Saturday, 3 May 2014

Voyage to Sicilia Part 5 - The Bay of Squalls

Friday 25th October 2013 : Crotone to Rocella Ionica 63 miles

(I’m now writing this in hindsight so this is an un-edited extract from my diary which makes slightly more interesting reading than the logbook).

“So it goes like this – alarm goes off at 05.35, an hour beore the sky begins to lighten, awake from fitful, dream-filled sleep, put on thermals and other warming garb, prepare coffee and turn on computers to plot today’s course as Tim takes the dogs out for their morning scavenge walk.

Just before the sky lightens, we spend 15 minutes faffing about with lines, fenders, tender etc and leave harbour just as there is enough light to give inky black waters a silvery gleam.  Avoiding fishing pots, floats and other fishing detritus, we weave our way out to sea and another day of staring at the near horizon begins.

Italy’s distinctive shape makes it a great country to traverse, with huge gulfs to cross so you have several “out of sight of land” days and it forces you to bite off sizeable chunks rather than our preferred 7 hour days.  The dogs are not hugely impressed by the new regime, however.  The recognisable shape of the boot of Italy, its heel, its sole, its toe, make it such a satisfying coast to run along, which makes up for the (sorry Italian folks) boring landscape.”

Notes from logbook:

  • 0720 Rounding Cape Colonne, sun rising through cloud line, orange/red huge fireball.
  • 0923 Just passing Le Castella, castle looks great. It may have been a better move, with hindsight, to split the journey and overnight there, was worried we wouldn’t get a berth.
  • 1220 After 430 miles, finally adjusted autopilot (rudder sensitivity and response) so it stops wandering 10 degrees off course.  Hooray! I can’t believe we haven’t looked at this earlier!
  • 1230 Trying to get dogs to use cat litter. Pointless waste of time and money.
  • 1250 Mountains at foot of Italy coming into view, quite high and impressive this is why it is called the Bay of Squalls.
  • 1430 Stunning coastline along the toe of Italy - mountainous, rugged and familiar. I miss the mountains!

Approach to Rocella Ionica
1600 Zikk Zakk (Norwegian boat) boldly tried to navigate sandbank at Rocella Ionica harbour entrance using their chart plotter (notorious shifting sandbanks which require very careful navigation).  We stood off and watched, it wasn’t looking good.  Luckily (some may say), the harbour shared the same channel (14) as we’d been chattering away on all day so were fully aware of their intentions and the wonderful Francesco, the harbour master, intervened seconds before ZZ grounded.

I wouldn’t want to enter this harbour in any wind or sea state. 

Stayed in RI for an R&R day as fog was forecast (never came). It reminded me a lot of the south of France, with pines and eucalyptus running behind the proper long sandy beach.  Had a great day – beach walked into town (3km), everyone very friendly, nice lunch, took cold beers to sunny beach and swam.  Realised it was the first time we’d ever sat on a beach together – how crazy is that??
Sandy beach, cold beer, best mate by my side (that's Tim, not the beer, honest)

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