Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Great League

Day 54:

Today I paddled from Porto Stefano to Porto Ercole. I intended to go much farther, but I was beat. I don't know why, but I couldn't paddle five minutes without wanting a break.

Argentario used to be an island, roads now connect it to the mainland making it a big peninsula. It's an amazing place. The usual fantastic woods, small islands just offshore, mighty cliffs, and deep sea caves.

Today I paddled into my first sea cave, large enough to get my entire boat in with plentyof room to spare. I had a look around the cavern. The water was calm, clear, and a lighter shade of blue. The ceiling rose high above me and from the center, I could see just about all of it. There were two entrances. On my way out I sang, adding "explorer extraordinare" to my list of attributes.

An old fisherman was talking to me from his boat and I told him I didn't understand Italian. That didn't stop him. He went right on telling me things. I was worried that he was trying to warn me of some fatal danger ahead.

Instead of dying, I caught a fish. I had it on my line and tried to pull it in. I couldn't, it wasstuck on my rudder. I dragged it behind me until I could pull over. There were seagulls flying overhead so I tried explaining to them that it would be very rude of them to take my fish from behind my boat. Since this had little effect I tried yelling like a crazy man.

I finally found a tiny private port to pull over in. I straightened out my fish and spoke to the men working on the house above. All I needed for the night, and I was ready to call it a day, was water. I would ask for water and permission to sleep by the small dock, tell my story, and hope for greater hospitality.

The man working on the house said that he could not give me water because he was just working there. He added that the owner of the house was the queen of Holland and was not home right now. At least, she was not in this one.

I got back in my boat and paddled some more. I kept the fish in the water along side theboat hoping this would keep it fresh.

When I got to port, steering clear of coast guard run Capianteria, I found the yacht clubclubhouse and asked if I could sleep there. The answer was no. There were a few old guys seated outside talking, so I tried standing around looking pathetic for a while. One of them pointed to a large fishing boat and suggested that I might be allowed to sleep there.

No thanks. I went back to my kayak and began setting up for another evening of sleep-in- hiding. A boat pulled up and the man aboard spoke English. We chatted as he disembarked and closed up. I showed him my catch of the day. He looked at it and said he caught one like that too. He used as bait for this. He held up a giant red sea monster, at least a hundred pounds. He brought it up from a depth of a hundred meters. Tokyo can now rest easy.

He also mentioned that there is a Lega Navale* here in town. I followed his directions to a man who said that I could sleep here. Let me use the internet, and gave me that which I treasure above all, a welcoming smile.

The Coast Guard ports in Italy are unfriendly places of motor bureaucracy. Lega Navale Italiano is company of men and woman who are making the world a better place, one boat at a time.

* The Italian Yacht Club ~ ed.



  1. I have taken a photo of all three fish caught so far.

  2. do the fish have names? i guess i mean did they have names? well actually, did they get named posthumously?

  3. So how big are these fish?

  4. The 2nd fish I name Huckleberry. The third fish was beat up from getting stuck in my rudder, and I felt unworthy to name him.

  5. You can judge the size of this fish by knowing that the lure, which appears in the picture, is about 8 inches long. They waid in at about 5'8" and 165 pounds. Wait, no, that's me. They were the right size to fit nicely in my belly.