Home > Europe, Italy, Uncategorized > June 29, 2009 Rome to Amalfi

June 29, 2009 Rome to Amalfi

Destiny arrived at Marina Porto di Roma on June 10, 2009, sailing in light winds from the island of Giunnutri, a total trip of 63.3 NM.  It was a long day but beautiful, except for no wind.  Kent is finding the absence of wind, or having wind directly on the bow or stern a little frustrating, but the sky and sea are so beautiful it compensates.

We stayed two nights in Porto di Roma, and traveled by bus to Ostia Antica, the excavation of the original port of Rome. 

Ancient architecture at Ostia Antica

Ancient architecture at Ostia Antica

 

Mosaic scene Ostia Antica

Mosaic scene Ostia Antica

After lunch in the village of the same name and a tour of a castle we were back in the marina to polish off a few boat chores, including Kent staining the passerelle  he made for Destiny that allows us to easily step off the stern when docked Med style.  His solution was rather ingenious and involved using the existing swim ladder supported by blocked lines from the dinghy davits to hold a wooden walkway that he constructed.  There is an extension that folds down to dock level, and he added anti-skid strips for safety.  All in all it is working great.  There was one marina where the concrete pier was actually higher, not lower, and that was a bit challenging.

 Since we had spent time touring Rome on our honeymoon (not that long ago) we decided to pass on a trip into the City, but found that our trip to Ostia Antica more than made up for it.

From Rome we actually had a day of mostly sailing to Anzio where we anchored off a lovely beach inside the breakwater for the harbor.  By morning there were some swells that rocked us around a bit, but overall it was very pleasant.  There was fog along the coast that burned off early, but it was a reminder of New England.  After a quick trip into the town to see the sights and do some provisioning we were off again, this time for Ponza.

Ponza is one of the largest of the Tuscan islands and certainly one of the most beautiful.  There are amazing rock formations and high cliffs, with many anchorages.  We were anchored just outside the main harbor next to towering rocks.  The water is crystal clear, and the beauty of the place is matched only by its popularity as a destination for boats—many of them power boats of every size and kind that converge on the island, especially on weekends.  It was very calm overnight thankfully, as the anchorage was packed with boats still arriving at 9 p.m. on Saturday evening.  Saturday evening we went into the village to see a festival procession in honor of the local patron saint.  There was music and bells ringing throughout the village. 

Gorgeous Water in Ponza

Gorgeous Water in Ponza

On Sunday we took the dinghy to explore the many caves and coves along the shore and snorkeled in some of the most amazing underwater rock formations.  There were caves that you could swim through underwater coming up on the other side—not that we recommend it as Carol almost got stuck and had to be helped by Kent who scraped himself in the effort.  The pictures do little to capture the true essence of the place.  It is truly magical and one of the most impressive islands we have seen since Corsica.  Not only that, but the water is deep and so clear that we could see our anchor chain snaking along the bottom in 20 ft. of water.  The only mishap of our time there was Carol colliding (literally) with a jellyfish that stung her on the forehead just above her mask while snorkeling.  It was painful and left a scab for days.  Who knew that jellyfish were so dangerous!  FYI the remedy is to apply white vinegar and cold compresses followed by antibiotic and ibuprofen.  Although the pain only lasted hours, it was a week before it healed completely.

Ponza coast

Ponza coast

Ponza Rock Sculptures

Ponza Rock Sculptures

 We left Ponza on Monday, June 15th for Gaeta on the mainland where we were expecting delivery of our transformer and Jolie had a haircut scheduled.  As is often the case, there was under 5 kts. of wind and the jib wouldn’t carry.  Then the wind went directly astern—a sailor’s nightmare.  We arrived at the marina in Gaeta by mid-afternoon and were given a berth alongside the dock—quite a treat as Med mooring stern to is the norm here.  Unfortunately, the transformer being shipped from Great Britain to convert 220V current to 110V did not arrive Monday as scheduled, nor Tuesday.  However, thanks to the helpful marina staff at Base Nautico Flavio Giaio we tracked the shipment and it did arrive at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday—much too late to head for Naples that day, but not too late for Kent to test it out.  Thankfully, it worked perfectly and we now have shore power when at the dock instead of relying on the generator.  With diesel at the equivalent of $5 per gallon, and electricity included in dock fees, the transformer will be a cost saving proposition.

Carol located a dog groomer on the internet and arranged an appointment for Jolie with ZiaAngela—“zia” is “aunt” in Italian.  Angela was a wonderful person as well as dog groomer.  Thanks to her friend, Elisa, who picked Jolie and Carol up for the appointment with Angela and also translated, Jolie has a wonderful new “look” that will take her a couple of months into our travels.  Jolie enjoyed her “spa day” almost as much as Carol enjoyed meeting Angela and Elisa.

Jolie's Spa Day

Jolie's Spa Day

Italian Punk Look

Italian Punk Look

Finally, on Thursday, June 18th we left Gaeta for Naples where we had a reservation at Santa Lucia, the marina that is closest to the old part of Naples, sitting just under a castle.  At 120 Euros a night (the cash price—150 euros if they had to report the money and pay VAT), it was one of the pricier marinas we visited until Capri which topped them all.  Carol’s mother, Jan and aunt, Mary Ellen were scheduled to arrive in Naples mid-day on Friday and we wanted easy access for them to the boat.  Little did we know until we arrived, that most of the marina docks were accessible only by water taxi!  Although it was a little more stable than the dinghy, it meant loading our guests into a boat to get to Destiny with their luggage. 

Enroute to  Destiny by Water Taxi

Enroute to Destiny by Water Taxi

As circumstances would have it, storms on the U.S. East Coast caused them to be re-routed and instead of arriving at 1 p.m. it was nearly 7 p.m. before they got to Naples—a little giddy from exhaustion.  During the day we were entertained by the raucous activities in the marina harbor that was inundated with tiny rowboats vying with 40-50 ft. power boats for very limited space—not to mention the numerous swimmers in the water.  There were water taxis ferrying people all day to the breakwater just at the harbor entrance to sun themselves on the rocks like turtles.  A makeshift tent with refreshment appeared everyday on the breakwater to serve food and drink.  There was a carnival atmosphere that was only a little more subdued when we left on Sunday morning for the island of Porcida.

Santa Lucia Chaos

Santa Lucia Chaos

Napoli Water Taxi to Rocks

Napoli Water Taxi to Rocks

Sunning in Napoli

Sunning in Napoli

Most of our cruising with Mom and Mary Ellen involved short hops through the islands, and towns of Naples Bay.  Our first stop, the island of Porcida, was only 13 NM from Naples.  As we left Naples, the weather was cloudy, but by noon we were anchored on the sunny south side of Procida near our friends on Glass Slipper and Excalibur—two of the Caribbean 1500 boats that accompanied Destiny on Yacht Path ship to Genoa.  After a tour of the village and nearby caves by dinghy, we had dinner on board.

Town of Porcida

Town of Porcida

About 2:30 a.m. we were awakened by lightning off to the north and the boat was rolling side to side uncomfortably.  A wind change to the NW made our calm anchorage, not so pleasant so the following morning we motored a short distance to the island of Ischia where we anchored on the south side of a castle (Castello d’ Ischia).  As was the case in Ponza, it was the weekend and boats were arriving in droves from the mainland less than 10 miles away—and minutes by power boat. 

Carol & Mom in Ischia

Carol & Mom in Ischia

Ischia Sunset Anchorage

Ischia Sunset Anchorage

From our observation, Italian boating involves leaving the dock to travel a relatively short distance at a very fast speed to an anchorage where they sit on the foredeck in the sun until the sun goes down and then race back to the marina at a very fast speed.  Powerboats vastly outnumber sail boats in these waters, and many of the sailboats we see are charter boats.  Given the lack of wind in the Med during the summer months that may be understandable.  Most of the Med powerboats look like they are going fast even when sitting still, and it is not uncommon to see a dinghy “garage” in the aft of a 60 ft. powerboat.

Dinghy Garage

Dinghy Garage

In Ischia we had anchored rather close to some rocks, which only became a problem when the anchor started to drag at 4:30 a.m.  The wind had shifted again, and we were rolling as well as dragging so moving to a more protected anchorage at the first sign of daylight was the safe thing to do.  So back to the north side of Procida we went before 5 a.m. where we re-anchored and caught a couple more hours of sleep before returning to Ischia and the protection of the Porto Salvo marina in Port d’ Ischia harbor where the only rolling would be due to ferry wakes.  Everyone needed a good nights’ sleep after two rolly nights on anchor and even 150 euros seemed like a bargain.  Another thunderstorm with torrential rain and lightning arrived about 11:15 p.m. just as we all falling to sleep.  After weeks without any rain, since Carol’s mom and aunt arrived it has at night or for short periods during the day,.  We were glad to be tucked close to shore in a marina when this storm hit.

Jan & Mary Ellen at Porto Salvo, Ishica

Jan & Mary Ellen at Porto Salvo, Ishica

On June 23rd we left Ischia for Capri.  There are no protected anchorages in Capri and only one marina, Capri Marina Grande—they aren’t kidding about the “grande” part at 200 euros a night or $280 at current exchange rates, IF you can get a reservation!  Not having had much luck making reservations on other occasions we asked the manager of Porto Salvo in Ischia to make a reservation for us, figuring that someone who spoke Italian might have a better chance.  The first day he called things did not look to promising, but he called the next day to say that we had a two night reservation and so off we went, not knowing how much it would cost.  Once there we decided that it was a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for Carol’s mom and aunt that was well worth the exorbitant dockage fees (kind of like the Nantucket Boat Basin in the middle of July).  At least we had an end berth and weren’t sandwiched between two other boats, and they offered a courtesy cart to take us from the marina to the lower town.

Courtesy Cart at Marina in Capri

We had been to Capri on our honeymoon and wanted to share the experience with Mom and Mary Ellen.  A bus trip to Annacapri and chairlift ride to the top of Monte Solaro were highlights of the entire week for them.  Unfortunately, the Blue Grotto was not open due to sea conditions, so we had to settle for an exhilarating open cab ride back to town on some very winding roads.  After two nights in Capri we explored the south side of the island sailing through Isola Faraglioni (pillars of rock that are a famous Capri landmark) and looking for possible anchorages. When the wind left anchorages too exposed for an overnight anchorage, we continued sailing for Amalfi on the mainland.  We passed Positano on the way to Amalfi but heavy, dark clouds and the threat of more rain kept us going to Amalfi where we knew there was a marina with good protection from the prevailing wind.

Capri Outdoor Cafe

Capri Outdoor Cafe

Carol & Mom on Monte Solaro

Carol & Mom on Monte Solaro

We docked in the SW corner of Amalfi harbor at marina Coppola about 3:30 p.m.  The marina is very tightly packed with boats—so much so that our bow was practically offering an addtional seating place at the nearby restaurant as the dock master maneuvered us into our slip.  It was his practice to dock every boat personally and we watched in amazement as it handled boats of every kind and description (huge powerboats as well as sailboats) into these tiny spaces with barely inches to spare.  It wasn’t uncommon to hear applause from the cockpit of the boat he was moving when he finished.

Amalfi proved to be one of our most memorable stops and once we arrived there were many reasons to stay for several nights.  During the day Saturday we took a bus along the Amalfi coast—simply breathtaking in its beauty—through the town of Positano and ending in Sorrento where we caught a train to Pompeii for a rather quick but fascinating tour of the ruins at the base of Mount Vesuvius. 

Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast

Positano view from Bus

Positano view from Bus

Jan in Pompei

Jan in Pompei

We happened to arrive the weekend of a yearly festival in honor of St. Andrew the patron saint of the Cathedral of Amalfi.  There were processions, and a huge fireworks display on Saturday evening.  On Sunday morning we decided to attend Mass at the Cathedral and were surprised to be invited to sit in the front row for the service as special guests since they were honoring “tourists” as part of the festival celebration. 

Cathedral of Amalfi

Cathedral of Amalfi

 

View from our seats for Sunday Mass in Amalfi

View from our seats for Sunday Mass in Amalfi

They provided English translations of parts of the service, we were personally blessed and given a small gift by the Arch Bishop of Amalfi. Kent was asked to read the English translation of the Arch Bishop’s greeting to the congregation and did so without missing a word.  After the service there was a photo op with the Arch Bishop and a guided tour of the church, St. Andrew’s tomb and the oldest part of the town of Amalfi.  It was an amazing day and something that we will always remember.

Kent, Carol & Jan with Arch Bishop of Amalfi

Kent, Carol & Jan with Arch Bishop of Amalfi

We were also touched by how helpful the marina staff was.  They arranged a car and driver to take Carol’s mom and aunt to the airport in Naples at 5:30 a.m. and found a vet that would come to the marina to give Jolie a rabies booster shot which will be needed for her entrance into Croatia in less than a month.  Amalfi is a beautiful town, but the people are also beautiful.

Our time in Italy is drawing to a close as our 90 days in the EU expires on 7/22.  We still have a lot to see and will be heading for Sicily (especially Messina and Taormina) before making our way around the boot of Italy to Bari which is our tentative departure point for passage to Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Ciao,

Destiny

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