***The previous day there had been about 7 yachts and no tenders in here***Pizza in Ponza with Liam and Annie, Andrew and Clare***Ever wondered where to stow your dinghy for a change?? This yacht sailed in with it hanging up the mast - amazing!!!***The glorious sight of the 5 masted cruise ship leaving at dusk***
Once we cleared Ventotene we had a gentle downwind sail for 6 hours to cover the 24 miles to Ponza. The main harbour at Ponza shows a large no anchoring area to allow for the regular ferries from the Italian mainland to maneuvour, there were several yachts in there already and it didn't look like there was room for one more so we headed around the rocks just a short distance and anchored off a beautiful sandy beach in clear water with 7 other boats. It was Thursday night and we knew the weekend was likely to get busy so we were happy just to sit back and watch it all unfold. And unfold it did, Friday afternoon the Italian invasion began, superyachts, megayachts, mini cruise liners, a 5 masted yacht cruise liner, enormous motor cruisers, ribs of all sizes - one in particular was 60 feet long with 3 250hp outboards!!!, regular yachts, trailer sailers, runabouts, basically if it could float it seemed to have arrived in Ponza. The inner harbour area that we thought was full must have had close to 50 more boats in there, and our anchorage was overflowing, it was truly an amazing transformation.
Somehow everyone fitted in, there wasn't the chaos we had experienced in Croatia last year, all these boats were privately owned and no one wanted to hit anyone else, it just all worked, and everyone was considerate of each other - maybe Italy in the "busy season" might not be as bad as we anticipated. The Coastguard were keep busy trying to keep enough room clear for the ferries, but each time the ferry left it just all filled up again, until the next time!! We learnt that it was a long weekend, with Tuesday a holiday and Monday taken as an extra day off by many so maybe its not normally quite this crazy.
Along with the hundreds of Italians heading for Ponza there was one Australian catamaran. Our great friends Liam and Annie on Gone with the Wind were finally catching up with us after spending another winter in Turkey, we have been sailing with them on and off since Darwin in 2006, and spent many an anchorage in the Red Sea in their company, and a couple last year in Croatia. The farewells in this carefree cruising life we lead are way too regular, you meet wonderful people, spend time and priceless experiences together then part ways as we are often heading in different directions. But the reunions when they happen, well they are just the best. It was a big night with Blue Banana and Eye Candy also there, many a sundowner followed by many more moonuppers lasting well into the wee small hours!!!
The small town of Ponza was cute, not much there really but some small well presented shops, some busy restaurants and not much else really. Even though it was very busy it still had a real holiday feel to it, we squeezed our dinghies on the dock and all had a great pizza con vino evening out.
There looked to be some other spots around the island that would have been interesting but we had our anchoring spot and we weren't going anywhere until we left for Sardinia!! We had a good weather forecast to move across to Sardinia 155 miles west so in company withGWTW and Eye Candy we left busy Ponza to the locals and continued heading westwards. The wind failed to fill in until late in the afternoon, then it increased in early evening and built overnight and at one point we were cracking along at 8 knots in the full moonlight in flat seas with 23knots hard on the wind. Unfortunately the seas soon got lumpy due both to the wind and a shallow shelf we were going over so we buttoned off and put a reef in until daylight. The great thing about doing overnighters around the summer solstice is that its still light till around 10pm and then the skies start to lighten again at 4.30am, excellent. We had Olbia on the North East coast of Sardinia as our destination but couldn't quite lay it, so instead of tacking or motoring we just made landfall further down the coast at Porto Brandinghi - we thought we were going to Sardinia but we had arrived in paradise!
Cruising info for Ponza:-
Anchorages - Ponza 40 54.274N 12 57.907E 9m sand with weedy patches
Communications - Vodafone and TIM signal ok but we couldn't get WIND for dongle. Could get it further out in anchorage (better line around headland to aerial) and ashore so took laptop and dongle in and sat and had a coffee
Money - ATM on main waterfront ****Can't remember limit here but limit in Sardinia is only €250 per transaction, some machines worse at €200****
Provisions - Lots of minimarkets, fruit/veg shops, 3 butchers. Conad supermarket on waterfront round to right, through the tunnel and along a little. Also deli along there with best bread so far in Italy and yummy ricotta tarts
Formalities - Coastguard buzzed around but never stopped by