Into 2020 we go & then Pause

We had a very pleasant first Christmas on the boat, away from home, family and friends. Christmas dinner was as close to home as cooking for two on a boat would allow. The highlight of the day went to the Betty’s (Liams Mum) homemade Christmas pudding served with fresh cream and custard, the latter traded for a piece of the pudding with our friends Sarah & Trevor from Gianti and washed down with Sicilian wine, Irish Coffee’s and more.

New Years Eve was the next highlight in the calendar. In Licata everything closes on NYE (including Restaurants & bars) as it is a time to spend and ring in the New Year with family, then on 01 January at 1am celebrations kick off outside the town hall with a live band and DJ at 2:30am to dance the night away.  The local bar, Blue Sky, frequented by the sailors for many a Happy Hour, offered to open at 11pm on the 31st so as a time filler we invited our friends who live here in the marina (20 infact) to come to Maggie for some pre-celebrations. It was a tight squeeze to fit everyone in but we managed and even fed all with some light bites, a small portion of curry and of course there was an ample amount of beverages to wash everything down.  When all the guests were fed and warmed up to party into 2020 most departed at 11pm to continue the party at Blue Sky. We stayed onboard as Schooner was not enjoying the bangers exploding around the area all day which was only going to get even louder as midnight approached. Sarah & Trevor stayed with us and we rang in the New Year watching the town fireworks on deck of Maggie.

The weather throughout January was beautiful with sunny days, cold nights and very little rain. All daily activities such as Yoga and workout sessions were gaining new members as people started to return to their boats after Christmas breaks at home or just getting away from the winter weather. Allyn who is 10 years old and lives on a Catamaran with her 13 year old brother and mum & dad, got a new Trapeze for Christmas so after some practice she invited us to come watch her perform her spectacular show titled “Fly Me to the Moon”. What a great performance it was and so brave too.

In mid January we had a visit from Brendan & Anne for three days and a flying visit for one night only from Martin. We visited Castello Sant’Angelo in Licata and the famous Valley of the Temples in Agrigento during their stay and we hope to see them both back to visit again sometime soon.

In February we hired a car for a month with the intention of exploring some of inland Sicily. Our friends and fellow liveaboards, Dave & Sarah suggested that we all go to the famous Carnivale celebrations in Acireale on the east coast. After securing an apartment through Air B&B we headed off with four adults and a dog in a Fiat Panda!! The Carnivale was fantastic and well worth the visit. We also went to visit Taormina and Castelmola both amazingly picturesque towns with panoramic views of the east coast of Sicily and we were lucky as we had beautiful warm clear weather for our trip.

During our trip to Acireale at the end of February we were starting to hear a bit more about Covid-19 and in particular how it was devastating northern Italy and how they had locked down some regions and cancelled Carnivale events and many sporting events. It was a concern for us yes but still life went on as normal in Sicily.

Dave arrived in Licata for a visit to Maggie and her crew on March 2nd. The day after his arrival we brought him along to Yoga and after one class he was hooked and took to it like a duck to water. However, he passed on attending the circuit training class and any get fit related sessions that followed. Happy Hour and Leaving parties were also attended so there was no shortage of entertainment.

A new exit route from Sicily needed to be found for Dave to leave and quickly as flights were being cancelled all over Italy. He managed to secure a seat that day on a flight to Bristol so he packed and we dropped him at the bus station to get the next bus to Catania Airport.  Thankfully he made it back home to Ireland through many modes of transport but most importantly Coronavirus free.

Today in Licata we are now in Week 7 of Lockdown with an ease to the current restrictions to come next week on 4th May which will be a relief to many people.  Licata has a population of 37,500 people and reported 8 positive cases with sadly 1 death, R.I.P.  The seven infected people have now recovered so Licata is currently Coronavirus free and fingers crossed this will remain the case going forward.   Sicily as of yesterday 28th April reported a total of 3,120 positive cases in a population of five million people which is the second lowest recorded positive cases of all the regions of Italy so well done Sicily.

For the duration of the lockdown we were lucky here at the marina as the grounds were closed to the public so it was just the liveaboards and marina staff out and about.  Also, there is a Conad supermarket literally at the entrance to the marina which was/is fully stocked everyday and very well controlled in relation to access and maintaining social distancing.

As for our sailing plans for 2020,  well as the title of this post suggests, are paused for the moment.  If you had asked us at the beginning of the year the answer would have been sometime in April or May when the weather warms up we plan to sail to Malta for a couple of weeks and then return to the east coast of Sicily and work our way across the sole and heal of mainland Italy to Corfu then work our way south to the Peloponnese for July/August and then come back through Corinth Canal and work our way back to Licata in October to spend a second winter.

For now we have signed a contract for an annual berth here in Marina di Cala del Sole and we will see what sailing trips we will get over the summer months as lockdown restrictions are lifted here in Sicily and beyond.  We are safe here and the boat is secure so it is a good base and hopefully Covid-19 will be something we can look back on and what’s ahead will be a healthy future for all.

Stay safe everyone.






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