Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 98


Force four headwinds were expected all day. I didn't know how strong I'd feel them in the bay around Taranto, but once I left it I would confront waves and surf at full blast. I figured I could make about five miles and take out on a beach in the safety of a cove.

I said goodbye to the really nice people in the port and launched. As I passed the Lega Navale's small port, the recent epoxy fix to my broken Nelo seat came out. I pulled in and restored the string that I had installed when the seat first broke, just a short time after I began using it.

On the water, I paddled as close to the shore as I could. When I crept farther out the wind and waves increased substantially.

I passed an enormous naval base with five or six war ships a good bit larger than me.

The wind came from the east. And when I was heading due south along the eastern shore of the bay, the water was flat and the paddling pleasant. Behind the beach and occasionally rocky shore stretched green suburbs of Taranto.

I passed the the lighthouse and the point that marked the end of the bay. The waves were about a meter high. They were very close together coming at me very fast. I spent about 15 minutes continuing towards that cove, every second making me more nervous than the last. I steered around submerged rocks and looked ahead to white caps spray.

I turned around and fled.

Back at the east end of the bay the water was still flat and the wind negligible. I pulled up onto a boat ramp, the first break in the rocky shore I found.

I found a beach club. The area was locked away from the outside world by a large fence. Plastic colorful drinks with straws and lemons littered surfaces. A restaurant was at one end and a pool at the other.

A sign said hot showers but there was no water. The bathrooms worked.

The back door to the restaurant was a little open. In the top right corner of the entry room was a white box with a red light. I wondered if it was an alarm. I let myself in, calling out to see if anyone was there. The bathroom was strewn with garbage. I found a kitchen that was cleaner, but nothing of substantial interest.

I left and walked towards the pool area. I was looking for a wireless connection on my phone and a nice place to sleep for the night. I found some couch chairs under an awning and a scuba diving shack.

I heard someone whistle back from the direction of the club. I went back and saw the fellow. I called out to him “Salve [hello]” and smiled.

Another fellow and two men with guns at their hips came from the restaurant. They were uniformed, but I didn't see anything like the word “police”. I don't like guns, especially when I'm the only person who doesn't speak Italian.

“Whoa there!” I said in English. I moved my hands away from my body in what I hoped was the universal gesture for “please don't shoot me.”

One of them spoke English. I told him my story. He was kind and everyone relaxed. I had tripped a silent alarm. What could they do for me?

“Can I have permission to stay here for night?” I asked.

“No problem, just know that those video cameras can see everything you do.”

Tomorrow the wind is supposed to be worse. Maybe I'll try to make it those five miles, maybe not.

[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3592,3593,3594,3595,3596,3597,3598,3599,3601,3602,3603"]


Nautical miles paddled: 7.5

Total since Naples: 501

Current location: 40.413642,17.202873


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