After shopping in Lipari town for provisions and then a
visit to the fuel pontoon we set off from Lipari to the Messina Straights a
narrow passage of water 3-4 miles wide between the North East corner of Sicily
and mainland Western corner of the heel of Italy.
It was a beautiful sunny morning with a light breeze
almost dead on the nose some we motor sailed.
The distance to the straights is about 36 miles. We passed the island of Volcano with a lot of
steam/smoke coming off the North eastern slopes and headed down towards
Sicily. Soon we could see the large
shape of Mount Etna and its Northern slopes.
We were sure that what we could see on the slopes was snow but it seemed
hard to believe at the day before mid summers day. The breeze went onto the beam a little so we
were eventually able to sail as we approached the narrows. We had to time our arrival so we could have
South going tide into and through the straights as it can reach 4 knots of
tidal flow going South for 6 hours and then turn North for 6 hours. The calculation of an arrival at or around
5pm in the afternoon was favourable and we were right on target to be there at that
time. The straights are famed for the
power of the tide and the large whirlpools that exist in the narrows. As we entered the straights the North West
breeze died and the genoa forsail was rolled.
We had a terrific view of 2 swordfishing boats that passed close by. One of the fishing boats had 3 men at the top
of the lookout gantry trying to spot swordfish. After about 3 miles motoring South a new
North breeze was found and we began to sail again with full mainsail and poled
out genoa forsail. Very quickly the new
breeze from the North rose to 22-23 knots of true wind. We surfed over some patches of disturbed
waters and it reminded the crew of Hurst Castle narrows between the Isle of
Wight and the Hampshire coast and the strange wind against tide waters around
The wind rose further to 25 knots true and so the poled
genoa was rolled and we surfed on. The
destination of Taormina was about 30 miles away. At times Ariel surfed at up to 10.1 knots so the miles
were eaten up quickly. Just as it got
dark a lonely male bottle nosed dolphin came for a quick look at us but didn’t
stay. The lights of Taorima looked
magical as we arrived at just after 9.30pm and anchored in the bay next to our
friend Clive and Trica on Moineau. Time
for Cock au Vin dinner that was cooking in the oven.