I reluctantly dragged myself away from Rocella Ionica, even before the end of my free stay period, as I had friends joining me in a few days time in Sicily.
It was 67 miles from Rocella to Messina so as ever an early start was required, not helped by another night's liquor sampling with Luc. The little wind there was kept teasing me. Promising I'd be able to sail once I rounded the next headland only to shift and remain resolutely from ahead. Even with a favourable shift, it wouldn't have been strong enough to allow me to make Messina by night-fall. I resigned myself to a day of motoring.
Unfortunately the autopilot had its own ideas; only steering in one direction, which forced me to hand-steer. One benefit of being stuck at the wheel all day is there's more chance of seeing wildlife, such as the large jumping dolphins that I spied close to shore as I rounded the toe of Italy. Also as I rounded the "toe", I caught my first glimpse of the impressive snow covered peak of Mount Etna, floating above the haze.
My knowledge of Sicily was based mainly on the rural scenes in "The Godfather", which in no way prepared me for the sheer scale of Messina, nor the quantity of ferry traffic plying the strait or the large number of cruise ships in port.
The marina was a little north of the main port, and despite having a marina boat to help position Kika for stern-to berthing, the cross wind proved too much and required some deft fending off from myself and fellow sailors before I was securely moored. I say securely, but I wouldn't trust the marina in a storm. I was moored on the outer floating pontoon which undulates with the wash from passing ferries and large waves kicked up by the strong tides in the strait. It looked like the cracks in the concrete had been filled with epoxy, almost like taping over the problem.
I'd arrived on a Friday which turned out to be party night in the marina. It was an invitation only launch party for a new car. I felt slightly out of place as I wove between the chic party goers on the way to a much needed shower. I should have realised that such a glamorous event would come at a cost, but was still shocked at the price - 60 euros for one night's berthing.
5/6/09: Messina: N38deg 12.0' E15deg 33.6'