The 4th annual edition of the “Captains Cruise” adventure sailing vacation took place from May 8-22. This year’s group consisted of SailTime members sharing the ride on a Lagoon 440 catamaran and a Dufour 52.5 monohull. The group departed Milazzo, Sicily and visited the Aeolian Islands of Vulcano, Lipari, Salina, Panarea and Filicudi before heading back to the North Central coast of Sicily at Cefalu.
It was off-season at this archipelago that gets completely over run by Northern Italian tourists in July and August. As Americans, we were a true rarity. They hardly ever even see “Brits” let alone “Yanks”. In fact, at tiny Filicudi, we were the first visitors to the island of the year! These cruising grounds are very popular with Germans and these days, Russians. For two weeks, we heard no english, saw no news, basically immersing ourselves in the Sicilian maritime culture. It felt as if time was frozen and the way of life on the islands was very relaxed and rural in nature. The inhabitants live off the land and the sea. They grow incredible grapes that make unique and varied wines that never even make it to the mainland. They grow capers, olives and vegetables of every imaginable kind. And they fish, where swordfish is king and the clams, muscles and shrimp compliment every meal in many innovative ways we had never experienced.
The time passed very quickly with visits to ruins, museums and plenty of time for shopping and eating. Meals in this part of the world are epic events lasting several hours. In many places there was no menu. Instead what was being cooked was announced and delivered slowly, course by course. Many times, we had no idea what was in the serving dishes, but it always tasted incredible.
The sailing conditions this year were fabulous when we had a sailing wind a couple of the days from 15-20. Alas, there were several days of virtually no wind at all and, of course, we got blown out for several days with a 50+ knot gale that was intent on chafing every line each boat possessed. But despite the usual chartering surprises and manic spring weather everyone managed to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience enjoying the virtues of time spent in this Southern Italian outpost.