To Ischia

John has planned a tour of the Bay of Naples followed by a jaunt along the Amalfi coast, before everywhere becomes too hot, crowded and hideously expensive. Marinas on Capri are already pretty expensive, so we have opted to stay our first four nights at Marina Cassamicciola, on Ischia. This will take us from Thursday to Monday. Both John and myself have not so fond memories of how hectic Sundays on the water are in Italy, so he wanted to find somewhere we could stay put all weekend. The town here is very pretty, with pastel painted houses ranging up the steep hillsides, very green at present, that sweep down to the harbour. There are shops and restaurants right across the road that runs alongside the marina, just a stone’s throw away. The people here have been very friendly and welcoming. All in all we have landed on our feet and are feeling relaxed and happy. Very relaxed after a cold beer and a salad under the shade of the big umbrellas of the hotel Calise, which stands in a little cobbled precinct with a fountain.

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We had not planned to set off particularly early, given the short distance we had to travel across the bay, but as it was the first sail of the season both John and I slept badly and woke early. John set the ropes to slip and I made tea. At about eight we could take the suspense no longer and woke Lara, who dragged herself up from the sleep of the righteous and did not look revived by her cup of black Earl Grey hot. She rallied though and helped us cast off. We left the pontoon at nine, cleared the harbour and hoisted the sails for the first time in ages. The main was a bit reluctant to reveal itself, but finally yielded to the combined efforts of John and Lara. Then we sailed on a long sigh of happiness, parallel to the coast, heading towards Naples. Unfortunately once the sigh was done we were travelling with the wind behind us, so could not feel a breath of air and it was very hot. John decided it was time to jibe and with three of us we executed the maneuver smoothly and headed off on an excellent line for Capri. Pity we were bound for Ischia really. On this tack there was a breath of wind from the port, but no shade. After twenty minutes of this we were feeling the heat again and decided to turn on the engine and make some progress, hauling in the jib, but just fixing the main so as to be ready to sail again if the wind came up. Motoring is less peaceful, but we were creating a nice breeze, the main cast a convenient shadow and it was good to be heading in the right direction. Lara sat happily on the foredeck reading.

There were fewer ferries about than when we last crossed the bay and the day was much clearer, with splendid views of Vesuvius disappearing to stern and the pretty painted houses climbing the slopes of the rocky islands ahead. It was all very uneventful, with just a fluorescent red lobsterpot, which turned out to be a floppy party balloon and a few bits of floating debris to avoid. We were inside the Ischia channel, admiring the Castello d’Ischia, rising from its’ steep rock, just keeping an eye on a distant ferry speeding along off the starboard bow when suddenly a giant ferry appeared out of Porto d’Ischia virtually alongside us to port. John pushed the throttle into warp drive and left it to turn away in our wake. Lara read steadily throughout. After that bit of excitement we slowed down to put lines and fenders on outside Casamicciola. The wind of course had come up to force four just in time for our arrival in port. On hearing that this was often our experience Lara observed we might do better to have a lie in, set off later so as to sail in the wind and then come into port as it died down in the evening. This is sound thinking, but I am not sure I have the stamina for it. I am always glad to arrive early and then relax. John looked thoughtful about the sailing. He radioed in on Channel 8 as we entered the harbour. There was no response, but a chubby man waved at us from the harbour entrance and began to climb down into his rib. John did not think this chap was part of the official process. He was somewhat hampered by his own lack of agility and the arrival into the harbour of a large ferry loaded with lorries. John headed in out of the path of the oncoming leviathan and I spotted a younger, thinner man walking along the pontoon. This one had a hand held radio and looked to be the marinera proper. He stood next to a yacht of similar length to Lyra and gestured for us to come in alongside. John reversed towards him, but the wind caught us, so John went forward and set his line again. This time we came right up. It was Genaro, or certainly his Doppleganger. He called out Good Afternoon, took my line and passed me the lazy line, much to Lara’s relief. I walked forward and swapped places with John, trying to keep the slimy line from dripping onto the deck. Lara sorted out the other stern line and it all passed off very smoothly. So now we are here for the weekend and I am really looking forward to it.

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