In contrast to every other occasion when we have set out from Stabia, the wind was not set to give us a swift passage to Capri. In fact there was no wind to be had, even though we delayed setting off in the hope that a breeze would come up in the afternoon. Consequently we motored around the bay, past the cliffs of Sorrento and then on to Capri, detouring from our passage plan to avoid the to and fro of the many fast moving passenger ferries, who give no quarter shaving past one another and leaving us to wallow in their churned wakes.
As we came into the shadow of the mountains behind the main harbour a large ferry lurked waiting its turn to enter port. John approached cautiously and we followed it inside, danced round the tripper boats raising chop in the harbour, and John reversed smoothly into a berth between two Sail Italy yachts to the feet of the main marinera. He insisted on passing me the lazy line before returning my stern line, but John took it from me and went forward while I sorted out the stern lines. John said we were beginning to get the hang of this Mediterranean docking and after paying our harbour fees we headed in to town for a beer before sorting out the complications of the shore power meter. We sat in the central bar looking out over the harbour. The crowds were ebbing and suddenly the landmarks from my first visit over forty years ago lifted from the current bustle and came into focus. There the taxi drivers had stood in a huddle; that was the corner where the shop had been and that was the same long quay that my Dad and Dave had legged it along to catch the ferry home. I resolved to walk along that quay and look back before we left Capri. We wended our way back to Lyra to find the nearby power supply points had all been taken, so we had to haul the extension cable from the locker and are plugged in to shore power some way away, down the dock. This has proved a blessing as our cabling avoids the wash from a large golden retriever, who graces the nearby power boxes by lifting his leg at one or other of them as he passes morning and evening.
We have spent our time on Capri revisiting some of the places we enjoyed with Lara. Not the full on sea excursion to the Blue Grotto, or the dizzy heights of the cable car, but the gentler pleasures of Axel Munch’s villa and the monastery garden. On this visit the Monastery was playing host to an exhibition of modern art, which proved an unexpected treat. As we climbed back up the steep cobbles winding past the designer shops, we were overtaken by a small forklift pulling a mesh sided cart in which a large man sat on a wicker chair surrounded by his luggage. As he passed in front of us he genuflected and raised his arms to heaven before disappearing over the brow towards the funicular.
We ate out in the evenings, but went up into the town avoiding the tourist traps as much as it is possible to here.
After breakfast on our last day I returned the fob for the power to the office and set off on my pilgrimage along the ferry dock. There was just one large boat moored near to shore with the long arm of the quay stretching empty to the harbour mouth. At the elbow bend of the quayside a trio of men sat on the bollards chatting and observing my progress as I passed them. I did not turn until I reached the last mooring and when I did it was to look back on a scene resonant with memory. The pier was every bit as long as my mind’s eye had conjured and at this distance Capri Town, dominated by the towering rocks behind, did not look so very changed. A brief slip through time Dad and Dave were running along there towards Mum and me. Tomorrow would have been Dad’s eighty- eighth birthday.