Once reaching the sheltered waters of Othoni, the remainder of the trip to Gouvia Marina (see www.medmarinas.com) was smooth and scenic. Corfu is a splendid island with lush vegetation softening its rugged features (stated as I scratched the rather lush facial vegetation softening my own imaginary rugged features). BTW has anyone successfully shaved while sailing his Yarmouth23?
Safely nestled in our berth opposite the seaplane service (see www.airsealines.com) I set about the unhappy task of packing and the many and varied chores necessary when leaving the boat for a lengthy period. I found quite a bit of water in the bilge and I can only imagine that it came in through the pushpit lockers during the crossing from Italy. I really must do something about that.
Following a short stop for dinner at Santa Maria di Leuca we said farewell to Italy and sped across to Greece on a lumpy sea and a broad reach, a distance of less than 50 miles between S.Maria di Leuca and the closest Greek island (Othoni).
I generally enjoy sailing at night, but only when the waves stay on their side of the freeboard. On this trip there was no need to set an alarm to wake me for the compulsory shipping lookout, if I dozed for more than a few minutes a frolicsome wave was sure to rouse me from my slumber with a frigid dousing. Fabulous.
75 uneventful and fishless (yes I’m now trying for catch number two) miles later I entered the mercantile port of Gallipoli and was directed to a berth against the inner breakwater. Time to play tourist in Gallipoli (which incidentally derives from the Greek or Latin word for beautiful city). This is a favorite and inexpensive destination for Italians on summer vacation and boasts beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and fabulous food.
Apart from the local fishing boats there were not too many sailors about, it would appear that the tourists and locals alike are more interested in doing seal impersonations and sunning themselves golden brown on the rocks all day. Pay no heed to that last covetous remark while I dab yet more sunscreen on my pasty white office complexion.
My mum was in gastronomic heaven and had a ball. I just wanted to go sailing, so without further ado I shanghaied her for the next leg to Corfu.
I asked the manager of the boat yard for some assistance in fitting the gear, but he made such a song and dance of how complicated it could be that I decided the path of least resistance was to DIY.
Perhaps the temperature had something to do with his reluctance. I never knew the human body could perspire with such exuberance!
Several blasphemous hours later the recalcitrant contraption was where it should be, but I still needed to modify the Autohelm bracket, fit some internal bracing to the through-bolts, and mount my flagstaff elsewhere.
The Autohelm bracket was essential because while the Aries is now bolted in place, it will not yet be operational until I get around to rigging blocks and running gear. A long sail to Gallipoli across the Gulf of Taranto without my trusty robotic assistant would be tiring to say the least. After negotiating access to the yard’s workshop I enthusiastically hammered the old bracket into a U-shape contrivance which mounts laterally on top of the tiller. Voila!
The other tasks would have to wait for another day.
A few celebratory drinks with the gregarious Neapolitan berthed nearby followed before I cast off from the pylons (a rather tricky maneuver), waved goodbye, and motored on through the much-improved (i.e. recently dredged) marina channel to the sea.
I set a heading of 70° and raised the mainsail as the sun set. Free at last.
It was a trouble free 2000km drive from Belgium to Sibari via Gallipoli (where I left my mum for some R&R at a friendly little hotel www.hotelbianco.it ) but without air-conditioning in my FIAT 600 it was a somewhat viscous affair especially when the thermometer rose above 32°C.
The relief at finding Eileen of Avoca safe at her berth in Sibari was palpable. Relegating loading stores to the morning I fortified myself for the task of mounting my Aries vane gear by attempting a world sleeping record. Unfortunately the vane gear was still to be found clogging the companionway upon regaining consciousness.