Monday, October 6, 2014


Cape Palinuro North side
We looked for some nice spot to anchor at about 60Km North of Scilla. The pilot book as usual says nothing about that, quite the contrary says there is nothing. We decided to go to Vibo Valentia trying to find some suitable spot on the way. We passed some beaches that looked promising but decided to go till Vibo Valentia, an ancient Greek and Roman natural port. 

Well, probably we could have anchored on the beach, South of the Port or even with some care inside the port but Isabel wanted a fresh water shower so we went for the Marina that the pilot book said was not expensive. Well, 45 euros, I guess it is not expensive for Italy L. There are two separated marinas inside the port, we went for the Stella del Sud and I have to say that it is a nice one, even if you have to pay the baths separately (2 euros each). At lest they have a nice exchange library and we could trade in the “old” books (more than a dozen) that we had already read by “new” ones.
The town is nothing special, but nice in it is own way, with a supermarket close by and a lot of inexpensive restaurants.

We sailed North next morning and again the pilot book is mute about anchorages in range. There is a big swell (for the Med) caused by the equinox tides and a storm near Sardinia so we headed to another marina that supposedly was not expensive, Cetraro, but on the way out of nowhere, not forecasted we got a F7 wind. At the beginning I thought it was only the gusts created by the mountains and kept all sail up till over 20K of wind but instead of diminishing, it went up to near 30K and I took 2 reefs on the main. It was fun with the boat going over 10k (downwind).

For two days we have been sailing in the company of a Swedish boat, a Beneteau 40. They rise first in the morning and I catch them later and sail away, unless we are motoring. There, with me saving on the fuel and doing only 5.3/5.5K, the Beneteau is about half a knot faster. I caught them on the strong wind and went away but did not understand where they were pointing at: They were too much on the wind, near 180º and going inside the big bay that has Vibo Valentia on one side. The wind went away suddenly and we motored for hours being overtaken by the Beneteau.

We met again in Cetraro on the berth next to the one I was being directed. I confess that I don’t have much experience manoeuvring boats in marinas since I rarely go to one, but I turned the boat around smoothly (no bowthruster) and went backwards pointing directly to the right place. Maybe a bit too fast because there was a big swell and some wind and when I was just finishing, approaching the pontoon, the Swede starts to talk with me, about that big wind and how we have been sailing together on the last days…and the pontoon approaching, the big swell, me trying not to be rude and talking with the guy on the next boat and a big thrust with the engine to stop the boat….But on the wrong direction, …

and BANG!!!!. I was so pissed and so embarrassed!!!! If my mother was there she would be smiling and saying that I never managed to do two things properly at the same time. She would be telling (again) that story of me being a kid with a glass of water on one hand and being asked (by her) to do something else. I dropped the glass, turned around and went fast to do what she had asked me to. It seems that not much has changed in all these years.

BANG!!!! Jesus, it was a big bang on the aluminium side of the pontoon and the big fender I had on the back served no purpose (being too low). It was the transom that took all the strain on one single place. I was afraid to watch….and then… surprise, it just took away some pieces of gel coat.

That’s the second time that I am surprised with the toughness of my boat, being the other one when I was rammed directly on the side by a 55T motorboat. That time it was not a fault of mine and I was even more scared. About being scared you should see the face of the marina sailor that was helping me making the manoeuvre, looking at the boat going in his direction and screaming “forward”. I don’t remember being so embarrassed with something I have done…feeling really stupid, what an ass!!!!

Now about what the Swede was telling me that the wind surprised him in such a way (by its suddenness) that he was not able to reef the mainsail and for keeping the boat more balanced (with an excess of sail area) he kept sailing near 180º and that’s what accounted for the strange course he took.

Inside the marina the boat moved terribly on the swell, going back and forward, jerking heavily on the ropes to the point it was hard standing up or even go out of the boat.
I start thinking that it should be way more comfortable to spend the night at sea and asked my wife if she wanted to go away. I asked to the sailor if the swell was going to die away (if it had something to do with the tide) or if it was to be like that all night and he assured me that it would be calm during the night and that settled it.

It was so bad that Isabel did not have the courage to go out and skipped the bath and I did not even connect the boat to the electricity. It was hard enough to jump to land to go to pay the place….40 euros for that torture that went all through the night relentless and barely diminishing of intensity…

Even so we managed to sleep. Pretty much we are used to everything and if we know it is safe, then we can sleep no matter the discomfort. On the next morning the Swedish couple said to us that they were not able to sleep…and paid for it. They were as pissed as us. We talked and found out that we were both sailing again for the same spot, this time a nice anchorage, one of the nicest I know in Italy, Cape Palinuro. I have been there several times, the cape is big, offers a lot of protection and there are two good anchorages, both with sand bottom, one on each side of the cape.

Again no wind, just something that only allowed motorsailing (2 or 3K) and lowering a bit the engine RPM saving some fuel. The Beneteau, with a brand new engine went away quickly and when we arrived they were already there, on the North side of the cape, near the Small village of Palinuro, protected from the swell. We talked some more with the Swedes that live aboard all year and where heading for their winter quarters on a marina on the nice town of Gaeta. They were so tired that just ate something and went to sleep not before saying that tomorrow they would be heading to Agropoli, anchoring inside the port. I had already been there but it is not deep enough for me and too many boats too close. I said that I would go to Agropoli but would be staying on a nice bay just before it and well after having passed the Punta Licosa. I have already spent the night there and the little bay offers a lot more protection than what it looks like.

Small bay near Agropoli
This time I had wind and sailed almost all the way, taking the sail just to anchor…and I was surprised because on that little bay, that again was not on the pilotbook, there were about 20 boats on anchor: from sailing cruisers to big and small motorboats. I knew that most of them would be going away to the marina at the end of the afternoon so I put the anchor well off and waited…..till the last boat went way and then moved to the best spot. Unbelievable, they all went away. All right, it was Sunday but it is still mid September and there should have been some boats cruising and given the lack of decent places to stay on anchor and the prices of marinas it would be expected that the anchorage was used by some cruisers…but no. This is Italy and Italians like marinas. Funny because in Italy I find on anchor mostly foreign boats (even in good anchorages) but in Greece I find a fair number of Italian boats on anchor. It seems that all Italians that like to anchor sail to Greece in the summer LOL.

By the way, if there are any Italians reading this (and I know they are) and have suggestions for good anchoring spots along the Italian Thyrrenean or Ionian coast, I would be obliged if they posted it on the comments.

We sleep well, only slightly annoyed by the rattling of the anchor chain on the hull: Very slight wind but from various directions and a changing tide can do that.

Tomorrow the choice will be more difficult: We normally go from here to Ponza but the weather report gives a big thunderstorm, rain and strong winds for Ponza. On the coast the choice of a good anchorage is not easy because they give strong winds from the west quadrant and later stronger winds from the East quadrant, all from West to the East. We need a place protected from West to East through North. After a careful search the best option seems to be Porto Miseno, a natural port used since ancient times and that had the distinction of having being the home of the 1st Imperial Roman fleet, the “Classis Misenensis”. Certainly a port that once was able to shelter 250 Imperial ships would have space for mine ;-).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Paulo,
    here is short video with the Opium 39 sailing this summer.

    Anders Bengs