Italy Voyage 2021 – From Arenzano to RomeDecember 2, 2021
Φάση 1: Ιστιοπλοϊκός γύρος για συλλογή δεδομένωνDecember 20, 2021
Ostia to Calabria, Reggio – 29th to 3rd December
The days have become so cold that we can see our breath inside the cabin in the morning. And so we are glad to finally be able to leave Ostia and the snowy mountains behind it, heading south into warmer waters. It takes us five days until we reach Reggio in Calabria. Sometimes we are sailing underneath a thick layer of clouds, with our bow chasing the single little piece of blue on the horizon, at other times finding ourselves underneath a clear sky covered with stars.
On our way, we pass by Stromboli, or the “Lighthouse of the Tyrrhenian“, a constantly active volcano just north of Sicily. Already from over thirty miles away we can see the red fire it spits in the Aeolian darkness, announcing its position. It is an image I know I’ll carry with me for a long time, showing me once again the power and beauty of nature. On this longer passage, like always, things like dates, days, and time become irrelevant. So we’re left with nothing but the moment itself, the sea, the waves, and the wind. And what else does one need?
Reggio to San Foca – 3rd to 6th December
In Reggio we decide a slight change of plans: instead of crossing over to Greece directly, we will follow the Italian coast up north, all the way to San Foca. Slowly we travel along the coast, often resting for the night. In Crotone we make our last stop, stocking up with food before going on another 24-hour passage. It has been over three weeks now since we’ve stepped on board FLORA. Life on board has become somewhat normal, the manoeuvres almost a habit. Everything else seems to be far away.
The night leaves us with a stable wind. We only slightly have to adjust the sails from time to time and glide through the water. As we set our heading, Kay laughs and says: “we only have to follow the light pollution on the horizon”, a lit part in the dark sky. And so we wonder if people that are mainly underway on land, in towns and cities, even realise how much the sky gets disturbed by the lights, how it swallows the stars. And if they even know how precious and beautiful a night can be or if most of us have forgotten and are used to seeing nothing but artificial light when they look up.
Lecce – 7th December
In the afternoon, Maurice and I spend the time strolling through the old town of Lecce. Due to the town’s Baroque, of which many monuments are found in the city, it is commonly nicknamed “The Florence of the South”. All the buildings have a sandy colour, only interrupted by the plants and cacti along the tiny balconies. It almost feels labyrinth-like with the many crooked alleys and corners, making one loose its orientation. The streets are mainly empty, only a few people are passing by, their coats going up to their noses and their hats pulled deep down. Around many buildings there are scaffoldings, and the noise of hammering and sandpaper echoes through the streets. Handymen in dungarees are enjoying the last sun rays passing through, with a cigarette in the corner of their mouths, before they get back to fighting time in the decay of the old houses and streets. We seek some rest in a little café. One of those where the coffee still costs just one euro, where not much happens, and you immediately get the feeling of comfort. After many days on the water I carry the movement of the sea with me, making the ground seem unstable, in a constant wavy motion, so I am always glad to be back on the boat again, back to the familiar rocking.
San Foca to Corfu – 8th to 9th December
We leave San Foca before the sun has made its way up the horizon. The cold northern wind makes us put on every warm bit of clothing we have, and freezes our fingers until its hard to move them. With 14kts from behind, we make our way leaving Italy behind. The big mountains of Albania appear closer and closer, their peaks covered in snow. After a couple of hours we see the first island of Greece, just off our bow. And as we come closer, once again we realise that the sea and nature do not care about borders, neither about those who create them. A line on a chart, a division in our heads, simply does not exist out there, where there is nothing but on-going blue.
The nature awaiting us is breath taking. Never before I have seen a world so fully blue: the mountains, the sea, the sky full of layers of clouds. As the night sets we sail between the little islands of Othonoi and Errikousa and drop anchor on the north coast of Corfu. As all the little lights pass by and we sail into the bay we become curious to see what will wait for us when we wake up in the morning and look outside.
The wind has changed to a strong southern wind, warming the air. The sea around us is in a dusty turquoise; in front of us are the green hills of Corfu with a few houses by the beach. From time to time heavy rain passes over us, making the land disappear and our boat moving heavily in up to 40kts. It’s a play of colors in the sea as the light is constantly changing. Whenever the sun breaks through the clouds, rainbows appear on the horizon. It‘s a calm day on anchor, a good time to rest and let the past weeks pass through the mind before starting the next chapter: our journey along the west coast of Greece, all around the Peloponnese, up to Lavrio.
Notes by Hannah Gruner, volunteer crew at Aegean Cargo Sailing – Italy Voyage 2021