Strait of Messina Takes Round 1

Today’s attempt to transit from the Ionian to the Tyrrhenian Sea via the Strait of Messina was not successful.  No damage or problems, it was just windy (20-25 knts) against a 3 knot (and building) current.  The waves were big, the winds were strong, the boat was slamming around, and we just were not having fun.

So, rather than push our luck against the fearsome monsters known to inhabit these waters since the times of Greek Mythology, we pulled a u-turn and returned to Taormina.

It is supposed to be fun after all!!

“In ancient mythology the Strait of Messina between Sicily and mainland Italy was the home of Scylla and Charybdis, two much feared monsters  – both were female, and both, at least in several versions of their story, had previously been renowned beauties, who were turned into scabrous horrors only after setting off the jealousy of goddesses, to spend the rest of their days venting their rage on any sailors who dared to make their way through the Strait.

Scylla lurked in a cave amid the rocks and crags on the mainland side, ready with her six snake-like heads and twelve feet to pounce out and devour the crew of any passing ship. On the Sicilian side was Charybdis, often half-hidden beneath a fig tree, but who when the fancy took her would leap into the sea to swallow down huge quantities of water, creating a terrifying whirlpool that sucked whole ships down to their doom, before belching the same water back up again.

Because of the narrowness of the Strait – famously ‘only an arrow-shot in width’ – any ship trying to pass through it had to expose itself to one monster or the other.

Jason and his Argonauts only made it through because they were aided by the goddess Thetis.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus/Ulysses is warned of the dangers of the two by the goddess Circe. Considering Charybdis the worse threat, he sails his ship closer to the mainland, only to see six of his men carried off by Scylla, one by each head.

This myth was the source of phrases like ‘to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis’, meaning having to choose between two equal dangers. This in turn was supposedly the origin of the modern idea  of being ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’.”

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