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STORMY WEATHER

Late spring weather in the Med can be unpredictable, and we have learned the hard way that anchoring in an unprotected spot can have unexpected consequences.  However, anchoring in new seemingly protected anchorages can also have unexpected consequences.  That was the case in late May at Castellammara del Golfo on a large bay on the northwest coast of Sicily.

Castellammare del Golfo sits at the base of a steep mountain. . .

with a high concrete breakwater and pier still under construction.

We arrived in the man-made harbor about 7:25 p.m. just before sunset and were greeted by a local boat directing us to a dock.   The weather was supposed to be benign overnight with strong winds forecast by mid-day the following day, so we begged off and said “tomorrow we will come to the dock”.  BIG mistake

There were several marina pontoons in the harbor. . .

but we opted to anchor out to enjoy the privacy and view of the town at night.

We anchored, had a nice dinner aboard and were very proud of having saved a few euros by delaying for a night heading to the dock. . .that is until we were awakened from a sound sleep at 11:25 p.m. by the roar and vibration of the wind.  The strong winds arrived about twelve hours early sounding like a freight train.  

The rest of the night we spun around on the anchor in gusty wind that averaged 35-40 kts., while Kent sat in the cockpit on “anchor watch” and I checked GPS coordinates at the nav station.  The steep mountain rising up from the town funneled the wind into the anchorage making the breakwater just one more threat to our safety.

At dawn our stern was about two boat lengths from some nasty looking metal pilings that were intended for a new quay.

At dawn we could see just how close the metal pilings were. . .time to move.

The wind died just enough for us to make a break to the dock–the one we could have been safely tied to all night. . .and slept.

Once the stormy weather arrived, it hung on for a couple of days, with sporadic pouring rain and occasional peeks of sun during which we explored the small fishing village. 

A fisherman mends his nets. . .

while tourists sit under palms in the park. . .

or enjoy the small beach near the marina.

Black clouds hung over the town, with a few sunny breaks, but eventually a rainbow arrived.

Finally a rainbow appeared that stretched from the harbor entrance. . .

to the town.

That evening a pink sky signaled the front had passed and we could head south.

Pink sky at night. . .sailors delight!

All in all May in Sicily was not our best month in the Med.  The weather systems come through frequently and last for days.  We were pinned down for several days in the Aeolian Islands due to strong winds, and spent days in Riposto trying to get through the Straits of Messina.

Tunisia here we come!

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