Calabria - which I now know is the main part of the foot, of the boot of Italy - continues to gently resist progress. The thermal breezes are at best timid. Important miles come from the paddle. Early morning land breezes offer a few cheap miles before the calm hours arrive. Usually by then I'm a way offshore, and the still air means it is breakfast time on board: coffee from the flask, and something for the stomach. After a half hour wait the sea is smooth and glassy and invites some paddling. I set up in SUP mode, assume a rhythm for the long haul, and enjoy the miles until land is reached.
Later I'll set off again. The daytime thermal wind comes in from the left, but will eventually swing right, so there's little point rushing back out. Then - if the coastline is friendly - which it mostly is - sail until sunset.
Two days ago I landed, near end of day, at Campora San Giovanni and was noticed by Manu - who offered water, and returned with water-melon too, and then offered a bed for the night. A real bed, first one of those for a while. Another very natural coincidence to have landed there, then, at that time; and a very calming, restorative and heart-warming stop. First shave in a month. Shower. Stretch out contracted muscles. Even washing! A comfortable night, late breakfast and lazy morning. Perfect. Sailing again in the afternoon, feeling as if I had just had a full day off.
For a few miles I try to cross the Gulf of St Eufemia, before thinking better of it. A nocturnal paddle would be OK, a squall or downpour would be perhaps fun, but being caught out in lightning is to be avoided, and there are big clouds brewing. Small fish jump, bigger fish hunt. Spanish Mackeral pursuing sardines is my guess, but happy to hear more likely suggestions.
The storm threat proves an empty one today, but approaching Marinella at sunset fills me with wonder. A few swallows arrive. Then a few more, until eventually thousands fill the sky. Then a vee formation of eagles or maybe vultures arrive, change arrangement to a ring and circle for a while, presumably gaining height a thermal. I slow the board, sail with head craned skyward, eyes and ears taking in the spectacle.
Bed is a beautiful beach, strewn with plastic. Thousands of bottles. I think of childhood and messages in bottles - glass ones then. Now the bottle itself is a message: for us to listen up to our impact on the planet.
Head way offshore this morning to bypass the corner of the Gulf. Pump a few miles until the land breeze peters out. Breakfast. Paddle.
Look down into the perfect blue, penetrated now by the mid-morning sun. Wonder for some moments, as I wonder for some moments every day: do I see more plastic than there really is? Paddle past another bag, a random shoe, more bags, older algae-covered plastic sheets of various sizes, more bottles, containers various, stuff that floats, stuff that half floats, stuff I can identify, and stuff I can only identify as plastic somethings. This is how the Mediterranean is now. A beautiful sea we are steadily filling with single use garbage.
Reach the coast - under sail again now - where - over a shallow part of sea - thousands of darkly coloured fish contrast with the vivid turquoise water.
Reach Zambrone. Stop for cappucini, panino, and - sigh - plastic bottle of water. Return the plastic cup it is served with, explaining in my spanglo-italian "enough plastic already, thankyou".