Wednesday the 30th of April
Just before sunrise I was able to contact the Italian boat (Velenosa) and rendezvous to pass the Messina strait in company. It was an easy passage through the notorious waters, but the turbulent current was still evident and I was glad I did not have to traverse this stretch in poor conditions. The Homeric tales of whirlpools off Scilla were never far from my mind.
Three hours later the wind backed and I was faced with making way against the prevailing conditions. The sloop rigged Velenosa was happily tacking in the Force 5/6 conditions but if I was to reach Roccella Ionica before nightfall I would have to take a more direct course and motor. After a wet and bumpy 4 hours at no more than 3kts the wind dropped and shortly afterward the sea calmed. I am always surprised by how rapidly the sea can change.
Kite flying while sailing
Before long the water took on a silky smoothness interrupted only by a long and gentle swell. It was time to make use of my new toy. A kite to which I had fashioned a camera mount. Following me by no more than a mile was what I supposed to be Velenosa, (it turned out to be another yacht altogether called Marina I) and as I flew my black and red kite the vessel approached.
In port I was to learn that they believed I was signaling them, one of the crew even confessed to have taken out a guidebook to decode my curious message. They were delighted to learn that it was just my attempt to take some novel snapshots and video footage of Eileen of Avoca underway (a birds eye view).
In port (No charge for visiting vessels for up to 5 days) we met to exchange accounts and together with the crew from Velenosa we sat at the restaurant terrace to a meal of pizza, pasta and beer.
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.
My main concern for this next leg (over 160NM) was obtaining a good weather forecast. The last time I’d had Internet access was just before my departure from Fiumicino and I was not comfortable remaining ignorant of the long-term weather trends.
I resolved to make a short (2 hour) stop at Capri which I felt sure would have an Internet café or at least daily weather forecasts posted at the marina. The former was indeed the case and before long I felt ready to continue my journey (but not before feasting on a delicious pizza), saying my good-byes to the amazingly busy port of Capri.
I have since resolved to invest in NAVTEX or at least a 3G / GPRS data modem.
On to Tropea. The remainder of the trip went without incident but the lack of significant wind and a presumed average speed of 5kts meant that the recently serviced Beta engine had a thorough workout. There followed the now customary visit by dolphins and many a valiant but consistently unsuccessful attempt to fish (using a new white rubber octopus lure purchased at Ventotene).
Arriving just before sunset on the 28th of April I completed the obligatory formalities (Passport, Boat Registration and insurance papers) and caught up on some much-needed beauty sleep (ok, anti-zombie lookalike sleep). 🙂