Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia...
Tues 28th August
Strong headwind as forecast. Choppy, but insufficient fetch to allow a real swell to develop. Late afternoon the wind has blown itself out, allowing sailing until dark. I haven't managed to reach a 'place', but once camp is set I find myself blissfully content to be on this wild part of coast.
Wednesday 29th August
A nice strength headwind. Glorious sailing on a beautiful coastline. Stop in the lee of a slight point to inspect the shore. Without doubt, the beaches and waters of this part of the Ionian Sea are more plastic free than the Tyrrhenian. Low population density almost certainly a factor, and probably the winds and currents play a role too.
Advance to town of Cariati on dying breeze. No movement to the air for rest of day, but around dusk the sea has flattened-off and the gentlest of following breezes arrives, allowing a few miles to be sailed. Stop for a pizza and a few hours rest on the shingle of "Magic Beach", Mandatoriccio.
Thursday 30th August
Sleep isn't happening - and there's a generous moon - so may as well sail. Away by 3am. The lights and sounds of working fishing boats - which seem the only danger, as distances are difficult to judge. The smell of the air gives clues as to the origin of the breeze.
Calm at Capo Trionto - the southern limit of the Golfo di Corigliano - so paddle through the dawn. Then sail a tiny headwind to Fossa, a modest but likeable town, where early-rising locals line the beach, angling for tuna. Franky and Lorenzo bring coffee, chocolate and water whilst I take a nap.
A favourable thermal breeze arrives; carries me to the midpoint of the gulf where two currents collide to form a sand spit. Cutting the corner of the north side of the gulf the breeze dies. I eventually reach shore, but the shaded forest next to the lidos - that looked a good sleeping spot from a distance - is rubbish-strewn and there appears to be flat-packed furniture being traded out the back of vans - that could easily swallow an unguarded board... Shattered, I rest in the shade anyway, then at dusk struggle upwind to a safer feeling spot.
Friday 31st August
Coffee and croissant from nice folk at Camping Plingo. Zigzag up to Trebisacce, where a convenient pier offers shade for the sail. It's a nice town, where I can restock my repair kit. I am also down to my last euros, and in need of a cash machine. Ironic how the beachfront businesses say no to plastic, despite generating so much of the single use stuff...
Slow going for the rest of the day. A thunderstorm forces a stop, before dissolving away. Only a little storm. But no such thing as a little lightning strike, I reason.
Past the next headland I head for a collection of masts and stop at Roseta Capo Spulico sailing club. Another day of meagre distance. I could push on for another hour - but for what? What does relentless physical grind achieve? No, better to pace myself, have some time and energy to be with people, perhaps - through my experiences - have something to offer rather than be just a receiver of goodwill.
And anyway, why the damned hurry?
Saturday 1st September
A late start on the day thermal. Low ground and easy, downwind sailing.
Everyone seems to be fishing; everyone is curious about my own fishing, so again I experiment with trailing a line. I wonder why I do not fish more and enjoy it more, and realise that: the line slows the board, catches weed, requires the dropping and effortful uphauling of the sail on multiple additional occasions, is almost always being trolled at the wrong speed, imposes restrictions on the route that can be sailed... In Norway, when I did fish some more, I either fished or sailed. A peaceful mind, it seems, is a single primary objective.
By dusk there are masts visible: a target to make for. I land in the gloaming where Felipe and friends are pulling boats out the water. They explain that I have passed out of Calibria and am now in Basilicata. Thank you Felipe for dinner at nearby town Marconia, and a real bed at the sailing centre.
Sunday 2nd September
We go to see a turtle egg corridor under 24 hour watch by WWF volunteers. This is probably the first turtle nest site on this beach in 30 years. A sliver of good news, although the risks for the hatchlings are many.
Good breeze enables a direct crossing of the north corner of the Golfo di Tarranto. A few miles offshore a shoal of tuna break the surface whilst hunting.
I reach the shores of Puglia: rocky shores have replaced the miles of sand and landing options are few. At Saguerra (Baia d'Argento) a man waves from the rocks, it is Local Contact Cataldo who together with wife Brunella and son Guiseppe have provided the space and comfort to write this update.