Calabria 29 May - 4 June

We chose Scilla, at the north end of the Straights of Messina, as our destination, because we could easily make it in daylight, and could avoid the TSS in the Straights.

We had a following wind all the way, but with more excitement than we'd bargained for. The first squall that came through appeared to bear nothing but rain, but it also carried enough static charge to destroy our wind sensor. The second, mid-afternoon, had a strengthening wind that eventually pushed us to a steady 17 knots, under full main, with no way of shortening sail. Razzmatazz was rock steady, as though on rails, but I was terrified with no instruments that we might gibe and lose the mast.

E1 Scilla7 (107K) E2 Scilla (68K)
Scilla harbour A gap between houses used to house a fishing boat

Anyway, we reached Scilla in one piece to find a single, hopefully, visitors' buoy. We phoned the number in the pilot book, and a helpful boatman came out and offered us an extra line to pull the boat head to swell rather than wind, and we had a peaceful night. Scilla has fishermen's cottages clinging to the hillside, with boats pulled into their front porches. A longer stay in calmer weather would be delightful.

From Scilla, we had an easy sail to Reggio Calabria, which we thought horrible and expensive, then out of the Straights, with Etna looming in the distance, and along the footpad of Italy to Roccella Ionica. Typically, after an easy sail under gennaker through the straights and 10 miles short of Roccella Ionica, a northerly F5/6 kicked up a sea of short, square waves. We tacked right inshore and could then lay the course with one keel scraping the sand, but in smooth water. Above us, in the mountains, was a tantalising hill city clinging to its cliffs.

Roccella Ionica used to be an abandoned marina that any boat could use for a 20 euro "administrative" charge. It is now becoming a full, managed marina with water and electricity and typical, high Italian charges. Anyway, the electricity wasn't working when we arrived, and we got the 20 euro deal, but were told that next time....

From Roccella Ionica, you have a choice of hugging the coast to the heel of Italy, then a short hop to Corfu, or striking out for Kefalonia directly. Everyone we'd met who'd tried the coast route had been "beaten up" by squalls crossing the Golfo di Squillace (hence the name), and none had had a nice sail for any of it. So, we decided on the direct route, but after waiting for a favourable forecast.

Gerace1 (59K) Gerace2 (52K)
Looking out from Gerace The Norman castle
While we waited for 3 days, we enjoyed the town of Roccella Ionica, which is a convenient 2 mile cycle ride from the port. On our last day, we took the absurdly cheap train and bus to the hill city we'd seen, Gerace. We were rewarded by wonderful views of the coastal plain below, an extraordinary cathedral, and the ruins of an impregnable Norman castle.