If you prefer to ignore VTS , have your credit card handy
If the authorities don’t board you at sea , they will track you via AIS
then fine you when you clear in or interact with port authorities .
From a cruising guide ......
The Strait of Messina: Call in regardless of what the regulations
1 September 2013.
We met Tom and Bev from Minnesota
in Gaita, Italy
. They relayed to us the unpleasant experience they had of being stopped in the Messina Straits and being given a 1,800 Euro ticket for failing to check in with the VTS control before entering the straits (see prior Noonsite post below).
Being forewarned, I accessed the Costa Guardia website and did find that per the written regulations
, no contact seemed to be required for a normal sized sailing yacht. However, when we passed through earlier this morning, we found that the practice differs from the writings on the Guardia website. About an hour out and thinking that I was probably being foolish on a 16.7-meter vessel, I called VTS (+39 090 41711 was the number that I called, others listed are +39 090 41923 and +39 090 41989 but are untested by me). To my surprise, the person answering not only took me seriously, but he also went through a list of detailed questions about our vessel and our last port of call, ending the call by instructing me to call in again when we reached the straits on channel 10. We did so and, after being given very specific instructions, we were monitored all the way to Marina Natunno where VTS noted that he wanted me to call in and then monitored the call to the harbour to be sure that I was exiting the traffic control system at that point.
Traffic within the straits is quite heavy (especially the ferry
boats) and the VTS functions as a form of air traffic control, to prevent collisions. We noticed at least two patrol boats in the straits while we were passing through. The bottom line seems to be to call in regardless of what the regs say.
As a side note, the Costa Guardia station at Messina bent over backwards to help me out and provided documentation
checking me out of Italy
for presentation when we reach Greece
later this week (no charge). As a non-EU vessel, I felt that having the magic government
stamp on a document might come in very handy once we sail 250 miles to Greece
(hard to turn around and run back to get it if it turns out we need it). We had a very positive experience with these folks.
The Strait of Messina: Incident with the Coast Guard
Report into the VTS before transiting the straits to avoid possible fines.
On May 4, 2013, we transited the Messina Strait, Italy, northbound.
Conditions were favourable, light winds and little current
. We entered the Strait along the SW side and crossed the VTS to just South of the Catona along the Eastside and were proceeding North. There was light commercial
traffic and we presented NO traffic issues while crossing the traffic lanes. A second yacht was also transiting Northbound and they were along the East side just ahead of us. They were coming in from the East and were unknown to us and we never spoke directly with them.
Just south of Giovanni, an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat
approached the first yacht and requested that they drop all sails
and hold station. The CG then came to us and told us to drops sails
and stop the engine
. From the action onboard the patrol boat
they were preparing to raft up with us. At the time it was a moderately choppy sea and I indicated that I would not allow their rafting. Their high black rub rail was about mid-lifeline height! They did not raft up.
The CG boat then came close and informed us that we had NOT reported into Messina VTS. They requested our Ships papers, Passports and the Constito (Italian cruising permit). After approximately 40 minutes the CG returned with our Paperwork and an Infraction Document. The fine was 2064 euro! The infraction was for NOT reporting into VTS prior to entering the VTS zone. Fortunately, the fine was only to be paid if we departed Italy and re-entered at a later date.
After releasing us, the CG proceeded to the 2nd yacht and started to raft to them. About mid-way through the process of rafting up the CG boat backed off and departed the area. The 2nd yacht looked over at us with a “what was that all about?” look. They had to wait around for about 45 minutes. The CG boat never returned.
We have spoken to a number of other yachts that have transited previously and only a very few have ever contacted VTS. I had thought that our crossing of the VTS may have raised the flag?? The second yacht did not cross over the VTS but they were also stopped but not fined???
So, if anyone is planning to Transit the Messina Strait, I would recommend that they call Messina Strait Harbor Control @ ch 16 or VTS @ ch 10, prior to entering the Strait.
Tom Walton & Bev Newberry