did not fancy heading straight into.  Leaving Cariarti on Sunday and with forecasts of relative calm weather we decided to make a shorter jump and stop in a marine reserve where there are mooring buoys for visiting yachts and then make an early start for a longer jump the next day.  Once settled on the buoy we checked the forecasts again which were still showing relative calm conditions apart from a couple of hours during late afternoon when we could expect F3 then dropping away.  We decided we could cope with that but within a very short time we had F5 and white horses coming at us!  This was extremely uncomfortable and so we decided to move to the other side of the headland and anchor off the beach.  All calm and comfortable until around 11pm when the wind changed direction and the situation became untenable.  Up with the anchor to head south.  The wind, of course, then died.  By 3 am we were nosing our way into a bay to anchor just outside the harbour at Le Castella which we had decided not to go to. It was a bit rolly but we managed to get some sleep.  Monday brought another day and another plan.  Nothing in the forecast suggested adverse winds or difficult sea state so we decided to do the remaining 120 miles to Reggio in 1 jump.  Apart from preferring a bit more wind from a helpful direction, it was an uneventful trip.


Reggio is a scruffy port town, with a scruffy harbour but it’ll do for a day or so to get some chores done.


AEOLIAN ISLANDS  Monday 1st June

There is a character in Reggio called Saverio who is well known amongst yachties.  Never having been into Reggio before we hadn’t come across him, but have heard many stories about him. He’s basically a taxi driver who has befriended visiting yachties and will provide transport (at a price) to supermarkets, restaurants etc.  He is also known for giving out bottles of his wine and delivering morning croissants.  We availed ourselves of his services to get an empty gas cylinder exchanged.  We got a a bottle of wine and then, sure enough, in the morning found 2 croissants on the foredeck; it made us feel just a little better about having paid somewhat over the odds for the gas cylinder exchange.


Having spent one night in a small fishing harbour on the way, we are now in the Aeolian Islands, some 30 miles north of Sicily, the most famous of which is probably Stromboli.


The weather forecast until the end of this week is for next to no wind.  So little that on the forecast charts there are large areas with no wind arrows at all!  We went walking on the island of Vulcano today and even up at 400m there was barely a breath.  Having used the engine rather more than we would have liked so far this trip we have decided that while these calm conditions continue we will spend the time pottering around these islands.


Swordfishing boat in the Strait of Messina


AEOLIAN ISLANDS  Sunday 7th June

We’ve been pottering around these islands for about a week now and the calm conditions have continued.  This has made for calm, extremely peaceful nights at anchor and a few bits of slow sailing.  The sea has been the flattest we’ve seen it for a long, long time.  No particular change seems to be on the horizon but both the Italian forecast and a Turkish one that we keep an eye on seem to agree that tomorrow there will be a bit of wind!  Not a lot, but should be enough for us to sail the 50 miles or so back to the Strait of Messina.


RIPOSTO  Sunday 14th June

We woke last Monday and checked the weather forecasts again and found that the forecast of the wind strength for the day was less than had been the case the day before. Disappointing, as we had delayed leaving in the hope of getting some wind.  We set off as planned to cover the 40 miles to Scilla, just north of the Strait.  Initially we had enough wind to sail with but this seems to have been some effect of the island and as we got further away the wind got less and our speed dropped to the point where, once again, we started the engine.  And so we continued until around 10 miles short of our destination when quite suddenly we had a good sailing breeze from the east and had a good sail for the rest of the trip.


Scilla at sunset


After a peaceful night at anchor off Scilla we went on to Reggio.  The town hasn’t grown on me but it was good for a 2 day pit stop and we left with washing done, shopping done and the fridge and all cupboards full.


On Thursday we set off to go 25 miles south to Taormina.  The forecasts hadn’t promised anything much in the way of wind and we weren’t disappointed.  We sailed reasonably fast to begin with as such wind as there was, was funnelled down through the Strait, but once that effect was lost we slowed until we could barely maintain 2 knots and then started the engine and motor sailed until eventually the sails were contributing nothing and once again we found ourselves motoring with no wind with and a smooth oily looking sea.


Just 2 miles short of our destination, and by now we were close inshore,  we spotted a grey boat coming our way fast from the shore; that looks official we said and it was.  The Guardia di Finanza decided to check us.  They tied us alongside and asked all the usual questions - where have you come from, where are you going, can we see the boat’s documents, your passports please.  They said they were only concerned with smuggling, specifically large amounts of cash, so we found it hard to understand why it took 4 of them 20 minutes to study the boat papers and our passports.  Anyway, they seemed happy and we continued on our way.  We believe that it was just a random, spot check and we do make sure we know and follow the rules but nevertheless there is always a nagging doubt when they stop you.   


Anchored off Taormina for a couple of days we visited the town and Castelmola, high up on a hill top and an exciting bus ride there and back.  2 peaceful nights at anchor but the third night was anything but peaceful.  Swell came into the bay from somewhere and caused rather manic rolling and a very broken nights sleep.


Today we’ve come a small distance further south and are in the marina at Riposto, looking up at Mt Etna.  One of the reasons for coming in here being to take a trip up Etna.


During the summer the top of Etna is often hidden in cloud, but not this morning when we left Taormina.


Mt. Etna above the clouds


SYRACUSE  Tuesday 23rd June

We left Riposto yesterday morning after what turned out to be a quite wonderful week.  Wednesday last was my (Kathleen) 70th birthday and most of the family appeared here in Sicily!  Not only did they appear, they had spent a lot of time planning and organising and came with plans!  As a result, we had an absolutely amazing lunch which lasted all of Thursday afternoon.  Then on Friday a great trip up onto Etna with a very entertaining and knowledgeable guide.


Arriving at the restaurant for lunch


Our guide with some of the party


Lava tongue on Etna


Since leaving Riposto yesterday we have had 2 good days sailing with the engine hardly being used.  A welcome change!  Yesterday we sailed 33 miles to anchor for the night in a bay off Brucoli, some 20 miles north of here and then today on to the large harbour here at Syracuse.  There was quite a brisk wind when we arrived causing a lot of bounce in the harbour but it seems to be quietening down for a peaceful night.


SCIACCA  Tuesday 30th June

Since leaving Syracuse last Friday our aim has been to make steady progress towards the Egadi Islands off the western end of Sicily.  On Friday we had a good sail to Porto Palo intending to spend one night at anchor there.  The weather forecast on Saturday was a fairly windy NW 6 out at sea, less in shore but increasing during the day.  We set off hoping to get some 17 miles further on but once out of Porto Palo and round the next headland the sea was pretty choppy, the wind absolutely on the nose and we did not fancy bashing into it for a few hours (this is supposed to be fun!) so we turned round, went back into Porto Palo and spent a windy day at anchor.  On Sunday the wind was much less so we set off intending to cover around 30 miles.  It turned out that we had a good sailing breeze and so, approaching our intended stop at around 2pm, and with the forecast for the wind to drop during the night and conditions to become ‘light and variable’ we decided to carry on for as long as it continued.  After a couple of hours the wind died to the point where our speed was down to 2-3 knots and so we resorted to the engine and decided to head for Licata and anchor outside the harbour hoping that the long harbour wall would provide shelter from the sea which was still quite swelly.  Around 9.30pm, having covered around 75 miles, we dropped the anchor.  The shelter was good, the water was flat.  Time for a glass of wine, a piece of cheese and a good night’s sleep.


Up and off by 7.30am yesterday to do the 50 miles to Sciacca.  The light conditions had arrived, there was hardly any wind, the sea was flat and so we motored the whole way.


We arrived here on what was the the last day of the Festa di San Pietro.  In the evening there was much activity here in the harbour as a statue of the saint taken outside of the harbour on a fishing boat accompanied by all kinds of smaller boats and then brought back and taken to the church for mass.  Then the fun fair started up and at midnight there was a very impressive and noisy firework display.  It was clear that there were far more people heading for the funfair than had been on the quay to watch the return of the statue!


SCIACCA  Wednesday  1st July

We’ve now spent a couple of days just pottering around in Sciacca.  It’s an extremely pleasant town, very Sicilian and largely untouched by mass tourism.


The harbour must be one of the busiest fishing harbours we’ve seen, with fishing boats of all types and sizes coming and going seemingly 24 hours a day.  The Lega Navale, who’s pontoon we have been on, has all the ingredients for a pleasant stay - friendly helpful staff, good Wi-Fi  and a washing machine for which there was no extra charge and there was no competition for!


We plan to be on the way tomorrow to make further progress north and west towards the Egadi Islands.


Providing shade for one of Sciacca’s shopping streets


EGADI ISLANDS  Friday 3rd July

We arrived here this morning and are at anchor off Favignana, the main island of the group.  High pressure and settled conditions seem to be the prospect for a few days yet which should provide ideal conditions for visiting these islands where there is not a lot of shelter.


EGADI ISLANDS  Thursday 9th July

These islands were once a major centre for the fishing and processing of tuna.  From a visit to the very interesting museum created in one of the old processing plants it’s clear that right up until the end, around 25 years ago, the whole activity relied on a huge number of people and used methods which, even then, would have been fairly outdated. Today, it’s the tourist dollar that provides the majority of the income.


The whole area around the 5 islands is now a protected area and in many places navigation and anchoring by visiting boats is restricted.  A number of mooring buoys have been placed around the islands often in locations which would be unsuitable for anchoring and so we’ve been able to stop in some quite dramatic places.  Fortunately the cost of using them is not too unreasonable.


Everything here is very expensive and so our cupboards and tanks are getting a bit empty. Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll head to Marsala on mainland Sicily to replenish everything before heading south to Pantelleria.  But today we have a gale in the Sicily Strait which is forecast to last for 24 hours.  It’s not quite a gale here but it’s still pretty windy and the sea is very lumpy.  We’ve tied ourselves onto a buoy in a location where we believe the shelter is as good as can be found today and we’re bouncing around quite happily as the wind gusts over the cliffs and the swell comes in.


MARSALA  Saturday 11th July

Generally speaking we prefer to be out on the anchor rather than tied up on a pontoon, although every so often that might be a good thing to do, but just occasionally we are pleased to get tied up.  That was the situation when we came into Marsala yesterday. Throughout Thursday night we bounced and rolled and got little sleep.  The wind was less on Friday and blew us very nicely SE to Marsala and once away from the islands we found that there was still guite a large swell and realised that we had been much more sheltered than we had thought!


We’ve enjoyed a day looking round the old town - a helpful, friendly Belgian gave us a lift into town which saved us a very warm walk - and are now watching the forecasts to decide when to head to Pantelleria.


PANTELLERIA  Tuesday 14th July

The forecasts showed that there would be stronger NW winds starting late on Monday and continuing during Tuesday.  The wind strength wasn’t the problem, it was the state of the sea being forecast which would have made life more difficult, so we decided to come down overnight on Sunday to get here ahead of the rough seas.  We had a very good sail with a steady 10-15 knots of wind from WNW for most of the trip.  Only for the last 10 miles or so did the sea become rougher and the wind increase, as a result of which we arrived here with both sails slightly reefed.  But overall a good 12 hour sail.


Today we drove around the island in something approximating to a car...



It was a totally underpowered rattling old wreck with bamboo sticks for a roof and the gear change took some getting used to, but it was cheap at €35 for the day.  It would have been nice to do a bit more walking but it is so hot and humid here.  Today has been very windy and the place we stopped to get a bit of lunch was in a particularly windy spot.  So much so, that when it came to paying, we wedged the bill and some cash under a bottle on the table, the bottle got blown over, the rest was lost to the wind.  An expensive lunch!


Tomorrow we head over to Malta and Gozo and with forecasts of light conditions it looks as though we might burn a fair bit of diesel.


GOZO  Friday 17th July

The trip from Pantelleria was much as expected.  To begin with there was enough wind to sail, not exactly quickly, but at least under sail.  After 32 miles and with just over a 100 still to go the wind had dropped to the point where our speed was down to under 3 knots so we resorted to the engine.  Apart from a brief period when some wind came back that’s how we continued and arrived here in Mgarr just over 24 hours after leaving Pantelleria.  Our track was some distance south of the main shipping lane and we saw only 2 ships all night, both of which were about 5 miles from us.  It was a very quiet night, with a good sky for anybody interested in star gazing.


Malta and Gozo are ‘enjoying’ a heatwave at the moment with temperatures forecast to reach 35/36°C over the next few days.  It’s hot!


In Victoria, the main town on Gozo, they are celebrating the Festival of St George.  The streets around the Basilica of St George are decorated rather garishly (to our taste) with red and gold and with the flag of St George flying on roof tops.




PORTO PALO  Thursday 23rd July

We left Malta yesterday after a very hot 6 days around the islands - 2 days on Gozo, a couple of days at anchor and finally 2 days in Valetta where we stayed in the marina in the very impressive surroundings of Grand Harbour.  The forecast for Valetta while we were there read:  max temp.  35°C,  humidity 71%,  feels like 46°C - which it certainly did.


We’re heading slowly back to Riposto now.  Yesterday we had a very tedious trip under engine for the 55 miles NE from Valetta, made worse by bashing into a nasty swell from the NE for the middle third of the distance.  The forecast had promised a useful NW 4 but there was virtually no wind at all.


SYRACUSE  Saturday 25th July

We came up to Syracuse on Thursday which was a 25 mile trip made up of motoring, slow sailing, watching porpoises, playing Scrabble and listening to thunderstorms somewhere inland.


Yesterday turned out to be a rather bizarre day.  We decided to take the bus up to Noto, a town full of imposing Baroque architecture.  It was very overcast when we reached Noto, then it started to rain so we decided an early lunch was in order and picked a cafe with very substantial sun umbrellas.  Apart from the fact that we had to have bottled beer rather than draught as the machine was outside in the rain all seemed OK.  Then the rain got heavier, the thunder started, the rain turned into a downpour and finally the wind got up blowing rain onto the tables.  It ended up with all the customers crowded into a small space between the bar and the kitchen.  We were lucky, we had actually finished eating! Then it would appear that the ice cream cabinet was leaking and containers were being passed over heads to get them into the freezer.  Eventually, after about 2 hours the rain did stop but there was still a lot of water gushing off rooftops and down gutters.


Back on Kabardar during the early evening a thunderstorm related wind got up.  We spotted a catamaran rather closer to us than it had been and realised they were dragging their anchor and getting closer to us very quickly.  A lot of shouting went on and they did start their engine and get away from us but not before they had hit us and broken the bow navigation light and stainless bracket.  Still, our anchor held and the damage (which they have paid for) was a lot less than it might have been.


RIPOSTO  Wednesday 29th July

We came into Riposto on Monday and are getting ready to fly home on Monday  next. Riposto will now be home for Kabardar, at least until next spring.  In total we covered just under 1500 nautical miles this season and have had no significant problems or mishaps.


I think we may be going home at the right time - high temperatures are affecting Sicily at the moment and are set to rise further with a high of 38°C forecast for Monday.



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