So here we are back in print, catching up on the missing months before we start the next great adventures with Onegin.
We left the boat in Rome for a month, returning on September 1st and joined by our wonderful family crew James, Charli & Georgie. What a fantastic way to get back on board. What would Italy have in store for us?
Pontine Isles: fabulous spot. Popular but a great place to blow up the birthday present which was a paddle board. Paddle boarded on Lake St Louis, Canada in August in flat calm so decided this would be easy, not so with a little bit of wind the experience was very different but what a fabulous toy. We all thoroughly enjoyed trying it out and highly recommend this as an activity at anchor!! a couple of days in this area was perfect, then headed to Gaeta on the mainland as big wind was forecast. An attractive town with a US Naval vessel alongside ready to wake you up at 8am sharp with the Star Spangled Banner.
Ischia to Capri: the islands are stunning. The colours so vibrant, the blossoms overhanging the walls and the clear blue skies. We couldn't fault it and loved exploring the small harbours. Capri was a bonus as we were able to spend three hours for free in the marina as we were there in the morning. Perfect time for a hike up the hill to the town, which is really lovely if a little overcrowded with tourists. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like in the peak season bearing in mind this was September. But the treasures of the local art galleries and emporiums oozed understated luxury and a taste for good things. Then dashing back to the boat to leave the marina and nip around to the back of the island to Il Faraglioni to join the small yachts and the super yachts at anchor. It doesn't matter what size or type of boat the view is always the same and a beautiful anchorage is exactly that for all of us. Coincidences at sea never cease to amaze - the Australian couple who left Sardinia in a blow some six weeks earlier, dropped anchor almost adjacent to us. We were happy to see them all in once piece!
Torre del Greco: Bay of Naples. Sight seeing Pompeii and Vesuvius. The Latin scholars in our family were so excited to see the house of Caecilius “Caecilius est in horto” with his “canis Cerberus”
Saying good bye to family, preparing for friends. A sad and happy time.
Boat work: Starting work on the winter cover in between guests. Thank goodness we chose to do this because the next opportunity to sew was in Greece, on the dock before the rain started.
Eight legged gifts: octopus from Marco, every morning we were woken at 6am by the locals heading out in the small boats to catch supper for the evening. At 9am of the second morning we saw Marco who tied up behind Onegin so we started chatting about his catch of the day which was two octopus. We had a good chat, he’d worked in the US for a while and was very fluent in English. We didn't expect to see him again as he had food for a few days or more. The next morning, he was back and we showed our surprise but said it was lovely to see him again. He then said he had a present for us and lifted out of his net a live octopus, put it in a bag and said for you,’ handing it to me. Delighted I accepted and then hesitatingly asked what do I do with it given it was still alive. It was at this point he realised I hadn't a clue! so he took back his gift, opened up the bag, despatched the creature with a blunt instrument and gave me the best lesson in cooking ever. With this info and a second octopus bought at market when Jeff & Cynthia arrived we were well on the way to delicious pan fried octopus better than even the best restaurants serve!
Bay of Naples to Sicily, or not: Jeff Cynthia,Dean & Elizabeth arrived so we were ready for the off.
Capri. This time we were lucky enough to stay in the marina despite the exorbitant pricing between a group it’s not so bad… although there weren't any other options as it was sadly not a calm night for anchoring behind the island. Then back to the Amalfi coast, we hoped we would get favourable winds to sail down to Sicily to drop off Dean & Elizabeth. Whilst the boys weren't drawn to their peril by the sirens off the coast we realised that the best laid plans are there for change as the seas and wind were not comfortable. Despite this we had some really wonderful sailing and stops.
Amalfi was a highlight: Julio was the swarthy harbour master who boarded our ship as we were approaching, took the helm and drove Onegin like no-one could believe into the tightest parking spot ever. The Captain was aghast, the First Mate was marvelling at the skills of this very smooth talking Italian and the rest of the crew delighted because they could step off the boat onto the pontoon without taking a breath! Amalfi really is a jewel of the coast line and I’ve never seen lemons so huge!
Agropoli: We diverted here after attempting to make headway to Sicily and what a lucky thing we did. This particular town is not so special but Paestum which is a short train ride to the north west is the most incredible archaeological site https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paestum. Well worth visit and fascinating The sight of three Greek temples rising out of the landscape is incredible.
Maratea: having determined we would not make it to Sicily in time for Dean & Elizabeth they quickly changed flights and figured out the rail options. Maratea is a charming town perched high above sea level. It’s a good hike to the town and even more of a trip to the statue of Christ, luckily a local taxi driver was happy to take six passengers up to the top of the world (that’s what the view was like from up on high). This was followed by our final dinner together in a fabulous local restaurant where we had our second coincidence of September. As we went to our table, I recognised our sailing friends Will & Rosie Pedder sv Zorra (live in Dulwich but we met via Sune Carlson, Sweden….). This is a very tiny marina and a very tiny town and we wouldn't have been there except for the weather conditions that had hampered our journey. What a lovely surprise!
Aeolian Islands: departure bright and early for the train to Rome meant the rest of the crew were ready for the off: destination Stromboli. It would be a 14-16 hour sail but we were ready. Conditions were perfect so off we set. The best time to sail by Stromboli is at dusk/sundown as you just start to see the belching eruptions that occur every 8 -10 minutes. We could see the volcanic island from a long way away as the visibility was ideal but this has its disadvantages because your watching, watching and watching for something you can’t see because it’s still daylight. Sun goes, and I declare that this volcano watching is very dull and if something doesn't happen NOW I'm going down below. A split second later Stromboli lights up and the four of us are so very excited. This is a first for us, although the Captain has sailed by at night time racing in the Med Sea Race a few years ago . Suffice to say we were very happy.
Volcano: The chain of Islands offer some wonderful places to drop anchor. Another highlight was the morning hike on Volcano which is another island that is actively spewing sulphur and is easily accessible. It is easy to see how people could become volcanologists - it’s quite fascinating and almost other worldly.
Millazzo, Sicily: this is where we said our goodbyes to Jeff & Cynthia. September had been a great month with family and friends on board. Italy offered up so many treats from delicious food to picturesque towns and idyllic anchorages as well as great company. But we were bound for our winter layup destination in Greece.