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I’ll never forget setting out to sea on that first night. Four New Yorkers and their Sicilian captain weaving through rows of boats bobbing in the harbor and then slowly inching out toward the endless ocean in front of them. As we sailed on, I kept looking back at the little string of lights that was Palermo. It didn’t take very long before the last little twinkle behind us faded away and the horizon, which used to be two shades of black, completely melted into one total darkness. I couldn’t tell where the sky ended and the ocean began. The only sounds we could hear were the motor of the boat and the splash of our wake. Then we started noticing these flashes of electric blue sparks popping behind our boat. Roland explained that it was jellyfish lighting up as defensive mechanism as we sailed over them.
About an hour into our journey, the stars began to turn on. They were so bright and so crisp that you could see the entire Milky Way galaxy. Through 25 countries, it remains one of the most beautiful night skies we’ve ever seen.
We eventually got to sleep — squeezing our 5'10" and 6'4" frames into the tiny bed within the hull of the boat. I was afraid I'd get seasick, but the rocking of the boat was quite soothing, and we slept right through the night. We woke up the next morning to this exact view above us. Andy popped his head through the hatch, and his jaw dropped.
It felt as if we were alone for miles. The water was completely still. There was barely a sound to be heard. It was just our little boat and a smattering of islands in the distance, and directly behind us was the toothpick-like island off Filicudi called La Canna. Here, Roland is cruising by in the tender.
One of my favorite things about our boat was the enormous hammock that stretched across the front of the frame. It was the perfect place for sunbathing, napping, taking in the sights, and falling asleep under the stars as we sailed along.
The Italian breakfast: Every morning, we put together a pretty impressive spread of yogurt, granola, fruits, meats, and cheeses. And every morning, we offered it to Roland and he politely declined. He would happily raise his empty espresso cup and explain that he’d already had breakfast. He didn’t share in the food, but he did make a perfect pot of espresso for us all on our little Bialetti every morning.