Saturday July 19th. Porta di Roma
Another eventful week. Whatever this cruising life is it is certainly not dull and we seem to go from one adventure to another. So much for lolling and relaxing in the hot Mediterranean sun.
We had a good sail with our friends Gayle and Mark from Corsica to Elba. Another change of language from French back to Italian. As we entered an anchorage in Golfo della Biodala on the north coast we were hailed on the VHF by the French couple we had met in Bonifacio so they joined us for drinks in their bay. We were the only boats anchored there and the reason why became apparent during the night as, there being no wind at all, the swell from seaward caused the boat to roll so much that sleep was virtually impossible.
So it was an early start the next day and when we looked out there were storm clouds moving quickly across the whole island so we decided to head for a safe marina berth in Portoferraio, the capital of Elba. It was a race against time as we motored into the harbour and managed to get tied up before the thunder and the rain.
There was a heavy downpour until early afternoon when we ventured out to explore this fascinating fortified town and glimpse from the outside the house where Napoleon was interned for a brief time in 1814 – 1815.
In Elba, as in France, they think highly of Napoleon. I can’t understand why.
The next day in the sunshine Portoferraio looked much more interesting and certainly is a bustling and busy town with ferries coming in and out of the port at an astonishing rate.
We also had the pleasure of seeing a replica brigantine under full sail out in the bay.
We took a short trip around the west coast of Elba and anchored in a little bay off Porto Azzura. The town used to be called Longone after the prison on the hilltop which was used to house some of the worst criminals and mafiosi. The word Longone was used as a synonym for prison so when it closed they changed the name of the town so as not to put off the tourists. Apparently this plan has worked.
We had planned an early departure for the mainland after a disturbed night with the anchor chain making grinding noises.
We went to weigh the anchor and found that the chain was stuck on some underwater obstruction. Mark and Terry worked for nearly two hours trying to free it by every possible means. Fortunately Terry, a few weeks ago, had purchased a small buoy which is attached to the stock of the anchor and marks its position. We were thus able to rescue the anchor and disconnect it from the chain. We then tried to pull the chain through but it was irretrievably jammed around a concrete block. A diver might have been able to rescue it but we didn’t have time so we left the chain on the seabed and headed for Italy, just thankful that we had still got the 25 kg. stainless steel anchor.
After this bad start we had a long days sail south to the mainland of Italy, the wind was quite strong but was dead behind us which meant that we were not very fast and it was a bit uncomfortable, also with no anchor we had to find a marina. The first harbour we went into Porto Ercole was full, luckily Marina Cala Galera was very close and, fortunately, they were more welcoming and we tied up securely.
The days excitement was not quite at an end as, after welcome showers and drinks we sauntered to the only restaurant on the dock. There Terry’s order was a tagliolini of seafood which one mouthful told him it was rancid. He returned it to the management who were less than impressed but did return, after a considerable wait with a different and edible dish.
Gayle and Mark left for Rome the next day and Terry arranged buying and loading 80 meters of 10 mm chain. One feels very vulnerable without an anchor although we have two spares they are only a short line of chain and warp.
Yesterday Julie and Terry did another sixty miles down the coast to the mouth of the River Tiber,(rather a dull entrance for such a famous stream) and have slotted in to the marina of Porta Turistica di Roma. This is a huge marina complex which may once have been very smart but is now the victim of recessionary times with many of the shops closed and those that are still open selling cheap goods.
However it is not too expensive and safe to leave the boat which we plan to do for two weeks. In that time we are going to Rome for a couple of days and then fly to Sofia in Bulgaria where we are booked in for our annual dose of Wagner. Four nights of the Ring Cycle, our annual fix!