I’m sure that Connie will write a lovely description of our transit through the strait, but for those wanting some daily wisdom rather than travel blog, its worth a mention here.
When sailing around the world you come across notorious sites often that are feared by sailors and come with horrible reputations.
Almost without exception these are dangerous spots but only if you don’t plan for them, but some, even with good planning can be challenging. Determining which should be given extra care and planning and which just need normal management levels can be a challenge.
The Alderney Race for instance, has currents as high as 8-9kts and if you time it wrong it can be disastrous, especially in a boat with a top speed of 8kts under motor!!. But time it right and its a fast comfortable passage with seas flattened by the current and can be over extremely quickly.
Well, the Messina straits fall into that category of Plan for the worse and make sure you don’t get it wrong.
We planned the tides correctly and the weather and the only thing against us was that we were headed North and this time of year north meant into the prevailing wind.
From the moment we turned toward the straits our head wind climbed from 4kts to 18-25kts (TWS) and stayed there until we exited at the other end, then promptly dropped off to 6kts!!
This meant our entry into the straights was rough, very rough with short nasty 1-2second interval standing waves.
Once inside the conditions went from rough (although not as rough as the entrance) to completely calm but still with the very strong head winds.
A difference of only 500m had us with either 0.4kts of current with us or 2.5kts of current with us.
The seas did indeed boil and three times we “lost” momentarily, steering and changed course by up to 30 degrees. Easily rectified but what if we had decided to not go through at the optimal time? How much worse would it have got?
The straits were very challenging. NOT dangerous at the time and conditions we went through but I can only imagine what they would get like if you got it wrong.