Finally Dizzie is in the water! Now to face reality that a Mediterranean winter is looming. We sure don’t want to spend it stuck in Port Saint Louis. So the mission is to find somewhere nice to hang out for seven months. SEVEN MONTHS! Woah, how will we stay put for so long? We’ve not been anywhere more than two months since we left home in June 2016. The search was on to find a nice marina community. As luck would have it a bunch of kid boats were heading for Sicily. Sicily? We’re in.
Sicily is 1100km from France and it’s late in the season for such a journey. Winter storms are now a risk, but with the addition of experienced crew (Justin’s parents) we embark on the journey south. We waste no time. For the first three days we barely stop. The kids at times amaze me with their creativity and at others drive me crazy complaining of boredom. We find a nice anchorage the first night then next drop anchor on the third day to service the new engine and fix the alternator. I immediately launch the dingy and row the kids to a beach.
For a few hours the kids and I explore rocks. Then in the afternoon light we row back to the boat, hoist the dingy, lift the anchor and set off for our second night-passage….and…. Good morning south Sardinia! We choose to stop at Calasetta, a sheltered village, to wait out some wind and a storm.
Calasetta is a sleepy town that probably bursts at the seams with tourists in summer. We rejoice that we’ve escaped France and it’s over-priced.. everything. There could be worse places to be holed up. In seven days we become locals, quickly learning that 6pm is the magic hour when all the kids come play in the square. So we join in each evening. We do not share a language with the other parents, but we share the joy of letting kids run free together. Finally the storm passes and it’s time to leave. So far we love Italy!
Our final leg is a three day sail to Marina di Ragusa in Sicily. We talk weather over and over and finally agree on the best day to make the crossing. Another blow is hot on the heels of the previous storm so the ‘weather window’ is small. We expect to hit rough seas and we do. As we move away from Sardinia in the early afternoon the swell starts to come from a new direction. It’s a sign to prep for worse to come: we secure random items, prepare food and digest quells (travel motion pills). Here we go… Up roll down lurch, up roll swoosh down lurch… Food starts coming up. I made dinner then threw in the bin. I struggle and put the kids to bed early then go directly to my bed fully dressed and I couldn’t care less.
We are close to Africa, one of the shortest crossings between Africa and Europe. During the night NATO warships patrol the seas calling every boat to state their cargo, destination and crew. It’s an unpleasant reminder of the inequality in the world. How desperate must people be to put themselves in the middle of this ominous sea to escape their life. I’m glad my boat is seaworthy.
Midday the next day the seas start to ease and we all find new energy and appetite. As the second evening approaches so does the distant outline of Sicily. The land provides protection from the swell as well as some patchy data so craved by those accustomed to being ‘connected’. I start my watch at 5am and enjoy a final sunrise at sea while gazing at my new island home sliding slowly passed. The anticipation of arrival becomes intense and the final few hours drag. Then we are arriving. I call the marina on the VHF, and they guide us in to our berth, Justin does a stellar job of reverse parking Dizzie. Those moments are hazy. People grab ropes, we blink, we secure the boat, blink again and hop onto solid ground. Home! The goal reached! I feel like a puppet, my body reacting the way it should, but my head in another space.
We. Are. Home.