Reggio Calabria to the sole of the boot

After our belated wedding anniversary celebration and considerably lighter in the pocket, we are understandably not up early the next morning. Our new friends, Ivan and his family are leaving at a similar time on their way to Tunisia, where he reports fuel is still 80 cents a litre so I would have saved €1,000 but we would have lost at least a day negotiating the entry requirements, visas and customs. Still one to note when we have more time on our return.

We have spent a bit of time speaking to Ivan and his wife who are a lovely couple living in Canada with their four young children but clearly, as a couple, not afraid to be away for a short while to do something important for them. We have discussed various things we have done to our boats and we discover that he has the Italian air conditioning units we want. He has over indulged and bought five different units, these aren’t cheap, although he does say that it seems any two or three are enough to cool the boat beautifully and they are so quiet he forgets they are on. Needless to say this hasn’t changed Maria’s mind at all, we will be upgrading ours I am sure and I am impressed with the mariadz-like redundancy in the set up.

We are ready to depart first and there is a little trepedition from us. Ivan seems really relaxed but I still put an additional fender over our kedge anchor that hangs on the push pit rail on the starboard side. It is metal and pokes out a bit so better to be safe. The previous evening another boat has come in on our other side but there is lots of room. This boat comes from Southampton and is British flagged but with a skipper who doesn’t speak English. That was a surprise.

We call into the port authority to clear our departure, apparently that is a €300 fine if they are being picky and I guess if you get in the way of a commercial ship. They seem confused that we are asking permission but wish a safe journey.

Maria feels happy taking mariadz out as I start dropping the mid lines before moving to the bow to take off the two lazy lines. I watch them drop and then go to the stern to remove the last two lines with maria slightly under power going forward to make sure we don’t drift at all as the lines come off. With both the stern lines off, maria takes her off a little sideways keeping away from Ivan who is till downwind of us. As she gets more underway she can straighten the wheel before we are clear. A long burst of bow thruster and turning hard gets us centre channel and we are on our way. Thankfully we have shown the problem the other day was a twenty knot cross wind and not that we habitually go around banging into boats, even with fenders ready.

As we come out of the harbour, there is a high speed hydrofoil passenger ship coming in and we all play nicely giving lots of room and we are clear. Getting to the end of the exit “cone” where they like shipping to travel to and from the harbour, we are now free to turn south and finish the Messina strait. We are getting a little tide as we start this but before the end of the strait we are against the tide. Unfortunately this stays the same for the whole of this trip as we successfully miss the tide for the next eight hours no mean feat.

As we head east after the Messina straits, the guardia costiera are following us in a large ship. They are tracking us at nearly the same speed and are not on AIS so I assume they are looking out for any wrong doing. maria is given strict instructions to be very well behaved 🙂 however, they track us for a number of miles.

On this part of the coast there are a number of exclusion zones so we need to make sure our course accounts for these especially under the watchful eye of the coast guard. Some of these seem to be locations of unexplored bombs looking at the charts which is a huge incentive but we do see large container ships going through these.

The wind has shifted from northerly to south easterly which was expected and exactly what we want. This wind will be across us beautifully and is the best point of sail for Mariadz. we are having a fantastic sail even if against the tide so not as fast as we would like but the engine is off and we are getting eight knots through the water from only 13knots of wind. The slight changes in wind direction means we are constantly changing sail plan as the situation changes.

At times we have felt like complete frauds who know nothing, imposter syndrome about sailing, but actually as Mariadz sits there flying through the water beautifully balanced we could be forgiven for starting to think that we may have the first idea of what to do.

As we are heading north east up the sole of the boot, we see behind us another sailing boat. She is a number of miles away but is so big you can make her out quite easily. She is the 57M Ngoni, who unfortunately seems to be on engine with no sail up. I’m sure they can see us bombing along as they soon put up some sail to help them but it is a shame not to see her in all her glory, I imagine she would have been super quick with that perfect wind. Ngoni is travelling at 11 knots against the tide so I am sorry Mariadz you can’t compete with that, but Mariadz does drag it out for some time by going really fast herself.

The winds are changing and starting to come from behind us more and so we decide to pole out our headsail. We have used the pole a fair few times since Plymouth but whoever has been crewing has been keen to help and Maria won’t throw herself in front of people so she has stood back while everyone got on with it. Not today, this is a time for the Dunlop members of the crew to work together and sort this out. The theory with the pole is quite simple: A line to hold it up, a line to prevent it from coming back and the sheet threaded through the end of the pole which pulls the whole set up back. This doesn’t take long to set up and the headsail is back out and held out there. We noticed when we did this before that the slightly different sail shape provided by the pole, really added speed and we gained a knot by doing this both times we did it. So we now have a poled out headsail and the main out with another preventer stopping any accidents with the main. I did say we liked to be safe!

As we approach our destination, an anchorage outside a beach club at siderno, we have had some lovely us time and the weather has been great.

Our intention on arrival, was to anchor off drop the rib and enjoy some of the nightlife but we have been told that no motor craft can approach the swimming zones of the beach so unless we want to swim….. getting there probably not a problem but doesn’t sound safe for returning afterwards with a few drinks inside you.

Instead we decide to prepare a hot stone for meats and vegetables with the remaining salad and settle in for a nice evening listening to our music and the music coming across from the various bars.

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