Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas: paddling or eating? Maybe both!

Last year I was in California at my sister's home... This year a very traditional italian Christmas with parents and families, characterized by tons of very good food that only in these times are cooked.

Despite our bellies were still stretched from the 24th night and 25th lunch we started the day with some creme croissants and cappuccino, not yet tired of eating!
With a small group of friends and some guests (one even from Naple) we launched in Catania to reach the village of Acitrezza. Water temperature was 16°C and air was a little bit more.

Following the rocky coast, made of Etna's lava flows that reached the sea and eventually flowed underwater, in less than two hours we reached our destination and landed into the lovely fisherman harbour. Here there is a bar right in the first building, an ancient house, that is perfect to refill the spirits, quitely watching the kayaks laying above the concrete slipway.

On the way back few minutes of rain and a light headwind were not able to slow down our pace, to be back in time for the lunch to finish all the goodies that we were not able to swallow during the preceding days!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Playing with waves in Sampieri

To test the best position of the seat into the 536 prototype, our hope was to have flat sea, but after less than half an hour of paddling a westerly wind started to blow, rising the light swell into breaking waves.

Salvatore, not wearing a paddling jacket was soon forced to paddle back and Vincenzo followed him to avoid a cool swim into the waves. Me and Peppe started to paddle along the beach for some exciting surfing. Eventually Peppe capsized a couple of times but quickly recovered eskimo rolling the kayak.

After some loooooong rides on the crest of the waves we decided which was the best position for the seat and landed with huge smails on our faces.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tidal Race or Greedy Monster?

In the early morning me, Giuseppe and Gianfranco drived to the north-east tip of Sicily: Capo Peloro.
This is a place well known from the first sailors of our land for its strong currents that create whirlpools and eddies. The ancient sailors called these phenomena as two monsters, Scylla on the Calabria coast and Charybdis in Capo Peloro.

Our aim was not to deal with the greedy Charybdis but just test the prototype Sea Kayak Design 536 that we will use for Cyprus circumnavigation. There was a wind from WNW at 22 knots and a moderate current going north in the middle of the Messina Strait when we arrived. On the beach there was a strong dumping and was not easy launch or land, so we tested temperature of water that was around 16°C, about 5° warmer than air...
Coast Guard, continuosly sailing across the Strait, was interested in our operations but fortunately did not interfere.

After having paddled in every condition, loaded the kayak, used the skeg, changed the paddler, etc., we called it a day. But like any decent day, a surprise was waiting for us: a flat air wheel on the car!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Raven Point

The limestone rocky coast right under my home is called in the maps "Punta Corvo", that is translated as Raven Point. Al this coast is an area for natural walks. Right at the point there are the ruins of a fanal and the checkpoint house of the Guardia di Finanza that was combating smuggling. This place was also set of the famous television series "Il Commissario Montalbano".
Vegetation consists mainly of endemic dwarf palms plus agaves and prickly pears from South America.

During the jogging I found a sign of falling rocks on an agave: is that for paddlers donw the cliff or for walkers? In any case I will use a helmet next time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome back by the hawk.

Today I finally carried my kayaks from the yard behind home to the Bruca's base on the beach.
A hawk was hovering above the beach of Cava D'Aliga, very close to the street, apparently unaware about the running cars.

The cool wind from the west announces the arrival of winter, air is clean and the sea is ready for riding again the waves... And above all my cold is at the end!
Not yet daring conditions: temperature is 15°C and sea water is even warmer, around 17°Celsius!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Is that winter?

We have such a warm weather here in Sicily that at the end of November we still go paddling dressed only with swimming suite and T-shirt.

I joined the last week Peppe and Gianfranco that use to paddle in the morning along the coast of Catania. The sea was populated only by ourselves and few little fishing boats, very little swell and warm water and air! Will never come winter this year?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sea Kayak near Taormina

The best start is a sweet and good breakfast!

Gianfranco, Peppe, Serena, Aldo and Mirella paddled in the second sunday of November along the coast of Taormina, one of the most famous Sicilian touristic destination. A beautiful day, warm water and sun, to explore the caves of the rocky coast between Isola Bella and the village of Giardini Naxos...
The low tide helped them to enter in a narrow cave that is not usually possible to visit... These pics from Peppe and Gianfranco.

Gianfranco, Serena, Mirella and Giuseppe at the end of the day:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Warm October End

The sea temperature of the coldest waters of Sicily is still around 20°C. The weather is good and we still have plenty of sunny days, and we go around with light T-shirts.
The choice of Tino was perfect: going for a base-course right at the end of October!
Wet exit, paddle float self rescue and learning the first strokes was fine and fun, under the teaching of Giuseppe in the beautiful location of Santa Maria La Scala.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vulcanoa Sea Kayak Symposium 2009

The island of Vulcano, with its secure black-sanded beach and crystal waters, was a good choice.
The symposium lasted three days, from the 2nd to the 4th of October with water activities mostly held in the morning, and presentations in the afternoon or early evening. Sottocosta instructors and guides taught entry-level and advanced courses for adults and children. International guests Helen Wilson, Justine Curgenven and Barry Shaw participated in the instruction. Despite rainstorms, the activities of the Symposium continued. For the marathon at the end of the Symposium there was a clear but windy day: a three mile competition in choppy seas, crossing a small tidal race, in the strait between the islands of Vulcano and Lipari. At the award ceremony Helen Wilson and Tatiana Cappucci entertained everyone with a paired Greenland Rolling demonstration.

At dinnertime the international guests treated the participants with slideshows about their kayak trips around the world. Guests praised the good food, the abundant wine, and the relaxed atmosphere experienced throughout the symposium.

Afterwards, almost every participant joined in a rejuvenating tour around most of the archipelago. People enjoyed enormously paddling across the islands and along their beautiful coasts, exploring grottoes, and admiring ancient and recent volcanic activity.
Participants paddled along the islands of Vulcano, Lipari, Salina and Panarea.

The ├ćolian archipelago has been a wonderful site to paddle. Its coastal waters and its inhabitants seem to be warm all year round and welcoming. The next Vulcanoa Symposium will be in 2010, from September 30th to October 7th.

All the people of Sottocosta are looking forward to meeting more paddlers from all over the world. Mark your calendar!

More photos:
Gennaro Battezzato -
Gennaro Battezzato 2 -