The morning was very still when we set off for Porto di Roma and the sea dotted with small fishing boats. I think we upset one, who had two rods out spinning for Ferrari, but was so busy fiddling with his electrical gear he did not see us maneuvering to avoid him until we had to pass behind. John waved at him and he waved back pleasantly enough, so either he realized he had cut us up or though us mad people, best humoured. The coastline was a lovely patchwork of ochre and green fields backed by blue hills, much how I imagined Tuscany, which we are now past.
An early start meant that we arrived here around one and since the office was closed till three, headed off to the tablecloths and parasols of a marina side restaurant. The waiter spoke very good English. He set us a square table at an angle across the flowerbed; so we could both sit looking out across the marina, under the shade, but in the breeze. I had risotto, which was lovely and creamy, John had mixed fried fish, which came on a big oval plate and was much more substantial than he was expecting. We could probably both have shared it. After coffees our waiter pointed us in the right direction for the marina office. This was just as well, since it was hidden away round a corner, right at the end of the run of shops and bars. The lady there was lovely, did all the formalities and gave us the wifi code, which turned out pretty useless. From our berth the signal was not even strong enough to pull up the BBC homepage.
The marina here has an unusual design, intended to reduce the swell inside ad reflect the shape of a Roman port excavated nearby. The swell calming certainly worked for the duration of our stay there, though at the time the seas were not very big. Basically the harbour is very wide and relatively narrow, like a letterbox with a double entrance in the center. There is a buffer arrangement at the mouth, where you must pass through a split ring of wall, leading immediately to an artificial pebble beach. Yachts going in must turn either immediately port or starboard, not to wash up on this beach, at which point there is a normal arrangement of pontoons. The theory behind this is that the sea washes around inside the ring at the entrance and dispels its’ energy on the beach. A long promenade runs the length of the marina, with children’s play areas by the beach. The prom is backed by shops and bars with a service road running behind them, behind that is an area of wetland, a wildlife reserve. That evening we wandered along the prom and back, stopping at a wine bar for a chilled glass of white overlooking the beach and the red mini dredger parked alongside it. The waitress brought us such a plateful of small snacks to go with our drinks so we needed nothing further to eat that night.
Next morning we had a more relaxed start as we needed to return the marina key and the office did not open till nine. Then we set out, stopping for fuel on our way. The bad news was that the fuel pontoon was inside the sloping ring of stone protecting the entrance. With Lyra inside it seemed even smaller than when we arrived and it was quite hairy turning to come parallel with the quay in such a confined space. John did it though and a marinera came out to take the midline and I managed to scramble up onto the high quay with the stern line. Between the three of us we hauled Lyra back to the rear pump and he handed John the nozzle to fill her up. Then the dredger arrived. It pulled up right in the center of the entrance, deployed chains at each end and started sucking up sand. The marinera brought out a hand held credit card machine so John did not need to leave the boat and explained we should pass behind the dredger when we went out. First I had to climb back on board. Two sets of fenders were holding us off and it looked a lot further going down than it had looked climbing up. John asked if I needed a hand and in truth I felt I needed several, but was not sure where. I turned and began to lower myself backward, groping down with my right leg, At this point John took a firm grip either side of my hips and guided me down. It was not elegant, but was effective. Once we were both on board John started the engine and the marinera passed me the lines and watched us pull away. We skirted the dredger and made for the open sea.