Taormina Moorings is a perfect stopover location for yachts cruising south of the straits of Messina, whether on route north, east or further south. These recommendations may help you when passage planning.
The northbound passage from Taormina will take you through the Straits of Messina. You will need to plan your passage considering sea conditions and the flow of current before departure. Although you can generally cope with currents, the tables available are accurate and it may be worthwhile planning your departure from Taormina to coincide with favourable currents in the straits. The main concern if you are going north through the straits are however, the sea conditions. During the summer months, northerly winds prevail and accelerate though the straights forming high NE waves which will make it impossible for you to complete your passage north. Many yachts return and wait in the shelter of Capo Taormina for the sea condition to improve. These summer winds are of course very “local” and are not usually evident when consulting weather sites and grib files. I do recommend that you visit the Yacht Hotel weather page from where you will link up to the “Correnti dello Stretto” website and “Consorzio LaMMA”. There are two interesting stopovers in the Straits of Messina: Reggio Calabria and Scilla. Once you are through the Straits of Messina, you have three choices:
a passage northward towards Tropea (and further north in the direction of the Amalfi coast);
a passage westward towards Milazzo (and further west along the northern coast of Sicily);
a direct route to the Aeolian Islands.
The eastbound passage from Taormina offers three recommended areas for breaking your journey east: Roccella Ionica; Crotone and Gallipoli or Santa Maria di Leuca at the heal of the Italian peninsula.
The southbound coast from Taormina offers the following stopovers: Riposto, Aci Trezza, Catania, Brucoli, Siracusa, Marzamemi, Portopalo di Capo Passero.
Westbound and other Routes:
At this point, should you choose to sail further west along the south coast of Sicily, I recommend that you include the following stopovers in you passage plan: Marina di Ragusa, Porto Empedocle, Sciacca, Mazara del Vallo.
The choice here would be to sail south across to the nearby island of Pantelleria or to sail up the west coast of Sicily towards the Egadi islands, Trapani and San Vito Lo Capo. Trapani is well worth visiting as it is from here that you can take a cable car to the medieval hilltop town of Erice which you just cannot miss if you are sailing past. I do also recommend you visit the Trapani Salt Museum and if you have a day to spare, visiting the island of Mozia, midway between Trapani and Marsala to the south, will be a wonderful experience.
Unless your plans are to cross over to Sardegna, you can consider stopping at San Vito Lo Capo which offers a beautiful anchorage before proceeding along the north coast of Sicily. Palermo would be your next stop if you are attracted to visit the buzzing capital of Sicily. The island of Ustica which is north of Palermo offers outstanding diving opportunities and worth sailing to if you have the time and the weather permits. Cefalù, Capo d’Orlando and Tindari are other highly recommended stopovers on the north coast.
If you do decide to winter in Sicily, then you will have the lifetime opportunity of discovering the inland beauty of Sicily’s ancient towns scattered within mountains and valleys … an island denominated “the granaries of Rome” when grain from Sicily fed the Roman armies that conquered Europe. I will be happy to discuss wintering facilities with you and of course answer any questions that you may have about Sicily or general maintenance issues. Kindly contact me on +39 335 8224656 or by email at email@example.com.