Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Paddling

After the usual extra filling of the belly with all kind of delicious food, a paddling day is a must. Just me, my wife, my little sister, my next brother in law and our friend "Jeanluc Frontain" we have a start in the small harbour of Ognina, our favourite in Catania.
On the phone Peppe asked if it was going to rain but I reassured him with "no worry, it's ok". But it was in the morning and we start at lunch time... By the way, we paddle the 7 km to Acitrezza, rock gardening the basaltic coastline, under a shining sun. Looking north dark clouds are covering the view of Mt. Etna, looking south it is clear a wide raining area above Siracusa, about 50 km far. Air temperature is around 10-15° and it is a nice feeling to enter in a bar to drink a hot coffee.
Looking at the rainy clouds approaching from south the girls take the decision to give up and wait for a late pick up in Acitrezza. But them will lost a beautiful sunset under a light rain and a wonderful double rainbow...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sicily Circumnavigation 1

11/10/2010 - A rest day after the symposium.
12/10/2010
For Roger and Sonja the chosen day to start the circumnavigation of Sicily was not the best to go into a 1000 km journey. Huge waves and 25 knots winds were baiting hard against the East coast. So, after an attempt to start from the harbor of Giardini Naxos (hoping in a more sheltered stretch of coast) the plan B was to follow me to the north side of Mt. Etna to finish the grape harvest and squeeze the grapes into the press.
Roger and Sonja, living in Wales, are accustomed to bad weather and some rain can't stop them. They run Coastal Spirit, a company based near the famous island Anglesey. After teaching at the Vulcanoa Symposium (Roger is a 5 level Sea kayak Coach) they continued their journey in Sicily with the periplus of our island.

Overline and SKD companies borrow them two kayaks for the circumnavigation of Sicily. One is the Overline Aretusa, already used to go around Sardinia in 2006 and around Mallorca in 2009. The other kayak is the SKD 536, the new HV expedition kayak born after the experience of the 2008 Around (Scottish) Highlands.
Pressing of the must.
13/10/2010
Yes this is the day. Choppy sea but light winds. Roger and Sonja pack in less than one hour all their equipment into the kayaks and starts from the little harbor of Ognina in Catania, even known as the Ulisse port. 
Extra high load capacity of these kayaks!
 
I watch them paddling in the still high waves and disappear behind the black rocks. They are heading North and rain is for sure waiting...
We planned to exchange SMS for weather forecast (from me) and position (from Roger). While I'm writing these words they should be somewhere around San Vito Lo Capo, half way of circumnavigation. Here there are our messages. R is Roger, F is Francesco.
14/10/2010
R 18:05 – Sounds great, thanks. Great day, 2 days despite a thunder storm! I think we're North of Santa Teresa – this bit of coast all looks the same!

15/10/2010
R 18:58 – Xlent! Messina port was busy + a little hairy. Camping below the tower, point of Messina.

16/10/2010
R 15:30 – Rough day, as we came around the northern headland. Got to Rometta Marina, will camp the night.

17/10/2010
R 18:51 – Hope the group had a good time, must have had some rough weather [A group from Israel paddling Aeolian Islands]. Super camp at Tyndaris. Lets hope those head winds are light!

18/10/2010
R 6:25 – Its great here this morning (thunder/lightning to the west in the distance)... so better make the most of it!
R 15:14 – We got off at 14:00, lots of lightning + thunders, very heavy rain. Got a good place on a beach, W of Brolo. Will take a rest day or two!

19/10/2010
R 13:31 – What a night! With heavy rain. Pleased I had ear plugs. A big swell is running, winds have dropped. We stayed and rested in the tent. What's the 20th forecast?
R 16:15 – Roll on friday :-) Had another rough storm blow through :-( cooking lots of food + even had a shave! Many thanks for update.
F 16:31 – Tomorrow WSW 13 kn, no rain. Decreasing in the night 8 kn. 21st to 0 in the evening. Friday the wind turn East!

20/10/2010
R 15:55 – Dried & aired kit out, surf like the Siracusa day! Will try to get out tomorrow, if it settles as forecast.
F 19:19 – Yeees! Slowing down and turning East on Friday. Great weekend.

21/10/2010
R 13:46 – Yipee... we got off the beach! Sonja did really well. Staying East side of Capo D'Orlando, surf really messy the other side. Early start friday :-)

22/10/2010
R 18:40 – Castel di Tusa is our camp, I think. A great day. Likely two days to get to Palermo, sunday/monday.
F 22:48 – Good weather for next 2/3 days and light winds from South. Next week northerlies again. I could join you next weekend.

23/10/2010
R 17:51 – On the West edge of Termini Imerese, close to a refinery/long pier. Lovely coastline + Cefal├╣ was lovely.Would be lovely to have you along next weekend. Enjoy your weekend.
F 19:55 – Tomorrow light wind from SE rotating E in the afternoon and increasing to 14 kn with some rain. Send an SMS to Vincenzo [Stuppia] for sleeping in Arenella [Lega Navale]. He knows.

24/10/2010
R 16:29 – Met Salvatore Bartoli, just as we came around Capo Mongerbino. He had followed your blog, so was a great surprise. He stay with us to Arenella. Got in at 3 PM.
R 18:48 – Just had grilled gamberone, delicious... at the same restaurant we went to back in April. :-)
F 20:06 – Fantastico! Guess you are in good hands... Weather is changing again, I'll check later the web. Have a good night.

25/10/2010
F 9:57 – For the next 3 days (including 25th) W winds increasing every day from 10kn to 26kn and rotating North. Rain arriving 26th. 28th should be better.
R 11:15 – Oh hum! :-( We're taking a break from the headwind, super place Isola delle Femmine. Let you know where we end up!
R 19:11 – As we paddled past the airport wind increased to 15 kn, gusting 20 kn. 30 minutes of daylight left + 4 km to paddle! Booked into a hotel, as storm approached – Terrasini.

26/10/2010
F 10:00 – May you have a chance today to reach San Vito Lo Capo. The wind will turn wednesday to North, from 11 kn in the morning to 26 kn in the afternoon. Sorry to be late.
R 16:39 – Just got your message. We're in a small cove, South of Torre dell'Impiso [Riserva dello Zingaro], 9 km from the Cape [San Vito]. Will be on the water before 7:00 AM [tomorrow], so hopefully get around!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Royal Air Force Cadets

A group of 14 cadets of the British Royal Air Force come to Sicily to have a small expedition and training by sea kayaking. Two instructors with them, divided into two groups for a total of 8 kayakers for two three days expedition. The weather was good except for the beginning of the first day and the end of the last one. 
A new experience for most of them, who managed to do all the rescues and paddling the 30 km of coastline, performing all kind of landing and launching with moderate surf. Even if it was a military training and a work for all, at the end it looked as a nice experience for everybody.
Special thanks to the Circolo Canoa Catania and Fabrizio, who give us the possibility to stay overnight at their base in the Catania harbour, and to Andrea's family for the use of their house at the mouth of the S. Leonardo river.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rolling class fighting the wind!

Again the weather forecast was a bit wrong. The moderate NW wind quickly become a 25 knots north and the rolling class become uneasy both for students and for teacher!
Having crossed the Stagnone lagoon, looking for a sheltered bay and a not too shallow waters, after only two hours we had to fight back our way to the launching point. No way to continue the course after that but at least I paddled with Sergio after years of talking about sea kayak! Giovanni and Gianluca shared with us this crazy day, good for windsurfers!
Of course here in Sicily all good days end with some good food... Bruschette, olives, salad and beer!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A little adventure in Portopalo

For this excursion of 7th August, the weather forecast was for a light breeze from NE and the choice of the island of Capo Passero seemed good enough for the little group of beginners...
But, just at the start the wind turned to be a westerly force 5. Repeated capsizing and T-rescue quickly convinced everybody to go back to the shore, to have a rest and go to paddle along the sheltered coastline.
The "tonnara", a marine cave, lava dikes... At the end it was a nice and experiencing paddling day for both the guide and the other paddlers!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Daily sea kayak excursion from Capo Mulini

Alun and Louise, after reading the interview to Justine Curgenven on the Sunday Times, contacted us for a day paddling. They have been guided by Rino and paddled 20 km (11 nautical miles) of the Etna lava cliffs north of Catania, a lot for two beginners!
Initially their strokes were high and not economizing the energies. After the first half of the excursion the strokes becomes more fluid, with the suggestions of Rino.
To fight the heat from a very hot day, Alun learned also to refresh himself holding at the bow of Louise's kayak, while Luoise was splashed with sea water by Alun and Rino. On land a shower was always waiting for the paddlers...
The sea was calm, even if for the final leg, from Acicastello to Capo Mulini, the wind increased a bit. But our friends had no problem.
Rino said they will soon be married: greetings from all the Maremotu Staff!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Land of Cyclops

Just to demonstrate to Kate that the story of Polifemo the Cyclop was true (did you know the Odyssee?), we went in a relaxing paddling around the rocks in front of the town of Acitrezza and reached the village of Acicastello too, where a castel was build in the year 900 from Normans, over even older ruins.
But a question remain: which is the real origin of the huge rocks in front of Acitrezza? A furious and blinded cyclop? An incredible eruption of Mount Etna? Or there is another explanation? 
Mythology, mystery and geology blend into an intriguing cocktail...
Note that the villages here have the suffix "Aci". But this is another legend...