Our Sailing Trip to the Eolian Islands Begins

Herbert, just like the rest of the gang, seemed to be a pretty easy-going fellow, and we squeezed him into the backseat of the car with his luggage on top of our knees. Within a few minutes we were all joking and ribbing each other. Herbert, who hails from Munich, speaks Bavarian which is a very similar accent to my own Austrian dialect, so in our car you could hear Italian, English, Standard German and Bavarian-Austrian, all spoken at the same time. A wonderful start for a linguistic travel nut like me….

Back at the marina we carried what seemed like hundreds of plastic bags full of food to the boat and stored them under deck in the various cubby holes in the kitchen. Our skipper Francesco was getting the boat ready for departure, so we had another couple of hours and headed over to the shopping complex by the marina where the group enjoyed various pre-departure meals. At 4 pm finally we got going: our sailing trip had officially begun!

Well, our 60 horsepower engine tuckered us over to the marina’s gas station where we filled up. The fuelling took quite a while during which Herbert and I, both of us in the travel journalism business, had plunked ourselves down in the front of the boat and chatted about our various travel experiences. Herbert is the producer of a 30 minute television travel magazine for the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation and has created about 300 travel programs over the last 20 years or so. Along the way he has traveled to all sorts of neat places around the world, and has many interesting stories to tell.

Our skipper, ready for departure

Once we had filled up our vessel we headed off onto the open water to our first destination: the island of Lipari – the largest island in the Eolian archipelago. Because we only had 3 knots of wind, we used the diesel engine in addition to the sails and were traveling at a speed of about 5.5 knots. I stayed on deck until about 6:30 pm when I got a bit chilled and went downstairs. The minute I was under deck I immediately started to feel sick and I even made a quick turn into the bathroom, just in case I was about to lose my lunch! I was really surprised at the instantaneousness of this nausea attack, it felt like my stomach literally turned on me from one second to the next.

Once in the bathroom, my stomach calmed down again right away, it seemed as if the security of having bathroom facilities nearby seemed to calm my innards right down. So I came out of the bathroom, and Lorenzo, who had been sitting at the dining table, commented on the fact that he too thought that I was just about to get sick when I came downstairs. He offered me some dry crackers and that helped my stomach even more. I decided to lie down on one of the benches in the living room area and ended up falling asleep.

Firmly at the help of the Solitaire II

I woke up again when it was already dark and when our boat was getting ready to dock at Lipari harbour. Even at night the view was breathtaking. After our skipper had attached the boat we got ready for our first on-board dinner: pasta with a Bolognese sauce prepared by Francesco’s mother-in-law, complemented by a salad, bread and cheese – delicious! Two bottles of vino rosso were also consumed and the atmosphere among all the boat travelers was very upbeat and positive. My stomach had definitely settled down and a good appetite had manifested itself.

Many topics were touched on in our animated discussions. The most interesting conversation centered on on Francesco’s cross-Atlantic sailing voyage a few years ago. Together with two other friends, Francesco sailed from Tenerife across the Atlantic to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. He indicated that he spent two years preparing himself physically and mentally for this trip and admitted that a trip across this fierce ocean does inspire fear, before departure and during the trip. A simple hurricane could crush you and destroy you without anyone ever discovering any trace of you, so a cross-Atlantic sailing trip is a definite life-or-death experience.

Francesco explained that for the first two week they had nice meals while the remainder of the time they had to conserve water as much as possible and make do with dried food. At the end when they reached St. Lucia he said he felt like he was born again. This cross-Atlantic sailing trip had been the experience of a lifetime.

Looking back at the Sicilian mainland – a bit of a grey day

I asked him how this trip had changed him from that point forward and he said that ever since then he is a lot calmer now and doesn’t need to travel as much any more. He feels more grounded, and more rooted to his local area. I found it very interesting that a monster trip like this would make a person more attached to his own local surroundings.

Late at night, after a fulfilling meal, Lorenzo and I decided to go for a walk and we trekked along the coastal road for about two or three kilometers from the sailboat harbour to downtown Lipari. The town was hopping: lots of local youth were out and about, enjoying their Saturday night. The action in the various hospitality establishments was still going strong, even at midnight. We came across Lipari’s fortification which is perched on a rock with harbours on both sides. Even at night this town was beautiful.

Our first dinner on board – everyone’s having a great time.

Finally at 1 pm we retreated to the boat where everybody had already gone to bed. I tried to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake me roommate, but to no avail. The quarters were just a bit too tight for me to sneak in unnoticed. But my cool cabin partner Claudia did not mind, she was very easy-going about it all. My first night on a sailboat – time to rest up for the excitement of tomorrow, the exploration of Lipari.

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