Log #33k The Lipari Islands and back to Calabria

October 4, 2004 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 33 Turkey - Greece to Rome, The Logs

Porto Miseno, Bay of Naples, Italy

October 4, 2004

Hi Folks,

We have come around the Sorrento peninsula, visited Capri (fantastically expensive!), circled the Bay of Naples, past Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Santa Lucia, and are at anchor here in Porto Miseno, about which Rod Heikell says, “The much maligned Tiberius, he of the debauchery on Capri, died here in 27 AD.” We also met Bob and Sue on MEG, US friends we have not seen since Kemer 18 months ago. We spent a couple of enjoyable nights at anchor with them in a fantastic bay with 300 foot cliffs on three sides. They are going to be in Rome for the winter as well. We expect to get there about a week to ten days from now.

All is well with us and Veleda.

All the best,


Log #33k The Lipari Islands and back to Calabria

Capri, Italy

Oct. 1, 2004

The Lipari Islands are a volcanic archipelago 20 miles north of Sicily, comprised of seven major islands, two of which have active craters. Vulcano, the one where we anchored, has two 500 metre high extinct volcanoes and one active one, Gran Cratere, which last erupted in 1888 and 1890 but is still smoldering beneath its crater’s plug. There are two bays on the north end, one facing east, Porto di Levante, and across a narrow isthmus, facing west, is Porto di Ponente. As soon as Judy and Doug returned from their ferry trip up to Lipari (Isola Lipari), we moved from the east facing bay back around to Porto di Ponente, as the wind had shifted again and was now coming from the east. We spent three more nights there, two of them quiet, the third unfortunately another rolly one, but no heavy winds.

They enjoyed the Lipari Museum, especially the vulcanology section, and found the castle and ramparts quite intriguing, a worthwhile day trip. Our third day at Vulcano we hiked up Gran Cratere. It was an exhausting hour’s climb, but provided spectacular views over the islands, across the two bays, and down into the crater, with fissures below and at the crest billowing sulphurous fumes from crevices with brilliant yellow crystals deposited from the steaming brew. We were exhausted at the main crest overlooking the crater and did not ascend the upper ridge.

Doug and I did a good job of washing the topsides while at anchor and he treated us to another good Italian meal at a restaurant overlooking the bay. Many of the anchorages in the other islands were indicated as “quiet conditions only” locations, and at this time of year we did not trust the weather, and thus went from Vulcano on an overnight passage 72 miles to the mainland. We did stop to anchor en route for a swim and supper at Isola Panarea. From there we had a clear view of the classical volcanic cone of Stromboli. We made a night transit past Isola Stromboli to see the red glow of the active volcano there, far less spectacular than the postcard pictures suggest. We did not feel like stopping in the marginally sheltered anchorage there to climb the volcano, and so carried on for a pleasant overnight motorsail to Vibo Valentia (38˚ 55.9’N, 016˚ 07.7’E) back on the mainland, to Marina Stella de Sud, a pleasant helpful marina, operated by an Italian/Canadian couple. The charge there was only 15 Euros per night for our 10 metre boat.

We were able to shop for groceries, including fruits and vegetables, as well as diesel fuel at the local gas station for only one Euro per litre ($1.56 Cdn or $1.24 US, or about $5.00 a gallon US for my American readers, and that’s diesel; gasoline is even more expensive coming in at about $6.00 US per gallon). The marina gave us a good recommendation for supper at Maria Rosa’s restaurant, very good, thanks again Doug.

After leaving at 0730 next day for a 50 mile trip, we noticed about 1030 that the carpeting at the foot of our passageway steps was damp? Did some one spill some water in the galley? No. Upon removing the steps, thus opening the engine compartment, we saw water spraying out from our engine water pump, the front of the engine coated with a layer of salt residue. Engine off, remove the water pump, disassemble and check the impellor; fine. We reassembled the pump with a bit more grease on the gasket and replaced it, but still it leaked badly. It must be the seals. We had an extra set, but did not want to tackle the intricate task of replacing them while at sea, and so back to Vibo Valentia we went.

Of course we arrived at siesta time, about 1330, to find the Yanmar service would not be open until 1530. When the mechanic came, he also thought it was the seals, and took the pump and our spare seals to his workshop to replace them, returning next morning and reinstalling the pump for a total charge of only 25 Euros. We were on our way again for a long motorsail northwards to Salerno, where Doug’s connections to Rome airport would be straightforward. However, the light winds eventually picked up a bit, but swung straight against us with 1.5 metre waves. We altered course to Cetraro, arriving at 2230 in the dark, another night entry into an unknown port in heavy conditions, after a 60 mile voyage (39˚ 31.66’N, 015˚ 55.12’E).

Our Pilot said the harbor was under construction as a porto touristico marina, and pontoons may be installed. Some were; however the only space we saw available was on the outer pontoon, between two Italian boats similarly moored alongside. There was no problem in coming alongside in the dark, unassisted. Unfortunately the pontoons were subject to dramatic surging, causing a most uncomfortable night and breaking one of our bow lines before dawn. The boat ahead had two lines break.

To celebrate our arrival, I was hungry and so made a late night pasta snack for us, Spaghetti aglio, olio, peperoncino. Mmmm … good! The pasta sauce was simple and fast to make, being just ¾ cup of olive oil, 4 cloves of chopped garlic and a crushed dried red chili, slowly sautéed until crisp, and poured over hot spaghetti (al dente of course), and garnished with chopped fresh parsley. Some cool Italian vino bianco (white wine) complemented the snack quite well, easing the pressures of a heavy sail and a bouncy mooring.

First thing in the gray rainy morning I went along the pontoons to identify some places to which we might relocate with less motion, using their laid lines, bows to, in the few spaces open. The pontoons were plugged with local boats on the NE side of the harbor. The SW side had no pontoons and only a few fishing boats. A couple of the lazy lines, hauled up from the pontoon, proved unusable, either because the line did not seem heavy enough, or it went off at an angle beneath adjacent boats. We identified a couple of spots that we might use, and so left Doug on the pontoon to assist us in while Judy and I brought Veleda around. We tried an inside location first, only to find the lazy line went under adjacent boats, and so backed off and went outside the pontoon to try a couple of other locations. It started to rain, and of course poor Doug got soaked as he waited for us to approach the next spaces. We tried two more, again to find out the lines crossed the lines of other boats. While trying to get in to these locations we had to watch out for the surge which could pound us into the boats on either side. After the third attempt in this screwed up harbour I said, “Forget it, we’ll anchor out in the middle!!!” We came alongside to pick Doug up, and headed into the middle. However, rather than anchor I decided to try alongside on the opposite wall behind a large fishing trawler. The surge did not seem great and there was no spray coming over the outer breakwater, and so we went alongside for a quieter mooring location.

We then changed from our wet clothes (Doug was most soaked) and had a hot breakfast before taking Sprite over to the town. What a deserted off season nonentity it was! Two hotels closed, three restaurants closed, a store fortified by its steel shutters clamped down tight, and only the occasional isolated car driving by going to or coming from the port. Doug and I were looking for a way to get to the train station, but there were no signs, and no one around to ask. The corner at the main roadway went up the hill to the hospital or a long high walled road along the coast, but no signs for the train station, even though we knew the tracks were just above the roadway. Back into town, and still no one around! We then walked down to the Coast Guard building, hoping some one there spoke some English and could help us. The couple of young men at the door spoke no English, but summoned an officer who had a bit. He indicated the actual town was a few kilometers along the main road and up the hills. There was a station in the next town, about three kilometers away, and he drew us a map to the train station there, indicating it was a local line that would then take us further south to Paola where Doug could get the train to Rome and the airport. The officer indicated there was no taxi service from Cetraro. We did not relish the walk those few kilometers, and thought about offering money to a local to take us there.

Back to Veleda we went, to find Judy uncomfortable about our location, as the wind was coming up again, now from the NW, which would press us against the wall, and so we shifted once again onto the SW wall for the next two nights. It was only OK. That night we went into the single restaurant which opened, for a final meal ashore with Doug. We were the only customers that night! However we managed to indicate to the owner we wanted a cab to the train station next day, and he offered his vehicle at the rate of one Euro per kilometre to take us the 30 km. down to Paola, but the cost would also include the 30 km. back for a total of 60 Euros. OK, it was the only game in town and so we agreed.

Next day in pouring rain he was over to the boat to pick us up, and took us to Paola where we dropped Doug off at the train station. We were delayed there about 20 minutes to locate the ticket wicket and the washrooms before returning to the car. The owner was antsy about the time and in a hurry to get back to his restaurant to open up for lunch. We stopped for three minutes on the way back to get some vegetables and went straight back to Veleda. When we gave him the 60 Euros, he shrugged an unappreciative acceptance indicating the little bit of extra time taken, and so Judy gave him a 10 Euro tip (I wouldn’t have.). Welcome to Italy and Calabria! He made good money out of us for the supper last night and another 70 Euros (about $110.00 Canadian) for a 90 minute trip. Oh well, we got Doug to his train and were glad to be back on Veleda that dreary rainy day, ready to head off next morning the 40 miles to Camerota, a far more pleasant experience. At least there was no marina office and we were not charged anything for our three unpleasant nights there.