We have now been living in Marina Di Ragusa in Sicily for just over 3 months and have happily immersed ourselves in liveaboard community life. We are one of many boat families taking a break from sailing, resting out the winter months, effecting boat repairs and upgrades and mentally preparing ourselves for the next season out on the water.
When we arrived it was very quickly apparent that this was going to be a good place for us. We had had an amazing first season as liveaboards but the last couple of months had been exhausting with full-on, hard sailing and the challenges of being together 24-7 in a confined space. We were both ready for a break. Until we arrived I hadn’t realized just how much I had missed ‘people’ and the sight of all the boats coming in for winter was both reassuring and uplifting and the marina was buzzing with life. It was good to be able to get off the boat, properly stretch our legs and experience life on terra firma again.
Marina Di Ragusa (MdR) is located on the southern Sicilian coast and is linked to the older city of Ragusa inland. MdR has become one of Sicily’s best known beach resorts, enjoying a longer summer season due to its milder weather, – quieter during the winter months but still alive and thriving with its’ local community. In the evenings and at weekends the village square, the seafront and the marina come alive with families out walking and socializing, enjoying the winter blue skies and sunshine.
The marina has 700 berths available and is sandwiched between two beautiful sandy beaches, with an impressive range of facilities available to the marina community. This includes general marinarer support, shipyard services, shops, restaurants, café/bars, laundry, ATM and a bookable meeting room with Wifi to hang out in or to use for group/social events. There are three main supermarkets within walking/cycling distance and the village also has a whole range of shops, cafes and restaurants. The town of Ragusa is around 30 minutes away by bus and the City of Catania around 90 minutes. There are regular buses into town and to the airport and bikes and cars can be rented locally.
We had chosen Marina Di Ragusa (MdR) as our winter berth as it was about as far south as we could get in the Mediterranean and we liked the idea of our winter home being warm and sunny throughout the long winter months. It was also very reasonably priced, has easy access to two major airports and ideally situated for what had been our planned second season into the western Mediterranean… There had been lots of favourable reviews about the marina on different BLOGS we had read and it sounded perfect for our winter rest.
The liveaboard community has two established ‘Happy Hour’ sessions on Tuesday and Friday evenings in two designated bars, where everyone is encouraged to get off their boats to meet and greet fellow boaties. We went along on our second night in the marina and very quickly realised what a great community we were going to be living in. There were people there of all different ages and from a host of different countries. Single-hand sailors, couples, families – lots of people with shared interests and desires in life to swap sea stories with. During the first few days of our arrival we quickly got to know the other families on our pontoon and were happy to hear that a large majority of the boats arriving were going to be staying over winter like us. Our immediate neighbours who came alongside within 24 hours of us, had the exact same boat as us, which instigated an immediate kinship and gave us lots to talk about.
The community has a daily VHF communication net which runs on a pre-set VHF radio channel, providing an accessible communication link for information on all things liveaboard. This includes medical emergencies, daily weather report, services needed/provided, hi and goodbye, social activities and events, treasures of the bilge and lost and found. There is also a MdR Liveaboard Facebook group, which provides a useful arena for swapping information and photos, asking for advice, advertising parts for sale and asking for/offering lift shares to the airport etc. There is a huge range of activities to be involved in, including Yoga (had to get involved there), beach volley ball, guitar and photography club, ‘Stitch and Bitch’ (we all need boat covers), wine tasting, kids film club, ladies market day hike and coffee, special day celebrations – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and all birthdays are celebrated by the whole community – kids and adults alike.
The guys (and a few gals) help each other out with advice and support on all things mechanical and electrical and happily loan out their precious tools and spare parts to each other. There is a wealth of boat maintenance experience and knowledge within the community, which encourages everyone to be more confidently tackle jobs that they would normally have to pay someone else to do (and that never comes cheap!!).
There is an abundance of kids and young people aged between 1 and 15 and they are an absolute joy to behold. They are regularly seen riding around the marina and along the seafront on their bikes and scooters, all ages and nationalities happily mixing together. The parents of these children have my absolute admiration for doing what they are doing, they homeschool and maintain a routine with conventional school hours to keep their kids’ education intact. All of the kids are generally sociable, confident, they mix with each other and adults alike and seem very happy with life. They are rarely seen sitting on their phones and devices in public, they are too busy interacting with each other and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine!
MdR is proving to be the perfect winter rest for us and our boat and we have very quickly grown to love Sicily and its’ temperate climate. We are more relaxed, happy and sociable than we have been for a long time, particularly as we are no longer rushing around juggling work, a house, family life and time for ourselves and our friendships.
We are extremely lucky to have our health and each other and to have been in a position to direct work and opportunities to enable us to take this time out. We both believe that this was the best move we could have made for ourselves and our family at our time of life, giving ourselves the opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and our hopes and dreams for the future.
We have survived our first year out, learned loads about sailing and ourselves, made some amazing new friends and can’t wait to get back out on the water to continue our adventure.
We have made the decision to sail back into Greek waters again this summer, to take our time and enjoy the beautiful islands of the Aegean and take the opportunity to cruise Turkey. There are a number of boats from MdR who are also following a similar route, so we aim to set off together in April and keep in contact. This year we will be sailing with our new MdR family and we are both anticipating a very different kind of sailing experience. One with the support and friendship of a like-minded group of people who enjoy the wind in their hair, the sun on their faces and the simplicity of life as a liveaboard.
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