We’re now on our way to Sicily now, planning to spend a week in Messina visiting some of the island before heading off to Greece. This was to be an overnight passage and I planned to sail along the north and west sides of Stromboli in the night so we could see the volcano erupting as we passed.
We slipped from our berth in Arechi at just before 9 on Thursday 18th and stopped off to fill up with diesel, and I managed to drop a filler cap in the water. Doh! They are held on to the filler pipe with a small chain, like the ones used to stop sink plugs walking and as I put the filler nozzle into the pipe I could feel the serrated underside of the nozzle rub against the neck of the pipe. Even as that was happening I could see the cap dropping into the water, in slow motion obviously. Now who carries spare filler caps? So, with the only other one like it on the fresh water tank I decided to use the pretty chrome one from one òf the Black Water tanks. This obviously had a fractionally different thread and so had to be sealed in place with gaffer tape. Very pretty, but, hopefully water tight. Mercifully it wasn’t to be tested as the weather was very clement.
The trip had three highlights. I managed to fly our Cruising Chute for the first time this year for about an hour at lunch time, we had a visit from a school of dolphins in the evening, come to see what all the gaffer tape was about, and of course, Stromboli over night.
The dolphins were with us for about 15 minutes, with one hanging around darting from bow to bow by itself for another 5, almost as if it was stuck there! It is wonderful laying on the netting watching them only a few feet below you.
As the sun set, anticipating little wind over night we lowered the sails and motored on towards Stromboli. I’ve mentioned before that it is sometimes referred to as the biggest lighthouse in the Med and that is certainly true. I came on watch at just after midnight and immediately noticed the characteristic ‘rotten egg’ smell of sulpher and within half an hour could see the intermittent bright orange smudge of light, as the lava erupted, from about 20 miles away.
Just after 2 am the moon rose, followed by, I think Venus, and Valeria came up on deck at 3.30 to watch the fireworks. We slowed right down and headed directly for the island and at a distance of about 5 miles had a grandstand view of fans and plumes of Lava being thrown up into the air. Being west of the island the moon was behind it, silhouetting it as the Lava show continued and we watched brief trickles of molten rock on the lip of the volcano. Really spectacular.
Way back in 1979, 38 years ago !!!, I was a Cadet in a Shell tanker called Aulica and we sailed passed the island in daylight, on our way to Messina from Genoa.
By sunrise we were south of Stromboli and on course for the Messina Straits. The wind picked up gradually to about 20 knots, from right in front of us, meaning we were battering our way into it and our speed was right down. Once in the Straits the wind dropped off and we found ourselves being escorted by the Italian Navy.
We arrived in the Marina del Netuno at 2.30 and have booked to stay until the 27th when we’ll set off for Cephalonia. In the mean time we plan to explore a bit of Sicily, and find a fuel filler cap, and a spare. Doh!!