Scylla and Charybdis

Written by Pieter Jan on Oct 20, 2019 — 2 min read

From: Archi, Italy
To: Milazzo, Sicily, Italy

Again very little wind this morning. We put up the spinnaker and were calmly bobbing around, when I saw black sails appear on the horizon. They seemed to gaining quite fast on us. Pirates? It turned out to be Rambler 88, a 30 m racing boat, participating in the Middle Sea Race. They passed us at a cool 8 knots, while we were struggling to make 3 knots. Watching them gibe is quite impressive. They furl that huge genua of theirs in 2 seconds, gibe the boat and unfurl it again in two seconds. The whole maneuver takes about 6 seconds.

Chilling on the foredeck of Rambler 88
Chilling on the foredeck of Rambler 88

Meanwhile, we were happy not to crash in the heavy traffic of Messina Strait. Especially dodging the herds of ferries was daunting. It felt like that scene in Jurassic Park, where the actors have to run for their lives amidst a flock of Gallimimus. But then in slow motion, as we were doing 3 knots.

Barbara is keeping an eye on those ferries
Barbara is keeping an eye on those ferries

I called Traffic Control before crossing the busy strait to the north. You can see from the size of their radio tower that they like to be called. That radio tower means business. I’ve read stories of yachties who dared crossing the strait without asking Traffic Control first. They had to pay a € 2000 fine. That’s a lot of prosecco.

The radio tower at the entrance of the strait
The radio tower at the entrance of the strait

Just before we exited the strait, the tide started to turn, creating a big whirlpool behind us. I didn’t think the Med had tides, but Sicily is special. Sailing between the whirlpool and the rock of Scylla, I once more felt like Odysseus. Fortunately we fared better than him. I wonder if the fishermen here feel like that every day.

Rock of Scylla in the distance
Rock of Scylla in the distance

At sunset we arrived in Milazzo, on the north coast of Sicily, after an effortless afternoon spinnaker sail.

Sunset above Milazzo
Sunset above Milazzo