On the 6th October we returned to Money Penny in the canal just outside Rome. The bridges were not due to open until the 10th October so we had time to provision Money Penny from a choice of three supermarkets close by, in readiness for the next and final leg of our journey in 2019.
Early on the 10th we started up the engine and made our way into the middle of the canal to await the opening of the first bridge as per instructions from Errico. Ponte 2 Giugno is a lifting bridge, the whole road lifts into the air, was it going to open? In true Italian style, there are no telephone numbers to call to ‘book’ an opening, you just hope that operator’s morning alarm clock has gone off and that the timings on the website are correct! Sure enough, at just after 9.30 am the roadway began to lift towards the sky.
We negotiated the second bridge (a footbridge) and, after a month of being moored in the canal, Money Penny was sailing again.
We sailed down the coast to Anzio and spent the first night at anchor before filling up with diesel the following morning. The filling station would not accept cards and we had already filled the tank before we were given this information! Alistair took an early morning walk into the town to find a cashpoint!
On to Porto del Circeo where we anchored outside of the harbour and spent over an hour watching a rescue boat trying to recover a 38 ft Catamaran from the rocks…..they did not succeed!
The 12th October saw us heading for the Island of Ponza the largest island of the Pontine Islands archipelago, 33km off the Italian coast. We spent two nights anchored in the sheltered bay off the harbour, walked around the pretty village and took a walk up to the cemetery which houses some impressive tombs and an amazing view over the bay out towards Ventotene the next island on our route. We also took the tender out to the point below the cemetery where there are grottos and a maze of tunnels built by the Romans (blocked off for safety reasons), and a man made ‘swimming pool’ reached from above by a long staircase’tuff’ dug out of the rock (again compliments of the Romans). On our way back from the ‘point’ we decided to take a look at a grotto on the other side of the bay. On entering we were surprised to find a number of boats stored for the winter. The view from inside the grotto towards the town of Ponza was beautiful.
14/10/2019 From Ponza we headed the 20 miles to Ventotene, a smaller island in the archipelago. The Roman harbour is spectacular with ‘tuff’ (volcanic rock) structures surrounding it. There are also remains of a rainwater catchment system, channels and cisterns . The island has no natural springs of fresh water and now days water is shipped in by tanker. We decided not to enter the tiny Roman harbour, instead we headed into the newly built modern port. As we entered, a small marina was visible to starboard and an operative came out towards us. Judith asked what the price would be for one night… ‘80 Euros’ was the reply!! This was October, CRAZY! To our Port side there was a long quay with a couple of yachts moored stern to. ‘how much to moor there?’ was our next question to the operative…..’free’ was his response…. Double CRAZY and obviously a no brainer!!!
We took an early evening walk around the small village which was ‘closed’ due to it being so late in the season and then ate onboard before departing the following morning.
15/10/2019 Next stop Ischia. Lying at the Northern end of the Gulf of Naples, 19 miles from Naples, it measures 6 miles from east to west and 4 miles north to south. The highest peak is Mount Epomeo at 2,585 ft. We had been recommended a marina in Casamicciola on the north coast above the main harbour of Ischia and we were not disappointed. We were made very welcome from the first moment we arrived and would highly recommend this Marina if you are heading to Ischia. The cost was 45 euros per night which was a bargain compared to other quotes we had received from other marinas!
During our time on Ischia we hired a car and circumnavigated the island stopping off at the hot thermal springs in the Bay of Gorgeto near Panza, the town of Ischia and Castello Aragonese. The spectacular Castello Aragonese was built on a rock in 474BC before being connected to the mainland in 1441. It is privately owned but visitors are welcome after paying an entrance fee.
Views from the roadside whilst circumnavigating Ischia.
Castello Argonese, Ischia
17/10/2019 Capri lies on the South side of the Gulf of Naples, this was where we were heading for next. Under a day sail away from Ischia, off the Sorrento Peninsula, we arrived mid afternoon and anchored just off Marina Grande (Capri Harbour) next to a New Zealand yacht. Capri comprises the centre and East of the Island while the West belongs to Anacapri both are under different administrations.
View of our anchorage from Piazza Umberto
We decided to eat lunch onboard and then spend the afternoon exploring. Just as we were about to leave in the dinghy for the shore, the couple off the New Zealand yacht approached to introduce themselves. Steve, Krista, & their three sons, Noah, Roman & Mace had recently purchased ‘Wild Thing’, a Beneteau Celebration 50, in Greece, and were on their way home!! (yes, to New Zealand!). We returned later to share a glass of wine & hear of their plans and journey so far,
We left the dinghy in a quiet area just behind the Marina and walked passed surprisingly, crowds of people, towards the funicular railway which takes visitors up to the Piazza Umberto in the centre of the Island. The funicular railway is 670 metres long and includes a 68 metre tunnel and a 50 metre viaduct, climbing a vertical distance of 139 metres. The line was built in 1907 and rebuilt in 1958 with a further rebuild in 1991 and upgrade in 2018. The views from the ‘car’ and once we arrived at the top, were spectacular! Surrounding the Piazza Umberto were the high class restaurants and shops of the historic, expensive, centre of Capri. We walked around the area looking at the beautiful jewellery and fashion stores and then began to explore the maze of tiny streets heading out of the main town area towards the Western side of the Island. (Anacapri) The only vehicles allowed on the island were electric powered, excluding the small service buses and a few taxis taking people from the Port to the Piazza.
We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the maze of streets some of which were only 6ft wide and actually reminded us of Morocco , although much cleaner!
Leaving Capri behind.
The following day we left Capri in bright sunshine and no wind we motored along the Amalfi Coast taking in the beautiful scenery.
We anchored off Salerno in the Gulf of Salerno. We had been told that this would be a great base to explore Pompei & Mount Vesuvius as there is a direct train service. The city dates back to medieval times and was apparently the place of the first medical school in the world. We went ashore and checked out the train times before deciding to book for the following day.
View of Naples on our way to Mount Vesuvius
19/10/2019 The morning after our arrival in Salerno, we took the train to Pompei and from the train station took a bus trip to Mount Vesuvius, taking in the views on route and walking the last few hundred metres to the summit. We were both slightly disappointed with the experience, don’t get us wrong, the views over Naples were spectacular but state of the crater, the commercial side and the number of visitors walking to the summit detracted from the overall experience. In the afternoon we explored Pompei, with mixed reviews! Judith loved it and would have stayed well into the evening….Alistair was happy to move on after an hour! UP Pompei
Early afternoon on the 20th October we left mainland Italy and headed across the Tyrrhenian Sea towards the Aeolian Islands to the North of Sicily. We had originally planned to head further along the coast to Agropoli and leave the mainland the following day but the weather and calm seas helped us make the decision to continue towards Stomboli. Sunday lunch was taken care of when Alistair caught a Bonito within a few hours of our departure.
During our 22 hour crossing to Stromboli we reached 5000 nautical miles since our departure from Milford Haven and also had a very near miss when we picked up an old fishing net around our keel during the night dragging it over a number of miles! We were extremely lucky not to have found this around our propeller having motor sailed most of the journey.
As we approached Stromboli we were joined by a number of racing yachts. The Rolex Middle Sea Race starts and finishes in Malta and is raced over 606 nautical miles through the Messina Straights, passed Stromboli, across the northern coast of Sicily taking in the outlying Aeolian Islands before heading back to Malta.
There is very little shelter around the coastline of Stromboli so, after taking in the spectacular sight of the Volcano, we headed to the Island of Lipari. Having attempted to anchor in two bays and being quoted a ‘crazy’ price for staying in the marina, we set off again towards the Island of Vulcano.
The anchorage of Porto del Ponente is in the northwestern bay of two horseshoe bays to the North of Volcano. The photo shows the bay, and the island of Lipari in the background, taken from the path leading up to the crater of the Volcano of Vulcano.
We spent 5 nights in Vulcano. We hired a small ‘state of the art’ car and toured the whole island in two hours! We spent an afternoon at the volcanic mud pools (very smelly!) and climbed to the very top of the volcano where we were able to look into the crater and take in the amazing views.
On 26/10/2019 we left the Island of Vulcano and headed towards Milazzo on the northern coast of Sicily. We understood there was a fuel berth here and we needed fuel. We had a fantastic sail but arrived at 1340 to find that the fuel berth was closed until 1600. We moved on to Poseidon Marina where we took a berth for the night and arranged to fill with fuel. Owing to the fact that the fuel berth is very shallow, fuel is delivered to your boat by tender and mobile tank, plus pump. On the 27/10/2019 we watched the Welsh Rugby match and set off on our next leg just after mid day.
The Messina Straights needs to be treated with respect and careful passage planning carried out and adhered to! We had planned to arrive at the correct point of the tide but arrived early. The weather and the sea seemed calm so unfortunately we did not adhere to our plan! The consequence of this was that as soon as we turned into the Straights we hit the tidal race and fought for a number of hours making very little headway between 1.8 & 3.5 knots. We had planned to sail overnight but were both extremely tired after our experience so decided to stop at the only marina available. Nettuno Marina. We arrived in the dark at 6.30pm and were due to depart at 6 the following morning. We were charged 88 euros for the privilege! No water, No Electric. We would not make the same mistake again!
We departed Nettuno Marina at 6.30 am on the 28/10/2019 sailing the 62 miles to a small village called Busicola and anchored below the castle. Alistair had caught a tuna enroute so this was our well earned supper.
Catch of the Day
We left early the following day to continue our journey to the beautiful town of Siracusa. We contacted the Port Control and were asked to moor on the Town Quay and then report to the office. We were the only boat and could only imagine how busy this would have been with superyachts during July, August & September. Our trip to the office was an ‘adventure in Italian efficiency’!! We were asked to wait in the entrance hall whilst, over a 40 minute period, we watched a number of officials running backwards and forwards, up and down, from various side offices carrying our paperwork. No one seemed to know what was needed! Eventually they handed us back our documents plus a sheet of paper with some sort of stamp on it! We were free to go. The Town Quay was free of charge perhaps it was worth the wait!
The city is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and was the birthplace of Archimedes. It did not disappoint. It is rich in Greek and Roman history and was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world. It is also famous for puppet shows and the making of puppets. These puppets appeared in windows throughout the city and scared Alistair witless! Having spent an afternoon exploring the streets of this wonderful city and then meeting up with our friends Amanda and Jonnie (Infinite Blue) who were here on there boat for a few nights, we left on the morning of the 30th October.
The photographs show the amazing architecture throughout the city.
We were now getting excited as our final destination was in sight. One more night at anchor, 45 NM away in Porto Palo, and then our final sail of the season to Marina di Ragusa. We received a warm welcome from the staff at Marina di Ragusa and also the liveaboard community who were most helpful during our few final days in the Marina before our flight home when we carried out a number of jobs onboard including cleaning out our fuel tank and also needed a lift to the airport to collect a hire car. Thank you to all at Marina di Ragusa, we look forward to seeing you again in 2020.
Money Penny tucked up for the winter.
10/11/2019 Flights to the UK from Sicily were almost non existent at this time of the year so we had decided to extend our stay in Italy, flying to Pisa for a one night stay before returning to the UK. We were very lucky to have chosen an hotel close to the Tower itself and arrived on Sunday morning during ‘market’ time. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the sites of this busy tourist city and would highly recommend a visit of perhaps one or two nights.
The view from our hotel Day & Night
On the 11th November 2019 we flew from Pisa to Bristol, took the train to Cardiff and after spending a night with Alistair's brother & sister in law, we drove home to Pembrokeshire. Another year of exploring the Med was over!