We left Vulcano mid-morning and headed south east for the straits of Messina, reaching them by lunchtime. Our timing was perfect the currents were at their peak running south. I’d like to say this was due to hours of careful planning, but the truth is we just fluked it. If we had got it wrong it would have made for a very long trip.
As we entered the strait there was a wall of water in front of us and the infamous whirlpools everywhere. The girls had been sat on the bow watching our entry, but we quickly got everyone back in the cockpit, as we weren’t too sure what to expect when we “hit” the wall.
Thankfully it was nothing Hector couldn’t handle and we were pretty comfortable. We entered doing just over 5knots and were soon speeding along at 9. The next adrenalin rush came from the game of chicken we were playing with the ferries zigzagging the strait and the large container ships coming in both directions, if we were going fast – they were going faster.
Swordfish migrate the strait and the Sicilians have over the years developed these bizarre boats that look like they shouldn’t be at sea. They have a 10ft mast with a lookout on top, they also have a huge 15ft bowsprit. The idea is the spotters up the mast find the swordfish, the captain who is apparently up the mast also steers the boat toward the sleeping swordfish. Then the fisherman walks out on the bowsprit to harpoon the fish without the bow of the boat disturbing it. Sounds like a long shot?!
So we have left the Tyrrhenian Sea and are now in the Ionian, which is apparently saltier and cooler. The trip along the sole of Italy to the arch takes forever. We were in the company overnight of several other yachts – this is a real transit coast not much here for the sailor everyone is headed for Greece.
There are many fires along the coast and watching the helicopters tirelessly, and futilely, fight the flames fills in the hours. The destruction is heart breaking, but at less they don't all have wooden houses.
By midday we search for, and struggle to find, a safe anchorage and end up spending another night up – this time on anchor watch. The forecast has been wrong this whole transit, sometimes in our favour, but not so when it comes to a sheltered anchorage. In the morning we travel further up into the arch of Italy’s boot and take refuge in a fishing port, tied up with the fishing boats, we finally get to sleep.
We're an ordinary family of 5 dreaming, planning and now beginning our adventure around the Mediterranean (and further afield), having an awesome time! Look out for our boat and come and say hi.