Tag Archives: Salerno

Salerno to Messina via Stromboli

We’re now on our way to Sicily now, planning to spend a week in Messina visiting some of the island before heading off to Greece. This was to be an overnight passage and I planned to sail along the north and west sides of Stromboli in the night so we could see the volcano erupting as we passed.

Last sunset in Arechi

We slipped from our berth in Arechi at just before 9 on Thursday 18th and stopped off to fill up with diesel, and I managed to drop a filler cap in the water. Doh! They are held on to the filler pipe with a small chain, like the ones used to stop sink plugs walking and as I put the filler nozzle into the pipe I could feel the serrated underside of the nozzle rub against the neck of the pipe. Even as that was happening I could see the cap dropping into the water, in slow motion obviously. Now who carries spare filler caps? So, with the only other one like it on the fresh water tank I decided to use the pretty chrome one from one òf the Black Water tanks. This obviously had a fractionally different thread and so had to be sealed in place with gaffer tape. Very pretty, but, hopefully water tight. Mercifully it wasn’t to be tested as the weather was very clement.

The trip had three highlights. I managed to fly our Cruising Chute for the first time this year for about an hour at lunch time, we had a visit from a school of dolphins in the evening, come to see what all the gaffer tape was about, and of course, Stromboli over night.

The dolphins were with us for about 15 minutes, with one hanging around darting from bow to bow by itself for another 5, almost as if it was stuck there!    It is wonderful laying on the netting watching them only a few feet below you.

Dolphin Victory Roll
Dolphin Victory Roll

As the sun set, anticipating little wind over night we lowered the sails and motored on towards Stromboli. I’ve mentioned before that it is sometimes referred to as the biggest lighthouse in the Med and that is certainly true. I came on watch at just after midnight and immediately noticed the characteristic ‘rotten egg’ smell of sulpher and within half an hour could see the intermittent bright orange smudge of light, as the lava erupted, from about 20 miles away.

Just after 2 am the moon rose, followed by, I think Venus, and Valeria came up on deck at 3.30 to watch the fireworks. We slowed right down and headed directly for the island and at a distance of about 5 miles had a grandstand view of fans and plumes of Lava being thrown up into the air.   Being west of the island the moon was behind it, silhouetting it as the Lava show continued and we watched brief trickles of molten rock on the lip of the volcano. Really spectacular.

Stromboli. 22 September 1979.

Way back in 1979, 38 years ago !!!,  I was a Cadet in a Shell tanker called Aulica and we sailed passed the island in daylight, on our way to Messina from Genoa.

ss Aulica.
Stromboli in the dawn, 19 May 2017

By sunrise we were south of Stromboli and on course for the Messina Straits.  The wind picked up gradually to about 20 knots, from right in front of us, meaning we were battering our way into it and our speed was right down. Once in the Straits the wind dropped off and we found ourselves being escorted by the Italian Navy.

We arrived in the Marina del Netuno at 2.30 and have booked to stay until the 27th when we’ll set off for Cephalonia. In the mean time we plan to explore a bit of Sicily, and find a fuel filler cap, and a spare. Doh!!


Salerno is where we will be staying for a couple of weeks, allowing us to return to the UK briefly and will be our base to explore the Amalfi Coast before we move on south towards Messina.

There has been human settlement around Salerno since the Bronze Age. The Romans founded Salerno in 197BC and it became an important trading centre on the road between Rome and the south.  After the Roman Empire fell to the Goths, Salerno was occupied by the Byzantines and then fell to the Lombards who held the town until the 11th century.  During this period Salerno became a prosperous and important city and boasted the world’s first medical school.  The Lombards Duke Arechi II began building the first castle on the hills over looking the city in the 6th century.  There was a mint in the castle.

In 1076 the Normans, under Robert Guiscard who had married into the Lombard family, took the city and held on to it until the 12th century when the Germans took Italy and it became part of the Holy Roman Empire. From then the importance of the city declined in favour of Naples.

The top attraction on Trip Advisor is the Castle, but I think this ranking is based on altitude rather than quality.   We took the bus up from town, which involved a lot of waiting around but only cost €2, which was just as well; we would have been seriously miffed if we’d shelled out for a taxi!  The castle is quite massive and has been restored to an extent but there is nothing there to explain it’s history, other than a small museum displaying pottery and coin hordes found during excavations.  On the plus side the views of Salerno were impressive!

Salerno from the castle
Cathedral Tower and Courtyard

The Cathedral was a differant story all together!  This was built by the Norman Duke Robert and was consecrated by the Pope in 1084.

In the crypt are the remails of St Mathew,  one of the 12 Disciples, brought to the original church of Santa Maria degli Angeli on 6 May 954, almost 1063 years ago to the day.

There is a large entrance court-yard which is over shadowed by an enormous tower.   The court-yard is decorated in a rather Arabic style and that apparent influence appears to extend into the Cathedral.   The Cathedral itself is huge with three Apse, the wall above them shows sections of mosaic decoration which would have looked absolutely magnificent if it could be seen complete!

The Nave
Central Altar
Central Altar
Left hand altar
Left hand altar
Right hand altar
Right hand altar
Pulpit decoration

The older parts of Salerno are typical narrow streets between tall buildings and have a ‘shabby chic’ sort of feel to them, the emphasis being on the shabby.   The main roads beside and parallel to the water front by the port are bounded by huge impressive buildings from perhaps the 17th or 18th centuries but it is impossible to get a clear view of them!

We only spent an afternoon and early evening in town but think we’ve probably seen enough.  Next time we’ll be passing through on our way to the Amalfi Coast and Capri by the ferry.

Cagliari to Salerno across the Tyrrhenian Sea

We set off for Salerno at just before 9 am on Saturday 29th April with a 280 mile, 56 hour passage across the Tyrrhenian Sea ahead of us.    If we made 5 knots all the way we would be there by 5 pm on Monday 1st May. The weather forecast was consistently showing moderate north westerly winds for the entire weekend, which would mean having the wind behind us the whole way.

We’d spent our week in Cagliari in the Marina del Sole and by comparison to, I think, every other marina we’ve used this was by far the most run down and basic. The pontoons had all seen better days and there were a host of abandoned boats rotting at their moorings , some even growing plants from their decks! The pontoons lead onto a very tatty rotting wood ‘board walk’ and the marina office was a plastic table in a corner of the ‘bar housed in a tent! Having said that, the marina staff were friendly and helpful, there was water and electricity on the pontoons and the price was very reasonable. As a stop over to wait for the weather it was just what we needed.

Our route was simple, only about 2 courses, one from Cagliari down to Cabo Carbonara and Isla del Cavoli and the other from there to Salerno. As soon as we got away from the harbour we got the sails up and were roaring along at 7 knots, but that didn’t last unfortunately. Although as the voyage progressed the wind settled down to come from the north west is was not quite enough to allow us to sail throughout and a lot of the time we were motoring. But every now and then the wind would pick up and we could fly the big Code Zero and even reached a cracking 8 knots at one point!

We saw dolphins twice, or they came to play with us. Valeria saw what turned out to be a turtle, although thought it was a lump of drift wood until we were right on top of it and we had guests for both nights.

Hopefully won’t doing much sail trimming tonight!

At sun set on Saturday we found ourselves being ‘buzzed’ by 4 swallows, 2 of which settled down for the night on board and on Sunday we found ourselves hosting about a half dozen perching themselves around the deck. Come sun rise they were off again, but each left us a little thank you!

Sunset over Sardinia
Sunrise over the Tyrrhenian Sea

Approaching the main land we were due to make landfall at Capri and all through Sunday night into Monday morning we could make out the glow of Naples over the horizon.

Sunrise off Capri

We actually got to Capri as the Sun rose and were treated to some magnificent views of the south side of the island as we cruised east towards the Amalfi Coast. It is a place I’d heard of but wasn’t really prepared for how pretty it looked. It is very mountainous and rugged right to the coast with numerous houses and villages clinging to the mountainsides and ports such a Amalfi, Positano crammed into the mouths of valleys. In the morning sun it is easy to see how it became so popular!

The Amalfi Coast

Although planned to take us 56 hours we did it in just over 50 and by mid day we were tied up to the jetty in the Marina d’Arechi; this is a brand new marina, or rather an aspiring ‘marina village’. No ‘gardens’ on any of the boats here, and the only tents in sight are the gazebos along the jetty behind us for the 2nd Arechi Boat Show!

In all an almost perfect crossing, 280 miles and 2 days of fair winds and a following seas.