Back to Base for the Weekend

Our plans were to go across the Bay to Sorrento for the weekend, try for Amalfi, assuming the siblings Coppola had not packed in for the season and then back to Capri before coming home to base. We reasoned the later we left Capri the less horrific the expense would be. There was a storm coming from the north due for late Friday night and Saturday, but Sorrento would provide good shelter from that direction. We headed out to the hotel for breakfast and I had a pastry worthy of a Bake Off challenge, wafer thin pastry somehow spiralled round an apple and ricotta filling. John had a cream croissant. All very decadent. As I sipped cappuccino watching the local police and a group of older men engaging with banter, John phoned Sorrento. He was given the supervisors number to call. He called the second number and the supervisor was very sorry but they were fully booked. Not something that has happened to us before here. We headed back to Lyra for the details of Capri. There you had to book online, in advance. John phoned them anyway and was told they were not fully booked, but we could not reserve a berth for that evening, we needed to turn up outside and radio in before entering the harbour. Remembering the hectic nature of the harbour we did not fancy this much. Also Capri is exposed to Northerlies. Neither of us fancied riding the storm out tied slantways on our current wobbly pier, so we decided to head back to Castlelemarre for the weekend on our own finger pontoon.

We set out under engine and danced with the ferries outside Porto Ithaca before making a straight course across the Bay, the crocodile snout of Capri to starboard and a shrouded Vesuvius to port. About half way across we had to slow again as the ferries from Sorrento and Naples crossed, one in front and one behind us. A pair of Bond villain black helicopters passed overhead in close formation, with no signature on the AIS. They made several slow circuits of the Bay. To port was a large grey warship, which John thought was stationary and I was not so sure about. Then, off near the shore we saw a line of smoke stream along the water. The dark shapes of several small boats were plying to and fro through the smoke. Then the helicopters were above them dropping canisters into the sea. Each had a double parachute, but nevertheless sent up quite a splash on landing. The Captain was not happy at the prospect of one landing on us. The canisters were then followed by a string of parachutists guiding themselves down in a spiral as the canisters inflated to form boats. Then a Chinook rumbled towards the scene from the direction of Sorrento, flanked by the other two helicopters. It hovered right on the waterline for several minutes as the various small boats milled around, before rising majestically and flying off. In the meantime the warship had set out and crossed our bows heading for the scene. At this point the two original helicopters made a very low pass obviously having a close look at us. I put down the logbook I was recording events in, on top of the camera and looked natural. A big orange rib approached and we wondered if we were to be boarded, but a solemn chap in dark glasses standing in the rib merely waved that we should head away to port. John gave him the thumbs up and turned the wheel as we both smiled encouragingly.

After our bit of a detour we turned back onto our waypoint and made our way into port. It is good to be back tied up safe and the voyage had passed very quickly one way or another.

Footnote: The overnight storm was a real humdinger, howling through the rigging and jerking us about even in this sheltered marina. Rough on a lazy line tonight!

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