HSSC Summer sail – Gulf of Naples from 3 to 10 September 2016

The club’s 2016 summer sail took place in the Gulf of Naples out of Salerno Arechi marina from the 3rd to the 10th September.
Ahead of the charter, and staying in Sorrento, Robert, Diana Abramova and Sefton spent a couple of days looking around the ruins of the Roman civilisation at Pompei Scavi and Ercolano (Herculaneum) Scavi, scavi = excavations, that the eruption of Vesuvius flattened on 25th August 79 ACE. The world knows what happened because Pliny the Younger witnessed and chronicled the eruption and its aftermath in which his uncle, Pliny the Elder, died. Diana Bader-Clynes, Janice, and Neil flew out to join the others on the Friday.
On the Saturday morning we all went off in a minibus to the marina in Salerno Arechi via the Carrefour supermarket in Salerno where the purchasing team got provisions. They were picked up later by the free shuttle car from the marina. It was sunny and very hot, and because we were there earlier than the boat was ready, Sefton and Robert sat under the umbrellas till the marina staff furled them because it became too windy.
When we checked into the charter office, the base manager informed us the Cyclades 50 (Maria Victoria) we had booked could not go out because of defects, but we could have a Sun Odyssey 49i (Elena) that was 2 years younger for the same price. The difference was that we lost the skipper’s cabin in the bow, so there was more sharing than envisaged. This boat, too, had quite a few problems, some that the base staff sorted out before we departed on the Sunday morning and others that we found underway and had to live with. We didn’t have a choice. The chart plotter had been removed but they gave us an I-Pad with Navionics charts. This was a new experience for the computer-illiterate, but it turned out to be very easy to use, even if the boat moved across the chart distinct from being centred as on chart plotters, and there were no lats or longs.
On Saturday night we ate in the marina café.
On Sunday morning we departed from the marina at quarter to ten after a night of constant deep base music that kept repeating itself. Was it an all-night rave? We will never know. We headed west towards Capri past three small islands (Il Gallo Lungo, La Rotunda and La Castelluccia) and passed by the headland at the end of the Sorrento peninsula, Punta Campanella, into the strait between the mainland and the island of Capri. Apparently it used to be a land bridge before various volcanic activities separated it. We headed for Isola Faraglioni on the south east corner of Capri, famed for its tunnel that power boats shoot through. We went around the outside of the island towards the Marina Piccola and then turned round to go on to the Porto Turistico in the Marina Grande on the north side of the island. They did not answer their radio and got a little irate when we pitched up and tried to park at one of the inner pontoons. Eventually they booted one boat off the visitor’s pontoon (No 1, closest to the wash of the ferries) and we got in, stern-to in Med fashion. We berthed at about half past three, after 32 miles that had been covered mainly under power. Whilst Heikell’s 9th edition of the Italian Waters Pilot does not mention showers and toilets, they were clean and hot. Because we were now in a marginally smaller yacht, the parking fees were in a lower band because the beam, which is one of the break-points in charge rates in Capri, was under 4.5m. Of the marinas we stayed at Capri was the only that charged separately for water and electricity using a key that one pre-loads with money. We ate out on the harbour front at Lo Zodi. The journey on the way back to the boat took us past a gaggle of gin palaces, including QM of London, that from a check on the internet, commands a weekly charter rate well more than the value of the yacht we chartered.
On Monday morning all except Diana A took the funicular railway up to Capri town. Lots of tourists and tourist-friendly shops, and a view towards the Marina Piccola on the south side of the island in the one direction and Ischia and the Italian mainland in the other. On our return to the boat, the one next door had gone, so had one of our balloon fenders. Coincidence? In its place was a yacht, larger than us, that got a good scrape down the side from our anchor as it came in. No damage on our side. Ah, the pleasures of cross-winds and charter boats. The ormeggiatori (the marina boat men) advised us to move to a more sheltered berth because the weather was closing in and Tuesday was going to be windy. The charter base manager had already advised us before our departure not to sail on Tuesday. In the event, we had already planned to be in Ischia on Tuesday and take a day off sailing.
The ormeggiatori moved the yacht next door to us before we departed so we had more room to get out. There was quite a cross-wind, subsequently an offshore breeze, and we got a bit of a sail in towards Ischia until the wind died. Again, it was sunny and hot. By quarter to three we were off Punta Imperatore with its light house at the western end of Ischia. We then motored up the west coast past Forio, past Lacco Ameno on the north coast, and into Casamicciola Terme (Casamicciola Spas) where we arrived at just after four and 28 miles run. The ormeggiatori guided us to a parking space that was clearly too narrow. Having nudged the boat on one side (no damage on either boat), and missing a gin palace “Happy Feet” (from an internet search we could have chartered it at €27,000 plus expenses per week) on the other, he asked us to come in bow first. We got in, but the port-side lazy mooring line was not long enough; we were too short! “Wait here, I will find you a berth”. He did, and we moved once a ferry had departed. Ferries are the lifeblood of these communities, so they are frequent during the day, dropping an anchor in the middle of the harbour and swinging round to park stern-to to discharge and load up. At night they park up till the first departure at just gone six in the morning. The up side of the new mooring was it was on a pontoon with plenty of space. The down side, it was the other end of the marina from the control tower where one had to get, and return immediately after use, the key to the showers and toilets that were not quite as far. After some of us had a hot shower we went off for dinner at Il Signore degli Angelli just off Piazza Marina. We over-ate. Whilst the sky was relatively clear when we went off for dinner it started raining on the way back, not very hard at first. The pontoon gate was now closed; it was open when we left. By carefully manoeuvring around the plant pots we squeezed onto the pontoon. In the ten minutes or so it took to get from the restaurant the rain became heavy, coming down in buckets accompanied by distant lightning and thunder. We negotiated a now-moving pontoon and were soaked to the skin before getting back on board. At least the rain was relatively warm. In the morning we got the card to activate the electric lock on the gate that the lady in the marina office didn’t tell us about when paying. But then she did not ask which pontoon we were on, and we didn’t know to tell her.
On the way to getting the bus tickets on Tuesday morning to go to the Giardini La Mortella (The Myrtle Gardens) that the wife of the composer William Walton created, we came across a marble plaque dedicated to a Giovanni Casamicciola, a 13th century professor of medicine and pharmacology. To merit a plaque, he must have been a person of note.
Whilst Neil went into Ischia town the rest of us went to the gardens. Walton even has a blue plaque on the wall! The bus ride was an experience – keep boarding till there is no room, and don’t worry about not being able to reach the ticket cancelling machine – pass the ticket to someone near, they put it in the machine and pass it back; all very civilised. The garden is full of plants, trees, fountains and sculptures, and also the ashes of both Walton and his wife. It is hilly, and after climbing to the top one gets a good view over the west side of the island towards Forio and northwest towards the island of Ventotene that is 17 miles distant. Ventotene was not on our itinerary. We spent most of the day at the gardens before catching a bus back past Casamicciola and on to Ischia town for an ice cream, a look at Vesuvius now clearly visible because the rain had washed away the pollution, some retail therapy, and back to the marina.
We ate on board.
On Wednesday morning there was sufficient breeze to use the sails again. The wind speed and direction instrument, that had not been working, briefly came to life before dying again. We headed for Isola Procida but the wind died before we even got to the eastern end of Ischia, so we motored into Cala Corricella on the south side of island where we anchored with the intention of going for a swim. It was overcast and cooler than previously so we had lunch instead. After lunch we continued on to Sorrento in the rain with the spray hood up and wet gear on. We had a bit of a sail before resorting to engine and got ourselves into Sorrento at half past five having covered 27 miles. The marina guys came out on a rib and put us snugly between two power boats, but not before pulling them apart to increase the width as we came in. The yacht at the end mooring on other side of the pontoon was Symmetry, and from a chat with one of the crew, the yacht was built in New Zealand to a design based on a Swan.
We again had dinner on board.
On Thursday, the bow thruster decided not to work as we departed for Amalfi. Only when we got back did the base manager determine the trip switch under the port side stern bunk had moved, possibly because of shifted baggage. Despite no bow thruster, departure went without incident. The thunderstorms that had been predicted did not materialise. We got quite a good sail until our heading changed to go round Punta Campanella at the end of the Sorrento Peninsula. There were a couple of inlets where we considered anchoring and going for a dip, but decided against when the guys came out in their boats to beckon us to buoys, and presumably their restaurants. We had lunch whilst pottering slowly round the bay at Positano and taking in the views. We got to Amalfi at three, having covered 22 miles. Here again the marina did not answer the radio, but the ormeggiatori came out in a rib, climbed on board and got us onto the restaurant side of the pontoon with the bow about half a boat length off the terrace. Valet parking par-excellence.
We disembarked and wandered around Amalfi in time to see a bride and groom coming down the steps from the cathedral. More ice cream, a bit over-priced this time, more retail therapy, and back to the boat for dinner. After dinner we went for a constitutional past a statue to Flavio Gioja on the harbour-front. He is credited with having invented the sailors’ magnetic compass. In the museum next to the post office is the row-boat that is used for the annual Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics (Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice). Amalfi hosted the race in 2016 and Pisa will host it in June 2017. The flags of these four maritime republics form the motif in the centre of the Italian ensign – the blue with the white cross is for Amalfi. Later in the evening we were entertained to a fireworks display. At the beginning of a marriage?
On Friday morning we got croissants for breakfast from the panificio artigianale (artisanal bakery) and the ormeggiatori got us off the pontoon at just gone ten. We were wanting to stay longer and look around, but in these matters we had no choice. One out, all out. So there we were, with a goodly bit of wind on the last day and only 10 miles to go. We did what sailors do. We went for a proper sail, eventually with two reefs in the main and a full jib cruising along at, according to the I-Pad, a maximum of 9.7 kts. However, turning to head for the marina the wind was on the nose so we had to resort to engine to get back. We got in at approximately four with 23 miles run, most of it under sail. We ate dinner in the marina café again, selecting two whole fresh turbots between the six of us. Back on board we lit the Shabbos candles and made Kiddush.
On Saturday morning we got a minibus transfer to the main railway station in Naples where we dropped our bags off at left-luggage to enable us to wander around unencumbered. We took a taxi to the old quarter of Naples and did a tour of Napoli Sotterranea, the Roman underground water works, now dry, that doubled up as air raid shelters for the inhabitants during the war. After eating lunch at Le Sorelle Bandiera, we headed back to the station to collect our bags and took a squashed taxi ride to the airport.
In terms of organisation, as usual ahead of the charter, we booked the minibus transfers. Also ahead of the charter we asked the charterer in Salerno to book the marinas because they knew the name of the boat, which they did. Capri had to be booked on line because they required the name and address of the captain. In the event the boat changed but we still got in. By electing to go to marinas every evening we did not need, and did not take, the outboard engine. There was also a saving by insuring the €3000 damage excess through Pantaenius in Hamburg by internet before leaving the UK. The cost was less than half the price of making an on-the-spot payment to cover the excess. Only Sorrento and Amalfi didn’t have showers, but with water and electricity available on the pontoons, showering on board was not a problem because the boat had four heads, one with a holding tank. We had sufficient wind to sail for about a day and a bit out of six, and covered just over 140 miles.
Win – win, we had had a good holiday and went home, the charter company could use the boat again. So, there we are, another successful and enjoyable HSSC summer sail.

The crew in le Sorelle Bandiera in Napoli

Salerno Arechi marina towards Amalfi

Isola Faraglioni, SE of Capri

Capri, Porto Turistico, gin palaces

View from Capri Town

Ischia, Punta Imperiatiore

Giardini La Mortella, Tempio del Sole

Giardini La Mortella, sala Thai

Isola Procida

Sorrento, Vesuvius

Amalfi, row boat for the regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics


Amalfi, sunrise

Napoli Sotterranea

Amalfi, moored up opposite restaurant

Napoli Sotterranea

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