Sunday, July 31, 2011

To Greece

[Kyle]Around midday we pulled the anchor out of the Sicilian sand and set off under sail through the Strait of Messina. We had a few initial moments of frustration as the wind was swirling all over the place and we had to steer what must have looked like a very erratic course to the sunbathers we left behind on the beach. It seemed the wind was trying to steer us into buoys and into the paths of the oncoming ferries, all of which we were just able to avoid.

Passing the marina at Messina, the wind finally steadied from behind and pushed us around the toe of Italy. The water was flat and we were going faster than everything except the big ships. As we curved around the land, the wind bent with us so we hardly had to adjust sail at all. Our wind angle was such that we were just barely converging on the shore by about two or three degrees. We’d converge and converge until we’d be getting worried about an upcoming rock or to the waders on the beaches, then we’d gybe the main, turn 20 degrees and run wing and wing until we were a couple hundred meters off, then we’d start it all over again.

We converged on a Swiss boat that was giving us a pretty good run for our money. I was doing everything I could to try to get every last ounce of speed out of Footprint when Maryanne noticed their engine exhaust. They were motorsailing, the dirty cheaters!

Once we left land and stared diverging into the Ionian Sea, the wind thinned out until it could barely hold the sails up, leaving us at last in the wake of the Swiss. On a couple of occasions, we just gave up entirely and pulled them down to get a break from the noise of the slatting until a breeze picked up again.

Is I’m writing this, we’ve been underway for 51 hours and have sailed just under 140 miles. In our slowest hour we advanced just over 2000 feet.

The weather has been beautiful so far – t-shirt weather 24 hours a day. The sky has been blue and absolutely cloudless the whole time, making for scorching days in the still air and crystal-clear stargazing at night. The stars are visible right down to the horizon, where they shine with a tinge of red – a thousand little sunrises from other suns. The last two dawns in a row I’ve been lucky enough to see the green flash each time.

Rounding the toe of Italy looks just as fun from that road


kate said...

Beautiful! (sorry, I can't think of anything more original to say about it...) But I am curious to know what those coliseum-like steps are that appear to be carved into the brown hill in the distance. Yes, that is a real question I am asking, and neither of you need be wary of answering :)

SV-Footprint said...

Kate - The hill is terraced for some sort of agriculture (not sure exactly what) - looks pretty cool eh? We've seen it a lot but not close enough to identify the crop (Could be grapes?)

On the other picture those arches are the supports for the road that also rounds the toe. Looks like a fantastic ride to me!