Monday, October 08, 2007

Trippin' around the Tyrrhenian (summer 2007)

SUMMER CRUISING 2007: Trippin' around the Tyrrhenian; Sardinia, The Maddelenas, Corsica, Elba and south along the Italian coast to Sicily...

Photo: Ponza town, Isola Ponza

From the volcanic (and active) Aeolian Islands. At the time of writing we are in a tiny marina on the island of Salina, one of seven volcanic islands. The two better known and active islands nearby - and in sight - are Stromboli and Vulcano. We sailed directly to Salina from Tropea on the Italian mainland and we will visit two more islands, including Vulcano.

But to backtrack and narrate our summer cruising capers. The previous update left you in July at La Caletta on the east coast of Sardinia while we waited out a mistral. From there we sailed north to Cugnana to wait out another mistral for five days. Mistrals seemed to be still occurring late this year - the settled summer weather did not finally set in until mid-July.

Our friends Joe and Michele on Peregrine, whom we had not seen for two and a half years were waiting for us in a cala (bay) on the island of Caprera, one of Sardinia's National Parks in the Maddelena Islands in the windy Bonifaccio Straits and we had a grand reunion. It was great to see them again as well as Nai'a (John, Kim and 7-year-old Hannah). Peregrine and Nai'a had crossed the Atlantic with us but had raced on ahead to cruise for two years in Greece and Turkey - now on their way west again, Nai'a to the French Canals and Peregrine slowly westing. Photo:Debby with Joe and Michele - hiking in Corsica

We spent three weeks cruising with them in Caprera, then Corsica (Lavezzi, Bonifaccio, Paragnanu, Ajaccio) before Nai'a headed to France. Peregrine was intending to spend a month in Elba and so we kept more company with Joe and Michele there. Corsica (French) is a rugged and starkly beautiful island, very mountainous with crystal clear waters surrounding it. We made several train trips to interior mountain towns, hiked trails, swam in freshwater streams and "bicycled" downhill nearly 10 kilometres from train station to train station. We rented a car with Peregrine to see even more of the island. In early August it was off to Elba - but back around Corsica's south coast, then north stopping at Porto Vecchio, Favone and Taverna before a long 50 nm day.

Brian's niece, Lucy and her boyfriend Kieran joined us in Elba and spent three weeks aboard. Another of Lucy's friends, Kat, stayed a week also. Chinook was quite crowded, but the weather was dry and warm and Kat did not seem to mind sleeping outside in the cockpit. We circumnavigated the island staying most of the time in a bay on the south coast off the holiday/tourist town of Campo. Portoferraio, the main town, was also a base and we visited Napolean Boneparte's official residence and summer home - both museums and good replicas of the year Boneparte was exiled to the Elba . However, with hourly ferries rolling us with their wakes and the bay not being clean enough for swimming we were pleased to leave for Porto Azzuro on the east coast before beginning the long leg(s) south to Sicily. Photo: Kat, Kieran and Lucy
In Corsica and Elba we met up again (quite coincidentally) with Laura on Seven Roses, a young Italian woman single-handler whom we had met in the Richelieu Canal system in Canada not long after we had set off in our new lifestyle. Over the last six years she had sailed with her two dogs from Italy to North America, to South America and back to Elba again. It was a nice surprise to see her as we thought she would be still somewhere around the globe. She now charters her boat in the summers in Elba and Corsica.

Photos: The South coast of Capri and the Duomo (Cathedral) in Amalfi

From Elba, our stops were the islands of Giglio, Anzio. Ponza, Ischia and Capri - all very beautiful. The weather was excellent (sunny, warm and dry), however the maxim of "Not enough wind - or too much wind in the Med." was certainly true for our journey and we were forced to motor quite often. Anchoring was the norm for most of the summer (90 days out of the 103 at last count) but as the marina prices began to drop when the "high season" finished and the anchorages were not as protected, we did overnight more in marinas. In Capri we anchored in a very deep cove on the south coast next to Maribella V - the world's largest sloop rigged yacht, its 92 meter mast towering over Chinook's wooden 15m. We had the same view as them...

Salerno at the root of the Amalfi Peninsula, not far from Naples, was our first stop on the Italian mainland. From here, while waiting for our first bad weather to pass, we visited Amalfi by bus and then Pompeii by train. In Capri we had met up again with Bert and Minneke on Pamina with whom we had spent the 2005-6 winter with in Seville, Spain. Another very pleasant reunion and we a nice day together poking around in the ashes of Pompeii something Brian has wanted to do for 40 years. Photo Bert and Minneke (Pamina) at Pompeii

From Salerno to Agropoli, where we took an extra day and visited the well preserved Greek/Roman temples at Paestum. Agropoli to Camerota, then Cetraro, Tropea and (currently) the Aeolians. In a week we will be in Sicily.

Photo: Temple and old statues dedicated to Ceres, Paestum

Pompeii frescos and bodies - preserved under ash for 2000 years

If our writing gives the impression of a whirlwind summer, that was actually not the case. The portion of the trip south has been the quicker as the weather becomes more unpredictable 250 miles north The summer was fairly leisurely. It was really good seeing fellow cruisers again whom we had met years ago as well as meeting up with others. Far fewer British and North American boats were encountered this season for reasons we are unsure of - possibly language being an obstacle. We met Beedahbun (Canadians Jim and Debra Cantrell). Debra's book,"Changing Course - A Woman's Guide to Cruising" which we just happened to have had a copy of aboard, is now author autographed! Thanks Debra. At current diesel prices (1.25 euros a litre) it hurt the budget to motor as often as we had to but being able to anchor as ofen as we did, offset that. So far this cruising season, the ship’s log has recorded 932 nautical miles with about 300 to go.

Sicily is our next destination, then briefly in Tunisia before Chinook takes us back to Sardinia for the winter.
Photo: Brian teachng Hannah the ukulele - she was a quick learner

Please keep in touch - always nice to get your emails.
Ciao, Brian and Deborah