Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

I am kind of waiting for the shoe to drop. We have had nothing but flat calm water and perfect temperatures since leaving Marina di Ragusa. We have not even used the air conditioning once yet. On top of that, the boat is running just perfectly. I hope I am not jinxing myself.

 This was our course to Cefalu, still on the island of Sicily

We had yet another perfect trip of 64 miles to Cefalu. The water out here is so clear and calm. Schools of Dolphin who seem to spot our boat from a great distance do an about face from wherever they are going and do a beeline for our bow. For the next ten minutes or so, between 2 and 10 of them will swim just under the surface a few feet on either side of our bow. Every so often, one or more will turn sideways and look up at you with that smirk that Dolphins seem to have. Watching them do that and then leaping out of the water convinces you that they are intelligent and very aware, almost trying to show off. 


 Dolphins – for some reason they seem to be attracted to our bulbous bow on Seabird

We were getting close to the our final waypoint on the trip and Carol quipped “uh, where is this marina?” We were very close and it was not what we were expecting, at all. The course pointed us to a cement pier with a few raggedy, bobbing, floating docks off of it. The whole place was exposed directly to the open water and if a wind were to come out of the Northeast, Seabird would turn those puny would be docks into floating mush. Carol actually thought we should leave, but it was later in the day and we really did commit to staying there. I thought that as long as the weather experts stayed expert, we would not have a problem. 


 The dock you see in the photo is the hefty one. Where Seabird is, it drops down to 
a flimsy floating dock.

The docking situation was a classic Med Moor, where you back into the allotted space, tie two lines to the dock and then pick up the “slime line”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a slime line is really a mooring line that you attach to the bow of the boat to keep the stern away from the dock. That line is tethered to a cement block some distance from the bow of the boat, and you need to pull it piano wire tight. The “slime” part comes from the way the line is attached to the dock from the cement mooring. It usually has been lying in the mud and God knows what else before you pick it up in the slip. It is handed to you by the dock hand and you then work your way up to the bow with it to secure it to the cleat. By the time you are done, you are usually spotted with mud and water. This is why we prefer the side tie with conventional dock lines.

So….we finish tying up to the saddest excuse for a dock we have ever been to and go to the marina office to check in. Marinas around here are usually categorized by “Charge Bands”. We usually see Charge Band 4, 5 and 6, the 6 being the most expensive and usually reserved for exclusive marinas or special destinations. This place was neither. It was advertised in the guide we used as a Charge Band 5, but, that was a very optimistic rating. I would have given it a 2, but the town was so charming, I raised it to a 4. At a 5, the nightly rate should have been $125, but I was shocked to find that he wanted $200! Since we were already tied up, I begrudgingly accepted it but said we would leave in the morning. 

Shortly after that, our friends Bill and Janet called. They were about an hour behind us. I asked him what they were charging for his 42 foot sailboat and he said “$50”. What??!! I stomped up to the office and asked why I was being charged 4x as much as a boat that was only 25% smaller than Seabird. He responded “seabird is BIG boat”. I said “yeah, but not 4x as big”. He then went to the owner and voiced my complaints and the owner agreed that if I stayed 3 nights, he would lower two of the nights to $100 per night. Ok….I was still getting fleeced, but it was now a low level fleecing and I left the office with some of my pride intact, sort of. 

The town of Cefalu, as I mentioned, is charming. It was about a 10 minute walk from the marina and I guess you could call it a “typical” Sicilian seaside village, if there is such a thing. It was built on a hill with narrow streets barely wide enough for one car to skim by you, brushing your clothing as casually as could be. Walkers generally have the right of way, but even those tiny little cars they drive weigh 2000 lbs, so we generally yield! In addition, per usual, it seems that every other business on the street is a restaurant or a cafe.

Trying to pick a restaurant in a place like this is difficult. The menus all look so good and the aromas coming out of each place make you want to choose them all. It is especially difficult for me because Italian food is kind of my thing. So, we usually end up choosing, as we did this time, a place with exceptional atmosphere, overlooking the beach and a good rating on Trip Advisor. 


Of course, the food was spectacular and, as in the case of everywhere in Sicily, a relative bargain! I suspect one of the reasons for the low pricing might be their food transportation costs. The last photo in the blog is an example of their innovative thinking…..

We spent a good part of each day walking through the narrow streets of Cefalu. You always find something new that you have not seen before. All of these towns in Sicily seem to have a large town square, a grand cathedral being the centerpiece surrounded by cafe’s and outdoor restaurants. The cathedral, in this case, was just this week named a Unesco Heritage Site. Pretty spectacular. 


 The Cathedral in Cefalu

Our last day at the marina proved the weather gurus wrong. There was not a huge amount of wind, but a good size swell started to develop from the Northeast. With no protection from any sort of breakwater, our boat started to pitch a bit in the berth, stretching the slime line and our swim platform started creeping perilously close to the dock. In addition to that, our passarelle, basically a fancy name for a boarding plank, started dancing on the dock, threatening to pulverize the electrical post next to it or detach itself from the boat and then deep sixing itself. We decided it best that we disconnect the electrical cord from the dock and pull up the passarelle. Having done that, my only fear left was that the slime line would give out, sending the 70 ton Seabird into the flimsy floating dock. So, since we had no intention of getting off of the boat again, we loosened the two stern lines, giving us an additional 4 feet of slack, then tightened up the greasy slime line as taught as we could make it. We were now a minimum of 8 feet away from the dock with no more worries. 

We had 225 miles to our next destination, Villasimius, Sardinia, so we scheduled our departure from Cefalu at 7am the following morning. At 8.5 knots, we can usually cover up to 110 miles on a day trip. This was going to be a 17 hour trip and an overnighter. We actually enjoy an overnighter with a full moon and calm seas. You don’t always get what you want…..

Next Blog: Cefalu to the island of Sardinia

a few more pics from Cefalu…….


Italy seems to have lots of wild cats. Every once in a while we find these 
kittens that have not learned to be skittish yet.

this is a very common sight from this season. Calm seas and beautiful 

Our morning walk usually resulted in spectacular views

Seaside view of Cefalu. Just around the corner is a beautiful beach

this was taken during our departure from Cefalu in the morning

And last but not least…….

You now know the secret to low fish prices in the restaurants in Sicily. Normally, from the dock to the restaurants
means wholesalers, agents, refrigerated delivery trucks etc. Not is Cefalu. We watched this guy make several
trips from the fishing boat at the pier that caught these to the individual restaurants. Notice there is no 
Wide Load” sign on the bike……


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. SUBJECT: reply to;;RE: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

    hello seabird,
    so pleased to hear from you and know all is well and very pleasant am a keen fan of that part of the world myself although never cruised it??
    think summer might have ended here in uk as temps dropped although still fairly pleasant but rainy season seems to have arrived.still can”t complain not a bad summer even if a bit up and down.keep on cruising god bless and tight lines regards roy and Leanne palmer in London England.

    Message Received: Jul 23 2015, 01:36 PM
    From: “Seabird”
    To: snowgoose@f…
    Subject: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

  2. SUBJECT: Re: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

    Everything looks so beautiful. Love the kitties. Load some up and bring them home. K

    Sent from my iPad

    > On Jul 23, 2015, at 8:36 AM, Seabird wrote:

  3. SUBJECT: Re: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

    Hi Steven Hi Carol,

    We”ve been enjoying your blog updates. Keep”em coming.

    Love and kisses,
    Bill & Janet
    On Jul 23, 2015, at 14:36, Seabird wrote:


  4. SUBJECT: Re: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

    You are an exceptional writer I am so enjoying your trip and your tales Sounds like all is well Hope those calm seas and beautiful sunsets continue Hugs Sue
    On Jul 23, 2015, at 8:36 AM, Seabird wrote:


  5. SUBJECT: Re: Milazzo to Cefalu, Sicily

    Steven n Carol
    Carl n I are both
    Sicilian and have been there many times since the 70s. Glad your enjoying your time there.
    Had lunch with Elinor last week she”s great.
    Diane n Carl

    > On Jul 23, 2015, at 8:36 AM, Seabird wrote:

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