Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stromboli, Vulcano, and Lipari

Anchoring at Stromboli turned out to be an adventure in its own right. By the time it got shallow enough for us to drop the anchor, we were practically on the beach, and the little bits of ledge that showed on the chart were already occupied. We went further north to check out another possible anchorage, but the wind was really whipping around the island and through the anchorage there. Eventually we dropped the hook about a boat length from shore after the day-tripper boats left. Then we watched our track nervously for a couple of hours before we relaxed enough to have dinner, showers, and a nap.

Anchored close to the beach

A little after midnight we weighed anchor and headed on around to the northern and northwestern side of the island where the volcano is active. We passed quite a few boats at anchor and were surprised that we seemed to be the only ones doing the night sail. Just as we reached our northernmost waypoint, we saw an orange glow at the top of the mountain. That was promising, and we slowed to allow maximum viewing time. With swell on our beam, we didn’t want to stop altogether. Finally, just before we reached our last waypoint, the volcano spit a tall plume of lava into the air, and John said he could hear the eruption. We watched as the lava fell down the mountainside with hot orange spots bouncing here and there. Satisfied, we upped the revs and headed for Panarea to anchor and get some sleep.

Stromboli in daylight

It was just getting light as we reached the anchorage at Panarea, and we were glad of that because it helped us spot and avoid the mooring buoys that are sprinkled liberally in the best places to anchor. After a few hours rest, we continued on to Lipari, but didn’t like the look of the anchorages and decided to go on to Vulcano.

As we nosed around the crowded eastside anchorage at Vulcano, we were getting a little discouraged. Every place here is deep and crowded. Our first two islands were also deep, but they were the exception in that we had our anchorages to ourselves. We finally found 30 feet to drop the anchor between some other boats. Later a 50-foot Italian boat thought that there was room for him to anchor over our anchor. They were way too close, so I went to the bow to make them nervous. First they drifted to within a half a boat length on one side of us. Then as they were drifting to the other side of us, they passed so close that I could have passed a beer from our bow to the woman at the helm. I signaled the man that they were too close and asked the woman if they had good insurance. I’m sure she didn’t understand me, but they did move. Whew!

When we went ashore the next day, we rented a car to tour the island. It had been our intent to drive to the foot of the volcano and then walk to the rim. Luigi at the car rental recommended that we wait until late afternoon for the volcano walk, though, for better photo opportunities. It would also give us some shade. Good idea, even though it meant we would stay an extra night at the anchorage.

Vulcano is a small island made up of three volcanoes. Of these, the active one is the smallest. So the views on our car tour were pretty incredible as we went over the higher peaks. From the south side of the island we could see the main island of Sicily and even a hazy outline of Mt. Etna before the evaporation from the sea obscured it completely. The roads on the island are lined with flowers, like Flores in the Azores, but here the flowers are mostly oleanders rather than hydrangeas. It was a very pretty ride.

Back in town we checked out the mud bathes. John had been interested in trying them, but they never appealed to me, and he decided against it too. So we picked up some groceries and headed back to the boat and spent a relaxing afternoon rocked by the wakes of the constant ferry traffic.

Mud bath

I have no idea how far the volcano walk is, but it was hot, even with the sun behind a cloud most of the way, and steep in parts, and where the path was gravel, I got lots of rocks in my shoes. It took about an hour from the bottom (where they charge 3€ each) to the top. Along the way, some British people assured us that it was worth it, and I vaguely remembered walking to the top of Mt. Lassen in California as a kid, only to be disappointed. (It was probably spectacular, but I was a kid.) Well, this one was worth it, primarily for the views, since I’m not very fond of plumes of toxic gas. The walk back down went faster, and I was rewarded with pizza. (Our friends from the Shetland Islands rewarded their little girls with ice cream.)

Caldera on Vulcano

View from the top of Bocche di Vulcano and western Vulcano anchorage

Rock removal

Mandatory volcano tourism complete, we are now docked in Lipari, where the wash from ferries is still jerking us around during daylight hours. Oil change and some laundry done, today we’ll do some serious provisioning and visit the local museum, wash the boat, and fill the water tanks. Tomorrow we head through the Strait of Messina, home of Scilla and Charybdis.

Later: When we got back from the archeological museum, we had new neighbors at the dock. Germans on one side and French on the other. As I was filling tanks and talking with the Germans, a big wake made its way past the dock, knocking one German down and causing the French boat’s spreaders to hit our rigging, dislodging our radar reflector. It seems I’ll be going up the mast to fix it when the ferry traffic dies down. Meanwhile, the French boat has moved. Looking forward to a nice quiet anchorage tomorrow night.

No comments: