Caught in a whirlpool

Capo Peloro

Capo Peloro

Strangely, I’m experiencing a complementary current near the coast when I’d expected a contrary one. As a result I arrive at the strait at least two hours before schedule. What an inconvenience!

What I’ve failed to notice is that my complementary current is an eddy. Fooled by the shipping which makes the passage through the strait regardless of tide, I head for the narrows and find myself caught in a whirlpool!

With the engine at full speed I make headway at less than half a knot but even this progress is short lived as the engine overheating alarm sounds and I am forced to switch off the motor. Now I’m at the mercy of the currents. Luckily the weather is fine and there is no swell. I hoist all sails but it has little effect. I am pushed around in a large circle at over 5 knots!

After an hour of going backwards, sidewards, and just about everywhere else I’d rather not go, I’m getting a tad frustrated. I manage to start the engine and head for Capo Peloro (but only by steering 90 degrees from my intended destination). I make about 1kt speed over ground. The idea is to get as close to the coast as possible where I hope the effect of the current is less. Surprise surprise, the strategy works and I pass the troublesome headland just meters from the shore. A shoal draft vessel does has its advantages! 🙂

By sunset I’m exhausted and I head for Milazzo for some sleep. I tie up at the nearest marina and ask to stay for 4 hours to rest. “No problem says the manager, rest, we will only charge you 5 Euros an hour”. As if I can sleep when the meter is ticking! I refuse the ‘generous offer’ and set sail once more for Palermo.

Tropea – spectacular

Tropea, Italy

Tropea, Italy

Tuesday the 29th of April

Most of the day was taken up playing tourist in Tropea, a spectacular town accessible by climbing a long stairway from the marina. The evening was spent hunting for some EP 90 oil to lubricate the propeller shaft (lo and behold, the staff at Delta Italia hadn’t bothered to top this up and there was only a small amount left in the delivery hose). I know the type of oil because I gave David at Yarmouth Marine Services a call to find out whether I could fill it with olive oil in a pinch.

Apparently you can!

However the helpful staff at the nearby boatyard gave me what I needed (no charge) and I was able to use the correct product after all.

Checking the tide table for the Messina strait, kindly provided by a helpful north bound Englishman, (I’d not downloaded the 2008 tables from the Internet and only had 2007 in my Mediterranean almanac), I found I needed to arrive at dawn near Capo Peloro. A nearby Italian registered boat (Velenosa) was planning to leave at midnight but I left Tropea before sunset in order to take my time and do some real sailing.