08-Apr-2004 -- Yesterday was a busy day. From Israel to the Strait of Gibraltar Sicily is
on the track, and so I decided to pass my hometown Taormina in a close distance. All my friends were duly advised in advance
and about 100 people were standing by to see my ship.
Several long blasts with my horn caused quite a reaction. They waved flags
and bedsheets and a "welcome"-banner was unfurled.
Later in the early evening I passed the Strait of Messina, and during night
we sailed along the Northern coast of Sicily, until we reached the
Archipelago of the Aegatian Islands (Isole Egadi) at sunrise.
38N 12E was my first of all offshore confluences I ever visited. It had
started on Sep. 13th, 2001, with my dear friend Dr. Mancini and a small
hired boat, and since then I have seen a hundred or so other offshores.
The comeback to Marettimo Island was a real funny one. When passing North of
well wrapped with low morning clouds, and when setting the course towards
the confluence, I found in the radar, my confluence to be already occupied!
The present holder of the point was the tuna trawler "B. Padre Pio LTP 389", quite
coolly engaged in fishing, as we realized when having a look on
the cables brought out from his stern.
With such a situation I did not have to deal with so far. Chasing him away
was not feasible, as with his tunny nets out he is very restricted in his
manoeuvreability. He was moving towards South at a very low speed and it was
clear we would collide at the confluence if not some preventive action could
And I had the idea: Let's contact him by VHF and agree on a joint venture
visit. The ocean going reefer ship "Nova Scotia" and the Aegatian trawler
As he was already within the 100-metres range, slightly North of the
confluence, I asked him to stop for a five minutes and let me pass in front
of his bow exactly over the confluence. So we would be together within the
range for several instants.
And he agreed! This is not a matter of course, as fishermen are known to be
usually extremely pigheaded and stubborn. When they have their nets out, the
Sea, the World and the right of way belongs entirely to them. No discussion
at all about. Many thousand hours of my navigational watch during the last
almost 30 years they did already poison with driving me wild and making me
sweat blood and water.
But in all likelihood he had had a good catch overnight and was in a good
So we both visited the confluence and I could make my picture with the only
view where land is in sight, - towards ESE.
The tuna fish from the Aegatian Islands is the far most exquisite worldwide.
It is not some commercialized mass production 50-cents tin-stuff from
Thailand, but a jar of one pound of Aegatian tuna is sold for easily 20-30
To everybody planning a visit to Sicily I recommend not to miss the various
Aegatian Islands. Buy a jar of the local tuna and you will learn what tuna
really is and how delicate it can taste!
Prices are, however, negotiable to a certain extent. The islanders usually
have the unpleasant attitude, to immediately treble up the price, when
smelling you to be an ignorant chicken from the mainland, or even better: a
foreign tourist and not aware of the Italian language. Then you are
completely lost and will be fleeced full power :-(