Friday, July 3, 2015

Islands of Procida, Ischia, Ponza & over to Sardinia

 After returning from our little train trip to Rome we had hoped to depart Salerno the next morning.  But winds were much too high, allowing us another day in the marina in Salerno.  Winds were down to less than 20 kts the following morning so we headed off down the beautiful world-known Amalfi coast.  This truly is a beautiful coastline and also an area more fitting for motorboats than for sailing.  The high mountains create strong gusts from changing directions as one rounds the coastline projections, thus making sailing challenging if not impossible.  Going from 22 kts on the beam to 3 kts 24-degrees off starboard as we rounded each point got old very quickly.  And our sails are easily and quickly controlled electrically which makes dealing with that infinitely easier than on a traditionally rigged sailboat.  I honestly cannot imagine sailing that coastline in our previous boat with the traditional sails and no electric winches or furling.  No thanks!

Europeans love their tiny dinghies!
As we rounded the tip of the Amalfi coast there sat the equally world-known Isle of Capri. Anchoring is not allowed there, at least not for us foreign flagged boats, and the marina is outside our budget during this high-season of summer; so we continued onward.  Due to multiple computer problems it appears that all photos of the Amalfi coastline and the Isle of Capri have been lost.  At least for now, anyway.  As well as the photos of Mt. Vesuvius that I took after we passed Isola di Capri.  It was interesting to see Mt. Vesuvius from this western angle from the sea than what we saw from the train or Pompeii.

Typical Saturday crowded anchorage
Finding an acceptable anchorage for our next stop proved somewhat challenging.  We were going to the Flegree Islands in the Golfo di Napoli, comprised of Isola di Ischia and Isoli di Procida.  According to our sailing guidebook, all of the areas where we would have liked to anchor were off-limits to foreign flagged boats.  Everything was Zone B or Zone B(NT) as marine sanctuaries (marine parks) or even more restrictive zoning in parts of those areas.  These zones are strange in Italy. Zone B in one area can have different restrictions than a Zone B in another area, which makes it difficult to keep track of what is allowed where.   This particular area is regulated by the AMP Regno do Nettuno (Neptune's Kingdom Marine Reserve).  Only residents of Italy are allowed to anchor in areas zoned B in this marine reserve. where are we foreigners supposed to go?

Nope--those boats are not rafted up.  They are
'anchored' in the usual Italian way -- way overcrowded!
I had emailed the AMP requesting permission to navigate these waters, as per instructions in our sailing guidebook.  I also requested permission to anchor...just to see what the response might be.  You never know; maybe someone would say okay.  Nope; after 3 days I received a response stating that only Italian residents (Italian flagged boats) are allowed to anchor at these islands.  I then inquired if we could be allowed to take a mooring in Cala di Corricella on Isola di Procida.  The response was that we should take a mooring and then proceed to a dock at Corricella to pay for the mooring.  We decided to try for that.  Upon arrival, however, we found that there are no moorings in this bay.  What the heck!  It is okay to take a mooring but not to anchor but there are no moorings.  Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing!!!

Captain of the big boat did know how to anchor.  The
others did not.  Owner was screaming at 2 boats that
were tangled up and dragging down on him.
We anchored anyway, knowing that authorities could come along and chase us away or charge a fine.  Whatever.  We would move on and sail overnight to another location if forced to do so.  The only other option would be to go to a marina near Naples and we wanted to avoid that. That would be going in the wrong direction.  Due to high winds we ended up staying at Cala di Corricella for 2 nights...on a weekend...with all the weekend crowds.  The Italian Coast Guard boat visited the anchorage 4 times and passed our anchored boat each time without stopping.  Made me wonder if the Coast Guard is charged with safety and the AMP charged with enforcing the marine reserve rules.  We never saw an AMP boat.

This little boat wanted to anchor that close to us.  After
seeing my face they moved farther away.
And...Oh.My.God!...does Procida ever get crowded on weekends!!!  We had heard the tales from other cruising friends who are ahead of  us about how crowded the Italian anchorages can get during summer months, so we were expecting it to be crowded.  It was laughable!  Most of the boats were quite small.  Almost all came over from Naples for the day, leaving around 18:00.  The first night the anchorage was very rolly with swell rolling in.  It was like being at sea as the boat rolled all night long.  This once again re-affirmed my decision to never own a boat with a center-line bed.  The only way I can sleep in excessively rolly anchorages is with my back placed against the hull and a large pillow in front to force my body to remain still.  Something that is not possible in a center-line bed.  I know those are all the rage in boats today but I would never own such a boat.

Boats dragged all day long both days that we were are Corricella.  These people either do not know how to anchor or they simply do not care if they drag.  Many of the boats would motor into the anchorage, flip their fenders over each side, and then drop the anchor...with just enough chain for the anchor to reach the bottom--no scope at all.  Then they would drag back against another boat; partially lift their anchor; motor forward again; drop the anchor once again (again with no scope); and repeat this process.  We watched one boat drag and repeat this process 5 times!  Hey...wouldn't it be more enjoyable to just put out some more chain and stick in one place without having to worry about hitting another boat as you dragged through the anchorage?  What a novel idea.  Did not seem to bother any of them, though.

Argonese castle at Ischia
as viewed from southeast
Argonese castle as viewed
from northeast
After 2 days of this we left and motored past Isola di Ischia en route to Isola Ponza.  We had wanted to visit Ischia and check out the old Argonese castle on the tiny islet joined to Ischia by a causeway, but we could find no allowable anchorage in the guidebook.  Same restriction as at Procida, anchoring not allowed by non-Italian flagged boats.  That had not been a problem at Procida but we were tired of these restrictions and worrying about getting fined or chased away, so we just moved on the 50 miles or so out to the island of Ponza.

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza

Ponza turned out to be our favorite place (anchorage-wise) in all of Italy thus far.  The island is beautiful.  It reminded both of us very much of some places in Venezuela, like Mochima and some of the islands -- places that are gorgeous and no longer safe to visit.  Ponza was so nice that we stayed longer than planned.

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza

The water delivery ship arrived and we had to move to a different spot in the Cala di Inferno anchorage.  We never really figured out that water delivery ship.  It would dock stern-to against a limestone cliff which had steps carved up to a very nice home on top.  And there were doorways cut out of the limestone down near the sea level.  Where were they off-loading and storing all that water which was delivered daily while we were anchored there?

Cala di Inferno on Isola Ponza.  Water ship docked at lower right area.  Steps carved all the way up.
What a view must be from that home on top.

78-meter super yacht Ilona
Note the helicopter on top rear.

Red Sails in the sunset

93-meter super sailing yacht Eos

93-meter Eos on left
78-meter Ilona on right
at Ponza -- a popular place for super yachts

On our final day anchored at Ponza an acquaintance arrived whom we had last seen in 2011 when our boats were transported aboard the cargo ship BBC Everest from Male, Maldives, to Marmaris, Turkey.  He had worked as crew on one of the yachts transported, and now he crewed on a luxury yacht that visited Ponza.  Wish I could say more about this yacht but I will respect privacy of the very wealthy and very well-known celebrity owner and leave it at that.  It was nice having the opportunity to once again say hello to this crew member.  Nice guy.

Totally flat calm sea

Early the following morning we departed for the overnight motor-sail to Sardinia.  After watching the weather for weeks and seeing how nasty it can get in that area of the Med when the wind kicks up, we felt just fine with motoring in no wind at all over a flat calm sea.  Listening the drone of the engine is not enjoyable for us any more than it is for any sailors, but that is preferable to bashing into 25 to 35-kt wind directly on the nose with seas breaking over the bow.  

Our gift from the sea -- one HUGE fender!
About half-way across we noticed a large white ball off the port.  We deviated course a little to check it out because it looked so large and so strange on that flat sea.  Turned out to be a very large fender.  A perfectly fine huge teardrop fender with a tiny broken line attached.  Bill and Elisabeth managed to retrieve it from the sea.  It was so heavy that Bill could not have picked it up from the sea without Elisabeth's help.  We have no idea what we will do with this huge fender; hopefully find someone who can use it -- soon, since it takes up a lot of space on our deck.  It is W-A-Y too large for our boat.

Tuna fighting at surface.

Shortly after picking up the huge fender, the fishing line played out.  Yay!  A fish!  It was a nice sized tuna, what we know as a big-eye tuna.  This one did not fight like they usually do.  It dove deep and swam right up to the stern of our boat.  And then it decided to fight.  I think Bill had a bit of fun bringing it in and Elisabeth got a kick out of it too.  It took all 3 of us to get that fish on board.  

Tuna finally giving up the fight -- mostly.

Bill ran a line through the gills and mouth and hung it on the stern arch.  We handle fish a little differently than most of the sailors we know.  This line through the gills and mouth is Bill's favorite thing to do with most fish.  And always with tuna.  Then he cuts off the tail and lets the fish bleed out while hanging out there.  This takes no more than 10 - 15 minutes and the blood drips into the sea rather than on our boat.  And tuna, in particular, does need to be bled out before cutting it up.  He does this with all fish to reduce the mess onto the boat.

Awww -- the gaff got him in the chest.
A big-eye tuna.
After it had stopped dripping blood, he carried it by the line to the table in the cockpit and cut away the large fillets.  Then tossed the carcass back into the sea.  Clean-up is easy using this method.  We would love to have a fish-cleaning table mounted on the rail; but since we do not have such a luxury, the cockpit table works just fine.  The fresh-water hose inside the small cockpit lazzarette assists in making clean-up really easy.

This tuna netted more than 10-lbs of thick fillets.  This is far more than we can eat while still fresh.  I boiled about half of it in salted water in the pressure cooker; drained; then placed into vacuum sealed bags with a generous splash of olive oil.  These went into the freezer as I do not have canning jars with rings and lids, but we do have a large freezer locker.  Those will become tuna salad for sandwiches.  Better than commercially canned tuna.  We do enjoy freshly caught tuna and big-eye is one of our favorite types of tuna, second only to yellow-fin.

Porpoises chasing our bow

Also on the passage Elisabeth enjoyed being visited by pods of porpoises.  Not just once, but 3 times!  One pod had at least 30 dolphin!  Wow!  That was the largest pod of porpoises that we have seen in the Med.  Only one pod came to play with our bow.

Porpoises playing with our bow

Dolphin rolling in our bow wake.
Moving too fast to get clear photos.

Sunset was especially pretty on this day.  With the sea so calm and the cloudless sky.  The barometric pressure was high at 1020.9 and this contributed to the lack of clouds and the clear sky.  Conditions were perfect to see the green flash but neither Elisabeth nor I saw it as the sun dropped below the horizon.  Maybe we blinked.
Sunset on the Tyrrenhian Sea on 01 July 2015

Sunrise on Tyrrhenian Sea on 02 July 2015

Moon setting over Sardinia at sunrise on 02 July 2015

It was a full moon on the night of this passage.  This enabled Elisabeth to see something that she did not know happens -- the sun and moon both visible in the sky at the same time, both at sunset and at sunrise.  

There just is something special about this experience at sea.  

Every time.

We arrived at Sardinia shortly after sunrise on the southern side of Isola Tavolara.  This is an unusually shaped island, quite prettily shaped topography with the spiked high hill.  We motored over to the large anchorage at Porto della Taverna.  This area is part of the Isola Tavolara and Capo Coda Cavallo Marine Reserve and is zoned C.  

More shade for my DS
in the shade of the cockpit.
Calm passages are boring.
Nothing to do but play games.

When not retrieving gifts from the
sea like fenders or catching tuna.

Zone C restrictions for this marine reserve states:  "Navigation is not subject to any regulations, but mooring is restricted to authorised (sic) mooring buoys.  Diving and sport fishing with static lines and rods permitted."  Well...that sounds just fine.  Except that there are no mooring buoys in any of the first 3 anchorages that we checked, whether authorized mooring buoys or non-authorized mooring buoys.  Boats were anchored in all 3 of the first anchorages we checked, so we also anchored.

Isola Tavolara on ENE coast of Sardinia.
Viewed from our anchored boat in Porto della Taverna.

Seeing this first-hand explains some of the verbiage in the sailing guidebook that had confused me.  Often the author states for a particular bay or cove that zoning is in place and restrictions apply.  And then in the very next sentence he proceeds to state that one should anchor at such-and-such a location in such-and-such depth, etc.  I could not figure out why he tells boats to anchor if there are no-anchoring restrictions for the area.  

The answer is clear now.

Because there are no freakin' mooring buoys and boats have no other option other than to anchor when visiting this region of coast of Sardinia.  

(Until we find some marinas.)

By the way, most of us think of the Mediterranean Sea as simply one sea.  However, thus far we have crossed the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Adriatic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea -- all of which are in the Mediterranean Sea.  This leaves only the Alboran Sea for us to cross to complete the total width of the Med.

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