It’s hard to believe this is the last time I’ll write this column, sending out a letter that I have been honored to feel was part of a correspondence between us — not something that simply sailed off into the silent ether. Each month, without fail, when I called Radio check, radio check, someone came back with a Loud and clear. (And because we’re Soundings people, no one ever had to break in and bark at us to take it to another channel.)
But I don’t want to have a lengthy, tearful goodbye. The older I get, the more I realize that goodbyes are ephemeral and mutable. Change itself is subject to change.
You will be in good hands with Soundings’ new editor, Jeanne Craig, who has decades of experience as a marine journalist and is widely respected (and beloved) in our industry. And Jeanne will have the benefit of our terrific crews in edit and sales. I have loved every minute of working with these wonderful colleagues — leaving them is so hard for me. This ship, Soundings, which was ably built and voyaged for decades before my watch, will sail onward to ports familiar and fresh, as I take a little shore leave.
It’s time for new adventures: My first month in Italy will be in Rome, where I’ll be studying Italian for three and a half hours each morning.
From mid-October, I’ll be spending most of my time in Puglia, in the southern stiletto of Italy’s boot-shape. Puglia is a stunning part of Italy, home to 60 million olive trees, some of them thousands of years old. Our house is in a tiny, ancient hamlet and our roof terrace overlooks a 16th century castle and a small olive grove. Every morning a truck winds slowly through the tight and twisty streets, the driver announcing from a loudspeaker mounted to the roof that he has vegetables and fruit to sell.
We are 2.5 miles from the Adriatic Sea, to the east — a mostly rocky coast with stretches of cliffs, caves and grottos. The swimming holes are full of impossibly jade- and turquoise-colored seawater that is crystal clear and just warm enough to still feel cooler than the hottest day. Just 3.5 miles to the west of our house is the Ionian Sea. It laps up on a coastline carpeted with wide, sandy beaches.
At the tip of the peninsula, 5 miles south, is Santa Maria di Leuca, where the two seas meet. There’s a lighthouse, a wide promenade that runs around the water’s edge and a few small, sandy beaches that dot a rocky shore. It’s popular with Italian tourists, and the ristorante tables are so close to the water that you might taste an occasional droplet of saltwater in your prosecco. Best of all, there is a big marina in Leuca and there are lots and lots of boats.
So this is where I’ll be writing from — for AIM’s marine magazines as editor-at-large, but also working on a book, I hope. And I’m putting together a website where you can follow my future nautical adventures, if you’re so inclined, at southunderway.com.
No goodbyes — not even an arrivederci, ok? Instead, I will let you in on a secret: I have my eye on a wooden, 24 foot, tiller-steered gozzo with a 20-horsepower diesel and a mighty sunpad in the bow. She is a beauty. Meet me at the dock.
This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue.