Capri, via Ponza & Ischia
40:32.657N 14:14.289E Sun 19th Jun 2016
We are writing this somewhat overdue blog whilst in a state of shock and mourning following yesterday’s vote to leave the EU. Like so many people, we cannot believe what our country has done and are horrified at what it may mean for everyone’s future. We feel like putting up a banner on “Goldcrest” to say sorry Europe and it wasn’t our choice.
After three days exploring Rome from our base in Ostia, we were set to move on Friday 17th June and were up early for a longish sail south. The expected westerly winds did arrive but meanwhile a very big swell had built up at the entrance to the marina and the harbour master was warning yachts not to try to leave in those conditions as the waves were breaking in the shallow depths. We delayed our departure long enough to have 2 close looks at the entrance from the shore and the second time we counted seconds between each run of big waves. In the end we decided to go for it despite more warnings from the locals that it was “very dangerous”. We reckoned we could manage it in our large, sturdy boat and were very relieved when that proved to be the case! We counted big waves and then made a dash for it and only encountered one that bounced us violently but not quite enough to touch bottom. We exited into very rough seas with some 3 metre waves, but with the wind behind us it was bearable and we had 3 hours’ sailing followed by 3 under engine as the winds died. The rolly seas had calmed down by then, so we sailed again using our big red gennaker sail and “goose-winging” with that and our genoa. It was a lovely way to sail and very satisfying and took us most of the way to our destination off Ponza, one of the Pontine Islands we visited in “Red Panda” five years ago. We passed under the tall cliffs of the island, anchored in a lovely bay just past Ponza town and ate supper on deck under an almost full moon.
The next morning we were up early to move on again as the winds were still favourable to make good progress under sail. We left at 7.30am and sailed for most of the day, using the gennaker at times again in the light airs. We did have to drift for some time in the morning as the roller furling gear on the genoa stuck and David had to fix it on the move. Luckily conditions were pretty benign and he did a great job of dealing with the problem (as he usually does). We were forced to motor on the approach to Ischia as the winds went altogether and we anchored under the bluff with its imposing castle ruins just beyond Porto d’Ischia. We had to anchor in 11m of water, so used all our chain for the first time. As the water was now of an acceptable temperature for wussy first mate, we had a quick swim in the choppy sea and then blissful showers and good French wine. During the evening there was a spectacular lightning show and then heavy showers overnight. I had forgotten to completely close our bedroom hatch, so was woken by big drips straight on to my face!
After our wet and bouncy night, we decided to leave Ischia, which we had visited before anyway, and head over to nearby Capri. The books say you have to try to go there once. We sailed and then motor sailed the 18 miles to the impressive, jagged cliffs of the island and dropped anchor off Marina Piccola with its views out to the huge stacks and arch of Faraglioli. This time we had to anchor in 13m but in a great position underneath the towering cliffs and pretty villas of the bay. Had a refreshing swim and then stayed on board for the evening as it was again unsettled and squally. The next morning we discovered the big drawback to anchoring here as it was very difficult to bring a private dinghy ashore. The restaurants have commandeered the entire seafront and won’t allow you to bring your own boat in. There was one tiny public quay where the tripper boats disgorge day visitors, but it had warnings that you couldn’t leave a boat there. In the end we ignored these and tied up anyway! We climbed the very steep steps all the way to the top of the town and then found ourselves in Capri town amongst the throng. It was fun to sip an expensive coffee overlooking the magnificent Bay of Naples and wander the upmarket streets before a quick shop in a little supermarket and back down to “our” side of the island. We lingered on shore for a beer and were embarrassed to see that our dinghy was indeed causing issues for the tripper boats trying to come alongside. We chose a good moment to retrieve it before being accosted or shouted at and beat a hasty retreat back to base. We realised we had been lucky to get away with it and could not see any other way to return to shore for more exploring, so reluctantly decided to move on the following day once again. We did take our dinghy for a run along the coast and through the middle of the famous arch as all the local tripper boats do, and had another swim before stowing the dinghy on deck.
Capri; main terrace and views towards Naples:
Rugged backdrop and beautiful town:
Stunning coastal scenery: