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BOAT CHARTER
IN SICILY

The largest of the Italian islands is often neglected in favor of the more attractive archipelago surrounding it. Sicily however offers a great variety of landings from where unforgettable tours can be organized

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Boat rental to Sicily Sicily, the sun triangle Egadi Islands, among tunafishes and graffiti Aeolian Islands, the magnificent seven Pelagic Islands,
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Nautica Magazine 387, July 1994


THE SUN TRIANGLE

Sicily

Sicily is certainly the destination for those loving the sun at its zenith, vivid colors and strong tastes, even in middle seasons when boats and facilities availability is larger. Placed at a latitude equal to the Tunisian coast, Sicily offers attractive coasts especially during the summer. A gateway dividing the eastern and western Mediterranean sea, Sicily has always been a land of conquest, up for grab by all those that have historically been present in this area. Sure enough, all of them have left marks and vestiges both on the land and its inhabitants, so proud and conscious of the history they represent.

From the Phoenicians and Greeks who left here some of the most representative monuments of their civilization, to the Romans who made their granary reservoir here, to the Norman who erected here their civilization bulwark, to the Arabs who were just around the corner and saw it as an appropriate wedge for their European expansion, all of them contributed to make of Sicily a "land of mystery and contradiction".

I if you plan envisages chartering a boat, your starting point will, most likely be the Portorosa marina, Sicily's most modern and efficient: 500 berths divided in a series of wet docks complete with dock walls and floating piers. Portorosa is located in the north-east coast, near Milazzo.

While this latter is often congested by the ferries connecting Sicily to the islands, Portorosa is totally dedicated to the tourist traffic and is the obvious starting point for cruises both going west to Palermo and north, to the splendid "seven sisters of the volcano" as the Aeolian island are known.

Sicily Set in a picturesque environment, Portorosa is also fitted with a 50 tons gantry crane and a host of logistical-technical services including a medical facility. The next suitable landing will be found at Cefalù, reached after coasting the island's northern side. Sicily's most important tourist villages are located here. Cefalù new port is called Presidiana and offers a concrete dock with three finger piers with water depth from 0.30 to 4.0 meters. The coast between Cefalù and Palermo offer various interesting landings where the typical coastal lifestyle can be tasted. St. Nicholas l'Arena is, for instance, a fishing village where fishermen and the Marina S. Nicola have reserved a wet basin to the boat cruising tourism. Water depth there ranges from 1.5 to 3 meters. You can not also bypass at Santa Flavia Heaven: fishermen activity is worth watching and from there, the ruins of old Solunto can be visited. The harbor has a water depth of up to 5 meters but there is no space reserved to yachting and docking is available as space permits.

By contrast, Palermo does not suffer of docking space deficiency. The commercial port itself has several floating piers managed the local Rowing Club, the Italian Naval League and other private organizations. A number of docking facilities are gradually being brought up to the required efficiency. For instance, the Aquasanta haven offers 475 berths exclusively reserved to the yachting activity with a maximum LOA of 50 meters and water depth progressively going to the 12 meters from the 2 meters close inshore. By contrast, the Arenekka facility is only capable of docking boats of smaller dimensions.

Sicily Other landings are available at Mondello, at Fossa del Gallo, site of the Motomar shipyard, and lastly, Sferracavallo where boats of 15 meters LOA are accepted. All these places are really charming but should be considered only after a prior visit. All of them will allow a stop and most importantly, a visit to Palermo and its monuments can not be overlooked. Equally compulsory is a call at the Isola delle Femmine, notorious for its numerous tales and the enchanted sea bottom.

Between Palermo and Trapani other anchorage, Castellamare del Golfo and San Vito Lo Capo among them, are at hand; but a well sheltered site from where to start the navigation towards the Egadi Islands is without a doubt, Marsala where about 100 berths are available to yachting. From here, and provided your boat is of a shallow draught type, a visit is recommended to the S. Pantaleo island and moor at the Mozia ruins, the Phoenician city whose ruins will make for a really archeological interesting visit.

Continuing coastwise towards Cape Passero, one arrives at Mazara del Vallo the only canal port in Sicily and where the majority of the fishing fleet has its home port. Space is at premium, only 30 meters of dock face being reserved to yachting, but it may be sufficient to allow a visit to Italy's most lively fishing market. Sciacca as well has a consistent and active fishing fleet: a colorful and choreographic swirl of marine activities.

Selinunte and its ruins, located on a rocky hill vertically falling to the sea is a worth visit. Beneath it Marina di Selinunte, a small haven drawing only a couple of meters can be entered by shallow boats or prams. Further south, the only sheltered place, in case of sea conditions worsening, is at Porto Empedocle where Yachting has its reserved moorings at two piers located in the inner harbor, away from the islands ferries congestion. This is the meeting place for those who have crossed the island by land and wish to continue to Linosa and Lampedusa or for that seaborne tourism wishing to continue on to Agrigento and the evocative Temples Valley.

Further east, towards the Ionic Sea the coast does not offer much with exception of the coves at Licata and Gela. Turning North towards the Messina Strait, a stop is recommended at the splendid Syracuse Bay. Archimedes' city overflows with Greek and Roman vestiges and the refined masterpieces dating back to the sixth and seventh centuries, all contained in the rocky Ortigia island over which the old city has been built. Ortigia island is naturally connected to the mainland by an isthmus. Syracuse offer two ports to yachting: the main one, Porto Grande has moorings in a 100 meters long dock and the Marmoreo or Little Port where however water depth is spotty and does not exceeds the 3 meters range. An excellent shelter can also be found at Augusta where however, massive industrial installations have spoiled the place of its beauty.

Northward, only few scattered private moorings are suggested in the Catania harbor and few additional ones at the characteristic Acitrezza Cove. With favorable weather conditions anchorage is permitted at Naxos Garden, beneath Taormina. Messina as well, with its continuous ferries traffic is not, mooringwise, generous to yachting: Few piers are given to it in spite of the ample harbor. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the Strait is by sailing it and playing with its currents and counter currents.

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