Having made it to Crotone in Italy with Calyxa, we were once again reunited with Clive, Claire and Oliver on S/V Intention, and after a fish BBQ and a bit of boat prep all three yachts headed off towards Sicily. However, we only got as far as Le Castella where we had to hole up for a couple of days as a F6 blow came through. After two nights the wind had eased we ventured out to continue our journey west towards Sicily.
This leg was 135NM to Siracusa along the foot of Italy and then across the Straits of Messina. As we left we were anticipating a F3/F4 from behind, however, we hadn’t realized our forecast had not updated so instead we had a F5 on the beam. Given the F6/F7 the previous day the waves were a decent size, and the sea state was a bit confused, but we made great progress with boat speeds up in the 7-8 knot range. After about 6 hours we received a panicked VHF call from Calyxia saying they had a leak and were taking on water…not a great situation. We were about 2 NM ahead of them and quickly furled our sails, turned through the swell and headed towards them. Intention, who were alongside us followed suit and both yachts raced back to assist Calyxa.
My mind was in overload trying to think of what action to take and how to best assist our friends. We were almost back to them when a second call on the VHF confirmed the water pouring into their bilge was fresh water and a hose fitting from one of their water tanks had failed, draining the tank into the boat. So with no risk of sinking, we took deep breaths and tried to reduce our heart rates to something like normal. Rasmus poured himself a rum and we all re-set our course back towards Sicily.
This was just a scare, but it really drives home the importance of planning and preparing for eventualities like this. It also demonstrates the safety of cruising in a small group, where immediate assistance and familiar faces are on hand to help out if needed. I think Rasmus did a great job keeping the family calm and having the presence of mind to check for the source of the leak and work out the problem quickly…it sounds simple sat in your arm chair with a cold beer, but keeping calm and focussed in a boat in rough water and with your family on board is quite different. Well done Skipper!
The rest of the sail was fast and uneventful. In the early morning light, as we crossed the straights of Messina we could see Mt Etna smoking away in the still morning air. A pretty impressive sight, at over 3000m high and after 25 plus hours at sea we were all glad to arrive in Syracuse.