39:47.65N 18:21.40E Santa Maria di Leuca
Tuesday, 5th July, 2011.
We got up at our usual early time and cast off our lines and we left Crotone harbour and headed out past the gas platforms and into the Golf di Taranto. The sea was like glass so therefore we were motoring as there was no wind. To our surprise across the horizon came a nuclear submarine heading into Taranto. Roughly an hour later came the second one heading in the same direction. It is amazing to think so many people live in a submarine for some many months at a time.
At about the same time we were lucky enough to see 2 fin whales (39:19.80N 17:34.60E) on the surface and then a third came and joined them and they seem to be sunbathing in the warm water heading south. It was a great sight to see and our first whales in three years of this trip. (Sorry Miss P. they were not minky whales).
We had lunch, 4 o’clock cup of tea and we were still motoring and then the wind and clouds arrived and we were reefing and rolling the genoa and we were hitting 38 knots of wind. It didn’t appear to be getting any better so we decided to turn around and try to out run it which worked. It added around 6 miles to our journey but we were safe and once the squall went through we did a 180 and we were back on course. We arrived outside Santa Maria di Leuca marina just before 9 o’clock and dropped the anchor among half a dozen boats and cooked the second helping of sword fish.
On discovering today, Santa Maria di Leuca is a very pretty tourist resort with lovely colonial houses around the harbour. We passed the impressive caves on our way in. The name of the town comes from its white limestone cliffs, the Greek “leucos” means white. It has a big hotel and lots of lido’s around the bay. Little day boats come out and spend the day swimming and sun bathing just the other side of the harbour wall.
The monumental stone staircase up to the lighthouse was built by Mussolini as a ceremonial gateway into Italy as it is the furthest point south on the east coast. We think we will leave the heel of Italy tomorrow and across to Corfu weather permitting.