Ischia, Capri

& The Almafi Coast

August 2008

Part Three


August 10, 2008


After leaving the Pontine Islands we sailed to Ischia, one of the islands in the Bay of Naples. Of volcanic origin the shape is unmistakable, but because the volcano is extinct the island is lush and green.

The North side of Ischia

We spent our first night at anchor just outside the Lacco Ameno harbor on the N side of the island. We arrived just after the sun set and there were only four other sailboats, three at anchor and one tied to a mooring ball that the pilot book said was for local fishing boats. There weren't any in sight though. We were hesitant to tie to one as we had no idea of their strength. Some of the fishing boats around here are mighty small.

Lacco Ameno at dusk from the anchorage

The wind was forecast from the NW and we were exposed to the N but there wasn't much of a swell and the wind was low. It was comfortable at anchor and very, very quiet. Being very hot, we left all the windows open, not just those with roller screens. It's amazing how many mosquitoes found us! Time to make some screens for the small windows with the mosquito netting we brought back from REI.

A pretty islet topped with a castle off Ischia

This islet on Ischia's E coast is connected by a road. It is possible to anchor on either side of this road. As we sailed by we saw all the motor boats anchored on the N and all the sailboats anchored on the S. It was a pretty place and would have been a nice place to stop for the night but our day had just begun so we sailed by.

Sailboats anchored between the island and islet

We arrived at the small fishing harbor of Sant Angelo d'Ischia in the early afternoon and anchored just outside in the large bay. It was a pleasant day motoring in the light winds and seeing the island famed for its beauty. Having abandoned the idea of never taking off with the bimini up, we are very happy to have the protection from the hot sun.

After a quick swim in the warm water we took the dinghy ashore. The quaint fishing village is more resort than workaday but pleasant nonetheless. Our original plan was to find one of the spas built around the many thermal hot springs on the island. Apparently one that dates back to Roman times was nearby. After a short time walking around town in the sweltering heat we lost interest in seeking out hot, rotten egg scented water. A late lunch was more appealing before heading back to the boat for more swimming.

Umbrellas dot the beach looking like tulip fields in Holland

The pretty fishing harbor of Sant Angelo on Ischia


After several days in the Naples area we sailed past the island of Capri without ever stopping. We saw about a million ferries (okay, slight exaggeration) going to and from the island and decided it was probably a little too crowded and a little to hot to spend any time on land there. Quite possibly the best views are from the sea anyway. Our only destination at Capri was the cluster of large rocks, including a giant arch, scattered off the SE corner of the island. These are known as the Faraglioni Rocks.

Capri and the Faraglioni Rocks

Looking E at the Faraglioni Rocks

We have seen some pretty incredible yachts this season. Enormous sailing yachts with masts so tall they require red aviation lights and gigantic power boats loaded with jet skis, tenders and kayaks that seemed to be the size of large, multi-storied homes. Today we saw the most fantastic one yet. Just to the west of the Faraglioni Rocks was anchored this incredible 353' ship complete with a 70' sailing yacht and a helicopter. Tenaya was a mere speck on the water next to her at about half the size of their stored sailboat.

This yacht carries a large sailboat and helicopter along with its various tenders

A local fishing boat gathering his flags


The Almafi Coast is the southern coast of the ruggedly beautiful, green, mountainous Sorrentine Peninsula. The mountains are so steep that there are not many roads so not much development here and no big resorts.

We sailed close reached with good wind in Force 5 conditions from Torre del Greco in the eastern part of the Bay of Naples along the southern shore admiring the beauty of the Sorrentine Peninsula. The touristic town of Sorrento was quite pretty with its pastel colored buildings clustered in the canyon at the shore. There were few other towns but scattered houses here and there. As we passed the tiny, protected island of Vervece the waves kicked up to about three meters from less than one. With the backwash from those hitting the cliffs we had confused seas and lively sailing, a bit like being on a bucking bronco, for a little while. The sea settled somewhat after we'd passed but did not calm down until we had sailed around to the S side of the peninsula.









Once around Punta Campanella we looked for a place to anchor for the night. Soon we rounded a point and saw a large bay with lots and lots of boats anchored. A few large yachts were somewhat off but the vast majority were very close to shore. Looking at the electronic chart we saw that it was very deep. Of course that is expected when steep mountains descend into the sea but somehow it always comes as a surprise.

The anchorage just past Senno Di Leranto on the S coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula.

Looking for a suitable spot to drop the hook we spent a bit of time weaving between anchored boats, moving dinghies and swimmers. There seemed to be no room where the depth was less than 20 meters. We only have 80 meters of chain so we prefer to anchor for the night in 15 meters or less. Finally we we chose a beautiful spot close to the cliff and rocks on the W edge with the plan to move to a safer spot once all the boats left in the evening.

When the anchor was set and snubber line taunt we dove off the side into the warmest water of the season. The water seemed even saltier than other places in this very salty sea and we were extremely buoyant. Quickly we donned our snorkeling gear and went to check out the nearby rocks. Several schools of fish didn't seem to mind us swimming through them and there wasn't a jellyfish in sight.

Katie enjoying the warm, clear water

Jim checking out the fish

As we were drying off after showering on the stern the guys on the boat next to us started whistling and waving at something. A few minutes later a little boat with a big awning puttered over to them. It was an ice cream boat! How cool is that? We waved and over it came. Jim paid for two chocolate Magnum bars, the tastiest of all ice cream bars. This has quickly become my favorite anchorage ever.

The ice cream boat

Like clock work, between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm the Italian boats cleared out. Then it was easy to find the perfect spot to anchor for the night. We moved from our position out a little further. A small sailboat flying a German ensign ducked in very close to the rocks. Three guys were on this little boat decorated with lots of stickers and hanging with stuff including solar panels and a windvand. Definitely not just day sailors.

One of only four boats in the anchorage for the night

Today we had nice downwind sailing along the Almafi coast. Because the bimini was up we sailed with just the jib for the first time ever. It was simply easier to ignore the main. We were surprised at how well Tenaya sailed. In 15 - 20 kts of wind we were sailing 6-8 kts. while not paying much attention to trimming/easing the sheets.

Our plan was to stop and the picturesque town of Almafi, tie up in the marina, and take a walk around the town. Small ferryboats and fishing boats were coming and going as we entered, making the tiny harbor seem frantically hectic. We headed for the area by the fuel dock where the pilot book said we could moor but a 44' Hunter had a bow line to the quay, effectively blocking anyone else from mooring there. There were several vacant spots on the private pontoon where we hoped to be allowed to stay the night. We pottered around looking for the ormeggiatori (the docking guys). Eventually one buzzed up in a dinghy making hand signs and saying something - neither of which we understood. "Mi dispace, mi italiano no good, parla inglese per favore?" "No room" was his response. Okay then. It's hard to charm, plead and ask questions when you can't speak the language. Off came the fenders and mooring lines and back out to sea we went.

The pretty town of Almafi

More lovely downwind sailing brought us eight miles down the coast to Salerno. We desperately wanted to get in there for the night as it was 5:30 pm and our next stop was 25 miles away. There are no suitable anchorages between the two and we didn't want to arrive at a small marina in the dark with the risk of being turned away.

As we motored into Porto Nuevo in the large harbor at Salerno we were hailed by a green shirted ormeggiatori whistling and waving his arms. He and another showed us where to berth. Not wanting to come too close to the power boat with the owner standing on the deck in the next spot, and not having a boat on the other side to sandwich between, Jim was easing back to our berth just fine.

Because the wind was fairly strong and blowing the bow downwind I hurried to get the long line tailed to the quay around the bow cleat and tightened. One of the helpers hopped onto Tenaya and took the line from me so he could tug harder and get the boat into a better position. The bow continued to be blown so the green shirt hollered "bow thruster". Jim stepped on it to bring the bow closer to the power boat. All was going well until the bow thruster's normal strong, gutteral growl weakened and slowed to a stop. Obviously the tailed line was caught in the bow thruster. We are berthed well and awaiting Massimo to free us in the morning. If necessary one of us could dive down with our small tank and untangle or cut the rope but the water is not real clean and we'd prefer they deal with their rope how they wish.


August 11, 2008

Morning came and went with no visit from Massimo. We had not thought much about visiting Salerno. Rather, we were simply using it as a stepping stone to reach our next destination. Now that we are waiting to be released from our teathered bow thruster we've had the chance to walk around. It is a very pretty city in a gorgeous location nestled in a valley below the verdant mountains. An extremely inviting, lush, shady park with paths winding around fountains and clusters of banana trees lies just across the street from the harbor. A lovely place to escape the heat of the sun. The streets are clean, the buildings well kept and brightly painted, and the people somewhat subdued as compared to those of the grittier cities. Being stuck here is not a bad thing after all.

Update at 8 pm: We arrived back at the marina after walking around downtown looking for a WiFi connection we could "borrow". We found one, probably someone's apartment, on the busy walking street filled with shops. We sat on a bench for an hour or so with people walking past us and uploaded these updates.

We want to leave early in the morning since tomorrow is a long day (changed our plans from 25 to 65 miles) so we went to the office to pay. They told us that they had fixed our bow thruster and everything was perfect. No charge! Really nice and helpful people here.


Go to August Part Four - Southern Italy and Sicily



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