Travels with S/Y Thetis

Thetis only

1996: Reggio Calabria

This web page describes a portion of a 7 week trip with S/Y Thetis in 1996 from Greece to Malta, Sardinia, Ustica, and Calabria in Italy, and back to Greece. The portion described here is the stay in Reggio Calabria, Italy. It is illustrated with maps and photographs, also included are some historical and geographical descriptions of the places visited as well as several links to other related web sites.

Map of Reggio Calabria
Map of Reggio Calabria

Monday October 14, 1996 Day 32

[Photo of S/Y Thetis in Reggio Calabria]
S/Y Thetis in Reggio Calabria

I woke up at 6:30 and listened the weather broadcast. I was anxious to get going because of the problems at EUTELSAT and Alice’s anxiety. The forecast for the Ionian called for force 7 increasing with possible thunderstorms. I then looked at the engine problem. The fuel pre-filter was dirty. I emptied it, a nasty job, and I also found water in it. I flushed it with fresh fuel. I should also change the main fuel filter, it is a small paper filter, but I did not have any spares. After this cleaning the engine appeared to work fine, at least in neutral. Then I did various small repair jobs around the boat, mostly trying to find and fix the small but very annoying water leaks into the main cabin. I then transferred fuel from the two jerry cans into the main tank and carted them across the harbor to the gas station and filled them. There was space for going along side the pump but I did not want to maneuver Thetis all by myself in a tight spot and then to have to re-dock.

I then went ashore for some light shopping. In addition to provisions I was looking for Yanmar fuel filters and camping gaz. I got the provisions all right but the other two items were frustrating. I located the Yanmar distributor but they were closed for two weeks! No store that I found had camping gaz. I tried to call the Greek weather forecasting service so that I could get an extended forecast for the Ionian covering several days but the number was busy. In an inspiration I called my mother Pitsa in Athens and asked her to try them.

Back to the boat, I made myself a light lunch and took a nap. I was woken up by a fellow from the harbor who wanted me to bring the boat's papers to the harbor office which, until this time, had been hermetically shut. He computed the docking fees which, assuming that I leave tomorrow, were 58,000 liras, I was short of Italian money, but it was fine with him if I pay him later. He also told me where to get camping gaz and that the Yanmar dealership I found in the morning is the only store in town which may carry fuel filters for my engine. The clouds were very dark and ominous. While I was waiting for the inevitable downpour, I took a shower while the water was still hot.

The expected storm did not materialize. I walked to town in search of the store with camping gaz. After walking in several streets for over ¾ of an hour I located the store. Alas, they do not exchange camping gaz bottles, they can only refill mine within a week! I got some money from an ATM, and went back to the harbor. The harbor office was closed of course.

Cornelius the Dutchman from Roma, the lovely sailboat next to me, came for a visit. I served Lewis’ scotch. It turned out that he, Cornelius, was the crew and the scruffy Italian who spoke Greek was the owner. He is very rich and owns several restaurants including one in Rhodes and one in Glyfada (Cornelius did not know their names) and he left for Venice shortly after I arrived. Cornelius has lived in Italy for over 12 years and owns a small shipyard near Venice. He crews for the owner who is regularly racing his boats.

Roma was newly acquired and they were on their way to Venice. When the weather improves the owner will come back. Cornelius loved to talk and also loved Lewis’s scotch.

Later I called my mother Pitsa in Athens. She actually did call the weather service and had a forecast for me. They predicted gale southern winds 7 - 8 on the Beaufort Scale for tomorrow and Wednesday with some improvement (5 - 6 S) on Thursday. It looked that I will be here for a while. I walked back into to the town looking for a restaurant. It took some time to locate one, it seemed that either there are only a few restaurants in this town or that I was in the wrong section. Finally I found a sympathetic looking one and had a nice meal with Calabrian specialties. All the clientele had cellular phones, sometime 3 - 4 per table.

Tuesday October 15, 1996 Day 33

I slept late. There was no change in the weather. I spent few hours labeling the rat’s nest of wires near the electrical panel. Later in the morning I walked to the town and mailed some letters at the Post Office. Near the Post Office there was a store with several camping gaz bottles in the window. It was now closed but it will be “aperto” (open) at 15:30. I will check it later. I keep asking at every gas station or automotive store about Yanmar fuel filters and they all tell me to go to the store I found yesterday which was closed. I walked to the museum. Before entering I called Alice. She sounded very distracted, as if she did not want to talk to me.

[Photo of the Riace Bronzes]
The Riace Bronzes

In the museum they have a nice arrangement of murals and recorded information, in several languages, for Paleolithic and Neolithic Calabria but nothing except very brief Italian labels for the Greek and Roman sections. There are a few Attic vases and some beautiful Roman terra-cotta panels with lovely faces in relief. The whole basement is dedicated to the underwater findings. There are the two bronze statues from Riace. They are breathtaking! I had seen slides of them in one of the AIA lectures, but no photograph can do them justice. They are so alive! They are very well exhibited in a large well-lit room of their own and they are on two earthquake proof pedestals. There were also numerous posters with text, unfortunately for me in Italian, depicting the rather elaborate restoration process for the statues since their underwater discovery. Being able to see these two statues has almost compensated for the bad weather and the delay.

Back at the camping gaz store at 3:30 it was still closed, but I loitered nearby and it opened at 4:00. Yes, they did have the size of my bottle, and, yes, they do exchange, “cambio,” and they do stay open until 8:00 so I can come back. As I was walking back to the boat I spoke to a large British sail boat that had just come in the harbor. They came from Cephalonia and they also had Navtex, a text-based automatic weather receiver. They had experienced SE winds up to 55 knots (force 10). The forecast called for force 7, locally gusting to 9 with thunderstorms, and similar weather for tomorrow, with improvement expected by Thursday. This news totally confirmed the report I got yesterday via Pitsa.

After doing some laundry and resting, I started again toward the town carrying the empty camping gaz bottle. The expedition was a great success. One would think that camping gaz was the most common commodity in all of Italy. “Ο επιμένων νικά!” (“He who insists wins!”) Now there was no more fear of not being able to have my morning coffee or hot meals. On my way back I called Pitsa again. She, brave soul, had a new weather forecast. For tomorrow 7 to 8 SE, for Thursday and Friday SW 5 to 6. She was becoming my most reliable source of vital information.

While I was cooking supper I ran the engine for ¾ of an hour to charge the batteries and test it. No problem. If only I had a replacement filter I would feel more at ease.