Off to Sorrento

The hottest day yet and there was not a breath of air. John and I headed off early into town for supplies with our trusty trolley. Lara had located a supermarket up past the restaurant in the Cathedral cloister. John bumped the empty trolley up the steps remarking tat he hoped we found another way down. In the event he need not have worried, as we did not find the supermarket. It was an interesting walk up the little buttressed alleyways, but the only turn off was signed to the cemetery and looked suitably eerie. I think someone had just swept the street and raised the dust into a gloomy mist. Our exploring brought us back to the main street, not at all far up considering the distance we had walked. We carried on up and found a small food store, so small it had a sliding access door. The space was crammed floor to ceiling with packaged goods, facing the door ranged a large deli counter, behind which a very pleasant couple stood. We passed across what we wanted and pointed at various good looking pieces of cheese, which one cut and weighed and the other rang up on the till.. Half way through our order a man and his small son came in for a bottle of coke, John and I both shuffled sideways to let them in. I helped slide the door of the fridge behind us, so the lad could reach his coke and one of the shopkeepers took their money and asked if they wanted anything else, while the other carried on serving us. The two left and we shuffled back to center stage. The cost of our complete order containing all sorts of choice goods amounted to two-thirds the price of our previous shop chez the grumpy madam. Moreover this couple was very pleasant throughout and wished us a good day when we left. We trundled our trolley down the main street and stopped for breakfast at a café overlooking the odd fountain in honour of the man who introduced the compass to western navigation. We took Lara a croissant back to the boat, but decided that since the marineras here take the boats back out we would leave her to sleep and just set off.

John went off to settle up with Julio, who, cheerful as ever, told us to start the engine when we were ready and they would come and take us out. John and I debated whether or not to stow the passerelle. John was in favour of leaving it so they could climb on board, I reasoned they would not want us to be messing about with it, when they were ready to go and a man who could climb on board from a moving dingy would manage to jump across from the pontoon. If not they had plenty of their own wooden gangplanks, which they lent to people on hand. With that we stowed the passerelle and started the engine. Lyra has rather a quiet engine, so they were a while hearing it. Julio and the tall man stood at the back of the boat and the tall man hopped across with no hesitation. Julio hesitated, his partner suggested we may wish to reverse a bit for him, at which point Julio jumped and hopped up on deck smiling broadly, ‘They are only legs” he said. The tall man covered the deck, moving from bow to stern like a rash, untying ropes as he went before easily stepping back onto the pontoon. Julio nosed us out, “Slowly, slowly”, between the bows of our neighbours and the rocks near shore. As we came round the pontoon end the tall man set out in the orange rib. Julio shook both our hands, wished us a good journey and hoped to see us again before hopping down into the rib. They both waved us off before sweeping back to base.

With no wind we motored back along the Amalfi coastline, avoiding lobsterpots. Lara emerged around midday, surprised at the progress we had made. We watched Capri separate from the headland, but this time we were heading for neighbouring Sorrento. It is not easy to spot the marina entrance as the town spreads along the towering cliffs for some way above it, but we were guided in by the ferry traffic. The first ferry we saw was heading towards us on a collision course. John followed the rules of the road and turned to starboard. The ferry looked to be determined to take us out, turning towards us each time we adjusted our course. Finally John made a strong turn to port and the ferry swept by us on the starboard side. In Greece we had been warned that ferried often were loathe to change from their set course regardless of protocol, it appears this holds for Italy too. We were concerned at another ferry coming up astern, but he simply overtook us and then turned to point the way into the port. Then he backed off and a third boat came speeding out. Where was this one heading now? Naples! He passed behind us, the wake sending the nose dipping and diving.

Cautiously we entered the harbour, nosing our way round the huge ferry, now stern to against the quay. John radioed in and we were answered right away, but then nothing happened. There was not much room for maneuver, ranks of small craft tied to buoys on the port side, a wooden pier ahead and a small pontoon coming off the quay to starboard. As we hung in the water two young men jumped in a rib and headed out from the pier only to turn and disappear amongst the small boats. Another ferry arrived and hooted at us to pull further forward, so it could swing in to dock. The sandy bottom was looking uncomfortably close. The rib came back and crossed in front of us heading for the pontoon. Neither of the men on board so much as looked at us. We are used to this treatment from busy waiters, but it is unnerving when you are just drifting about unsure where to go in a forty-foot boat. Finally one of them called across to ask our depth, John told him and decided to follow them. We came round the end of the moored boats and one man had climbed out to stand on the pontoon, while his partner was feeding the lazy line hand over hand from inside the rib. Once he had cleared the spot John reversed in and the man on the dock took our lines as the one in the rib tied on the lazy line at the front, so they were most helpful really, just a bit quiet. It was not that their English was not up to the task either. Once we were in the one from the rib climbed out and did the paperwork there on the pontoon. He asked John where we had come from and on hearing it was Amalfi asked if we had stayed with Julio. “Yes” said John,” legend is he?” “We all know him,” our new host muttered darkly.

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