Tuesday 29 October 2013

Sailing the awesome Amalfi Coast – Part 1

August 3, 2013

 From the time we first started dreaming about sailing the Mediterranean, cruising along the world famous Amalfi Coast has been right up the top of our Must do list and now we were finally going to tick that box. After a fantastic stay at the Isle of Capri we were up with the sun and on our way.

Karen standing lookout on the bow as we head for the narrow gap between
two of the Isle of Capri's Faraglioni.
We made the most of the early start and lack of other boats on the move took the opportunity to set our course straight between Capri’s Faraglioni. That is the Italian term used to refer to stacks or what we would often refer to as pinnacles of rock. The most famous faraglioni are the three stacks located off the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples. The stacks have been given their own names: Stella (still attached to the main island), Mezzo and Scopolo. Their heights are 109 m, 82 m and 106 m, respectively with quite deep water right up to their vertical faces.

Made it!
Mezzo is inhabited by the Podarcis sicula coerulea and the only place in the world in which this particular species of lizard has been found. It is believed that the amphibians' blue colored skin is the result of evolutionary adaption, which occurred following the separation of the rock from the mainland. Mezzo also features a large central cavity, through which small boats can easily navigate but we had to settle for slipping through the gap between it and Stella which was a cool enough photo opp for us.

Karen's Father, Trevor, on the bow and watching the coast slide by.
The conditions were dead still. No good for sailing but a glorious day to motor along one of the world’s most picturesque coastlines. We crossed the strait and made our way towards Positano under the towering cliffs of the peninsula. There are a number of marine reserves in this area where no navigation at all is permitted other than if you’re making your way to pre-booked, authorised mooring buoys. Even that must be done at slow speed. The pilot guides provide very specific warnings about these. They are clearly marked on all charts and plotters and their boundaries are even marked by large, bright yellow buoys. While we zigged and zagged staying clear, it appeared nobody has actually mentioned them to the Italians. We were quite entertained watching everything from small fishing boats, some trolling lines, to huge pleasure craft and commercial ferries blasted straight through the no fishing, no anchoring, no navigation marine protection areas at high speed. No doubt if we’d cut a corner anywhere we would have ended up with one of the big fines they talk about.

There's no shortage of expensive super-yachts along the Amalfi coast.
There were a number of very impressive villas, houses and even a couple of small towns dotted along the shore and on the cliff sides but reaching the town of Positano really signaled to us that this is indeed a very special piece of coast line. It is simply stunning. As beautiful as the drive along the hills is, we were in no doubt the most spectacular views of this remarkable slice of heaven on earth are from the water. We were extremely thankful it was such a calm, sunny day and we could motor slowly, close to the shore and enjoy the full beauty of all that we were passing.

We'd looked forward to sailing this area for a long, long time.
We’ve included many photos in this blog chapter to provide a bit of a glimpse but if you’d like to see more of the Amalfi coast from the sea, click over to our Dreamtime Sail Facebook Amalfi Coast album for the complete set.

Many resorts perched on the cliffs provide very exclusive sun bathing spots

Every point we rounded revealed more stunning Amalfi scenes

Spectacular stone buildings are plentiful along the Amalfi coast.

We spied these buildings on cliff edges atop massive caves near Amalfi.
Trevor and Joy soaked up the sun and atmosphere.
We were certainly in no rush and wound in and out of the bays adding a few miles to our track but still reached the harbour at Amalfi in time for lunch. We’d kept our options open as there are spots you can anchor off this postcard perfect town in settled weather but, with a bit of on shore breeze predicted for the evening , we elected to see if we could find a berth. This proved a little easier said than done and we circled around in the outer harbour as Karen made a series of phone calls to the various listings in the pilot guide before hitting pay dirt. We were very lucky to find a spot without pre-booking. Minutes later a dingy came out to meet us but, rather than guide us in, the mariner came aboard and secured his dingy alongside before taking over the helm from Rob saying ‘Welcome to Amalfi. I am Captain now.

Rob appreciated the valet parking service provided at Amalfi harbour
When we saw the tight, tight, tight spot he manoeuvred our 43 foot yacht into without the benefit of a bow thrusters, Rob was more than happy to be a passenger but was quick to ask ‘Getting us back out of here is also part of the service, isn’t it?

At 160 Euro a night, plus 23% if you don’t pay cash because heaven forbid they would have to pay tax if you use credit card, it was certainly not a cheap berth but it was right in the centre of Amalfi and the water was even very clean. So clean we all dived in straight off the boat which was an absolute first for us inside a harbour.

Isle of Capri to Amalfi – 19.9 Nautical Miles – 4 Hours 25 Minutes
Average Speed 4.5 Knots – Max 6.0 Knots
As you’d expect in the height of the summer season, the town was very busy with tourists but we still enjoyed window shopping through the narrow streets and laneways and having a good look around. We had an excellent dinner that evening at an outdoor restaurant right beside the Cathedral stairs and then settled back in Alcheringa’s cockpit with some local wines to enjoy the twilight. We’d no sooner pulled the cork on the first bottle than the entertainment started.

They pack them in here. Note the dingy used to push the white boat over

Karen and Joy were first into Amalfi's clear water

We had a great dinner in the Amalfi town square.
Two, rather large and already well spiritually fortified Russian gentlemen arrived back at their huge, chartered motor boat gin palace accompanied by a couple of local young ladies of the night complete in short, short dresses and ridiculously high stilettos. Perfect boating attire of course. They then sent their skipper and crew off on a long walk, jacked up the stereo, popped the expensive champagne and began dancing with their equally expensive looking companions on the back deck. Well they thought they were dancing but it looked more like some deranged Cossack version of mad cow disease. Their loud efforts to impress all and sundry by singing along with the English language pop songs were so ludicrous all sense of polite decorum disappeared in the marina with boaties everywhere appearing on deck to see the show and making no effort to conceal laughter and ridicule. As a child of six or seven on the boat next to us started to imitate the inebriated dance moves even their hired female companions struggled to keep a straight face.

 The drunken disco on deck lasted for almost two hours before the foursome suddenly disappeared below decks. The two girls reappeared just minutes later and headed off down the dock, prompting one wag on nearby boat to suggest ‘Considering what it probably just cost them, those guys should have spent a lot less time dancing.’

MARINA REVIEW: Amalfi Harbour **

Nightly rate for our 43 foot (13.2m) yacht – 160 Euro (Cash price excluding VAT. Includes water & power)

Boats located on permanent moorings make this is very tight harbour in places with a number of concessionaires controlling different sections of the available berths. We can only comment on where we berthed. The positives were that it was ideally located for easy access to the centre of the old town. It was also well inside the harbour offering good protection from the weather. On the negative side, the only bathroom facilities were public toilets ashore which were locked at night. There are no showers at all.

The staff are very friendly and helpful and the location is good but lack of facilities and exorbitant price means only two stars on the value meter from us.

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.


  1. Hi. We are thinking of chartering around the Amalfi but I cannot get any sense of the navigational challenges for the region. Is it complex or straightforward I.e. Submerged rocks, shallows, reefs etc. Any comments welcome. Matthew

    1. Hi Matthew, navigation in the area is straight forward however anchoring in some areas can be a challenge due to deep water right up to the shore. The one night we spent in a marina at Amalfi itself was the most expensive we came across in all our Med travels. It's a beautiful area but we're not sure if any charter companies operate there. We didn't see any. Cheers!

  2. Did you find places to anchor? And from anchorage, can you dinghy yo a beach?

    1. Sorry for the slow reply. We just noticed your comment. Depths are a problem along the Amalfi coast for anchoring. There is a little bit of anchorable depth outside Amalfi harbour but we're not sure about landing your dinghy. It was a real problem in Naples that's for sure.


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