Reggio di Calabria via Stromboli
37:50.764N 15:17.503E Sat 2nd Jul 2016
We stayed nearly a week in Scario and whilst there cleaned “Goldcrest” very thoroughly inside and out. Her newly cleaned bottom rewarded all David’s hard work as it helped us to move better in the light winds that persisted in the area. We had a 10 hour passage down the coast to Tropea and did manage to sail for several hours during the afternoon in the ghost of a breeze. Tropea, perched on the cliffs above some lovely beaches, was a delight to revisit. Whilst there we caught some lively local folk dancing and wondered how the participants kept cool enough in their complex costumes. We had obviously arrived at red onion time and the shops were bursting with long strings of them at give away prices, so we had to buy one. Now cook is not sure how to get through quite so many! Skipper went up the mast to investigate our wind instrument which had played up en route and declared it “knackered”, so another thing to replace somewhere before long.
Dancing in Tropea:
From Tropea there are good views across to the iconic volcanic cone of Stromboli and we decided we had to visit it while weather conditions were still benign. The volcano is always active, letting off bursts of smoke and flame very frequently. We left after lunch to motor the 32 miles but had an unexpectedly lovely sail for 1½ hours in very light winds again. There is definitely a lesson there in keeping bums pristine! We anchored off the island along with dozens of other boats and made plans to take our dinghy around to the side of the volcano with the best views of the activity after dark. Unfortunately our very reliable outboard failed to start, so instead we had to motor around in Goldcrest and then re-anchor in the dark later, back where we had started. We did catch Stromboli in action twice and felt it was worth the effort, although the real highlight of the day for first mate was seeing a large swordfish jump right out of the water very close to the boat!
We moved on somewhat earlier than intended the following morning as we were chased away from the anchorage by a guy policing his section of beach and the water 300m beyond it. So just after 9am we were motoring (hardly any wind again) towards the Straits of Messina. After another short bout of slow sailing, we decided we could enter the infamous straits ahead of the favourable tides as conditions were so benign. There were still some whirlpools, contrary currents (4kts for half an hour) and short, vigorous chop but skipper “read” the eddies very well and we reached Reggio di Calabria ahead of the game as a result. We were berthed in the little corner of the port run by the Lega Navale just before beer o’clock. In the straits we had a very good view of one of the extraordinary swordfishing boats which only go out when it is very calm. They have a bowsprit which is longer than the boat and a chair at the top of the mast from which the captain can steer and spot the fish which stay near the surface during the day. A man stands at the end of the bowsprit ready to harpoon the poor fish which seems to be on every menu in this part of the world. Lindsay was so glad she had seen one that (hopefully) got away!
Our reason for revisiting Reggio, which is not a very appealing town, is that it is home to a museum which houses 2 magnificent ancient Greek bronzes which we missed first time around in “Red Panda”. We were outside the museum as it opened the morning after our arrival and the star exhibits were worth the trip. The two 5th century BC bronze statues of warriors are over 2m tall and quite superb. They were found in 1972 lying in the sand off the coast of the village of Riace near Reggio and treated with incredible care to clean and preserve them. The statues sit on plinths specially designed to withstand earthquakes and you have to spend a few minutes in a de-contamination chamber before being allowed in to see them. We then looked around at other early finds from the region including a distinctive child’s sarcophagus in the shape of a sandaled foot.
After returning to the boat, David sweated buckets over the outboard in the heat but could not get it working so we decided to get going at lunchtime. Despite our berth in Reggio being in an infinitely better position than last time, we still didn’t want to be stuck there for more than one day and Sicily was calling.