Rolex Middle Sea Race day 7: licking our wounds

October 25, 2014

24-25 october

After passing through the Strait of Messina, in antiquity a passage considered perilous in extreme, we navigate between Scilla and Charybdis. We survived the ‘Aeolian Triangle’ a place were often bad weather is encountered, in our case it was comparable to the doldrums. We had beautiful nights with lots of shooting stars. Often I silently wished for wind……. Be careful what one wishes for……….


doldrums north of Sicily

Perhaps the ancients got it right. The Aeolian islands got their name from Aeolus, God of the winds. In the Odyssey he gives Odysseus the contrary winds tied up in a bag, but his curious crew open it and the ship is blown off course to further delay Odysseus’ return to Ithaca.

Off the coast of Palermo we probably stumbled across Aeolus’ bag of winds and were treated with winds we hoped to have, and more.

Harry helming 35 knots West of Sicily

Harry helming 35 knots West of Sicily

A challenging sail brought us to our waypoint, the island of Pantelleria. With our storm try sail and jib Winsome was more than capable to handle the wind and seas, but this had nothing more to do with racing or sports, this had shifted to surviving and keeping ourselves safe.

55 knots of wind over deck, storm sails.

55 knots of wind over deck, storm sails.

The decision was simple, we needed shelter and preferably before nightfall. In the next movie you can see the coast of Pantelleria.


Gutted not to be able to finish our race, but very happy to all be safe and no damage to the boat, we spent a 36 hours on the Island of Pantelleria. Many other yachts joined us in the harbour where the local harbour master berthed us, talking rapidly in Italian. When we tried to explain that our knowledge of the Italian language had been blown away at sea, he replied with even more Italian, no one understood.

Pantelleria will never reach anyone’s top ten vacation list. We talked to one Maltese sailor, he stranded here for three times during his numerous Middle Sea Race adventures, the poor soul. It’s a desolated place with absolutely no attraction what so ever. With more than 35 knots of breeze blowing through the nearly empty streets, it reminded me of a typical scene of a Hollywood western. However, EU grants probably helped to build a great breakwater for the harbour. I’ll never complain about EU grants for the rest of my life. This was a good investment!

So this morning the wind dropped below 30 knots, the swell was declined and we were ready to leave. Breakfast at six, Winsome was ready to go at 07.30h. Three yachts passed the breakwater and set course for Malta. We were on our way again. Sailing was great, a sunny day and reaching in 28 knots of wind, surfing over the swell, Harry even reached 12.4 knots through the water.

In the middle of the night we were met by our shore crew: Sophie, Christien and Boj, the latter who flew in this afternoon to Malta to rejoin his sailing ‘zeal matties’. Thank you Boj, once again you prove to be a real friend.

Tomorrow we sort out Winsome, get her clean and ready for transport. Sunday we fly back home. So this wraps up Winsome’s Odyssey, it was an adventure which we all enjoyed very much. We had to accept that the elements always dictate what is possible, and that we are just passengers and guests here on this earth. The journey has been one I will never forget, thank you Harry, on behalf of your crew, for having us on this trip. We are all very happy to be with you these days. It has been an experience, and despite not finishing the race, we did finish the adventure in good health and without any structural damage. Thank you Winsome, for keeping us safe.

Bon vents,

Joost H

Post by Joost Heikens | October 25, 2014 |


  1. Dear crew,
    We are so happy you are all safe. We saw the video’s and admire your seamanship and that you were so cool.
    We also will never forget this race. We followed it intensily on the tracker and blogs.
    Best greetings,
    Bin and Corrie Kroon

    by Bin/Corrie Kroon | 26 Oct 2014 | 13:39
  2. To winsome’s skipper and crew,it was great having you all in Malta.Great getting to know you all.I am sure that this was the most exciting and adventurous experience in your sailing up till now i guess.
    See you next year for another Middle Sea RACE ? ps,Joost wonderful writing.all the best Mariana.

    by mariana | 26 Oct 2014 | 21:42
  3. Fully agree to the former writers and … All safe home.

    by Harry | 27 Oct 2014 | 12:59