Monday, August 26, 2013

SIT-ON-TOP. A good way to start and fun for everybody!

I have always been reluctant on using sit-on-tops for the kayak school but after a one month test at our base in Sampieri I have to admit that there are some interesting things to point out about the sit-on-top:

  • it is the perfect boat for a total beginner, he will not be scared of capsizing;
  • good way to start a course, before to put a pupil into a sea kayak cockpit;
  • with a good hull and lenght it is fast enough for a couple of hours paddling;
  • great stuff if you just want to go out for snorkeling;
  • the owner of the SOT will not be concerned about the wet exit skills of the paddler;
  • easy way to teach paddling technics to the children;
  • a lot of fun if you want to ride the waves with one of this boats!
Here some pictures and more will come soon!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Night Paddling + Pizza

One of the most beautiful summer short excursions are made in the night and amongst these the best are the ones that end with a pizza and a beer. With the friends of Barocco Slow Coast and Maremotu Club we organized an evening trip starting from and ending at our Sampieri base the Patapata bath establishment and bar-restaurant.


We were 15 paddlers with 12 kayaks of all sorts (three doubles). Due to the clouds the moon was not readily visible but at the end of the excursion she finally started to be reflected over the warm sea surface. My 6 years old doughter Paola was fantastic during all the two hours of paddling, using the best paddle she ever used: a Blacklight!

The pizza was very tasty and the friendship company (24 folks around the table) was absolutely fantastic!
Grazie a tutti, Thanks to all!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taormina and Giardini Naxos: a classic destination for tourists, a super one for paddlers!

Another wonderful family, this time from Hungary, asked for a paddling day along the Taormina coast. It was a new starting point for me but at the end I reached their hotel in Giardini Naxos and I was able to found a place for the truck in this always crowded touristic place.


The huge hotels builded close to the pebbles' beach are in strong contrast with the nearby wild lava flows that reached the sea here. These lavas have been not generated from Mt. Etna but from a small volcanic vent, a single eruption, at just few kilometers north of the highest active volcano of Europe. Over the solid rocks of the lava flow there are the ruins of one of the first Greek settlement. 

After this rocky point there is the harbour of Giardini Naxos and then a 3 km long beach closed on the north side by the limestones cliffs of Taormina Cape.
With the "sporty" family, who paddle for years racing kayaks and canoes at home, we reach the cape in a very short time if considering that we were going against the current. Being just the day after the full Moon the current of the Messina Strait was almost at the highest speed so when we reached the cape we had to fight a little bit against a small tidal race to turn the cape between a shallow water and small rocks. But... No problem! :-)

We enter the Taormina Bay, contoured by many rocks, cliffs and caves. In the middle of the bay there is a small island, called "Isola Bella". The island is mostly private property and there is a thiny sandy bar who connect the island to the mainland. Since the sand is totally occupied by people, we decide to land over slippery rounded rocks, just the time to eat the fresh orange melon that I was carrying into my kayak.

The turn-back point of our trip is the cave on the north side of the bay called "Grotta Azzurra". This was our target, our destination, and it is hard to describe the feeling you have after paddling into the cave and turning your eyes back to the entrance and see the deep bright blue color of the water.

With the current that push us we paddle back to the beach in a very short time, just in time for lunch, for a dish of pasta or, why not, a good pizza!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mythology, Volcanology and Rock Gardening: just a stretch of coast north of Catania.

Very often I'm asked from customers that want to book a sea kayak excursion in Catania a description of a possible itinerary. With this post I would like to give an idea of what kind of excursion is possible to do starting from the small Ognina harbour, just at the north end of the Catania municipality and ending in Santa Maria La Scala, after an easy trip of about 15 km.
I'll put here the pictures of the two last excursion I made in May and June 2013 with two groups of clients which I thanks for giving me authorization to use the pictures with them.

All the itinerary follows a lavic littoral, with cliffs, small islands or big rocks, and very few black sand beaches. On the first part, if you're lucky to found a calm sea (not a rare event) it is possible to visit some marine caves, one of which have two entrances.

The first village you meet along the coast is Acicastello, easy to recognize thanks to the old castle, builded a thousand years ago over an high rock. This rock is very interesting from a volcanological point of view because represent one of the first outcropping products of the Etna volcano activity.

From the castle there is just one km to the next village: Acitrezza, with its Isola Lachea and the rocks called "i Faraglioni". The nice thing for paddlers is that here there is an area, including the island and rocks, in which no motor boats can transit. The landing into the harbour of Acitrezza is quite easy and a stop for a "granita" (a local kind of icecream made without milk or cream) must be done.

Continuing north the village of Capo Mulini, where is the lighthouse, there is another easy landing place, with a couple of small beaches. After this point there is a 4 km long unhabited coastline called "La Timpa di Acireale". The sea is deep and blue and the rocky shore is rich of sweet water springs. The last village is Santa Maria La Scala - once a natural harbour - with a spectacular batch of columnar basalts.

Maybe you noticed that in the names of the villages there are prefixes like "ACI". This comes from a greek mithology about a sad love story between a shepherd called Aci and a nimph called Galatea... 
If you are curious, come to paddle here and I'll be happy to tell you this and many other stories, not without the volcanological facts that you can read directly observing the rocks you'll see along the coast.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

After San Lorenzo's Night.

Sampieri beach, early morning. The beach is covered by bottles and plastic glasses and the workers of the bath establishment are cleaning the sand to be ready for another hot sunday. The 10th of August, with the excuse to watch the falling stars many beaches of Italy are assaulted and transformed into huge free capmsites. When we lounch into the breakers we see almost one km of beach occupied by hundreds of coloured tents, plus a similar number of people laying on the sand, probably still sleeping after getting drunk of wathcing the stars...


Spiaggia di Sampieri, mattina presto. La spiaggia è coperta da bottiglie e bicchieri di plastica e gli operai del lido provvedono alla pulizia della sabbia per essere pronti per un'altra calda domenica. Il 10 agosto, con la scusa di guardare le stelle cadenti, numerose spiagge d'Italia sono aggredite e trasformate in enormi campeggi liberi. Quando ci lanciamo tra le onde vediamo quasi un km di spiaggia occupata da centinaia di tende colorate, più un numero simile di persone che giacciono sulla sabbia, che stanno probabilmente ancora dormendo dopo essersi ubriacati di... stelle.