Yesterday I took my chart off my front deck and put it down next to my boat on the patio of the port's security station. I put my compass plate against it and measured a bearing of 128 degrees to Gallipoli.
Between then and when I began my 25 mile crossing the next morning, my chart was stolen, but that didn't stop me from setting out into the wild blue yonder. The forecast said I would have a force three north west tailwind for most of the day. Perfecto! The sea would be calm in the morning and calmer in the afternoon.
The direct line would take me eight miles south of the coast, but there was nothing to worry about since I would make great time in great conditions.
I felt the wind at my back and I was cruising. The wind strengthened. Great! The waves were picking up and pushing me along. Alright! The wind strengthened. Err, yay? The waves got higher and white caps were appearing as the taller waves collapsed under their own weight. Umm, maybe these slightly scary conditions were an aberration and would pass in a few minutes. The wind shifted to do north... or was it north east.
I had been paddling for two hours. If I was moving at my standard speed of three knots then I had 17 miles to Gallipoli, maybe less with the tail wind. I didn't want to paddle 17 more miles like these. The extra speed was not enough to compensate for no snack breaks and the added effort of keeping me upright. Alternatively, I could head back to land. My chart was gone so I couldn't measure the distance on it, and my GPS had not yet recovered from its recent swim. How far was it back to the coast? 128 degrees … if the coast was east west, then the angel was 38 degrees. If I rounded that up to 45, not implausible with the strong north wind, then that left me with 2x^2=6^2➩ x^2= 18 ➩ x=2^(1/2) 3 ~= 4.5 nautical miles to land.
I paddled a little farther hoping the weather would pass. I much preferred to paddle 17 miles with a good tail wind than 4.5 into a head wind and not make it nearly as far.
The voice of reason spoke:
“Dov, so what if you don't get as far today? It's better to paddle a lot when you want to be paddling than 17 miles when you don't.”
I wanted to paddle to the town that I could see that was a little less than 30 degrees NNE of me - a 3:4:5 triangle (5/4)4.5 = 22.5/4~= 5.5 nautical miles. I turned into the wind.
Waves crashed over my bow. The soggy crackers on my skirt were washed away. I didn't have energy to feel bad about littering. Everything was being put into the fight. I felt like I was forcing my paddles through butter.
I was running out of energy. I was thirsty. I kept fighting into the wind.
A boat bobbed up and down distantly behind me on the starboard side. I could turn around and paddle to it, maybe a mile, and ask for help or continue on my way to the village on the distant coast. If the boat moved away before I got there, I'd find myself on a wild goose chase. I could radio it. For that I would have to put my paddle down and open my skirt, and I wasn't nearly that desperate. I continued struggling into the wind towards the village.
I was thirstier, so I relaxed my grip on my paddle just long enough to shove my drinking hose into my mouth, only I dropped it. I grabbed it out of the water and secured it between my back teeth to turn the nozzle. I felt the plastic crack. I relaxed my grip and drank some while paddling before returning the hose to the bungees on my deck.
I saw another boat, this one between me and the village. It was slowly moving to the west, or was the wind pushing me east? My shoulders ached and I was tired.
Gradually the boat grew closer and I could make out details. I tried waving my paddle in the air in a universal gesture of distress. I didn't want it to go away without noticing or caring about me. Before I could get any good waiving going on, I snatched it back down to scull and avoid capsize.
I put my all into reaching the boat.
The fisherman smiled and were happy to see me, though surprised at the direction I was coming from given the conditions.
“I'm coming from Barcelona.” I answered, only this confused them more, or at least suggested I was very lost.
I saw that it would be hard to get me and my gear up onto their boat. But the port they launched from was the town I was heading for and only two kilometers away. I could do two more kilometers. And I did.
The waves died down as I got closer to the shore, but the wind kept up until the moment I got out of my boat and stepped on land. The town made use of beautiful bay for a harbor. A dock with a Lega Navale sign over it jutted a short distance into the flat water.
The LNI was meeting for a function. They were happy to greet me.
Then they were gone. I walked around town looking for a wifi connection. One restaurant had, but they told me they didn't. They advertise that they are reviewed on Tripadvisor. I suppose I ought to give La Scogliera a bad review.
I was hungry. I found a bar/supermarket but it was closed. I asked at the ice cream parlor across the street if there was another supermarket around, and the woman walked me to the bar supermarket and opened it up.
We went inside. There were a few empty shelves in a dark room. On the far side was an empty bar and between the two cash registers near the door was a paddle boat. A layer of dust decorated everything.
There was one aisle in which the shelves were mostly empty instead of completely. I found a single can of lentils that was severely dented. There was canned meat, but no canned tuna. I bought some pasta and resigned myself to using my fuel reserve.
On my way back to my boat I passed a fish store. I like fish and I was hungry.
“How much for three of these?” They could have fit in a can of sardines and would make a nice addition to my pasta.
The fish man wrapped them up and gave them to me for free. He gestured that I should eat them the way they were, without cooking them … I think.
Maybe the fish man knew something that I didn't about eating raw fish. I bit one of their heads off since that was the part staring at me. It was salty, and not yummy. I finished chewing the fish head, waiting for the yumminess to come, but it didn't.
The remaining fish, scaled and gutted, went into my pasta.
As I sat a group of young people gathered around me and asked me about my trip. One of them gave me his bar of ice cream, a brand that I recognized as kosher. I was also offered ganja. Which is Italian for ganja. I liked feeling at ease with a group of happy people.
I walked around. A lake is connected to the harbor by a narrow canal lined with boats on either side. Behind the town is a wild flatland which eventually rises to low hills. I found the name of the town on a sign. I'm in Torre Colimena.
The Lega Nevale's security guard invited me to sleep over. He had a cupboard full of vegetables and potatoes. I sauted a bunch of good things in a olive oil and enjoyed a nice dinner – hold the fish heads.
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Nautical miles paddled: 12.5
Total since Naples: 533
Current location: 40.297514,17.746492