Greece Canary Islands, a small Odyssey at the time of Covid

Departing from the ancient kingdom of Ithaca on November 21, 2019 headed towards the Canaries through the Calabrian lands and Sicily, but, Sardinia and fate have got in the way upsetting every program.

This wants to be a summa of a year lived in symbiosis with Path Finder "the powerful" boat of Velainsieme. The idea was to continue the 2019 season even in winter in the Canaries, so prepared the boat in the shipyard in Preveza, with the help of my friend Vassilli, and carried out the last works in Sami, we leave -a little late.

We have told part of our little Odyssey gradually in the articles that I report here:

First stage 210 nm
The magician Gattuso opens the door of the Tyrrhenian
Sea We leave Roccella behind, with a horizontal
and vertical Sicily tread behind.
Between Sicily and the Balearic Islands there is
Sardinia Sardinia, land of stone.
Lovers of Spargi (Northern Sardinia)

Once discovered Cagliari and part of the beauties offered by Sardinia, blocked by look down in the marina to watch the herds of large mullet that wandered under the piers and dolphin friends who thinned out the same herds daily, the flamingos that at dawn and dusk continued their movements in the sky above our heads moving between ponds in one area and another, Some mullet or porceddu barbecues With the small community of residents in the marina, we arrived at the post Primo Look Down. 

The real season of Velainsieme opens after the small cruise in the archipelago of La Maddalena guests on the boat of dear friend Antonio, there we embark by chance two young Sardinians Stefano and Matteo who we then find in Cagliari on Path in early June.

Long live the bride and groom

From that taste of pristine sea that inspired the beautiful text written by Ana Torres "the lovers of spread" we return to Cagliari. Officially and auspicious, the first tour opens with a beautiful married couple with whom we face after the dutiful stop in Pula -the ancient Nora (important port of the Phoenicians and then Roman), a nice mistral blow to gain the Gulf of Teulada, too strong for neophytes, I decide to return to Nola with the wind in its sails, stop until late afternoon and then with the wind dropped we try again, we arrive and stop in front of the white beaches of Kia, unfortunately we spent the night at the mercy of currents and annoying pitch especially for the two newlyweds not used to float on the sea, the next morning we arrive in Porto Malfitano in the Gulf of Teulada.

And then, gone with the wind, with the group of very nice friends from Rome, navigated enough, so as to make Path do more miles than expected and who have the beautiful intuition to inaugurate the season of the "deck-party", we explore the coast southeast of Cagliari, Villa Simius, Costarei and from there we head towards Teulada greedy for deep and uncrowded coves. Beautiful discovery of the bay "of the Americans" with cows grazing free behind the beach, it was nice and intense to sail with two valid skipper aids and two super cooks.

Third week with quiet sails to the islands of S. Pietro and S. Antioco, we enjoyed nature, sunsets, crystal clear sea and there was also some university lesson by Prof. guest on board in smart working (by boat you can stay connected with the rest of the world if you want).

And then again with the mixed group of Milanese and Bolzano loyalists, forward to Porto Pino, S. Antioco, S. Pietro, Carloforte, La tonnara to the north, narrowly avoiding the structure of the tonnara itself, on the return stealthy stop in a small bay near Capo Teulada, supervietal, to avoid the wind against but with the recommendation to beat the tolle in the early following morning. Moral, in the morning someone decides to dive for a swim while a spear of the harbor master's office further off passes in front of the bay, they stop and observe us, I pull up the anchor immediately recalling the two sirens that quietly swim around there, just in time, it will have seemed only a close passage in the bay, which made us avoid a complaint for violation, even criminal.

Once again to the southwest with the four young (stoic) who populated the bow cabin, strong of 8 crew members but with a tough mistral announced for three days, a piece at a time we managed to get to Porto Pino, paying with the final breakage of the mainsail that was already tanned, foreseeing the thing I had already procured another sail but we had to adapt with the replacement of the garrocci, a heartfelt thanks to Ana and Andreas who worked professionally for the replacement.

A coffee and off we leave for La Maddalena

And then the transfer to La Maddalena with the happy meeting at sea of the first owner of Path Finder who joined us with a large catamaran, curious at first and full of amazement when he discovered that it was precisely that boat that he had set up in the 80s together with his brother and that he had enjoyed for many years. Sometimes the immensity of the sea approaches.

Happy all of the beautiful family of Bari with whom we explored the archipelago, the beautiful and dreamlike Lavezzi, and the south around Bonifacio, unfortunately the marina of Bonifacio was packed.

We were luckier the following week being able to stop in the marina and visiting the perched village, really beautiful. Also this week the mistral has been the master forcing us with stops in protected bays. 

Arrived in Olbia for the last port of call in the area Ana landed to return to Valencia, teaching and philosophy have called her back home, replaced by Nico who just arrived late in the evening from Florence immediately found himself in the open sea with the mistral pumping from the stern directed towards the Aeolian Islands, "But? – I thought I was sailing here in Sardinia" he tells me once we set sail, maybe we didn't understand each other??. Down shot relentlessly for two days until we gain Salina, this crossing although challenging has certainly left an indelible and positive mark in our memory.

The next day a slow transfer of observation of the coast for the following tours to Milazzo where we embarked a beautiful and nice group of two families, including teenage boys. We leave for Filicudi, stop and overnight in front of the beach of Valle Muria in Lipari, once gained Filicudi we start again to discover the other islands, Salina, Lipari, Vulcano (with ascent to the summit), Panarea, here we stop sheltered from the wind and give up the visit to Stromboli.

Last but not least, the icing on the cake, 5 beautiful and wild girls all native to northern Sardinia who revive and upset the souls encrusted with salt of the two sailors to the government of Path. Perhaps only one day was enough for the girls to find their balance in a new and unknown dimension for them, made of attention to water consumption, small spaces, the impossibility of going ashore at all times of the day … But, we found together the right mix of pleasure and comfort. A heartfelt thanks for the joy and lightheartedness in which they involved me and for the emotion they felt when they had to leave us in Milazzo that touched me deeply.

Velainsieme thanks to Path (the powerful), never like this year, has certainly played an important role towards all the people who have boarded, offering moments of light-heartedness and freedom, making everyone forget, even if only for a week, distances and isolation.

Arrived now, almost in mid-September I decided to close the dances, after wandering in the footsteps of Ulysses in the same seas, like him, I heard the call of the kingdom of Ithaca. Again between Scylla and Charybdis, stop in Reggio Calabria where the Magician Gattuso offered us a dinner and live music on the boat with his mandolin and his lyre and finally definitively fixed the small leak at the injection pump.

Here Valentina (my niece) reached me first as thin as a nail that needed to recover, tried by troubled vicissitudes, then Carla from Milan arrived already present in the mid-July group to give me a strong hand for the crossing. We start with gusts of wind cross, we gain Capo Spartivento, the southeast end of Calabria, where we stop at anchor for the night. In the morning breakfast and bath and then off to cut the Ionian Sea in two directed to Asso (Kefalonia), we have to face unfavorable sea and wind, narrow sails upwind and engine up to the middle of the route, then the wind becomes more favorable, wide upwind, we gain speed and in the middle of the second night we drop anchor in the small bay of Asso between the fortress and the picturesque village. Unfortunately Carla can't find the connections for the return flight and has to leave us the next day. Valentina who in the crossing did not make a bend, on the contrary, she was nourished all the time by sea, sun, sleep and wind, begins to be reborn. In the evening trying to find a place for dinner in a tavern of Asso we meet Tiziana who kindly gives us the place at her table seeing us standing waiting. We invite to the table Tiziana -true Roman- who lives and works in Athens for Google (but that's another story), there is immediately empathy and between glasses of wine and Huzo we discover that she is on vacation to discover the beauties of Kefalonia, we invite her to make a small change of program by offering her a night on board and the visit the following morning of the beautiful white beaches northeast of Ithaca, Incredulous and enthusiastic she joins us. We arrive at the destination, the two women enjoy the beach almost all for them, we struggle not a little to disengage the anchor wedged between treacherous rocks, here unexpected skills of skipper help jump out by Valentina, then as expected we focus on Fiscardo to disembark Tiziana who would have reached her car by bus to Asso, I look at the forecast on the area of the Ionian islands, instead of focusing on Sami I decide to go north protected from strong wind expected from the west, Tiziana enthusiastically does not have the mood of those who want to land and then we propose to extend her small cruise following us to Nidri, from there she could have taken the ferry to Asso the next day, we change course in three and spin away towards Lefkada with the cross wind, a little surprised by the incoming wind, unusual for those places, about the forecasts widening the field to the whole Ionian Sea, surprised I identify a cyclone already formed and threatening that heads from the West towards Kefalonia and Zakynthos, I detect the range of action and its strength at the edges and I evaluate to be safe near Nidri, immediately discarding the idea of taking refuge in the marina of Lefkas which then turned out to be full. Moral, we wait for the cyclone (marginal) first in the Tranquil Bay in front of Nidri and then with many difficulties at the first light of dawn, in the cold and under the water, we manage to raise the anchor and we move to the nearby body of water of Vliko, where in 5 m. of water and on a mud bottom I can give up about 60 m. of chain, Finally I feel safe and we rest under the covers while outside the wind and rain lash the boat. After the storm Tiziana manages to embark and we continue between the islands of Meganisi, Kalamos, Kastos, we stop for Valentina's birthday in Astakos, where we fill up on cheap fish before setting sail for Atokos, finally rediscovered with very few boats. Arrived in Sami I reactivate the battery of my car that had been waiting for me for more than a year, we visit S. Eufemia -a disaster- here the storm has done serious damage both to the boats and to the town, as well as to Kioni, Argostoli, Asso ….In addition to Covid, Neptune has also been involved.

Reluctantly I head to Missolungi, a beautiful town in the Gulf of Patras, the last destination is the beloved Trizonia, a quiet island in the Gulf of Corinth, a place of meetings, new friendships, peace. From here you would never want to leave and if you have to you can't wait to return. The last night we spent in part with a local fisherman who took us on his boat to hunt fish and octopus with the harpoon, how beautiful, timeless gestures and movements.

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