Greece to Sicily and Italy

Thu 26 Aug 2010 19:01
Tuesday, 24th August
38:23.477N 15:51.699E
Left Pilos on the Western Peleponnisis of Greece in the very early hours of Monday 16th and headed West, sailed close hauled not quite on course, wind 18 knots and lumpy sea then late afternoon disaster struck as the Genoa sail ripped again!!  Different place and different reason but mega problem as wind and sea building.  After Syd had a very hairy trip to the top of the mast to retrieve the sail he put up the only remaining intact sail the 'storm jib' and he got the sewing kit out again, not easy as boat bouncing around!  Repair done 'storm jib' came down and a very patched Genoa went back up - just in time for wind to pick up and alter direction so back on course 7 knots and close hauled. Wind dropped on Tuesday and had to motor for over 100 miles then wind increased and seas started building, under sail again with 2 reefs in and flying.  Early Wednesday morning Italy and Sicily came into view, the wind dropped and motor went on again, then as we reached the Straits of Messina the wind and sea picked up yet again, sails went up again and flew up the Straits averaging 7 knots into the port of Messina in Sicily, went into the only Marina and tied up to a floating pontoon to discover the charge was 100 euros a night (excluding water and electric!!).  No choice but to stay and pay!  Very tired but had a look round Messina which was a very large busy city with lovely architecture and very friendly people but not a lot more so left midday Thursday and headed through the notorious Straits with their ancient legends of sea monsters plucking unsuspecting yachts out of the sea and dropping them into whirlpools (never to be seen again!).  Saw the whirlpools but luckily no monsters! Crossed to the Italian side and sailed up the Southern coast of Calabria where we eventually found an unfinished harbour near the town of Palmi next to the seaside resort of Taureana.  The harbour had only small boats in it but as it was getting late Syd tied up to an old Gulet which looked like it was going nowhere.  Later that evening the owners came on board and very luckily the owner's brother Gianluca spoke fantastic English (studied at Oxford) and welcomed us.  We then spent the next week exploring beautfiul Calabria.  Gianluca pointed me in the direction of the riding stables where I had 2 wonderful rides along the amazing white sand beaches which run for miles, and he took Syd on a day out mountain biking around the Ionian side of the toe of Italy.  Calabria is stunning, totally unspoilt with lovely beaches and wonderful people.  We had a week with no wind forcast and temperatures in the 30's every day but sadly had to move on, Aeolian Islands next stop.