Aurora in Sicily

Aurora in Capo di San Vito

We left Sardinia on the day after the carnival with the fair north west wind. On the following day in the afternoon we saw the lighthouse on the Isola Marettimo wondering how is possible to see it from 30 miles away. Possibly due to super refraction. Luckily this time everybody was able too see it and no one was afraid I am going mad. By the evening after a short but intensive rain we have entered in the north western port of Sicilia San Vito lo Capo. No one was listening on VHF or picking up the phone but once they saw us inside the staff wave at us and took our mooring lines in a fantastic bay with a village that's worth a visit in the summer.

A night of sailing towards Sicily
Easy downwind sailing
Full sails to Sicily
Lunch with rain
Dolphins accompanied us to Sicily
San Vito lo Capo

After registering with the port authorities in the evening we had a small walk in village which was asleep during winter time. We made an appointment  with the petrol station to fill up Aurora's tanks and went to bed. On the next morning when I woke up and looked outside i felt like i want to stay a week here and watch this every morning. Never the less soon we were all up. Georgi and Nikolay went for food supplies and me with Rado moved Aurora to teh petrol quay just before the next portion of rain poured over the village and us.

Morning in San Vito
Weather changes within minutes
Nikolay doing morning exercises
View from the port
Local inhabitant promoting his favourite Italian food
Raining again
Aurora on the petrol station

Once we were done with supplies we have left the port in a very light wind. Soon we took out our gennaker and sailed all day with it. After filling the tanks with diesel at 1.75 compared to 0.49 in Gibraltar we decided to master the sails. Eventually we did  6-7 knots downwind in only 8 knots of wind. Most catamarans would not even think of opening sails and switching off the engine at that wind speeds however Aurora was performing quite well and her blue code 0 gennaker started to pay off. A quick gusts of wind that came with the morning rain made is do few exercises with sails and left us all wet. At the end we passed Palermo and with the calm afternoon weather we decided not to stop over night at Portorossa what original plan was but pass strait of Messina in the early hours of the next day.

Leaving San Vito
Georgi showing advantages of the Bulgarian flag
Gennaker already in use
A day to master the gennaker sailing
Wish we had more sail area so we did same trick as with the jib
6.2 out of 8.2 knots of wind

Just before the sunrise we entered in the Messina strait. We have heard terrific stories about it since 3000 years ago when Odyssey passed this place. Galin and Radoslav have passed it once with the sailing barkentina of the Vaptsarov Naval University during a tall ship regatta when engine was not powerful enough to overcome current when sailing into the wind. They had to come up the mast to reef sails further tight to minimum surface at 5m of waves. In guide there were marks at the point where whirpools were appearing so we had an eye on them. We have calculated our speed to enter in the strait at the time of no current (6 hours after Gibraltar high water) and calm weather. We followed the path separation untill we entered in the round about. It was already a morning so ferries started passing from both sides. Small fishermen boats were everywhere, big cargos passing in the middle and coast guard checking all this madness. We did the crossing exactly as IMO rules and the goddess Kirka advice to Odysseus to stay closer to Scylla and further away from Haredba. Haredba  liked us because she gave us only 0.4kn current and Scylla was sleeping under the ice. We spotted Etna and soon we were out of the strait. 

Norther post of Messina
Double sided ferry
300m cargo ship with Etna vulcano on the back
Aurora's track in Messina strait follows the Kirka goddess advice to Odisseus

We had a 3 day discussion with my co-skipper about our plan after Messina. We knew there is a storm coming within 24 hours from the west. By that time we would be half way to Greece. If we stay we have to wait 2 days until we can sail further east. For 2 days I have been convinced rather to stay and wait and Rado was saying that we run in front of the storm as in the Bay of Leon. Once out from Messina I saw the Ionian sea and thought he was right. At the same time he thought that my idea to wait was reasonable. With no good place to stop nearby we decided to go straight to Greece. What could possibly go wrong. Can not be something that we have not already seen. 35 hours more and we will be somewhere near Zakynthos. We decided to go and use the day ahead with moderate sea conditions. We have left Italy and what happened next will be in my next story.


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