We stayed two nights anchored off the beach at Mondello, and though the scenery was really nice we didn’t think that much of the beach or the closest surroundings. I guess we could have seen much more in that area but we had to get moving.
A mistral was coming and we wanted to be in what looked like the best place to wait it out. We set sails and continued on towards Cefalu’. On that day of sailing, we had all kinds of wind and sea, quite interesting how it changed during the day. In the evening the swell started increasing, just a little teaser of what was coming.
When we got there the anchorage was already quite full, and as we anchored we couldn’t get it to set properly. We didn’t bother trying twice in the same place, which we have done in case our anchor tries to set upside down or only stays on the side, which it repeatedly does and then just drags 😡. Instead we decided to try our luck just inside the breakwater together with a few other boats, where we unfortunately wouldn’t be very sheltered from winds, but from swell, and the holding was very good! Our anchor set almost immediately and sank deep in the mud!
We went for a walk in to town, which was very cosy, and had dinner at a restaurant for a change. I tried the speciality, cous-cous, with vegetables and mushrooms, very good!
The next day was quite windy and it was supposed to get worse. We didn’t really want to leave the boat, so we spent time with some projects and planning. The night was calm, with almost no wind.
We expected the worst winds the day after that, but as it was still very calm in the morning we decided to see more of the town and also do some grocery shopping. When we were on our way back we walked on the boardwalk by the beach and were a little stirred by the fact that it had really picked up and the waves were also quite big! We hurried back to find the boat was still there! 😊 The winds continued during the day to blow between 20-34 knots approximately, but everything was fine, our anchor held out. It also calmed down a little bit after nightfall, so we went to bed, re-assured by the weather prognosis that said it was going to calm down around midnight. It didn’t take that long before we suddenly realised the wind was increasing rapidly, and we went out to have a look. It had started to rain and as we stepped out the wind was blowing almost 40 knots and one of our solarpanels was shaking and bending, looking like it was in danger of coming off. A little bit panicked I was holding on to the panel, shouting at Joel “What should we do? What do we do if the anchor doesn’t hold now? Were screwed, the engine won’t get us anywhere! It will be impossible to re-anchor!” The wind was consistent at almost 40 knots for what felt like an eternity and the rain was like the worst thousand needles I have ever felt! We took turns holding on to the panel while looking at our anchorwatch to see if we had started to drag. Thankfully we never did and finally it did calm down, but we were soaked and shaky and very nervous that it would come back with even more force. So now we have a new “worst conditions at anchor”-experience to look back upon with relief!
The next day we set sail towards the Aeolian islands. After these windy days awaited a period of almost no wind, but just enough to get us there by sail that day. Not much of the swell was left and not that much wind either, but as we were crammed in to the super crowded anchorage outside the port of Vulcano in the evening, I still felt a little nervous as the wind reached 14 knots 🙈
We were able to anchor in reasonable depth and had very good holding there, and we stayed the following two days. We went exploring the crater of the volcano at Vulcano, which was impressive and interesting, but the hike was hot! Ice cream was really good afterwards! We also swam through bubbles seeping up from the bottom on towards the naturally warm bubbling sulphur mud baths. It was extremely smelly in the water just outside the mud baths, like rotten eggs, and then the mud had a much stronger smell that stayed on the skin for days! Quite disgusting actually, with all of the people rolling around and putting mud all over themselves… Video is coming of this!
Picture from the edge of the crater, overlooking the anchorage we were at to the right, and then our next anchorage to the left of the next island:
The island of Lipari was next, and we moved just around the corner from our anchorage at Vulcano. The water was really clear and there was a nice beach only accessible by boat. It received some swell from passing ferries and bigger boats and got a little crowded the the next day.
We moved on and sailed around the west side towards the old Pumice industry on the north-east side. This area was quite crowded when we arrived but we were almost alone at night. After a very rolly night, probably from ferries, the next day we snorkelled around and in close to shore. It was very clear in the water, with light bottom sand striped with black sand. It was very different and had almost no bottom vegetation. We also found some pumice stones floating in the water 😁
We continued on to Lipari town, where we anchored outside a small beach/harbour while we took a walk around town. It has a lot of history and remnants that is interesting, and we also bought some groceries. On all the islands the grocery stores are small, with a limited selection and rather high prices of course.
We moved on again, back to the west side and passed our first anchorage there, so we circumnavigated Lipari 😁 Stayed two nights off a very nice pebble beach, where we met it’s inhabitant Attila and his dog, Attila. At least that’s what we concluded from our strange four-language communication. He invited us to see his house that he had stayed in for seven years, with his semi self-sustainable household. He had solar panels, a well/rain catcher, a small garden for vegetables and a kitchen/bar/patio on which he sometimes had guests that he cooked dinner for. He said he couldn’t fish in the summer, only during the winter, because of all the boats (we think that’s what he meant) but he went into town for some shopping sometimes. He did give us a beer each when we came there, so we already figured he wasn’t completely isolated all the time…
We also had some of these islands best snorkelling and free diving, around a shallow just a little south of that beach.
Our next stop was Salina, which we think was our favourite island when it comes to surroundings, environment, nature and also people. It was very lush and green and had a relaxed atmosphere, with friendly inhabitants that greeted us when we met them on the streets. We stayed outside the town Lingua but also walked to the main town Santa Marina Salina, which was nice and well taken care of. On Salina we wanted to hike to the top of one of the two inactive volcanoes, but we were hindered by wasps and spiders, and it was very hot! Some pictures are already posted on Instagram.
Sailed to Panarea next and arrived at our planned anchorage in the early afternoon. Again, we had a hard time setting our anchor, but this time it was also due to very hard packed sand that just made our anchor slide on it’s side. Joel had to jump in and turn it just to be able to set it. After this event that took maybe half an hour, we realised we were very close to the boat next to us. As the wind then started turning we were too close and decided something had to be done. We didn’t feel like jumping in and trying to set the anchor again as we could see how someone on the closest boat was using the toilet, making number two without a holding tank…
We left and went to an area with a few tiny, uninhabited islands. It was very nice but crowded, with difficult bottom and we ended up above another boat’s anchor. They said they were not going to stay the night and that meant we would have to move for them to get their anchor up. After we snorkelled for maybe half an hour, we decided we might as well leave before the night. There was no place to go ashore with the dogs and it just didn’t feel right.
Picture is of one of the small islands, we think it was also pumiceous or some sand stone. It smelled a little if sulphur and also had bubbles seeping from some places on the bottom.
Went back to Panarea and to the other side of the crowded anchorage, where we were almost all alone at night. It filled up like crazy during the days though, with lots of small motor boats with crowds of people. Except for that it was really nice, good snorkelling, almost as good as the shallow outside Lipari, and very interesting rock formations. It also had the remnants of a bronze age settlement just above the rocky beach. Tried making a hike during the day but the dogs were very affected by the heat and we were worried about Raska getting a great stroke. So a walk to Panarea town by night was nice 😁
Stromboli was what Joel was mostly looking forward to, and it was magnificent! We sailed there, slowly in the beginning but then whith good wind. Had some mackerel swim around our boat and caught one on the rod. Mackerel from the Mediterranean is not ok to eat really, because it has been fished in a not so sustainable way, depleting the population, but we didn’t know what was biting until it already did. So we rather eat what fish we catch ourselves than eat what we can buy in the store or at the restaurant..
Right after that we saw a pod of dolphins with young ones playing and jumping high out of the water. As the wind died we lingered around the active side of the volcano and saw a spectacular sunset followed by lava eruptions!
It didn’t feel so good anchoring at night, but we managed to find a pretty good spot with only a few more boats, the only downside was that apparently a nightclub that was located at the beach played loud party music well through the night. And it was rolly… The next day as we had taken the dinghy in to walk the dogs, we saw some small boats circling our boat and also a huge freight ship approaching. We would never have thought it, but it was a water boat that was going to moor right at where our boat was. When we came hurrying back a man told us this and also that if the marine police showed up we would get a fine of €3000 😱😱😱 They had already pulled a mooring line right in front of our boat, in between our boat and our anchor. So as Joel was trying to pull in and up our anchor, by hand because he had just removed our windlass that needed to be fixed, I didn’t dare drive too fast forward in fear of getting stuck on the mooring line. I realised later it probably never would have gone under our keel, but I didn’t want to risk it. We finally got away from there and anchored in the most crowded place… It was crazy how it just kept on filling up with boats during the day!
As the heat of the day subsided, we started walking towards the volcano. We briefly met another Swedish boat in the anchorage that told us about a restaurant with a view of the eruptions, so we walked there. Getting there, all soaked in sweat, they said they were fully booked 😫 but then changed to that if we could leave before ten we could get a table. So we had a pizza each, while looking at the volcanic activity. After dinner we also decided to climb even further along the trails, and got a closer view. It was very exhausting, but so worth it! Amazing!
Right now, we have almost reached the mainland Italy, after a calm day of mostly sailing, but also some motoring as the wind completely died. We have seen a huge pod of dolphins, that briefly came to play at the boat. Love those creatures!
This blog post is very long, but don’t forget to take a look at our Instagram as well!