Messina and the Boot
Deb just woke me up for my watch. Well we're 2/3 of the way to the Greek Islands! The weather is flat calm and though we've seen a few pods of dolphin swimming about, otherwise the sea is empty - and while the color of the water is beautiful there certainly is a fair amount of plastic floating about!
We've had wonderful weather for motoring and backgammon and good spirits ...but little sailing. We should be in Levkas by mid afternoon. We arrived at the Messina Straights Tuesday afternoon at just the right time for the tide so we were able to travel through at about 9-10.2 kts over the ground at minimal RPM. In the IMRAY pilot book there was a picture of a Swordfish boat that looks like a skinny like NE tuna fish boat with a bow-sprit that seemed to go on forever. I thought the picture was of the last aged craft - to our surprise the Straights were swarming with these boats. The bowsprits are in fact enormous, typically 1-1.5 times the length of the hull itself. Hayden was watching them through the binoculars and thought she saw one of them harpoon a swordfish as we motored by. I was at the helm trying to stay out of the way of the meandering fleet - as well as the very large container ships, and war ships, that rocketed by us! Messina itself wasn't much to look at except for a very large golden statue overlooking the harbor. They didn't have fuel and when we arrived an enormous ferry arrived in the harbor and rocked the docked boats so badly we just spun around and left. We went about an hour and one half across to Italy and refueled at Reggio - nothing more than a large concrete wall with fuel. Speaking with the owner of the gas station it became apparent that the weather had not been great for them - more specifically the tourists weren't coming...I didn't mention to him that the IMRAY pilot book suggested we avoid Reggio completely given that it is a prime recruitment ground for the Cosa Nostra! We filled tanks and pushed off the pier heading south around the big toe of Italy headed for its heel...In contrast to what we’d seen in Sicily and Sardinia, the Southern Boot of Italy is just what you'd expect from the bottom of a foot - it looks calloused in some places, has corns, and in some places - specifically XXX where we stayed for the evening, it can smell! Having been throughout Italy years before I know that there are some absolutely wonderfully rich areas with history, culture and scenery but the Boot…stepped in something and they haven’t as yet cleaned it up. On to the Greek Islands!
Swordfish boat in Messina Straits. Look closely to make out the bowsprit. Man on top of mast.
Statue marking entrance to Messina