Monday, 30 September 2013

Birthday time in Napoli



Sunrise over Naples and Mt Vesuvius from the deck of Alcheringa
July 27-28, 2013

 It was now time for our final jump down into the Bay of Naples where we would celebrate Karen’s birthday, visit the ruins of Pompeii and finally meet up with Karen’s parents, Trevor and Joy, who would be joining us for a couple of weeks on Alcheringa as part of an extended, overseas holiday.

We were up and underway by 7.30 with a course set to take us across the bay a fair way offshore to the channel between the mainland and Isola di Procida, the northern gateway to the Golfo di Napoli. We motored across the flat sea for the first hour or so and then turned into the emerging gentle south easterly breeze to raise the mainsail. Turning back on course and motor sailing, this provided us with a small lift in speed.

The wind had been predicted to swing progressively through 180 degrees before freshening later and, for a change, that’s pretty much what happened. We were constantly trimming the sails as we motor-sailed until we could finally rely fully on wind power. There’s no better moment than when you can shut the engine off and enjoy the relative quiet. By early afternoon we were romping along on a good downwind sail and making good time towards Naples. Sheer heaven.

Approaching the entrance to the Bay of Naples we became aware of just how much ferry and pleasure craft traffic were threading their way through the narrow channels around the reefs and mussel farms and decided it would be prudent to drop our sails and motor through with maximum manoeuvrability. The theory may be that power gives way to sail but no one ever told the ferry drivers that. They never deviate off course for anyone. It proved to be wise decision as even not constricted by wind direction we still had to work hard not to be run down at 20+ knots by a hundred of the kamikaze power boat drivers  and a couple of the many ferries running out of Naples.

After narrowly avoiding disaster, we headed for our planned anchorage, Baia, but discovered what was supposed to be an ideal spot to hang out for a few days was in fact surrounded by ugly, derelict buildings and appeared to have tons of potentially anchor snagging junk littered across the sea floor. It didn’t take long to decide to switch to Plan B and make our way closer into Naples itself.


Isola di Nisida has an infamous past

On the way we motored past a small island steeped in history. Isola di Nisida was called Nesis in Roman times and it was here that Portia committed suicide, supposedly by swallowing burning coals, UGH!, after her husband Brutus along with Casius were defeated by Marc Antony and Octavian in the battle of Phillipi. Brutus and Casius are said to have hatched their plot to assassinate Julius Caesar in the villa on the island.



Our Plan B was the western side of the Bay of Naples
We were able to anchor in good sand off an attractive area called Possilipo
Our Plan B was to anchor on the western side of the bay near an area called Possilipo which would provide good protection from the prevailing North Westerly winds. When we rounded the point we discovered about a thousand small boats spread around the whole place. That’s what we get for arriving in Naples on a sunny, Saturday afternoon in summer. Regardless, we were able to claim a good spot in six metres of water, reasonably  close to a small beach and, as usual, 99% of the boats disappeared back to their berths before nightfall. Their exit did make for plenty of rock and roll from their wakes though. Italians only know two throttle positions, flat out and stopped.


Gaeta to Napoli – 6.7 Nautical Miles – 9 Hours 08 Minutes 
Average Speed 5.1 knots – Max 6.7 Knots
We jumped in the dingy next morning and headed ashore to find a suitable place to celebrate Karen’s birthday. Our first job though was to find somewhere we could land and leave the dingy. The beach we were anchored off was clearly a private area and we soon discovered the entire waterfront appeared to be a private affair. Heading east along the bay we eventually came across a small boat marina and decided to tie up to the end of one of the fingers. We waltzed down the dock like we owned the place and then discovered it was some sort of private boat club with, bar, restaurant and swimming pool. We smiled and waved at the security guy on the reception desk as we walked out the door wondering how difficult it may prove to get back in later. Oh well, that would be this afternoon’s problem.


Our view of Mt Vesuvius from the boat
We wandered down the road, further east towards central Naples to check out a larger marina nearby. If they had affordable berths available it would be a suitable spot to bring the boat in for a night or two to top up water, do some provisioning and have Karen’s parents join us. Mounds of rubbish piled in the streets did nothing to attract our business and neither did the lack of facilities in the so called, Superyacht ready marina. It was going to be back to the pilot guide to find somewhere else.

The further east we went, the grimier the streets became with litter everywhere, more dog crap than a greyhound track and no sign of anything resembling even a half decent restaurant. We walked for miles hoping things would improve but by the time we passed the American Consulate surrounded by armoured vehicles and Italian army personnel well equipped with automatic weapons we decided it was time to beat a hasty retreat back to Possilipo. We’d already built up a couple of serious appetites from our marathon walk so finding a place to eat was now a very high priority. Fortunately we were able to catch a bus back and save our weary legs. The previous afternoon Karen had actually spotted a restaurant high on the cliff above the boat so we crossed our fingers that it would be OK and made a beeline for it.


If the locals eat there the food's normally good and Ristorante Leginalla
was very busy indeed.
The bus stopped right outside and we were instantly encouraged by the place being well patronised by nicely dressed locals. Ristorante Reginella proved to be an outstanding choice. Alcheringa bobbed lazily at anchor below us. The views over the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius were fantastic. The staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful and the food was to die for. We never actually made any selections from the menu. Instead we simply went with our waiter’s recommendations and spent most of the afternoon working our way through course after course of amazing seafood and a couple of bottles of Italian bubbles.
Just warming up with the first course, which followed a plate of breads of course


The seafood kept coming with the second course, as did the bubbles.


The third course saw us cry enough, no desert please.
 
The staff made a big thing about us being from the yacht anchored below the balcony and before long other guests came and chatted to us about the boat, where we’d come from and where we were heading to. It was all very sociable and there were no end of birthday wishes for Karen. We ran up the white flag before desert but did manage to cap off a wonderful birthday lunch with a couple of glasses of the local specialty, Lemoncello.


The views were fantastic. That's Alcheringa on the right.
By the time we waltzed through the doors of the boat club off handedly waving away the doorman’s queries with a smile and ‘No problem, we’re just going to our boat’ repeated three times in response to whatever it was he was saying in Italian. Once more a confident look and incomprehensible language got us past a potential roadblock as he decided pursuit would be futile and simply watched slack jawed as we trundled down the dock then weaved our way out to sea in our small inflatable.

Back on board, the birthday celebrations weren’t over yet though as we popped the cork on a fine bottle of Moet, enjoyed yet another great sunset and planned our next day’s trip to the ruins of Pompeii. That will be the next blog chapter.


The whole shoreline of Possilipo is lined with very impressive buildings
 
Karen decided this round building would make a very nice art studio.
 
 
Sometimes we’re so busy out doing things we don’t have enough time to write about doing things and our blog slips a little behind time. We’re working at getting it all back to current at the moment but To stay right up to date with what we’re up to these days and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.
 
 
 

Monday, 23 September 2013

In print again - Cruising Helmsman Magazine

 Some of our adventures on Alcheringa have made it into print again in the October edition of Australia's number one sailing magazine, Cruising Helmsman.


The magazine's website says 'This month we also take a focus on one of the most important parts of cruising: food. Practical articles include how to build a food dryer and sow your own seeds; plus capturing and storing water. There are also recipes galore and plenty of foodie humour when provisioning overseas.'

The foodie humour is where we come in with a four page article about some of the fun and games we've had buying and preparing food in the Mediterranean.

The October print edition should hit the newsstands around Australia this week or it is available as an electronic edition via the website www.mysailing.com.au Cruising Helmsman is now also on Facebook with lots of fun things happening including competitions and more. Check it out: CruisingHelmsman on Facebook

 
 
Sometimes we’re so busy out doing things we don’t have enough time to write about doing things and our blog slips a little behind time. To stay right up to date with what we’re up to these days and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.
 
 
 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Gaeta, a nice surprise on the Italian coast


July 25 - 26 2013

 The next stage of our meanderings down the Italian coast was a reasonably long, 50 nautical mile (92 kilometre) run south to the town of Gaeta. We chosen it as our destination by virtue of the fact that it was located on a narrow peninsula with anchorages on either side so regardless of where the weather was coming from we expected to be able to find shelter rather than having to go into a marina.

Considering the distance we had to go, we were awake early with the anchor coming up before the sun. The pre-dawn provided plenty of light for us to get on our way under motor in very calm glassy conditions. We were expecting some wind later but initially it was all up to our 75 horsepower Yanmar diesel to push us southwards but discovering we were being slowed by an adverse current wasn't what we wanted for breakfast.


This castle south of Anzio looked fantastic from the sea in the early light
Not far along our way, we passed a really cool looking castle built on a low rocky point. In the early light it appeared very atmospheric with its arched bridge to the shore and remnants of an ancient harbour. Sailing along the coast we never really know what we will see along the way and on a nine or ten hour passage like this one it was great to spy different things which broke up our day.

A couple of hours further along we rounded a high headland with its peak  cloaked in wispy cloud which took on a whole different look as the rising sun backlit it. Next came an interesting tourist development that had been built around an old fortified tower. One thing we didn’t appreciate coming across was a complete refrigerator floating along in the water. Unbelievably this was the fourth we’d seen this summer. By now the breeze was just starting to freshen so we were motor sailing along at near seven knots and very thankful we’d spotted it early. The idea of being unsighted at night and punching our fibreglass bow into one of these at speed doesn’t bear thinking about.



Not where you expect to find a refrigerator - except in the Med.
That's actually an ancient temple on the shore. Guess we need a bigger lens.
The north westerly continued to pick up and, as we passed by an ancient temple in the distance on shore, we were enjoying a nice downwind sail maintaining six plus knots quite effortlessly. We were approaching the high, castle topped cliffs of Gaeta before we knew it.
 


An interesting spot to put a light house.


Approaching Gaeta we had a steady 16 to 18 knots but rounding the point got
a little more interesting.
As we rounded the point and turned more beam on, local affect channelled and  accelerated the wind accelerated giving us some exciting moments of 25 to 30 knots with full mainsail and genoa out. We chose to sail well out into the protection of the wide bay before turning into the wind and getting the sails down.


Our anchorage in Gaeta was very calm with great views

The area we’d originally planned to anchor looked very industrial and quite grungy so we motored in and had a look in a small bay just south of the hilltop Castillo and were very pleasantly surprised to find a perfect anchorage. It was well sheltered with good holding in only five metres of water just off the esplanade of the very attractive medieval town.  It wasn’t marked on our charts as an anchorage but a small handful of local pleasure boats were propped in there so, when in Rome do as the Romans do. We were a little concerned when about half an hour later a police boat approached us. Once they confirmed we were a British registered boat they wished us a pleasant stay and moved across to an Italian yacht where they proceeded to do a very thorough check of all his papers and safety equipment on board. Funnily enough, by the time they'd finished with that poor bloke, all the other boats had scarpered and we were left on our own.


Anzio to Gaeta - 49.6 Nautical Miles - 9 Hours 53 Minutes
Average Speed 5.0 Knots - Max 6.7 knots


Behind the peninsula at Gaeta provided great protection from the strongish westerly blowing.
Our spot in the bay was perfect for a very relaxing BBQ dinner and glass of wine or two watching the foreshore come alive with locals in the early evening. The town looked so nice we decided to stay the next day and have a look around. That night we could see what looked like a small bush fire high up on the mountain slopes to the north.  By the time we awoke next day the smell of smoke was in the air and a light haze covered the whole bay. The fire had obviously spread quickly because before too long two aerial water bombers were in operation, swooping down in the centre of the bay scooping load after load and flying into the hills to dump it on the flames.


Two water bombers kept flying through the smoke haze were picking up
water throughout the morning out in the bay

The old seaman's chapel by the harbour was run down but very atmospheric.



We guess these guys need a fast, stealth boat to sneak up on the fish.
After catching up with a few boat jobs in the morning we headed ashore just after lunch. The old quarter around the harbour is really very quaint. The narrow streets, twisting stairs and vaulted passage ways climb steeply up the medieval village built on and around the promontory under the walls of the Castillo. The cathedral, originally built in 1106, and the 10th century church of San Giovanni a Mare are close neighbours while down in the harbour a character filled old seaman’s chapel was well worth a look. After a good wander around the place we settled into a nice cafĂ© with a bottle of local wine and made the most of their free WiFi to catch up with emails, facebook our blog etc.


Alcheringa resting at anchor off Gaeta
For what was intended to be just shelter for the night, Gaeta proved to be a very pleasant way for us to spend another day in the Mediterranean.


 
 
Sometimes we’re so busy out doing things we don’t have enough time to write about doing things and our blog slips a little behind time. To stay right up to date with what we’re up to these days and see lots more photos check out and 'like' our Dreamtime Sail Facebook page at Dreamtime Sail on Facebook
If you have only recently discovered our blog and would like to read how it all started, or work through our previous adventures, click the link to go back to our first blog entry. Stuff it. Let's just go sailing anyway.  We hope you enjoy reading the previous posts to catch up on our story.