08 June, 2010

Strait of Messina

The Strait of Messina separate Sicily from mainland Italy. It has been feared my many marinas since the time of Odysseus who lost six of his men to a giant octopus who guarded the shore. He did not fare well after passing south through the striat because his mast fell down killing his helmsman.

Malua set off at 4:00am in the dark from Naxos which is the bay south of the town of Taomina which was made known by James Michner in his book of the '70 The Drifters. We have now visited all the towns in the book and traveled the same route the group followed in our VW during 1974.

We had timed our departure to get a north flowing tide through the strait. It worked and we had a great run north up to the port of Messina when the south flowing tide and westerly wind caught us. From the above picture one can see the turn of the tide or the infamous whirlpool ready to turns your ship around or suck it into the depths. Nothing happened!

The swordfish of Sicily which we eat on our last visit to the island in 2007 migrate through the straits of Messina. Unlike the eastern Sicilian fisherman who catch the fish in nets the ones in this strait follow them in boats with a 10 foot height mast with two men at the top spotting the fish. When they get close a crew member run out along an equally long bowsprit with a harpoon and spears a swordfish who is sleeping on the surface drifting with the current. We saw three boats but nobody on the bowsprit so the fish must have got away.

On exiting the Strait we had a decision to either head NW to the Eolian Island (Volcano) or more north to Tropea. The wind made the decision so we sailed north in 15 knots of wind to the Marina at Tropea. After washing Malua off with the fresh water in the marina we climbed the 204 steps up the cliff to the town of Tropea. I had spent my 2007 birthday in the town. Unfortunately we had to move north so the excellent dinner could not be repeated.

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