Tenacious voyage 397  Wednesday Feb 19th

Alongside in Riposto, Sicily.

At 23.00 yesterday evening we were sailing a course of 345deg towards Riposto on the east coast of Sicily. We spotted what looked like a red distress flare 2 points aft of the starboard beam and well above the horizon. We quickly realised that this was in fact Etna erupting, some 40 miles away. We could see a red ball ejected every 30 seconds or so and some sloping red streaks to the right which was the glow from a lava flow.

Some internet research today revealed that a new crater on the NE side of Etna had been erupting for the past 2 weeks or so.

We were tied up alongside in Riposto by 10am. Etna was no longer visible due to low cloud.

A coach trip had been arranged to a point, 1900m above sea level on the south side of Etna. Packed lunches were provided. Mush of the trip was well above the cloud layer with good visibility.

From the bus parking, most of us spent two hours or so scrambling over craters and lava flows.

Late in the evening, the clouds cleared for a while to reveal the red glow of a lava flow extending perhaps from 2000m to 1400m.

Tomorrow morning we set sail back to Malta.

Forward Starboard watch