Between Scilla and Charybdis, through the straits of Messina

‘You consider me a young apprentice, caught between Scilla and Charybdis. Hypnotised by you if I should linger, staring at the ring around your finger. I have only come here seeking knowledge, things they would not teach me up in college. I can see that destiny you sold, turning to a shining band of gold.’ Wrapped Around Your Finger, The Police

Between Sicily and mainland Italy is the Messina Strait. A place that three hundred years ago struck fear into the hearts of sailors.

Two dangers faced those taking the short cut to avoid going the long way round the island, the Render and Sucker. A reference to Messina in The Odyssey is undoubtably where the expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’ comes from.

Most now believe that an earthquake in 1783 altered the topography of the sea bed and stopped ships mysteriously disappearing, but strong tidal streams, faster than many yachts can sail, still flood through the gap. It is deeply disconcerting to see swirls of water to port and starboard, seemingly ready to suck the boat down into oblivion.

Making a carefully timed passage through this unnerving gap in a gale is interesting; in a flat clam almost equally eery. When the latter occurs, you inevitably encounter the sword fishing fleet; strange looking craft with scaffold tower’s high above to spot the fish and platforms at the front to spear them.

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Tumblr

Related Content

Yachting Monthly Article I have a short article published in next months Yachting Monthly magazine on a trip I crewed on to Sweden. A title that's been printed since 1906, it's a real privilege to be featured on its pages. www.yachtingmonthly.com      
Cap Formentor, Mallorca If there is one enduring appeal to Mallorca it is its variety. Take the highway to the other end of the island and you find yourself in a very mountainous range, far removed from the south. Cap Formentor, at the extreme north eastern point, is in some ways a distillation of the thousand contrasts of this place.
Arthur Beale, London Arthur Beale is a place not many sailors know about. Incongruously located on Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London's theatre land, for the past 400 years or so, is quite possibly the world's best chandlery. Behind the desk is invariably a man sporting a beard, espousing rigging screw wisdom to sailors and tourists alike. Upstairs you will ...
A Marathon, Marrakech Well, OK, it was only a half, but in January I travelled to Marrakech to run the official half-marathon... Hurtling through the traffic chaos at high speed towards the edge of the city, it was clear it was going to be interesting if nothing else. We dismounted our chariot of rust and road rage, the driver hurling abuse at an obstructing donkey a...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *