Sunday, 27 June 2010

Procida to Ponza

Ischia Castle Bill, Liam, Mark, Sam, Andrew, Clare, Amanda and Annie BBQ on Gone with the Wind Harbour front at Ponza The dinghy park
The Yacht Park
Clare, Annie, Amanda, Liam, Mark and Andrew
Pizza in Ponza
Hi from Clare, Procida to Ponza Sunday 27th June 2010 PLACES I HAVE FORGOTTEN We spent four nights at Procida, which is an island not far out from Naples. It is very old and dilapidated with paint peeling off nearly every building. Apparently we came here in 2005 but I have no recollection of the place. I didn't take any photos back then, and now we have left Procida I realize that I didn't take any photos this time either. I guess that says it all. When we arrived at Procida, the North West wind was blowing and forecast to increase so we tucked away safely on the south east side of the island. The anchorage without the wind was subject to sea swell and we rolled continuously for the duration of our stay. About the only consolation was that daily reports on the ship's radio revealed that many other yachts on the east coast of Italy were experiencing the same conditions.

NOT VERY FRIENDLY The Procida beach was roped off for swimming and I think the rule in Italy is, no anchoring within 300 meters of the shore. The Coast Guard came around and booked the boats inside the zone. Fortunately it wasn't us but we watched the all too familiar procedure. The Coast Guard pulls along side and requests the ship's papers; they then disappear below and return with a hefty fine. No consultation, no explanation and I guess no refunds. We were booked like this in 2005 for anchoring in a restricted area and the fine was $200 - thanks for coming.

So after watching this episode, we went ashore for a walk and took with us a small plastic bag of rubbish. We were stopped by a local fisherman who, although couldn't speak English, got the message across that to bring rubbish ashore would cost 10 Euros. I thought "great the rubbish came from your supermarket" but no point arguing, next time we came ashore we hid the rubbish in our backpack. NEXT ISLAND NOT MUCH BETTER We all moved three miles to the next island of Ischia. Both White Rose and Eye Candy took their dinghy ashore only to find that the beach was roped off making it impossible to land. Ischia looked just as dilapidated as Procida so Andrew and I decided to go back to our boat and forget it. White Rose and Balvenie decided to make use of a small water taxi to go into town and back.

The good news is that after six nights of rolling, the anchorage at Ischia was flat calm. The rain clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining. We gladly spent a very peaceful afternoon and evening enjoying simple pleasures like the warmth of the sun and a bed that didn't move. CRUISEHEIMER'S DISEASE We left Ischia at midnight and sailed 55 miles to Ponza arriving early Wednesday afternoon. We anchored on the east side of the island in flat calm and clean water. We swam and sun baked and then had a wonderful farewell dinner with Bridget and Peter on White Rose. They left early the next morning for Rome but with a bit of luck we should catch up with them in Sardinia in the next few weeks.

On Thursday we enjoyed a little piece of summer but we had to move the boat three times to shelter from the swell. We spent the morning on the east side, the afternoon on the west side and the evening on the south east of the island. However the maneuvering was worth it to achieve total peace and calm.

Ponza is a tourist island with a number of ferries, tripper boats and many yachts. We were here in 2005 with Andrew's daughter Sarah and friends. I think I should be concerned because, like Procida, I can't remember a thing about this place either. Yesterday we went into town and Andrew could remember where all the shops were. He even said "Look don't you remember, that's where the kids bought the swimming noodles?" l don't know what planet I was on in 2005.

(As I am typing this newsletter the wake from power boats has us rolling so violently that I am holding onto the computer and checking to see if anything in the cabin is about to crash to the floor).

CHANGING OF THE GUARD Our American friends Sam and Bill on "Blue Banana" have been here with us along with "Balvenie". Last night we all had drinks on "Balvenie" while waiting eagerly the arrival of Annie and Liam on the Australian catamaran "Gone with the Wind". No sooner had they dropped their anchor, they joined the party. After drinks we all contributed towards a good Aussie BBQ on "Gone with the Wind" It was a great night with lots of laughs and some serious guitar strumming and singing. "Blue Banana" left this morning for Rome and so it is up to "Eye Candy", "Balvenie" and "Gone with the Wind" to carry on the tradition of friendship at sea.

The following morning the six of us gathered on "Gone with the Wind" and collectively provided cappuccinos, home made scones and peach slice for morning tea. Eye Candy then left the anchorage for the day to seek calmer waters away from the boating traffic. It is a long week end in Ponza and as you can see from the photos the boating Italians are out in force. Unlike us, they are used to anchoring large boats close together. The small motor boats and dinghies are parked in rows along the beach. It looks like a car park, quite unbelievable. We all went into town last night for authentic Italian pizza, yum yum. The pastry is very thin and it has two to four ingredients for the topping. You certainly don't see "Pizza with the lot" like we have in Australia. We enjoyed being in the Italian community. The outdoor restaurants were busy and the kids played on the beach. A soccer ball ended up going through an open door of a souvenir shop. I guess it wasn't the first time, as the female owner just shook her finger at the kids and returned the ball. EVENTUALLY SARDINIA So far this year the weather has been pleasant with temperatures in the high twenties. We still have the doona on the bed which is really quite amazing for the month of June. The water temperature is around 23 degrees and there have been a large number of jelly fish. Andrew got stung yesterday whilst swimming over to see "Balvenie". I get in the water to cool down but I get out pretty quickly.

We will probably head out for Sardinia early tomorrow morning. It will be an overnight sail as we have 150 miles to cover. We are looking forward to this leg as to all reports Sardinia is very pretty and the anchorages are good. We are looking forward to getting to the east coat of Sardinia and away from the ocean swell. Love CANDY xx ---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Amalfi Coast

Stunning view of Amalfi Coast
Agropoli dinner with EC in distance A Paestum Temple
Paestum Vase
Andrew at Revello, Amalfi
Terraced gardens near Positano
Limoncello products for sale
Hi from Clare, The Amalfi Coast Sunday 20th June 2010 IT'S A SMALL WORLD Last Sunday Colin, Andrew and I left Palinuro and had a very enjoyable sail up the west coast of Italy to Agropoli. We were lucky enough to get one of the four free spots on the town wharf along with White Rose and Balvenie and so we stayed in Agropoli for three days. We were no sooner settled on the wharf when we heard someone calling out 'Eye Candy'. It was a couple we met in Sydney last Christmas when they were planning to pick their yacht up in the Med. It's a small world! THE PEOPLE OF AGROPOLI On Sunday evening we had pizza and a beer in the central plaza along with many of the locals. The place had a wonderful family atmosphere with children playing happily while parents, grandparents and friends chatted. It seems that Sunday night is the accepted time for socializing, the place was fairly jumping. The following day we went up to the medieval village and castle (built 500 AD) at the top of the town. Colin and Andrew did a pretty good job of interpreting the very proud and enthusiastic Italian guide at the castle, who waved his arms around speaking passionate Italian and ushered us through every open doorway Good thing we weren't in a hurry. We then had dinner at a restaurant in the medieval village perched high on the hill in view of the harbour, Eye Candy, the sea beyond and a wonderful sunset.

FAREWELL TO COLIN Unfortunately Col had to leave us on Tuesday morning and head back to England. We all caught the train to Naples early morning Wednesday. Andrew and I got out at the first stop (6 minutes away from Agropoli) to visit the ancient Greek city of Paestum. It is said to be the first Greek architecture in Italy and dates back to 6th century BC. It was very impressive with three temples in good condition and a comprehensive museum. We heard from Col later that his train trip to Naples for 6.5 Euros was pretty good. However he then caught a cab to the suburbs, the cab driver got lost twice (heard that one before) and the fare ended up at 70 Euros. JUST SETTLE DOWN WILL YOU? On Wednesday we sailed 25 miles to Amalfi. It was such a smooth ride I spent most of the time below doing the washing. I got our clothes dry before we reached Amalfi. However the sheets and towels were done at anchor outside Amalfi. The ferry wake was horrendous and the boat was rolling violently. Andrew and I were lurching around the clothes line on the bow like a couple of drunks. This is when a laundry would come in handy, but I haven't seen one since Sicily on the 2nd June. Every new town we come to we look firstly for supermarket, gas and laundry. WHAT A VIEW The Amalfi coast is spectacular with very steep cliffs and towns that seem to just hang on the cliff face. The narrow roads zig zag up the mountains and a three point turn is necessary for the busses to negotiate some of the tight corners. The driver blows his horn at every corner and then swings out onto the wrong side of the road to get around. The best fun is when two busses meet at a corner. The drivers are remarkably quiet and patient (can't possible be Italians) and just back up to let one go first. All the land is terraced and each level is joined by numerous stairways. You virtually can't walk anywhere without climbing stairs. The amount of rock work that has been undertaken over the years to gain level ground for building and planting crops is staggering. We went with White Rose and Balvenie on a 7 mile bus trip into the hills above Amalfi to the Byzantine town of Revello. Around this area are many exclusive Italian Villas with lush gardens and spectacular views of the Amalfi Coast. The well kept town square has an elevated Catholic Cathedral and when coming out from the church the view just about takes your breath away. A VERY BUSY DAY We came down from Revello and caught the bus with the Balvenie crew to the next town of Postano for lunch. It was an interesting bus ride as we got a close up look at the terraced farming and thousands of lemon trees that have been pruned to run along horizontal poles. This is the home of "Limoncello" and the lemons are huge. Like Amalfi, Postano has endless stairways and terraced land so more stair climbing was required. We moved the boat to Postano for the night hoping to get away from the swell which is caused largely by the numerous motor vessels in the area. It was a little better but we still rolled all night. THE ISLE OF CAPRI AT LAST Friday morning we sailed 17 miles to Capri. This is the third time we have been to Capri and so I was determined that this time we would go ashore. It has always been reported that the marina is expensive. We heard recently on the HF radio that a 50 plus foot yacht was charged 800 euros for one night at Capri. So we anchored out in very choppy water and took our dinghy ashore dodging the many day tripper boats and ferries. Capri to my horror was all stairs, my poor legs were screaming for mercy. We climbed to the central plaza which is located at the top of the hill. The view was great but Capri was a disappointment. It was very crowded, expensive and run down. The busses were standing room only, the queues were long and people were packed in so tightly, I thought they looked positively unsafe. We had lunch there, just so we could say 'we had lunch at Capri' but the bill was nearly twice the advertised price due to a number of unadvertised fees and charges. But not to worry, we have done it now. THE SUNNY MEDITERRANEAN We sailed 15 miles to the Island of Procida which is off the northern headland of Naples. We have strong westerly winds for the next few days and so we are tucked up here safely with White Rose and Balvenie. The conditions are very rollly, we even had our bottle of Limoncello thrown off the bench in the middle of the night. Andrew awoke to the sound of the bottle and glasses rolling across the floor. My night cap must have been bigger than his because I didn't hear a thing. Yesterday Andrew and I washed the boat with soap and scrubbed the deck. Last night we had thunder, lightning and torrential rain. Fortunately the rain was clean and so now our deck is sparkling. The weather is overcast and quite cool. We have even resorted to jackets at times. It has been raining again today and it is certainly not swimming weather. Let's hope it improves soon. Love Candy ---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:

Monday, 14 June 2010

Volcano to Mainland Italy

Beach Party at Volcano Andrew in Ecstacy
Andrew and the herd in the mud pool
View from the top of Volcano
Colin having a hard day
Clare and Andrew taking coffee in Palinuro
Hi from Clare, Saturday 12th June 2009

WHO WANTS TO STINK? When motoring the three miles from Lipari to the Island of Volcano we had a radio call inviting us, on our arrival, to join the other cruisers in a mud bath. Andrew was up for it but I said "No way, it stinks" the mud smell of rotten egg gas. I remember the last time I was at Volcano I gagged every time we walked past the mud pool and I certainly couldn't imagine floating in it. Some hours later the mud bath participants agreed that no amount of scrubbing and body shampoo could remove the stink from their skin.

WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT The cruisers had drinks on the beach that night and Colin provided two lovely bottles of champagne to have with the remainder of the much talked about "Strawberries". This was a real treat, as expensive champagne is not factored into the average cruiser's budget. I can just hear them weighing up between "expensive champagne" or "boat repairs" "expensive champagne" "boat repairs" and I've been around long enough to know that "boat repairs" will win hands down - no contest! It was a beautiful warm night and a local woman came along offering massages for 5 Euros. We had our tarpaulin laid out on the sand which proved to be a perfect place for massage mania. The masseuse did quite well for herself; the cruisers were dropping like flies onto the tarp. Of course the cameras were clicking to capture the looks of ecstasy, along with one guy's moan "Oh no, this is bound to end up on a Blog Site" - I was tempted. THE VOLCANO AT VOLCANO The following morning Andrew did the ninety minute walk to the top of the volcano. It looked like a fairly difficult climb and Andrew lost the sole of one sneaker on the way up the mountain and the sole of the other sneaker on the way down. Colin and I opted to go shopping for supplies. I think we got the better end of the deal, shopping in air conditioned comfort and an ice cream by the beach, with shoes in tact.

We moved around to the other side of the island to get away from the smell of the mud bath and also to get into cleaner water. I had my first swim for the season in 24 degree water, it was wonderful. All of a sudden it is summer; the days and nights are much warmer. It's like someone up there has flicked a switch. We are all enjoying the sun, water and relaxing around the boat. ON THE MOVE On Tuesday 8th we moved across to the south end of Lipari Island next to Volcano just for a change of scenery. We had a perfectly still day in flat sea so I did some washing and cooking. The guys mucked around on the computers trying to get our newly purchased dongle to work. The dongle is supposed to supply internet access on the boat, but I have only ever head cruisers complaining about their dongles. So now we have entered the frustrating dongle world and we are not having any better luck than anyone else. That night Mark and Amanda from Balvenie and Peter and Bridget from White Rose joined us for drinks at sundown. We planned to do an overnight crossing to mainland Italy the following night. THE PLAN, AND THEN THE PLAN We planned to cruise pass the volcano Stromboli around 10pm at night and see the lava flow. If it was spectacular, we could even anchor nearby and enjoy the show. What a fizzer, we saw a puff of smoke like a mushroom cloud and that was all. However, it worked out well. You can probably guess what happens when three yachts leave at the same time for a 95 mile overnight passage. Yep! An unofficial race occurs. As soon as we left the anchorage, Andrew and Colin were planning tactics like which side of the island to take and where the lift will come from and should we sail high or low of the course. The plan was now to win the unofficial race at all cost. I don't know what was happening on the other yachts, but our sails were being trimmed to take full advantage of the 15 knot wind across the deck. We got out in front early and stayed there. By morning we were a good twelve miles ahead of the others. Nothing was said but both Andrew and Colin had smiles from ear to ear. So that's cruising! PALINURO, MAINLAND ITALY We have been anchored in a lovely quiet bay at Palinuro 50 miles south of Naples for two days with "Balvenie" and "White Rose". The town is a quiet tourist destination with sandy beaches, and tasteful accommodation. We have been into town a few times for shopping, cake and coffee and trips to the Vodafone shop to get the dongle to work. It seems the answer is - throw more money at it!

The weather is a sunny 30 degrees and the water is warm and clear. We are having a wonderful time and it wouldn't be hard to stay here for another week. However, tomorrow we will continue our adventure and sail 30 miles north to the busy town of Agropoli.

Love Candy ---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:

Monday, 7 June 2010

Part 1 Colin in Siracusa

Siracusa Alley
Piazza in Siracusa
Ceiling in chapel
Marble floor in Church
Tuna on sale
Colin, Mark, Andrew & Amanda on Balvenie
Hi from Clare, Sicily Sunday 6th June 2010

Due to the large number of photos, I have broken this email into three parts with the headings:

Part One: Colin in Siracusa Part Two: Naxos and Strawberries Part Three: Unforgettable Mt Etna

PART ONE COLIN IN SIRACUSA Our Australian friend Colin arrived Sunday 30th May and since then it has been fairly busy. On Monday we went into Siracusa and explored the old town. There are lots of lovely winding cobblestone streets and a walkway, by the sea, skirting the perimeter. Our favourite spot however was the marble paved central Piazza surrounded by the old palace, government buildings and a magnificent catholic church. The church started out as a temple in 300BC and its original columns form part of the interior walls. The ceilings in the side chapels were painted like the cystine chapel in Rome and the marble floors throughout the church were made up of many different coloured slabs to form fabulous intricate patterns.

The piazza looked very much like the inside of the walled city in Dubrovnik and our minds could have wandered back to Croatia but for the sound of a piano according playing the theme song from the Godfather. Sicily is home of the Mafia and it still flourishes there today although thankfully it is not visible.

We went to the market again and bought tasty fresh fruit and veg, local cheese and some smoked ricotta to die for. I took a photo of the huge tuna and swordfish that I mentioned in my last newsletter so you can see them. We bought some salmon for dinner but we didn't get to eat it as we ended up on the New Zealand yacht 'Balvenie' with Mark and Amanda for drinks. After a few very enjoyable hours of chatting, drinks and nibbles, our appetites had waned.

Please go to Part Two love Candy

---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:

Part 2 Naxos and Strawberries

View of Taormina
Up-market shopping
The kilo of Strawberries
View from the top
Up-market accommodation
Naxos beach partygoers

On Wednesday we sailed north up the coast to Naxos which is a thriving tourist town. It was founded by the Greeks in 750BC and is the oldest Greek settlement in Sicily. Although it's not clear, I think they named the place Naxos after the Greek Island in the Cyclades.

When we arrived in the bay at Naxos we met up with Ian and Helen on a Sydney yacht 'Sundancer II'. They were leaving the next morning so we invited them over for a drink on Eye Candy. Colin has known Ian in the Sydney yacht racing world for many years. Ian and Helen had a visitor Kate who has also raced yachts out of Sydney and has crewed for Col on his boat 'Never a Dull Moment'. So most of the talk was about boats, racing and Sydney Harbour, it was like being at home in Oz.

Ian mentioned that a worthwhile trip was to the town of Taormina at the top of the nearby hill. So we went to Taormina the following day and we weren't disappointed. It was a really lovely up market tourist town with good quality shops and souvenirs. I made the mistake of buying a kilo tray of strawberries for 3 Euro early in the day. It was such a good deal I couldn't resist. I forgot about carrying them and climbing on and off busses with them. We kept saying "these better be bloody good strawberries" fortunately they are because we are still eating them!

FIFTEEN AND A HALF CRUISERS We had drinks that night on the beach with fifteen and a half other cruisers. A young Dutch couple, circumnavigating the world, had their eighteen month old son with them (hence the half). They have been sailing for three years and their son was born in Brisbane hospital. Their trip is coming to an end as every time they drop the anchor their little son says "Walk, walk?" So it's time to go home.

It was a BYO party for all the yachties in the bay. Peter and Bridget from White Rose brought along strawberries, I wonder why? (They must have been the others we saw carrying a bargain priced tray of strawberries around all day!)

We knew most of the people at the party. However we meet a new acquaintance, Patrick the Frenchman from America and his wife Christine. He had a great sense of humour; I just wonder if he got that from his parents?

Please go to Part Three love Candy

---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:

Part 3 Unforgettable Mt Etna

Mt Etna before our visit
Colin & Andrew ready for the train ride
Casualty of the 2001 eruption
Crater with ice
Colin and Clare in the blizzard
Leaving Naxos at 4 am - Etna's snow cover after our visit
PART THREE UNFORGETTABLE MT ETNA On Friday we went up Mt Etna. This is an active volcano which last erupted in 2001. It was an all day trip travelling by bus, train, chair lift and finally a 4wheel drive to take us to the crater at 3000 meters. I was madly excited as I wanted to do this trip, this was my excursion and Andrew and Colin came along for the ride. I was expecting it to be hot up there but the booking agent said to take a jacket because it will be a bit cold. What an understatement that was, it was freezing and it snowed. Our tour guide took us on a forty minute walk around the crater. Half way through the walk the thunder started, followed by swirling white mist and pelting snow. If we had known, we could have worn our wet weather gear, as it was Colin emptied his back pack and wore that to keep his back warm. At one stage through gritted teeth he said "Put your sunglasses on, it keeps your eyes warm"

One young guy, accompanied by two pretty girls, was wearing shorts. He did a great job at looking macho even posing for photos. Another young family had two small children who cried their eyes out and had to be carried up from the crater. Apart from the mini disasters I thought it was a pretty cool day (pardon the pun) but I don't think I'm allowed to plan any more excursions just yet.

MORE VOLCANOS We left Naxos Saturday morning at 4am (after rolling all night) to travel to the Island of Volcano. We motored up the straits of Messina with a 10 knot head wind and a one knot current against us. Once through the straits we turned left and had a good sail along the northern coast of Sicily to Cape Milazzo where we spent a peaceful night. The sailing was good and we were happy to spend time on the boat.

This morning we motored across to the island of Volcano in the Aeolian Islands. Along the way I did the housework and Andrew and Colin looked after the boat. They have gone ashore now for a swim at the beach and some are planning to go in the mud baths. The yachts Sundancer II, White Rose and Balvenie are here and so drinks are planned on the beach at 6pm. Colin and Andrew have just arrived back at the boat armed with two bottles of Champagne to go with the strawberries. I wonder if we will eat dinner tonight!

Love Candy

---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see: