Sicily, Straits of Messina and Further
02 June 2011 | Mediterranean Sea
From Sardinia we headed towards the northern coast of Sicily, passing just south of a small volcanic island called Ustica, which is about 30 nautical miles north of the Sicilian capital city of Palermo. We had a reasonable current helping us along and made the waypoint during the night. The watch keeping was "interesting", in that there were a large amount of fishing boats in the area, all with nets marked by flashing strobe lights. In daylight we were passing more islands on our port side, heading towards the Straits of Messina. When passing the final large group of islands we passed a number of yachts with the Sunsail logo, all coming from the Sicilian mainland - there must be a Sunsail base there somewhere.
Just as it was getting dark on Wednesday evening we made our approach to the straits and called into the traffic control to notify them of the start of our transit. For those not aware, the Straits of Messina is the narrow section of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland. It is quite a busy stretch of water with a large amount of shipping traffic making use of it. Have a look on Google Earth to get a better idea. The transit only took just over three hours but all three of us were on watch to ensure we did not get in the way of any of the main shipping. It was an experience for both Dave and Josh - I have done the transit previously.
Soon after midnight we were through the straits and are now heading east-southeast towards the Aegean Sea and Greek waters. All going well, we should get there by Saturday night. We then have to cross the Aegean Sea and complete our delivery on the western coast of Turkey, with an ETA of Wednesday June 8.
At the moment we have no wind and are motoring, averaging 5.5 knots. When I say "no wind", I mean just that - the sea is flat and like a mirror. These conditions should remain until tomorrow evening and then we should, if the predictions are correct, start picking up light head winds, which should build to about 15 knots by Saturday evening. Hopefully we can get into the Aegean Sea before the winds get too strong as the winds in the Aegean are light and from the south, which will suit us well. We then have another three days to the Turkish port of Fethiye, where we will clear customs and immigration before sailing the boat the last 15 miles to the small harbour of Gocek, where the Sunsail and Moorings charter company have their base.
Before I sign off, I need to mention that since leaving Sardinia, we have come across so much garbage floating in the sea, it is frightening. Most of it is in the form of plastic bags and plastic sheets with many bottles and plastic containers thrown into the mix. The human race is really messing up the environment with no care in the world. We, on the other hand, have a number of garbage bags in our forward lazarette, ready to dispose of at our next port of call.
Now you know where we are and what our schedule is. So, until the next blog report, regards from Josh, Dave and myself, John.