08 July 2022 | Italy, Rocella Ionica, Porto delle Grazie (position: 38 19.266'N 16 25.835'E)
The most prominent feature upon arrival, ruins of the castle and tower on a craggy bluff above the village of Rocelle Ionica
Decisions had to be made as to whether we should wait in Siracusa for a perfect weather window to cross the Ionian Sea from Sicily to Greece or alternatively work our way across the boot of Italy.
Both of us were ready to cross the Ionian Sea. It would be a new and exciting challenge requiring us to spend a couple of nights at sea in order to cover approx 300 nautical miles to arrive somewhere in Greece. However, finding the right weather conditions to sail proved to be a challenge with the long range forecast predicting long periods of light winds, less than 10 knots. There was however a smaller weather window, an opportunity for us to cross from Sicily and along the boot of Italy in 10-16 knots of wind. The decision was therefore made for us, we would head along the boot of Italy and work our way towards Greece.
Our course took us across the shipping lanes that run in a north to south direction through the Messina Straits, a stretch of water between Sicily and the Italian mainland. It's a busy stretch of water and one that required us to contact a huge MEARSK cargo ship to ascertain his course and check that he could see our small AIS transmission as he was on collision course with us. Apart from that nightime excitement the rest of the journey was uneventful but ultimately what should have been a lovely 90 nautical mile sail actually turned out to be a 20 hour motor in flat sea.
As dawn arrived we had our first glimpse of the Italian mainland and the marina of Rocella Ionica. Rocella Ionica is the first proper harbour encountered by any yacht heading eastbound from Sicily along the southern side of the 'toe' of Italy. The entrance silts continually and is constantly shifting. A VHF call to the office provided us with clear instructions to gain entry. Only when we had tied up did the wind arrive - 30 knots which included thunderstorms and torrential rain, not at all like the forecast!
just like old times... there are finger pontoons here!
Rocella Ionica was a pleasant place to stop for a few nights with the village just a 20 minute walk away along a long beach lined promenade with many lidos and private clubs.
Total distance this season: 157.75 nautical miles