Becalmed Before the Gulf of Taranto
We were under threat of being becalmed cruising across the Gulf of Taranto. Taranto is the name of the expanse of water between the heel and sole of Italy’s boot. Being becalmed is not what any sailor desires. After all, by definition, wind is the necessary vital ingredient for propulsion by sail cloth. We’ve heard it said that sailing the MED stands for ‘Motor Every Day’ which frankly, is not what true sailors want to do. And on many days it seems that the MED acronym does stand true.
These are our last days in the Adriatic Sea before we cross again to the Ionian. We had planned a course to sail directly across the gulf, but the weather forecasts always seem to have a degree of inaccuracy and it wasn’t reasonable to burn gulping amounts of diesel for 20 hours. We decided to wait it out for more favourable conditions. Our get out of jail spot was Marina di Castro in Puglia. The southern stretch of coast is riddled with lacy caves and if you want to go cliff diving, this is your spot. It is far prettier than we expected and we’re rather happy to have had the weather gods intervene and predictions fail. Right now it feels like we are meant to be here.
We arrived into Marina di Castro just on sunset. All of a sudden a gutsy shout from the captain was an alert that he’d just spotted dolphin. This is always great cause for excitement on Waiata. We always ensure we log every creature we see on our voyages – dolphins, turtles, sharks.
We watched and waited a minute as we expected more dolphins. They usually arrive in groups and party around Waiata’s hulls like it’s their personal water park. A minute later we saw this huge fish air dancing and pirouetting like a prima dona. It air dived and flew out of the sea several times showing off its aerobatic talent. But it quickly became evident that this was no dolphin at all. It was a massive silver bellied yellow fin tuna.
When I say it was large, it was way bigger than me! It’s a pity that we’d just brought in the fishing lines too, although we only have 100 kg breaking strain. If we actually landed a fish that size, I doubt we’d know what to do with it. But oh what a treat of a sight to see such a magnificent fish. This was yet another ‘first time’ experience added to our list of cruising life firsts. We are blessedly lucky. But honestly, I would have loved to have tasted that tuna!
Tune Up and Sound Check
The tuna sighting was followed by a band undertaking their sound check and tuning up. We anchored in 10 metres of sand, behind a fleet of mostly smaller boats. The little town of Castro was just beginning to light up in all her glory. And the impressive stage was easy to see from the boat.
It was part of an old stony castle, the rampart forming a backdrop at marina level. It was a fully professional set up. Sound check was under lights of vermillion red. Then the technical check and visual graphics played not only on stage but spread out to the ancient viaduct located stage right.
Water is kind to acoustics so what was there for us to do but enjoy a cocktail in the forward cockpit and drink in the spectacle that we would have completely sailed past, if not for the potential of being becalmed. Crossing the Bay of Taranto can wait for another day. But I still can’t help but think about that tuna …..!
Today’s Appropriate Track is Jack Johnson’s “Only the Ocean”
“When these sails go up
Mountains fade away
Stars come out
I’m finally free
It’s only the ocean and me”