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CELEBRATING FRIENDSHIP

Kent has known Ann and Dudley Welch for almost the entire 40 years that they have been married as of April.  We were delighted that they decided to share their special anniversary trip by spending a week with us on Destiny in Sicily.

Ann & Dudley still smiling after 40 years!

We had a rather aggressive schedule planned that included Siracusa to the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily, but the unpredictable weather near the beginning of May kept us in port rather than cruising for several days.  Welcome to the Med, where there is “too little or too much wind” and it is always on your nose. 

Ann and Dudley met us in Siracusa on the east coast of Sicily, and for the next week we were on “vacation” with friends doing all the stuff that tourists do.

We walked along the sea. . .

like tourists do. . .

visited cathedrals. . .

shopped in the outdoor market. . .

and ate gelato.

Siracusa is one our favorite towns in Sicily and it was fun to share it with friends.

Siracusa has ornate baroque buildings. . .

colorful flowers. . .

and parks with ancient trees.

Our next stop was Catania just 30 NM north of Siracusa.  We had a lovely motor sailing passage to Catania with Mt. Etna as our visual reference.

Mt. Etna is visible under the jib. . .

and off the bow.

As we approached the harbor, Mt. Etna dominates the landscape.

Mt. Etna is clearly visible as we approach Catania harbor.

Catania, like Siracusa, has more cathedrals and statuary than you can count.  Oh, and tourists.

The cathedral steps are a gathering place for locals. . .

under the watchful eye of saints. . .

while tourists tend to travel in packs.

You can’t visit Sicily for the first time without visiting both Mt. Etna and Taormina, and we were anxious for Ann and Dudley to see both. . .by car.  The nearest marina from which to land tour was located at Riposto. 

The marina at Riposto is first class. . .

but its proximity to Mt. Etna leaves boats and streets covered with volcanic ash.

Mt. Etna had erupted covering Riposto and the marina with gritty, black ash just a week before we arrived.  Piles of ash were swept up in various spots, but much remained on the streets and covered boats in the marina. They use leaf blowers to blow the ash off boats and into the water.

Unfortunately, we got lost getting to Mt. Etna, our sense of direction being better on water where we rely on the GPS.  Once there the lovely snow covered fields were blackened with volcanic ash.

Mt. Etna's snow covered sloops. . .

are covered with volcanic ash up close.

Taormina may be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Kent and I first visited it on our honeymoon and it was great fun to see it again through fresh eyes.  The last time we were here, Destiny was anchored below the town. This time of year the anchorage is too exposed and the weather too unpredictable to safely leave the boat on anchor.

Entering Taormina is stepping back into the past. . .

replete with gates. . .

and piazzas. . .

and the remnants of a Roman amphitheater which I explored with Ann & Dudley. . .

while Kent & Jolie hung out at a cafe.

Taormina also has expensive shops and restaurants with lush garden terraces and fabulous views.

Boun Apetito!

 The balance of the week was spent waiting for a weather window to head north through the Straits of Messina. 

Destiny kept coming back to the same slip at Riposto. . .

after aborted attempts to leave.

In fact, we left the marina at Riposto three times before we actually made that passage.  Once we barely cleared the breakwater before turning back and the next we made it all the way to Taormina before turning back.

Finally, on the third try we made the Straits of Messina. . .

and while it was good to be sailing. . .

the kite boarders were probably having more fun.

All in all it was a wonderful week made all the more enjoyable by sharing it with Ann and Dudley. 

Congratulations on 40 years, dear friends!

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