Goodbye Vulcano, Playful Dolphins and a Catch of Tunas

These four graceful grey creatures were beautiful, and all of us were in awe at this unexpected display. The dolphins swam and jumped alongside our boat for about 5, 7 minutes until they had enough and swam off in a westerly direction. I had caught everything on my camera and made several video clips and was still tickled pink about this experience. For some reason, dolphins always seem like they are smiling to me, and these four sleek water animals certainly appeared to be in a great mood.

I already thought the excitement was over, but no, the Mediterranean had even more surprises in store for us. We had been trailing fishing lines behind our boat and with all the excitement surrounding the dolphins we had basically forgotten about the fishing lines until our skipper shouted that we had made a catch. Sure enough, we saw him reeling in the line and a beautiful silver fish about 15 inches long was pulled on board. Francesco explained it was a tuna, cut the line and placed it on the floor at the rear of our boat.

Three headless and gutless tuna

I was fascinated by this, until the fish started flopping around in a panic and blood started spraying from its gills. That’s when my tender vegetarian soul said it had enough and I retreated to the front of the boat. I just couldn’t watch this fish flop around, spraying the whole back of the boat with its blood, trying to fight for its life. Our captain put it out of its misery, cut off its head and gutted it right there. I just caught a quick glimpse, but the dripping red innards of this poor tuna had me completely grossed out.

You might think that the excitement might be over now, what with the dolphins and the tuna capture, but no – the ritual repeated itself two more times: we caught two more tunas and I wisely stayed away from the decapitation and evisceration scene. At any rate, Francesco had caught three nice-size fish and said that he was going to bring them home as a special treat for his two year old son Davide.

Sundown approaches over the mountains of Tindari

A short while later at about 7:30 pm we arrived at the harbour of Portorosa, and Francesca and Davide, our skipper’s wife and son, were already waiting to welcome us. Davide’s excited two-year old calls “papa – papa” indicated that he had definitely missed his daddy. Francesca herself said that “papa” was indeed the first word that her son ever spoke. Our usually quiet captain himself was visibly elated to see his family almost after a week at sea.

Now it was time to get organized and unload. Francesco gave us a choice: we could either spend one more night on the boat, or we could unload the boat, drive back to the apartment which is located conveniently right above the Laboratorio Linguistico School, and go for dinner in Milazzo.

A warm welcome in Milazzo

Well, this was a no-brainer. After almost a week on a nice, but rather crammed sailboat with a tiny cabinet that served as a toilet / shower facility, there was no question that all of us preferred going on land. Our first priority as a matter of fact, was to take a land-based shower, and Claudia, Herbert and I headed to the comfort station at the Portorosa Harbour to take a well-deserved, long awaited shower on terra firma. Strange, but after a week on a sailboat you start appreciating the little things in life, and a real shower and a toilet separate from the shower rank pretty high on the list …

Our crew celebrates over a final dinner

Francesco and the rest of the gang had already started to unload the boat, and we quickly packed our stuff and help load all our luggage and the remaining food into Francesco’s car. By the time we had everything organized back at the apartment it was already about 10:30 pm, but that did not deter us from having one last joint dinner together.

Seafood galore

Francesco and Franco packed us into their respective vehicles and drove us out to a restaurant at the tip of Capo Milazzo, the peninsula that protrudes about 6 km into the Tyrrhenian Sea from Milazzo. We had this entire establishment to ourselves, and another Sicilian feast was unfolding. Fish, wine and pasta arrived in large quantities while I enjoyed a vegetarian Sicilian pasta with pistachios. In addition, it was Agnieszka’s 23rd birthday today, so all of us got to celebrate, and a big hazelnut ice cream cake capped off the feast.

Agnieszka’s sweet 23rd birthday

We all said goodbye at the end of the evening. Since Herbert was going to fly out tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we would not have a chance to say our goodbyes in the morning any more. Seven days of adventures in the Eolian Islands had come to an end, and I think all of us experienced just a tinge of melancholy. The seven of us had made a great team on board: Claudia, the Lufthansa flight attendant from Germany & my wonderful cabin mate; Herbert, the knowledgeable TV travel journalist, also from Germany; Lorenzo from the US of Italian background and the coolest Catholic priest that I have ever met; our talented singer Agnieszka; and our two experts and teachers from Laboratorio Linguistico: Franco and Francesco, our skipper.

Sicily is for seafood lovers…

My first sailing trip had come to an end, but I still four days of discoveries left in Sicily. Tomorrow’s agenda will include Milazzo.

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