Around the Heel – Santa Maria di Leuca

One of the objectives was to get south, where it is warmer, and spend time riding my bike, particularly while Jinhee returns to the Americas for a couple of weeks of important meetings.   With that in mind, when the storms passed through over the early part of the week, we decided to start the journey South and get to Santa Maria di Leuca, which is the tip of the heel from the ‘boot’ that makes up Italy.

This was by far the hardest journey I have ever been on in a boat.   Don’t get me wrong, the boat was fine.  It did amazing.  Me, well, not so much.   The storm had passed, but the seas were still very rough, with 2m waves and only 8 seconds apart, and we were riding them like a carnival ride for about five hours.   Often, when you round a cape, the seas can be very ‘confused’ as water systems and weather systems collide at the point, and this was the case at Leuca as well.   It was a very tough day and I emptied my stomach early and often, but we made it into harbour in good time.

The marina at Leuca was near empty, and the Pilot Book said that the facilities didn’t provide good shelter, but we opted to get out of the waves, eat some food and enjoy the remains of the day.

IMG_6461 That still water was anything but. . . ‘Home Free’ is barely visible centre left.

Unfortunately, it is a small town, most of the shops are closed (the tourists are all gone!) and to put it mildly, the Marina offers a place to tie your boat, but not much in the way of shelter.   Home Free rocked in a 15% swing through the whole evening, long after the wind and waves had died.   There must have been an underwater current running through the marina because every boat, swung massively no matter the conditions.  It was a very uncomfortable evening.

We did find a place to have a meal, and crashed a party with a group of monks or priests at the local hotel.   The staff was gracious enough to let us eat the set menu.   It was not fantastic food, but I was pretty hungry having spent my day feeding the fish.

IMG_0463 Dining with the Priests

This morning we went for a final walk through the town to appease my sea-sick brain, and then got on the water, heading for Gallipoli.

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