Gibraltar
By Thomas P.

The first moment we have our seats behind the console always causes us a great euphoria.
A few miles later, we were on our own. We, our bow, our sea, our trip! As the journey goes on, the sweet anticipation of the first sight of our destination is getting more and more prevalent in us…

Journey to Gibraltar

In this trip, however, we found that this prevalent was soon forgotten within the hours of daily riding. We knew very well that the nearest land was really far away. It did not bother us though. We traveled for many hours, many days. We were permanently on the Rib. We were used to living there.  We ate our breakfast on the rib, we prepared our coffee on board, and relaxing when the conditions allowed. The sea became our home. We lived with the prospect of the open sea. Maps, routes, knots, wind, degrees, position... There, only those words meant something. And when once the view of the destination was getting closer, it was even sweeter...

Monday, August 2

It was 5:00 o'clock in the morning, when we went out slowly from the Gouvia marina. We were sailing along the eastern coast of Corfu, with the moon illuminating our path. There were only 28 nm from the southernmost tip of the island.

The weather broadcast was about 4-5 Beaufort. It was already dawn and Corfu was getting lost slowly behind us. The open sea was getting us deeper and deeper into its hug.

At 08:00 our position was N39o10' E19°36'. Our bow was heading the Capo Spartivento. The wind was blowing from the northwest and the sun began to rise on the horizon. Our speed was steadily at 23 knots and the engine speed at 3,700rpm.

Journey to Gibraltar

At 12:00 our position was N38°38' E17o05' and the sea appeared to be stabilizing at 5 Beaufort, which filled us with optimism since it was almost noon.

Time 15:40. The wind suddenly changed direction. It turned to southwest. SW wind of 5bf was now ahead. Our position was N 38°14' E16°58’ and 47nm still were left to cover. The sea was getting harder.

Journey to Gibraltar

So, at 16:30 with our position at N38°12’ E16°43' and we decided to change course. The bow turned northwest; the compass showed 310 degrees towards the famous marina Rocella lonica. Our decision was based on cruising as fast as possible directly to the eastern coast of Italy, where it was estimated to be protected by the Italian land. So it happened. Having the wind on our port board, we were riding on the backs of big waves gaining so some miles and increasing the engine speed.

At 17:20 we found shelter in Rocella lonica for getting some rest. Now, 30 nm separated us from Spartivento. We began to descend, but the weather was still strong. So we had to be very close to the coast, so as to ride faster. The arrival at the lighthouse of Capo Spartivento was at 19:00 exactly. In total, 14 hours of cruising for 280 nautical miles.

Half a mile after the lighthouse there was the area of Spropoli, named from the Greek "white city". In the seaside, Pino Tuscano with his family and Toto Briguglio with his wife were welcoming us. Tonight we were guests at the cottage of Pino, situated literally on the sea front.
At 21:00 we had to visit the village Amentolea, where we waited for the President of the Greek community -Bruno Traclo, President of Proloco di BovaMarina, Plutino Francesco, and the Deputy Mayor of culture of the town of Bova, Roco Angeloni.
Around 23:30pm we headed to the small village square, where together with a lot of local people we watched the wonderful band of Mottanza to enjoy the unique rhythms of "tarantella".
It is worth noting that throughout August musical performances are taking place every day in a different Greek-speaking village, entitled «Paleariza-Musica tu cosmu stincalavria Greca».

Tuesday, August 3

With a very good mood, despite the very few hours that we took rest in the previous night, at 08:00 we were on board on the ribs raising our huge Olympic flag. At 09: 00 many people, children and school groups, the municipal police and the Mayor, wearing the official Italian ribbon were waiting for us.
With unprecedented emotions and with great pride, we steadily carried the Olympic flag, while running at 20 knots, proudly waving and spreading everywhere its own message,  a powerful message of peace and friendship.

Journey to Gibraltar

As long as the Olympic flag flew along the Italian coast, the Greek-speaking citizens and many Italians who were present there applauded and cheered nonstop. Especially in this place, the Olympic flag sent a separate, specific message.

We boarded the small boat and reached to the beach. We delivered the Olympic flag and Olympic badges handed out to children who gathered around us. Soon, a beautiful procession was formed, with the Olympic flag in front and the municipal police being even further ahead to arrange the traffic.
Roaming the flag in the streets of the city we ended up in Greek Studies Institute. Entering slowly inside, the most touching moment of the entire mission was waiting for us.

Journey to Gibraltar

In the central point of the amphitheater there was a long bench where the Mayor and the President of Greek-speaking were standing.
On the right, many children were holding the Olympic flag and a lovely multi-member orchestra played the well-known song "Children of Piraeus". It was the song for our reception. Highly emotional moments, made some of us cry, and all together we followed the rhythm hitting and clapping. There truly some things worth living at any cost. Some things that will remain forever engraved in our souls.

This was followed by speeches and greetings from us, from the Mayor of Bova Marina and the President of the Greek-speaking citizens and exchanged memory gifts. While the unique orchestra still playing traditional music, we raised the Olympic flag next to the Italian one in Town Hall.

Journey to Gibraltar

Our next reception was planned in the village named Boua or Bova. Built at 350 meters above sea level, on top of the hill, it seems to supervise the entire sea. Accompaniment of many children, bringing the Olympic flag around the alleys, we arrived at City Hall, where we were greeted by the Mayor Andrea Casile.

The offer of the Olympic torch to the Mayor was followed and all members of the mission signed in the official book of the City Hall.
Sponsored by a special program of the Greece Ministry of Education, three teachers were teaching the Greek language for seven years in Bova Marina, in three high schools with about 80 children.

The Greek community "Gialos of Bova" officially founded in 1982 but became activated since 1992. The main goal of the Greek community is to keep the Greek language and the manners and customs of the Greek-Calabrian citizens alive. Association Members' Gialos of Bova" counts about 70 people, and most of them live in Bova Marina.

Back on board

It was 16:00 o'clock, when we cruised two miles from Bova Marina far in the sea. We took the advantage of the calm sea and while being on board we prepared our ribs for the trip. Before getting dark we had to cover 72 miles to Milazzo in the north of Sicily, and the next day to reach Palermo. Our first stop was the port of Reggio after 32 nm, where we refueled. We set the bow to Charyvdis, at 10 nm, the western end of the strait of Messina.

Journey to Gibraltar

During the last 4 years I was going to pass by the legendary straits, Scylla and Charyvdis, which have been told with incredible stories by old sailors, reaching many times the limits of fiction. And really this time, we were not disappointed. The straits were reserving for us a different, amazing spectacle. While it was absolute calmness, suddenly, in a circle with a diameter of not more than one hundred meters, we saw intense short waves with violently breaking crests. Outside this circle, the sea was absolutely calm again.

Fortunately, on the northern coast of Sicily the sea was calm and, thus, as it was getting dark we were mooring at the overcrowded marina, located in the port of Milazzo.

...keep Ribbing!