Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 78


It was raining.  I went back to sleep for another hour and a half, when I woke up it was still raining - raining hard.  I ate, packed my things up, and walked out of the warm house into the cold rain.

With a few spectators I put my drytop on, loaded my boat on the jetski dock, and launched.  The spectators watched from under an awning.

I paddled in the rain.  The cliffs climbed into mountains that climbed into the dark low hanging clouds.  Muddy waterfalls poured down them and colored the clear deep blue brown.

I passed a small stone house at the bottom of a mountain.  It looked as though it was only accessible by sea.

The chafing was fire.  With every stroke I was burnt with pain.  I had to stop and fix it.  If I couldn’t I would have to stop.

I tried releasing my skirt from the combing and paddling.  My sides still burned.  I unzipped my life jacked, and my sides still burned.  I unclipped the belt at the bottom of my jacket, and the pain was almost gone.

Around noon the rain let up.

I paddled towards the Strait of Messina that cuts the two mile gap between Sicily and mainland Italy.

There was definitely a current coming from the strait.

I pushed into it and arrived in Scilla.  It’s a small town with a small port. A few rowboats floated in the three sided stone square tied by long ropes to the sides.  There were no docks and the walls were high so I got out on a boat ramp.  I took a 10 minute break to gather some information and stretch my legs before entering the straight.

I had heard from people who were not boaters that the strait has strong currents, but nobody was sure how strong or which way they went when.

A fisherman in Scilla who spoke no English and was unable to understand my attempts at Itallian may or may not have told me that there was a two knot current in the center but if I stayed close to the sides I should be alright.

A  sign told me that Scilla was the most beautiful town in Calabria. The sign also told me that there was once a beautiful naiad who had been turned into a monster by the jealous Greek god Amphitrite.  The monster, named Scilla, was still in the strait.  I wondered if I would meet it and use my Great Kayaking Magic to turn the creature back into a naiad again.  I imagine such a shining example of immortal beauty would be extremely grateful.

I paddled into the strait.  At first the water was choppy and I employed intensive edging to stay near the shore, but once I was completely within the strait everything flattened out and I didn’t feel the current.

The day was getting on though and I was starting to get tired.  Fisherman told me that the town above me was not yet Reggio Calabrio, my destination but Villa San Giovani.

A set of tall waves rushed at me.  I turned sharply to face into them.  I suspect they were the wake of some enormous boat that passed earlier in the center of the channel.

I approached the mouth of a ferry and industrial port with a sea wall next to me and asked one of the fishermen above it if there was a nice sailing port I could pull up in.

No, there wasn’t, but I should be careful ahead. Lots of big boats come in and out of this port.

I had stopped paddling to talk.  The current was extremely strong and moving me backwards.

I crossed the mouth of a port.  When I was half way across the large opening, an enormous boat, the TOURISTIC, turned sharply toward me from my starboard side.  As I slowly pushed forward the ugly monster seemed to be turning its bow, always pointing at me, and churning closer.  I stopped so that she could keep on turning, but she stopped turning with me and kept on churning closer.  I waited a moment and she roared and continued her mush Dov course.  With what little strength I had, I sprinted into the current to escape the charge.

If that was Scylla, then she was beyond my powers.  Passed the mouth of the port the water was rippling a lot.  That meant the current was about to do something funky.  When I hit the ripples a powerful current (Charybdis?) thrust me towards the middle of the channel. Rather than end up in the freighter zone I sprinted directly into it, pressing south and towards the beach.  One inch at a time, a little bit and then a little bit more, my colossal struggle moved me forward.  And as I got away from the hot spot, the current lessened.

I was near the beach and while the current was still present, it had died down to a single knot or knot and a half.  I was spent and would end my day at the very next opportunity.

Ahead I could see a slightly sheltered beach with some sailboats pulled up onto it.  Eventually I arrived and Hung around for a little while trying to decide whether or not to make the beach landing.  The makeshift boat storage center was between railroad tracks and the strait.  Fishermen were hanging around and other people who seemed to be doing nothing at all.

I kept on going, tired as I was.  I asked an old man how far to Regio Calabrio and he told me just around the corner.  I went around the corner and saw it.  Not so near.  To my left there was a small bay and at the very end of it four kayakers.

Four kayakers!  I was saved!  Not only would they undoubtedly help me get off the water and store my kayaks somewhere safe for the night, we could share a true camaraderie.

They were farther away than I had realized, and as I got closer it began to appear that the tell tale up and down of the blades that gives us kayakers unique silhouette might have been misleading.

But it wasn’t, I could see better and I saw that they were taking out.  Oh no, what if I didn’t get to them in time?  What if I didn’t make it?  I was so tired and the day was ending.  They were my last hope.

One of them wasn’t getting out.  One of the kayaks was coming towards me.  We approached each other.  She was beautiful.  What were the odds?  Not only would I be saved by a kayaker, but that she would be a beautiful lady.

She took me to her club to store my kayak for the night, and then the four of us went to the central kayaking hub in Regio Calabrio.  I met the president and he showed me around.  I got to shower.

They have in the club an artificial kayak surrounded by jet pools to simulate and train.

They also have a gym with a modern dance class in the evenings.  I was waiting for my friend to pick me up.  Loud music was blasting out of the gym and a group of fifteen or twenty leotard clad ladies were rocking pretty hard.

I joined in the back trying to learn the steps and keep up.  After about 15 seconds the class stopped and the instructor looked at me in the wall mirror and spoke Italian. I’m not sure what she said and a few of the ladies turned around, then we resumed class.

I didn’t learn the dance we were working on, but I think by the end I was getting closer.  My bootie shaking skills definitely improved and I certainly warmed up.  I had to take a break in the middle to shed my fleece, wool hat, and long underwear.

When I had to go all the ladies smiled, waved and said goodbye to me at the same time.  Bucket list check.

I love the Regio Calbrio kayaking club!

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3047,3048,3049,3050,3051,3052,3053,3054,3055,3056,3057,3058,3059,3060,3061,3062,3063,3064,3065,3066,3067,3068,3069"]

Nautical miles paddled: 19

Total since Naples: 234.5

Current Locations: 38.178877,15.642141


  1. Sounds like the best day ever!!

  2. sounds like you are getting lots of experience and some fun too,keep pushing ahead and may the currents be with you Maddy

  3. Thanks Maddy! My progress seems to be slow, but I am pleased to call it progress.

  4. This is a good one.. lol'd at you shakin' your bootie, then removing your longjohns, and shakin' some more