Sailing the Ionian Sea

May 28, 2019 - Sea Cloud


Casting off at midnight, we leave the harbor of Siracusa and finish our action-packed week on the island of Sicily. We now have two days to sail east across the Ionian Sea, and good fortune and the God Aeolus have given us a shift to a very favorable southwesterly wind of about 20 knots. We couldn’t ask for better wind from a better direction, so by 8:00 the sailors went aloft and set sails with hopes of sailing overnight and well into the following day. Twenty-knot winds are too strong to set the royal and sky sails, but with t’gallants and all sails below, plus staysails, inner and outer jib, we had an absolutely glorious day of sailing at about seven knots toward Greece.

By now cultural specialist Massimo Bassano is almost a ship mascot. None of us could believe his morning lecture “Twelve Weeks of Silence,” recounting his experience of living in silence in a Calabrian monastery for three months. As one of our shipmates commented, “He’s been making up for it ever since!”

Historian Robyn Woodward gave her talk about her original professional interest in underwater archaeology, entitled “Neptune’s Locker.” Robyn worked with marine archaeologist Dr. George Bass who virtually initiated the science of underwater archaeology on the Turkish coast in the 1980s, enlisting local sponge divers and methodically excavating ancient shipwrecks. This young science has yielded a fascinating history of ancient trade and transportation, as well as the lifestyles and diets of the peoples who sailed aboard the ancient trade vessels.

We finished off the day with a special pizza buffet, where the galley carried ovens up to the Lido Deck to make delicious pizzas to order. We finished off all the pizza and more, as well as finishing off the last of our Sicilian Nero d’Avola red wine in preparation for a shift to Greek cuisine at the other side of the Ionian Sea. And we all enjoyed a late night walk around the Promenade deck with Sea Cloud under sail overnight with an ideal broad reach and following sea.

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About the Author

Tom O'Brien

Expedition Leader

Tom O’Brien has been leading and designing expeditions for Lindblad Expeditions since 1985. With a background in physical geography and conservation, a Bavarian heart and a Celtic soul, Tom has been one of the most passionate advocates of the expedition experience around the world for the last twenty years. Many of the local people and communities that we work with today are the result of friendships that Tom and his expedition mates developed many years ago.

About the Photographer

Massimo Bassano

National Geographic Photographer

Massimo Bassano has worked as a freelance photojournalist since 1990. His work appears in National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic online edition, as well as many publications throughout Europe. Massimo's photographic subjects know no bounds—his recent assignments have covered social issues, international travel, fitness and health, fashion, and portraiture. In 2004, he was awarded a Ph.D. in journalism from the Italian Association of Journalism.

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