[Clan Sinclair]
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7 Roses
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7 Roses, Anzio 2/4/2000
The light breezes that accompanied 7 Roses from Venice to Brindisi gave way to stormy winds. Lead colored sky and menacing clouds heavy with rain swallowed the sun and the colors of our Mediterranean. With the trysail reefed, we plow through a choppy sea. The channel of Otranto speaks its difficult history, both ancient and modern, through the shouting winds. The indefinite shadows of ships in the distance break the horizon into pieces: "Venetian galleys with their holds loaded with spices and the advantage of a southwestern wind return to their motherland, Templar warships transport soldiers and pilgrims to the Holy Land. To the south, the Genoese standard waves menacingly, but the ships are full of silk, rugs and Damask fabrics. It is not time for battles and conquests; the signs from the sky indicate, today as then, that the wrath of Neptune is about to unleash itself."

The barometer on board had fallen rapidly and Stella's (our four-legged official) unmistakable doubtful expression warns us that the meteorological conditions are worsening. We are at the narrowest point of the channel at Otranto, only forty nautical miles separate our peninsula from Albania, forty miles that have always been a strategic spot for traffic, battles and commerce. During our passage merchant ships have replaced the old rowing ships and square sails. Ferries and motorboats race along the few kilometers of sea that for some people represent hope, the realization of a dream and the ephemeral illusion of a journey towards freedom.

Through sustained crosswinds, 7 Roses slowly crosses the Gulf of Taranto and we finally land at Crotone. Our daily averages were less than 50 miles of real progress and our morale has been affected by news heard on the radio: a 19 meter caique and its crew of six, sailing from Greece to Italy, have disappeared. We would find out in the following days that wreckage and bodies were recovered 180 miles south of Cape Leuca. The conditions of the sea in the lower Ionian have been above factor 8 for more than 10 days, which has rendered visibility low and rescue operations more difficult.

While we are docked under cover at the Naval League, a 12-meter French boat leaves the port. There are still storm advisories posted. The crew and boat will be rescued by the coast guard 5 days later. Sailing, plowing the seas and discovering the lands beyond are marvelous experiences, ancient and unchanged by time. In this lifestyle, the calendar and clock become two irreplaceable instruments for knowing the seasons, calculating the tides, measuring the longitude and signaling the passage of time during turns on watch. During a long voyage storms cannot be avoided and unforeseen events lie in ambush, but the barometer and meteorological maps are much more important in determining the date of departure than is the calendar.

As we await nice weather, the Naval League of Crotone showers us with a warm welcome, hospitality and friendship. The swarming group of enthusiastic sailing kids, in the mirror of the sheltered bay water, give off a youthful feeling of optimism. Some of them have already participated in national regattas and are training for the next championships. A gracious young girl with blue eyes prepares for the European competitions under the proud, watchful eyes of her parents. Among the chatter of the club and the thousand questions regarding the sea, a small press conference is organized for 7 Roses here as well and it is gratifying to hear the interest of those who attend. In this city founded by the Greeks in the 8th century BC, love for the sea and culture are alive. Within the winding streets of the ancient village the wisdom of Pythagoras still roams. After his voyages in Egypt and Babylon, he made Crotone his adopted home.

In the wake of the Greeks and our Venetian merchants, we cross the gulf of Squillace and reach the coast of Calabria. The stop in Reggio was suggested to us by our friends in Crotone and allows us two nights of rest and the chance for another brief conference.

Scylla awaits us at the mouth of the Strait of Messina. The beautiful nymph transformed into a horrible monster by Circe allows us to pass undisturbed while Stella and Sultan distract her ferocious dogs who had lured and devoured so many sailors in the past. The terrible creature Charybdis, daughter of Gaea and Poseidon who was feared for her ability to create whirlpools by swallowing the waters of the strait, also observes us pass unbothered. Our route is now to the north. At Anzio the Naval League waits for us, as well as three packages of precious publications and nautical maps offered to us by our Military Marines and finally, a pleasant surprise from IRIDIUM - a satellite telephone loaned to us by Iridium Italia for our voyage.

Last changed: 00/06/10 07:50:09 [Clan Sinclair]